Stephen Edwin Wait (S. E. Wait) was born in Fairfield, Vermont, on July 21, 1834, the son of John J. Whittier and Maryann E. Fox; he adopted the surname "Wait" after his mother's marriage to Martin S. Wait. The family lived in Vermont, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. As an adult, S. E. Wait was a teacher and a store clerk, living primarily in Traverse City, Michigan. He married Louisa Colburn on April 8, 1858, and they had two children, Ida R. and Cora L. (m. Culver). Following his wife’s death in 1868, Wait became acquainted with Louisa’s childhood friend Ellen Packard (October 18, 1836-May 9, 1903) of Racine, Wisconsin, whom he married on June 23, 1870. Ellen was the daughter of Roswell and Susan Packard. S. E. and Ellen Wait had three children: Minnie Belle, Edmund W., and Cyrus Raymond. S. E. Wait died on March 17, 1919.