Biography of Andrew A. Wheeler


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Wheeler, Andrew A., born in Mannsville, N. Y., July 18, 1836, is a son of Philip and Roxana M. (Shepard) Wheeler. Philip Wheeler was born in Brunswick, Rensselaer county, N. Y., June 30. 1800, a son of John Wheeler. John Wheeler traced his ancestry to Worcestershire, England, the family crest being the motto "Facietenus." The father of John commenced his settlement in Rensselaer county by the purchase of a farm from the Van Rensselaer patroon, which John Wheeler, by additional purchases, increased to a tract of 1,200 acres, and where he was known as a New York slaveholder, and where he spent his life. Upon his death and the settlement and division of the estate the slaves were set apart to Philip Wheeler as a portion of his share of the estate of his father, and he manumitted them before he was obliged to by law. After inheriting his portion of his father's estate Philip Wheeler engaged in clerking for Philip Dater (a relative by marriage, and at one time a rector of the R. W. & O. Railroad), and was afterward engaged in trade on River street in Troy, and in transporting lumber from Troy to New York city. In 1823 Philip Wheeler was married in Troy to Roxana M. Shepard. In 1825 he moved to Ellisburgh, Jefferson county, N. Y., with his father-in-law, Thomas Shepard, where he purchased of David I. Andrus, agent of Col. Samuel Wardwell, a tract of 1,000 or more acres of land adjoining the now corporate limits of the village of Mannsville, which was divided between them, cleared, and in 1839 Mr. Wheeler sold his part of the purchase, and moving into the village, purchasedof Hon. Daniel Wardwell about 200 acres of land, on which the greater part of the village now stands. He soon entered into mercantile pursuits in opposition to Newton Mann and his grandson Maxey Mann, in connection with farming, and afterward bought out the Manns and carried on a large and successful business, accumulating an ample property for those days. He was a Whig and later a Republican, and was tendered the nomination for supervisor and also member of assembly, which he declined, preferring his business to public office; he was the leading business man of the section for a quarter of a century. After retiring from merchandising he was actively interested in directing his farm work, clearing his land of about 3,000 pine stumps. He finally sold 100 acres of his land, which was cut up into village lots, retaining the 125 acres now owned by the subject of this sketch. He died in 1872 from a paralytic shock, superinduced by his anxiety over the election of General Grant. He watched the polls from the hour of opening until they closed without intermission. He went home, ate a hearty lunch, read returns until after midnight when he retired. He was found the next morning by his bedside, speechless and semi-unconscious, and after three days passed away. Roxana M. Shepard, his wife, was born in Troy, N. Y., in 1802, a daughter of Thomas Shepard (see biography of Henry Wardwell Shepard). She died id 1867. They had six children: Sallie A., who was scalded at the age of fourteen months; Philip, deceased; Thomas Brown, who was educated at the Union Academy of Belleville, at Cazenovia Seminary and the Norwich University of Vermont: he began the study of medicine with the celebrated surgeon, Dr. Amasa Trowbridge of Watertown, N. Y., continued at Pittsfield, Mass., Woodstock, Vt., and was graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York; he served as resident surgeon at Bellevue Hospital and practiced for a few years in Mannsville; he removed to Montreal, where he is now practicing as a specialist in chronic cases; he developed a celebrated medicine, known as Dr. Wheeler's Compound Elixir of Phosphate and Calisaya Bark, which is sold, not as a patent medicine, but to physicians for the treatment of chronic cases; he married Annie Shaw, daughter of Andrew Shaw, a merchant iu Montreal and the owner of a line of vessels plying between that city and European ports; he has had six children of whom two daughters and one son survive, the latter being Dr. Claude L. Wheeler, a graduate of Laval University, Quebec, in the course in arts and from Magill University of Montreal in medicine, and is now a practicing physician in New York city. John, who was drowned July 4, 1853, off the Bay of Quinte, Sackets Harbor; William L., deceased; he was educated at Cazenovia Seminary and McGill University, Montreal, and read medicine with his brother at that place, and was graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, taking the highest honors at the Ophthalmic School of New York ; he was appointed assistant surgeon in the U. S. navy, and served through the late war, being stationed on various vessels, the last of which was the iron clad Patapsco, one of the fleet at Charleston harbor. As a volunteer he was with the commander in the night attack by thirty boats on Fort Sumter, where a shell burst above the heads of the commander and himself, from which he received a scalp wound. "Sit still, doctor," the commander said to him, "you will make a damn good breastwork." He