Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.

John Eby Wissler[1, 2, 3, 4]

Male 1810 - 1870  (59 years)


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  • Name John Eby Wissler 
    Born 31 Oct 1810  Clay Twp., Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Business 1835 
    Eagle Tannery 
    Occupation 1837  Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    tanner 
    Occupation 1843  Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    tanner 
    Died 20 Mar 1870  , Shenandoah Co., Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Historic Building 1903  438 Malabar Dr., Waterloo, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    Wissler-Cascaden House 
    • The Wissler-Cascaden house, a two-storey red brick Georgian home was built in 1842 by John Wissler, a Waterloo Township pioneer who arrived from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1834. One year after his arrival Wissler established the Eagle Tannery. A shoemaking, harness making and mercantile business soon sprang up in conjunction with the tannery. This industry, including the workers homes on nearby Bridge Street, formed the nucleus of the settlement of Lexington.
      Wissler spared no expense in the construction of his home, elaborate window and door surrounds were included along with a plaster cornice in the drawing room. The most striking feature of the interior, however, is the two-storey front entrance hall which rises a full twenty feet to a magnificent plaster medallion on the ceiling. Access is gained through two arches which rest on moulded plaster shells and frame a cherry stairway which climbs to the attic level.
      A number of additions have been made to the home. The first, a two-storey addition to the west side was completed around 1858. The second, which contained a bake oven, schnitz oven, ash oven and smoke house, was added behind the first between 1859 and 1875. The last addition, this time on the south side, provided a one and a half storey salt box kitchen which was designated to serve as the doddy wing at the turn of the century.
      The property was sold to Samuel Weber in 1873. It remained in the Weber and Shantz families for over one hundred years until the late 1970s when it was converted into apartments and fell into disrepair. The present owners, Ron and Wendy Cascaden, have made a commitment to restoring the house.
      All of the exterior elevations of the Wissler-Cascaden House and the front hill are deemed to be of both architectural and historical significance.1a

      1aDesignated Properties www. waterloo.ca
    Land Waterloo Township - German Company Tract Lot 062, Waterloo County, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Name Johannes Wissler 
    Occupation Bridgeport (Kitchener), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Eagle Tannery 
    Eby ID Number 00123-7564.3 
    Buried Columbia Furnace Union Church Cemetery, Columbia Furnace, Shenandoah, Virginia, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I31557  Generations
    Last Modified 6 Oct 2020 

    Father Jacob Wissler,   b. 12 Nov 1776, Clay Twp., Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Apr 1853, Clay Twp., Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years) 
    Mother Anna Eby,   b. 9 Sep 1777, , Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Apr 1829  (Age 51 years) 
    Married 25 Mar 1800  [2, 3
    Family ID F3771  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Hannah Tyson Heyser,   b. 1818, , Montgomery Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Feb 1888, , Shenandoah Co., Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years) 
    Married 22 Dec 1835  , Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Franklin Heiser Wissler,   b. 7 May 1838, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. Jacob Heiser Wissler,   b. 22 May 1841, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1915, Lyndhurst, Augusta, Virginia, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years)
     3. Levi Wissler,   b. 21 Sep 1843, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1908, Bellefontaine, Logan, Ohio, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years)
     4. Aaron Wissler,   b. 22 Aug 1847, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Apr 1931, , Los Angeles Co., California Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years)
     5. Hannah Wissler,   b. 23 Apr 1852, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     6. Angelina Wissler,   b. 24 Sep 1865, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 7 Oct 2020 
    Family ID F2679  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    John Wissler
    John Wissler
    From: Wissler Family Report by Henry Wissler, 1904

  • Notes 
    • In the three years, from the spring of 1842 to 1845, the enterprise of Charles Allan and his partners had given Elora a good start, but no sooner was their business established than a formidable rival appeared in Sem Wissler, the founder of Salem, a village not more than a mile distant from Elora.

      Sem Wissler was born in Clay Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on the 21st of March, 1819. He was the youngest in the family of Jacob Wissler and his wile Anna Eby; and a descendant of a Jacob Wissler and his wife who emigrated from Switzerland and settled in Pennsylvania in the year 1720 Sem Wissler's father, Jacob Wissler, was one of the many Germans from Pennsylvania, who, during the first few years of the 19th Century bought land in Waterloo County, 'Ontario. Between 1802 and 1805 Jacob Wissler bought over 7000 acres in the Township of Waterloo, but although many years later he sent several of his family to Canada, he remained in Pennsylvania, where he lived all his life on the same farm. With the exception of two farms, he gradually sold all the land he had bought in Canada at a handsome profit.

