Issac Woolner – Emigrated to Canada 1832

Issac Woolner (1792 -1860) emigrated to Canada with his wife Sarah Hembling and their 6 children in 1832.  Isaac served in Her Majesty’s 43rd Light Infantry Regiment (1812-1819) and intended to petition for a veteran’s land grant.  As one of the earlier settlers of what is now Ontario, Canada, Issac’s arrival in Canada is documented in a 1896 Biographical History.

Waterloo Township History
Waterloo Township History

Their arrival was filled with tragedy. They docked at Hamilton, Ontario in the third week of June 1832 but unluckily sheltered at a house where the ‘former residents had died of cholera.’  Many of the family came down with the disease while traveling to the Bridgeport area.   Issac’s wife Sarah and their youngest child James died.

Since widowed Issac was without his homestead, he placed his daughters Martha (b.1820) and Hannah (b.1825), and his three sons Abraham (b.1822-1838), Issac (b.1824), and Jacob (b.1826) in foster care until he became settled.  This full story is in Eby Book Volume 2 – Page 685. and continues to page 686.  Many of the children remained in foster care, and by my count, two of the veteran’s children (Hannah and Jacob) became part of the non-violent Mennonite community as the following story relates (sounds like it also draws from Eby):

Jacob Woolner, Mennonite Preacher

Issac obtained his land grant and remarried.  Eby wrote, “His second wife was Bridget Connor, widow of Mr. Connor.”  They had 6 children:  Ann, Abraham, William, George, James and Mary Jane, married to Joseph Carr (Kerr).


The 1851 Canada Census showed this second family in Garafraxa, Ontario.  In addition to the 6 children Ezra Eby named in  his Biographical History of Waterloo Township, there is a Moriah (Maria?) who will be 18 yrs old on her next birthday. (The census asks for next age, not current age).  There is also a Walter Connor listed on the same census immediately after the Woolners.  Could this be Bridget’s son with her first husband? Could Moriah be her daughter?  What was Bridget’s maiden name?

In 1851, the children would be the following ages on their next birthday: Ann(16), Abraham(14), William(12),  James(10), George(8),  and Mary Jane(6)

When the 1861 Census is taken, Issac Woolner has passed away.  He died in 1860 at the age of 68.  They now live in a log house built in 1855.  In the 1851 Census Bridget appears as his wife, now she appears as Ann.   The family appears incorrectly as Wolloner with two l’s and not two o’s.

Compared to the 1851 census, the oldest child Ann is missing and so is Moriah. Why would 58 yrs old Bridget go by her daughter Ann’s name?  Is daughter named after her mom? With child Ann absent did Bridget revert to Ann?

Isaac Woolner Family 1861
Isaac Woolner Family 1861

The remainder of the enumeration is as expected: Abraham (‘Age Next Birthday’ is 21); Bridget / ‘Ann’ of Ireland (w/b 59); William (w/b 20); James (w/b 19); George (w/b 17); Mary Jane (w/b  15).

Mary Jane Woolner would soon marry Joseph Carr/Kerr and they would begin their own family.  James and George are Woolner family names and Mary Jane used them for her own children.  What is becoming more clear, there is very little we know about Bridget/Ann Connor.

The author’s direct line appears in BLUE.

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