was mistakenly reported as captured. He resigned from the navy to marry, but at the request of Captain (now Admiral) Ammen, lie took a trip around the world, having first passed an examination for acting past assistant surgeon. Upon his return he began the practice of his profession at Ithaca, N. Y., where he met with success, While at Ithaca he completed his matrimonial arrangements and was married to Esther Gracie, eldest daughter of William Beach Lawrence of Ochre Point, Newport, R. I., and removed to Newport, where he practiced medicine until his death. After his death his widow came to Mannsville aud caused to be erected the Wheeler Memorial Chapel at an expense of $20,000, in which is a memorial window by the celebrated artist, Mary Tillinghast of New York, which is one of the finest examples of Christ healing the blind in existence. She placed a trust fund of $10,000 in the care of the parochial fund of the diocese, the income of which is to be forever devoted to maintaining the chapel and grounds. Mrs. Wheeler was killed by a runaway horse in Boston, and her remains were placed by the side of those of her husband iu the chapel, where services are held twelve times a year. A. A. Wheeler, the subject of this sketch, was educated in the common schools of his native village, Jefferson County Institute (now known as the Watertown High School) and by private tutors, and was graduated from Union College in 1858, and from the Albany Law School in 1859. He completed his law studies in the offices of Harris, Peckham & Tremain in Albany; the celebrated criminal lawyer, William Hadley; and Starr, Buck & Sawyer of Watertown, as preparatory for the practice of law in New York city. His brother William (who had been selected by his father to continue his pursuits of merchant and farming) leaving, changed his plans by the advice of his brother Thomas, he instead was persuaded by his parents to remain with them. He opened an office in Mannsville in 1861. August 6, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Co. A, 4th New York Light Artillery, and was made first lieutenant. He was stationed at Fort Wadsworth, New York harbor, Sandy Hook and Fort Mahan, defences of Washington. His battalion was later consolidated with the 10th New York Heavy Artillery, in which Lieutenant Wheeler's company became Co. E. He remained with this regiment a little over one year, when he returned home to take command as captain of a company in the 20th N. Y. Cavalry, his father having made partial arrangements which he supposed were about completed, with a captain who had recruited a company and was afterwards promoted to major of the regiment, whereby Mr. Wheeler would succeed him; but through complications brought about by other officers, he was unable to transfer the company to Mr. Wheeler, and he therefore remained at Mannsville, and resumed the practice of his profession, in which he has been successful. In politics Mr. Wheeler is an ardent Republican and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. having begun his political career by distributing Free State documents and speaking for the Republican party in school districts and the village during the Fremont and Dayton campaign. Since then he has spoken in nearly every gubernatorial and presidential campaign under direction of the Jefferson County Committee and State Committee, his last campaign service being that of Harrison's second administration in 1892, when he had the counties of Albany, Schenectady, a part of Ontario, all of Otsego and a part of Oswego and Jefferson. He was on the State Committee's list in the last campaign, but made only a few speeches, the active campaign being transferred West. He has been the president of the village of Mannsville four years and inaugurated the reform in sidewalks, which has resulted in the village having the best walks in the State. His name has been before the caucuses and conventions for member of assembly and one year 300 electors signed a petition requesting him to serve as a candidate. He invariably refused to canvass for the office. He has represented his party at two State conventions and taken part in the debates therein, following George William Curtis and Editor James of Ogdensburg, in the attempt to break what was known as the Conkling unit rule, which was afterwards broken at Utica. He ranks among the best political speakers and writers in the State. In 1895 he was appointed judge advocate on General Atkinson's staff, N. Y. Department G. A. R., and was active in service under special laws providing for the preference being given to veterans in civil service appointments in cities, towns and villages, having many important mandamus proceedings and making and reporting decisions under those laws. He is a member of Delta Phi, Union Chapter, is a member of Zion Protestant Episcopal church of Pierrepont Manor, is now vestryman and has been delegate several times to conventions representing that church.

Our County and it's people
A descriptive work on Jefferson County, New York
Edited by: Edgar C. Emerson
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1898

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