      In 1834 the father gave the two farms, which he had reserved, to his son John who had learned the business of a tanner. John Wissler came to Waterloo township in 1834 and on the west bank of the Grand River, about two miles north from the village of Bridgeport he built a tannery long known as Eagle Tannery, and subsequently built a large brick dwelling for himself and a number of homes for his workmen. Here he carried on a large and profitable business, having, besides Eagle Tannery, a store, saddler shops, shoe shop, and farm.

      In 1837 his brother Levi came from Pennyslvania and entered into partnership with him, remaining four years. On the 24th of August 1839 Sem Wissler came to Eagle Tannery and worked for his brothers until 1841. His father was anxious that he should return home and take the homestead but he preferred to remain in Canada. On the 4th of May, 1841, he received $2,650 from his father and bought the interest of his brother Levi in the business at Eagle Tannery. Levi then returned to Pennsylvania and received the old homestead from his father. In 1845 a sister, Mary, and her husband Levi Erb, came to Canada and Mr. Erb, being a currier by trade, was at once taken into the firm.

      In 1841 Jane Robertson, a Scotch lassie of fourteen years of age, came to Eagle Tannery to nurse John Wissler's children, and being clever and pretty, with fair hair and rosy cheeks she at once became a great favorite with John Wissler and his wife. Jane Robertson was a daughter of John Robertson and his wife Janet Harvey and was born on October 15th, 1826, at Largie, in the parish of Insch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. About 1830 her father died, leaving her mother and three children. In the spring of 1837 her mother married James Sims and they all sailed for Canada. The following winter was spent at the home of her aunt, Mrs. Arthur Walker, on their farm, lot 12, on the 16th concession of Upper Nichol, which is on the Owen Sound Road, north of Fergus. In the spring of 1838 they moved to Galt and in the fall of that year Mr. Sims took up a farm near Hawkesville. After this Jane Robertson lived partly at home, sometimes with Mrs. Arthur Walker and sometimes with the Rev. Alex. Gardiner, minister of St. Andrew's Church in Fergus, who had been appointed her guardian by the Court, in Scotland. But in 1841 the Rev. Alex. Gardiner died and Jane Robertson went to Eagle Tannery to nurse John Wissler's children.

      The reader may ask, what has all this to do with Salem? And yet it will be seen that had there been no Jane Robertson, if she had not had her aunt to visit, and if her aunt, Mrs. Arthur Walker, had not lived north of Fergus, the chances are that there would have been no Salem.

      Sem Wissler and Jane Robertson were married on the 6th of August, 1843 and after that when Mrs. Wissler visited her aunt, Mrs. Arthur Walker, she was accompanied by her husband. On his different trips through Bon accord Sem Wissler saw several opportunities for developing the water power on the Irvine River and with that keen eye tor business which always distinguished him he saw that in the south west end of Mr. Keith's farm with. its waiter power and timber, money could be made. For in the neighborhood of Eagle tannery tan bark was becoming scarce and the firm was beginning to look for a suitable place in which to start a new tannery.

      On the 28th of October 1844 Sem Wissler brought his brother John to look over the situation. Evidently John Wissler was favorably impressed with what he saw for that same day he wrote offering to buy lot number 16 and the west half of lot 17, on the 11th concession of Upper Nichol for $700.

      In his reply Jasper T. Gilkison wrote on the 31st of October: "I am-not very anxious to dispose of these lots of land, but as I understand it is your intention to improve them and erect a tannery, and as I am desirous of promoting the prosperity of the township I will therefore sell you 100 acres in lot 16, and 58 acres in lot 17, for 25 shillings ($5.00) per acre; 100 pounds to be paid down and the remainder, 97 pounds 10 shillings, in two equal payments at 12 and 18 months," - which offer was accepted.

      Sem Wissler then completed an arrangement he had made with Mr. Keith (see page 86) and exchanged on terms that were mutually advantageous, the north east half of lot 16 for the south west half of lot 15, arid on this the principal part of Salem now stands. He then hired Robert Barkwell and James Longman to clear part of the land, which was then a dense and unbroken forest, and to erect a log shanty with a hemlock bark roof for himself and family.

      On a bright summer morning, the 9th of June, 1845, Sem Wissler with his wife and child, now Mr. J. R. Wissler, who was then nine months old, moved to the Township of Nichol and took up their residence in the log shanty prepared for them, and Mr. Wissler called his place Salem. For sixteen months they lived in this log house which was situated on the same site as he afterwards built his stone residence, and which is now owned by his son, Henry Wissler. For a cellar Mrs. Wissler used that small cave in the limestone rock which is a little east of the smaller bridge now crossing the Irvine.

