Wilkeson, Samuel - Erie County

SAMUEL WILKESON, son of John and Mary Robinson Wilkeson, was born in 1781, at Carlisle, Pa., and in his infancy he accompanied his parents to Washington County, Pa., where his education was obtained in a log school-house. After his father's death, Samuel Wilkeson settled in Southeastern Ohio. Later he removed his family to Chautauqua, N. Y., and engaged in boat building. During the War of 1812 he built a fleet of transports for the Government, and took part in the defense of Buffalo. At the close of the War of 1812 he removed to Buffalo, where social and civic conditions had become unsettled to a degree that threatened the total disruption of law and order. It was to Samuel Wilkeson that the people turned to defend the rights of honest citizenship in this crisis, and in 1815 he was, induced to accept the then important office of justice of the peace. Up to the time he was elected a magistrate he had probably never opened a law-book, yet he rose to the situation in a manner which made his record as a justice, and later as a judge, memorable in the annals of jurisprudence in Buffalo. In February, 1821, he was appointed First Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County. In 1824 Judge Wilkeson was elected to the State Senate, and in 1836 he was elected Mayor of Buffalo. He was among the leading advocates of the Erie Canal, and in 1822 he successfully argued before the Canal Commissioners the claim of Buffalo to be chosen as the canal's western terminus in preference to Black Rock. Among the many episodes of Judge Wilkeson's eventful life, his connection with the building of Buffalo Harbor has won for him the most accurately defined place in local history. While Judge Wilkeson was occupied with public services, his business activity was undiminished. He was a merchant, warehouseman, vessel owner and lake forwarder. He built the first iron foundry ever erected in Buffalo, and a section of the Erie Canal. The death of Judge Wilkeson occurred in July, 1848, in his 67th year.

Judge Wilkeson was married three times. His first wife was Jean Oram, daughter of James Oram, who was of ScotchIrish extraction and served through the War of the Revolution. The second wife of Judge Wilkeson was Sarah St. John, of Buffalo. His third wife was Mary Peters, who was famous as an educator of girls. Judge Wilkeson was the father of six children, all issue of his first marriage. They were Elizabeth, John, Eli, William, Louise and Samuel.

SOURCE:  Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I