Lydia Gray Wilbor

Lydia Gray Wilbor

1761 – 1855

Sometime between 1791 and 1794 Lydia, her husband Borden Wilbor, and their two young children went west, like many New Englanders at the time. Farmland was becoming harder to acquire as the population of New England grew, and so families traveled to the undeveloped land of upstate New York. Indian Wars, treaties, and sales had pushed New York’s indigenous people off their homelands. The land was sold to settlers like the Wilbors.

Lydia and Borden did not go alone. The 1800 census shows their neighborhood of Paris, New York filled with Little Compton families. They included Lydia’s brother Samuel and his wife Content Wood, Lydia’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Fobes Head, as well as seven members of the Simmons family, Job Snell, and Isaac Brown.

Borden died even further west in Ohio in 1818, and it is unclear if Lydia was with him. After his death, censuses show that she lived with her daughter Hannah and son-in-law Horace Butler in Utica, New York and died at 92 in their large boarding house.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.