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William Isger was born in Frome, Somerset, England in 1829. He was the 8th child of Joseph and Elizabeth Isger.

At the age of 22, he was living alone and unmarried in Frome and employed as a cloth worker. Four  sisters were married and living in Frome but four other siblings had moved away from the town to London and to Lewes and also Brighton in Sussex.

In August 1853, he arrived in New York. He had travelled on the SS Northumberland accompanying or escorting his sister in law, Sarah and her two children. It seems likely that he joined his elder brother, Joseph in Pennsylvania but there is an unanswered gap for the years 1854 to 1866.

About 1866, William met and married Delilah Schoonover, the daughter of Lewis Schoonover, a German emigrant. Delilah was born in Luzerne, Pennsylvania. The couple had two children, Louisa and Albert, born in Madison, Luzerne. In the 1870 census, William is a tenant farmer and also listed as a citizen but without a vote.

It is the years between 1870 and 1880 that the mystery deepens. There is no listing for William in the American  census for 1880 but he reappears in the British census for 1881. By this time he is living with his married sister, Elizabeth Holford in Brighton, Sussex, England. Delilah and the children had not accompanied him to England.

By the time the American census for 1880 was taken, she had remarried a widower, Eliphalet Simonson so William had departed sometime between 1870 and 1880.

William worked as a labourer in Brighton until his death in 1886.

It seems that William followed his brother, Joseph to America seeking a better life. He spent about 20 years in Pennsylvania so what caused him to return to England, leaving a wife and two young children?

Did he just desert his family?

Was it intended that his family follow him back to England but for some reason that plan did not materialise?

Had the marriage broken up?

The mystery remains unsolved.

William Isger - Unanswered questions