John Wheeler

John Wheeler was born on May 29, 1839, in Gaines Basin, Orleans County, New York, the son of William K. (b. 1815) and Louisa (Woodward, b. 1818).

Vermont native William married New York-born Louisa and they settled in New York for some years. William was still living in Gaines, New York in 1840, but he moved his family to Michigan (probably from New York) around 1847, and by 1850 John was attending school with an older brother and living with his family in Grand Rapids, Kent County. In September of 1855 John was probably living in Grand Rapids when he joined the Grand Rapids Artillery, commanded by Captain Lucius Patterson. (Captain Baker Borden would eventually succeed Patterson, and the GRA would serve as the nucleus for Company B, Third Michigan Infantry, also commanded by Borden.)

By 1859-60 John was working as a carpenter and residing with his family on Turner between Bridge and First Streets on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. In 1860 he was a master carpenter working with his father (also a master carpenter) and living with his family in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward.

John was 22 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as Musician, probably as Drummer, in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was transferred to the Band on July 1, 1861 when he was promoted to Principal Musician. He was discharged on January 17, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, as a “member of the Band and not as a Musician.”

After he left the army John eventually returned to Grand Rapids. He married Michigan native Carrie Robens (b. 1843) on October 16, 1864, in Grand Rapids, and they had one son: Ernest (b. 1871).

By 1870 he was apparently living with his parents (there is no mention of his wife in the 1870 census) and working for his father who was a s ash manufacturer in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward. He was residing on Turner Street in 1874 when the Democrat reported on October 17, that

Last evening a party assembled at the residence of Mr. John Wheeler on Turner Street, for the purpose of celebrating the tenth [?] anniversary of Mr. and Mr. William K. Wheeler’s marriage day with a tin wedding, the latter named gentleman and lady being father and mother of Mr. John Wheeler. For the purpose of rendering the occasion more enjoyable the proceeding were made a surprise to the wedded pair, who had not been made acquainted with the auspicious event in which they were to be the principal actors. Accordingly, they were invited, among the other guests, and the Knight Templar Band, of whom Mr. Wheeler Jr., a member, also conceived the happy thought and intention of being presented a large number of ‘priceless’ presents, of many devices, and composed of real tin, and no sham, awaited the pair, they having been sent in in advance by friends and acquaintances. It is needless to say that the event was extremely pleasant and vastly enjoyable to all who were there. The music furnished by the band was very fine, and no doubt was quite as deservingly appreciated as were the other portions of the festivities.

John lived in the Grand Rapids area nearly all of his life. In 1880 he was working as a joiner and living with hius wife and son and mother-in-law Maria Robens in Walker, Kent County (his parents were living on Turner Street in the Seventh Ward in 1880). He was residing at 19 Stocking Street in the late 1880s or early 1890s, at 41 Alabama Street in Grand Rapids in 1899 and in 1890 when he gave an affidavit in the pension application of Capt. Baker Borden (formerly of Company B), in Walker, Kent County in 1890, and he was possibly back living in the city in December of 1902 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association; he was probably also a member of Grand Army of the Republic Champlin Post No. 29 in Grand Rapids.

In 1890 he applied for and received a pension (no. 964220).

John was living at 503 Front Street in 1906-1908, in 1909 and 1911.

He was ill only two weeks when he died of pneumonia at his home in Grand Rapids on Monday October 23, 1911. Funeral services were held at Spring’s chapel on Sheldon Street at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 25, and he was buried in Greenwood cemetery: section E lot no. 10.

The following week his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 732810).

Franklin Wheeler

Franklin Wheeler was born in 1838.

In 1860 there was a New York-born 20-year-old laborer named Franklin Wheeler working for a miller named parsons in Saline, Washtenaw County; also living in Washtenaw was a tailoress named Jane O. Wheeler, born 1815 in New York.

Franklin stood 5’11’’ with hazel eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion and was 23 years old and possibly living in Kent County, Michigan, when he enlisted as a wagoner for Company F on May 13, 1861. He was serving as the Adjutant’s clerk from July of 1862 through September, as a clerk at Brigade headquarters from February of 1863 through July, and was working as a clerk at Camp Convalescent in Alexandria, Virginia, from August until he was transferred, probably to the Thirty-third Company, Second Batallion of the Veterans’ Reserve Corps on September 30, 1863.

