Troy was (and is) conveniently located near the Hudson River, making the shipping of its products an easy matter, and along with Troy, the Wilson brothers thrived.
Samuel became particularly popular, known for his kindly, generous, and gregarious nature, and was elected to several municipal offices in Troy throughout the years. To the townsfolk he was known affectionately as "Uncle Sam."
With the outbreak of the War of 1812, large numbers of young men from Troy joined the army. Many of them found themselves stationed along the then-hostile Canadian border.
Samuel Wilson's meat-packing plant was one of the chief suppliers of beef and pork to the United States Army, particularly units stationed in New York State. The meat was transported in large packing crates, and when one of these packing crates (stencilled "U.S." and with the shipper's address) reached a unit with Troy men, one of them is reported to have exclaimed, "Hey boys, dinner is on Uncle Sam!"
The Troy men, of course, got the in-joke, but most of the rest simply thought it was a clever remark, and soon anything marked "U.S." was associated with "Uncle Sam."
After the War of 1812, Uncle Sam Wilson became a minor national celebrity, and, in later life, enjoyed posing in daguerrotypes with people who had come to meet the Uncle Sam.