Sarah Wiley was the oldest of child of Woody Wiley, a farmer. She was born free to a free family of color in Virginia February 2, 1841. Her mother, Susan Freeman Wiley, died before she was one year old. Her father married Sarah Daniels soon after. Nine more children were born.
We find Sarah “Sallie” Ann Wiley described in the Pittsylvania County Virginia, Register of Free Negroes.1807-1865. Reg # 467, Sept 24, 1852. “SALLY ANN WILEY, a free negro born free in Pittsylvania County, is of yellow complexion, eleven years old the 2nd day of February last.”
The extended Wiley family moved to Athens County Ohio, probably soon after the descriptions were taken in 1852. It is about 329 miles. I wonder how they traveled, but do not have time to investigate today!
Sarah and the other Wiley children attended Albany Academy until 1862 when a religious group took over the school and banned black children. The following year her father, her uncle and a group of other African Americans started their own school, The Albany Enterprise Academy,
“After being taken over by the Disciples of Christ, Christian Church, the Albany Manual Labor Academy “refused further admission to the black community,” according to Getting to Know Athens County by Elizabeth Grover Beatty and Marjorie S. Stone.
As a result, in 1863 the Albany Enterprise Academy was founded. The school’s first trustees included Thomas Jefferson Furguson (co-founder of the Ohio Colored Teacher’s Association, member of the Albany City Council and the first black to serve on a jury in Athens County), Cornelius Berry (father of Edward Berry of the Berry Hotel), Philip Clay, David Norman, Woodrow Wiley and Jackson Wiley.”
When Sarah was 25 years old, her youngest sister was born and her step-mother died. There were still six other children at home. Sarah stepped into the role of mother and housekeeper.
In July 1873, her father Woody was suffering from consumption and made out his will. He left everything to the three children that were still alive and living at home, Sarah (31), Henry (18) and Armintha (12).
Woody charged Sarah with seeing that Armintha received a good “common school” education and was taken care of materially.
When Armintha was 22, she married William Green Simpson, a neighbor. Armintha died within the next few years and William married again. Sarah never married.
In 1908 Sarah gave testimony for her sister Kate Wiley Allen, who was trying to get her widow’s pension after her husband Thomas Ray Allen died. After Kate began to receive her pension, Sarah moved to Indianapolis and they shared Kate’s house for several years. They then returned to Ohio where Kate died in 1915.
In 1920, Sarah was living with her former brother-in-law, William Green Simpson, who had been married to her younger sister Armintha. His youngest son was still at home. They were both coal miners. Sarah was the housekeeper. In 1924 William married a 3rd time, to Dora Parker, a widow with four children under ten. Sarah was 82.
By 1928, Sarah was an inmate in the Columbus State Hospital, a mental hospital in Columbus Ohio. Sarah died in the State Hospital in 1932, of atherosclerosis. She was 93 years old.
Her brother-in-law Henry Simpson was the informant on her death certificate. He died in April of 1935. He had been a miner for most of his working life and died of “miners’ asthma” also known as “black lung disease.”
I found this information on ancestry.com, familysearch.org and places on the internet linked to above. Using the information that I found, it is easy to fill in the blanks to make a story. The problem is, I do not really know the ends and outs and the personalities and the reasons involved. I hope that I have, at least, gotten the “facts” right.