      During the first season he built the dam, the flume, the saw-mill, and part of the tannery. In 1846 the tannery, which was a building 40 feet by 120 feet with basement of stone and upper storey and attic of frame, was completed, part of this large building was fitted up for a dwelling, part was used as a store another part for a shoe shop, and the rest for a tannery; and in the mechanical construction of his buildings, water wheels and other machinery, his principal adviser and assistant was John Keith, from whom he had purchased the land and waterpower.

      From the very commencement there was a great trade done in Salem, The tannery and saw mill were worked to their utmost capacity, the general store did a large business and in the shoe shop from fifteen to twenty shoemakers were constantly employed.

      Mr. Wissler had great business ability; he successfully managed his large business with little apparent effort, and as is the case with all strong characters he made no fuss about it, but did it quietly.

      Such was the beginning of Salem.

      The Early History of Elora, Ontario and Vicinity / John Robert Connon; Elora, 1906


      ____________________________________________


      Jacob Wissler, "the father to the Wisslers who had settled in this county, was born in the old "Wissler Homestead" on Mill Creek, Clay Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, November 12th, 1776. On March 25th, 1800, he was married to Anna, daughter of Christian and Catherine (Bricker) Eby. She was born September 9th, 1777, and died April 25th, 1829. They resided on the old "Wissler Homestead" until their deaths. He died April 27th, 1853. To them was born a family of ten children, namely: Andrew, Jacob, Christian, Magdalena, Ezra, John, Catherine, Mary, Levi and Sem. All the members of the named family resided in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, save John and Sem who came to Canada in 1840 and settled at Lexington, near Bridgeport, Waterloo County, Ontario, where they were engaged in the mercantile and tanning business. In 1845 Sem moved to Nichol Township, Wellington County, thus leaving his brother John sole proprietor of the Lexington business. In 1857 Mr. John Wissler disposed of his farm and business to Messrs Schneider & Stricker and moved to Virginia, U.S., where he died some years ago, leaving a family of six children, viz: Franklin, Jacob, Levi, Aaron, Hannah, and Angelia. After Mr. Sem Wissler's arrival in Nichol Township, he purchased most of the land where now the village of Salem is situated. He was a man of first-class business abilities and this, in connection with his great energy and perseverance, caused him, in a very few years after his arrival in Nichol Township, to be the proprietor of the large grist and flour mills, store and tannery, and conjointly with the said business, he was also the owner and manager of the sawmills and the large farm now possessed by his son, Levi. In 1860 he was elected Reeve for Nichol Township which position he held until his death. Mr. Wissler was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, March 21st, 1819. (All the children of Mr. Jacob Wissler were born on the old "Wissler Farm" in Clay Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) In 1840 he came to Canada and on August 6th, 1843, he was married to Jane Robertson who was born at Insch, Scotland, October 15th, 1828, and came to Canada with her parents in 1838. They moved to Salem in 1845. Here he died May 18th, 1865. His widow is still living in Salem with one of there children. To Mr. and Mrs. Wissler was born a family of seven children"


      Eby, Ezra E. (1895). A biographical history of Waterloo township and other townships of the county: being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin: as also much other unpublished historical information chiefly of a local character. Berlin [Kitchener, Ont.]: [s.n.].

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      John was the sixth of ten children born on the old Groff homestead, on the west bank of Middle Creek. He attended the local school, and in his youth, he apprenticed as a tanner.

      In 1834 he went to Waterloo, Ontario, Canada where his father had bought a great deal of land. John opened the "Eagle Tannery" and a general store.

      The following year, on December 22, 1835, John married Hannah Heiser. They had eight children.

      They were joined in Waterloo by three of the Wissler siblings who partnered in the tannery and other very successful business ventures.

      In 1857, however, after recovering from a serious illness, John sold his interest in the partnership and moved his family to Virginia. There he bought Columbia Furnace from his niece's husband, Samuel B. Myers.

      When the Civil War broke out, John was counseled by his nephew that he, as a Northerner and a Republican, must flee. John departed at midnight with his wife and young children, driving to Winchester and then taking a train to Canada. Later, John and his family returned to Lancaster Co. and lived with his sister, Catherine.

      After the close of the war, the family returned to Columbia Furnace where John, working with his sons, repaired the damages and was able to take full advantage of a period of great commercial prosperity.