There is no further record.

There is no pension file available for the Frank Wheeler who served in the Third Michigan infantry. One Jane Wheeler was reported as the dependent mother of Franklin Wheeler, Company F, Thirteenth U.S. Infantry, when she applied for and received a pension (no. 52631) in June of 1864.

(Curiously, there was Vermont-born Jane Wheeler (b. 1815) who was keeping house for her son 30-year-old Michigan-born farmer Franklin Wheeler in 1870 in Tecumseh, Lenawee County. Jane was listed as the head of the household in 1860 and Franklin was working as a lawyer and they were living in Ridgway, Lenawee County; also living with them were Franklin’s younger siblings James and Eliza. In 1850 Franklin was attending school with two of his younger siblings and living with his father New York native Benjamin P. (b. 1808) and mother Jane in Meridian, Ingham County. This was probably the same Franklin Wheeler who served from Tecumseh in the Fourth Michigan infantry during the war.)

Old Third Michigan Association records of June 29, 1904, report that of its total membership roster since 1870 the only Frank Wheeler on its books was Frank S. Wheeler, who was, curiously enough, an honorary member of the Association.

(According to this Wheeler’s pension records he was born 1845 in Michigan, the son of Josiah (1808-1868), and in 1860 was an apprentice printer attending school and living with his family in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward, where his father and older brother worked as master masons. Frank S. was 19 years old when he enlisted in Company B, One hundred forty-third Illinois infantry on May 9, 1864 at Cairo, Illinois, and was mustered out of service on September 26, 1865 (?) at Mattoon, Illinois. He returned to Michigan where he worked as a grocer for some time in Grand Rapids after the war, and may have been living in Lansing’s Fifth Ward in 1894. He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 4053) on June 30, 1903, was discharged April 25, 1916 at his own request, and readmitted on December 12, 1916. He was probably never married, and he received pension no. is 662,147, drawing $10.00 in 1903, increased to $12.00, $15.00 and in 1912 to $18.00. He died at 9:00 a.m. on January 2, 1918, at the Christian Science church in Grand Rapids, and was buried on January 4 in Fulton cemetery, Grand Rapids.)

DeForest F. Wheeler

DeForest F. Wheeler was born in 1834 in Canada, the son of Henry (b. 1790) and Ann (b. 1808).

Connecticut native Henry married New York-born Anne and they settled in New for some years. Sometime between 1833 and 1834 the family moved to Canada and between 1836 and 1844 settled in Ohio. Sometime after 1846 henry moved his family west and by 1850 had serttled on a farm in Wright, Ottawa County, Michigan where Deforest attended school with two of his siblings. His father and several siblings were still living in Wright. Ottawa County in 1860.

DeForest was 28 years old and possibly living in Kent County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was reported as an ambulance driver from September of 1862 through March of 1863, and was absent sick in the hospital from April through July, although he was also reported as a deserter on April 1, 1863, at Detroit. Apparently he had been furloughed in March for 30 days, and was to have returned on April 1, but failed to report and was thus classified as a deserter. In fact, he was transferred to Company A, Twelfth Veterans’ Reserve Corps in June of 1863 and was mustered out as a Private of the VRC on December 30, 1864.

He apparently reentered the service on February 8, 1865, as a First Lieutenant in the Two hunded and third Pennsylvania Infantry and was possibly transferred to Company B Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania infantry.

It is not known if DeForest ever returned to Michigan.

He was married to Pennsylvania native Anna S. (b. 1845).

Deforest and his wife eventually settled in Texas by 1878 and he was probably the same “D. T.” Wheeler who, in 1880, was working as a stone cutter and living with his wife and daughter in Precinct 2, Grayson County, Texas. In any case, DeForest was living on North Houston Avenue in Denison, Grayson County, Texas in 1890, reportedly suffering from a wounded ankle.

In 1884 he applied for and received a pension (no. 393901) for service in the Third Michigan, the VRC as well as the Pennsylvania regiment.

DeForest probably died in 1891, and probably in Texas.

In October of 1891 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 437354).