Sarah Wessel, was born to John Wessel and Agnes Henry (Hamana) in New Westminster on November 13, 1881. Mr. Wessel who hailed from Amsterdam, Holland, came to Canada as a mariner travelling by way of Cape Horn. He married Agnes, daughter of Henry and Catherine Hamana, recent Hawaiian immigrants to Canada, and together they had three children: Hermina, John Jr. and Sarah, of which Sarah was the youngest.
In 1879, the Wessels moved to South Pender Island where her father was installed as a shepherd with James Alexander, brother to Richard Henry Alexander, manager of the Hastings Sawmill in Vancouver. Her mother Agnes left their family after the birth of Sarah in New Westminster. Her father soon thereafter divorced his wife and entered both Hermina and Sarah into St. Anne’s Convent in Victoria, while her brother John Jr. stayed with their father on South Pender Island. John Wessel Jr. died at the age of 10.
In 1906 Sarah made her first visit to her sister Mrs. Hermina Taylor in Hazelton, BC. In 1910, she made a second trip up to the Kispiox Valley and after experiencing the excitement of “progress” in this region brought by the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, she fell in love with this country and decided to stay. Not wanting to live with her sister and her family, Sarah Wessel decided to act upon a new law (enacted in 1911) which gave women the same right as men to pre-empt land. So in 1911 Sarah Wessel became the first single woman to pre-empt 160 acres of Crown Land in British Columbia in the Kispiox Valley. It took her a year to build her house after which she began to clear another 3 acres of land with the help of a local Gitxsan Elder.
While homesteading, Sarah met and was courted by Herbert “Bert” Glassey. It was Bert Glassey who gave Sarah a .22 rifle and her brother-in-law Hugh Taylor who taught her how to use it. Sarah Wessel became so proficient with this homesteading tool, that she was known throughout the Kispiox Valley for having shot more birds than any man in the area! Sarah Wessel, alone but for her little fox terrier, lived on her land for three years before selling it in 1914 to a local cattle rancher who had also purchased lands adjacent to hers. That same year Sarah Wessel married Bert Glassey in Hazelton and together they moved to Quesnel, BC where Bert took up a position with the Hudson’s Bay Company.
In 1918, the Glassey’s moved from Quesnel to Prince Rupert. In 1934 they again moved from Prince Rupert to Atlin only to return to Prince Rupert eight years later. A pioneering resident of Prince Rupert for 36 years, Mrs. Sarah Glassey was active in the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire and the Order of the Royal Purple. She was also a member of the Women of the Moose and an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Legion. In April of 1961 Sarah Glassey was presented with a medallion from Vancouver’s 75th Anniversary Committee for having been a resident of Vancouver before the arrival of the first passenger train to Vancouver in May 23, 1887.
Herbert Glassey passed away after a prolonged illness on October 17, 1962. After his funeral on October 20, Mrs. Sarah Glassey came home, lay down and quietly passed away. Sarah and Herbert Glassey had no children.