      By 1870, John's health again failed. He was buried on in a small cemetery that he had laid out on the east bank of Stony Creek, overlooking the Furnace. He was a member of the Universalist Church.

      Source: The Wissler family record, being a brief account of Andrew Wissler's branch of the Wissler family in the United States of America and Canada, by Henry Wissler, 1904.


      _____________________

      The Bridges of Bridgeport - never a bestselling novel or top-grossing movie but still a good story.

      Sitting on a brick pillar near the west end of the current bridge is a Region of Waterloo signboard with that story, full of historical details and illustrations. Even though cars and trucks rumble around the nearby roundabout at Bridge and Lancaster, a visit to the General's Green parkette provides a bit of calm while you read the background to the Bridges of Bridgeport.

      Imagine no bridge at Bridgeport! You would then have to travel six kilometres north to Conestogo or an equal distance downstream to Breslau to simply cross the Grand River. In a modern vehicle that would be annoyance enough, but for the earliest settlers in the area, the Grand would have created a liquid wall. John Wissler was one of those early settlers, arriving from Pennsylvania's Lancaster County around 1830. Modifying the flow of the Grand on the east shore to create a mill race and an island, he erected a small tannery. To access it from the west bank, he built a wire suspension foot bridge. That didn't last long, and by 1847, two sturdier wooden structures joined west shore to east shore with the island in the middle. The semi-permanent status of the bridge meant that the two small villages facing each other across the Grand (Jacob Shoemaker's Glasgow/Lancaster on the west side and John Tyson's Bridgeport on the east shore) could come together in 1856 as a single community......


      Almost-annual spring floods damaged these wooden spans during the rest of the 19th century and regular bridge repairs were part of the village life cycle. Tiring of the recurring remedial work, and realizing that traffic was increasing in amount and weight, the County of Waterloo acted. Hamilton Bridge Works erected a two-span, steel truss bridge connecting the west bank to Wissler's old island plus a smaller pony truss structure to cross the high-water channel (also known as the Cove) from the island to the east shore. While these 1897 steel bridges did survive some severe floods, especially that of 1912, it was obvious that as 20th-century truck traffic increased so did wear and tear....


      mills, r. (2018). Flash from the Past: . TheRecord.com. Retrieved 31 August 2018, from https://www.therecord.com/news-story/8868671-flash-from-the-past-/

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      CAUTION.

      THE Subscriber hereby cautions all persons again taking any FISH out of his dam, or out of any of the waters on his premises. Any individual found hereafter trespassing as aloresaid, may depend on being dealt with according to the Law of the land.

      JOHN WISSLER
      Eagle Tannery, Waterloo Township, 8th June 8th, 1837

  • Sources 
    1. [S10] Book - Vol II A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and other townships of the county : being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin..., 548.

    2. [S10] Book - Vol II A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and other townships of the county : being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin..., 671.

    3. [S3] Book - Vol I A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and other townships of the county : being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin..., 571.

    4. [S47] Cemetery - ON, Waterloo, Kitchener - First Mennonite CC#4507 Internet link First Mennonite Cemetery online.
      (eroded) In memory of / ? / wife of / John D. Wissler / daughter of John Diller / aged 40 years & 11 months / died January 2, 1850

    5. [S9] News - ON, Waterloo, Kitchener - Canada Museum und Allgemeine Zeitung (1835-1840), 20 Apr 1837:19.
      few days ago A small child of Johannes Wissler from the Eagle Tannery in Waterloo, died.

    6. [S13] Vit - - ON, Waterloo - Wellington District Marriage Register Part 1 1840-1852, Rev'd Frederick W. Bindemann, Minister of The German Evangelical Protestant Lutheran Church, At Greenbush, Waterloo Township, Halton County, 1 Sept. 1843 to 1 July 1844 report 32.
      Philipp Geib, Farmer, of Woolwich, to Mary Doerbecker, of Queens Bush. Wit. John Wissler, Tanner and Sem Wissler, Tanner, both of Waterloo.

    7. [S873] Wateloo City - designated properties list, Bean-Wright House.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 31 Oct 1810 - Clay Twp., Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 22 Dec 1835 - , Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - tanner - 1837 - Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - tanner - 1843 - Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 20 Mar 1870 - , Shenandoah Co., Virginia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsHistoric Building - Wissler-Cascaden House - 1903 - 438 Malabar Dr., Waterloo, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsLand - - Waterloo Township - German Company Tract Lot 062, Waterloo County, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - Eagle Tannery - - Bridgeport (Kitchener), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Columbia Furnace Union Church Cemetery, Columbia Furnace, Shenandoah, Virginia, United States Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth