- 1781 - 1966
The Wawanosh family was a prominent family of the Chippewas of Sarnia, Kettle Point and Stoney reserves (now known as the Aamjiwnaang First Nation) with several of its members serving as hereditary chiefs in the 19th century and one member, William Wawanosh, serving as the first elected chief.
Joshua Wawanosh (ca. 1781-1871) served as Chief from 1827 - 1844, 1848 - 1853 and 1868 - 1870. In 1827, he and several other Chiefs signed Treaty 29. He converted to Christianity when the Methodist missionary Rev. James Evans visited the district. Joshua Wawanosh and his wife Eliza had one daughter named Elizabeth and four sons - David, Joseph, Thomas and William - all of whom succeeded Joshua as chiefs. David, Joseph and Thomas all died of tuberculosis and in the cases of Joseph and Thomas, this meant their time as Chief was short lived.
David Wawanosh (d. 1867), Joshua's eldest son, served as the chief from 1853 until 1867. He and his wife Elizabeth had six children - Julia, Francis, Agnes, Florence, Minnie and David D. After David died of tuberculosis, his father again took on the role of chief.
William Wawanosh (ca. 1845-1907) was appointed Indian Interpreter in 1870 and served as chief from 1874-1877 and again in 1899-1901. He married Mary Helen Waldron, the daughter of a missionary and they had three children - Charles (known as Chas for short), Augusta and Edward. William changed his name from Wawanosh to Wells and this is the name that he passed down to his children. His son Charles became a clergyman and founded the Wells Academy in London, Ontario.
Agnes Effie Sands Mern (1875-1966) was the only daughter of Julia Wawanosh Sands, (daughter of David Wawanosh) and Daniel Sands. She received musical and vocal training from Sarnia teachers at Our Lady of Mercy Vincent in Port Huron, Michigan; from Profs William A. Harvey and George D. MacComb in Detroit and Prof A. Straub of the Detroit Opera House. She wrote song lyrics, poetry and stories and organized and participated in a variety of cultural events, including concerts of music by well know First Nations musicians including Oskenonton and David Russell Hill and His Onondaga Indian Concert Band. Along with the Indian Confederation of America, Agnes assembled a group of Native Americans to march in the Brooklyn Centennial parade. Throughout her life, Agnes was an active member of the church community, singing in the choir and teaching at the Devine St. Methodist Sunday School. She and her mother also ran a dress making business.
In 1933, Agnes married John Phillips Mern, a retired sailor from the US Navy. John had a son from a previous marriage but the couple did not have any children of their own. They lived in Marcy, New York as well as in the Wawanosh family homestead in Sarnia and travelled throughout Ontario and New York State. From 1936 to 1937 they briefly ran a convenience store in Sarnia called the Wawanosh Post where they sold gasoline and groceries. Agnes Sands Mern died in 1966 in Sarnia.
For additional information about the family, please consult the Wawanosh family tree, which is attached as an appendix