Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jason Wheeler

In a post on my "top ten genealogical mysteries," one of them had to do with my 3rd great grandfather, Jason Wheeler. Here are some ruminations about this interesting family that migrated from New York to Indiana and then many other points.

Jason Wheeler

Jason Wheeler was an early settler in Clermont co. OH, and the father and grandfather of Wheelers who were later residents of Marion co. IN. The History of the Wheeler Family in America (American College of Genealogy, Boston, 1914) [hereafter Wheeler Family] has a brief entry on this Jason, whom it claims was b. 4 Oct. 1765 in New York, died 1843 (no place noted, though it states he later lived in Ohio and Indiana) and married  Patience ----. It also states his children (and it lists 12 of them) were all born in New York. In a query in Gateway to the West, vol. 1-2 p. 45 (it appears to be by Bertha Flecher Kamm), it is stated (without source) that Jason’s wife was Patience Hamelin [Hamblin?]. Comparing and confirming this information with documentary records, however, has proven to be challenging.

In this listing of his twelve children, detailed information (beyond years of birth and death and name of spouse), is given for only two sons, Silas M. Wheeler and Tracy R. Wheeler. This perhaps suggests that the information came from one of these two families—and most likely the descendants of Silas, since the family of his son Abel Foster Wheeler is spelled out in the most detail, including precise birth and death dates of all his children and some of his grandchildren.

The following documentary references have been found which seem clearly to name this Jason Wheeler:

1.  Jason Wheeler appears in 1800 census of Herkimer co. NY, Frankfort twp. [Source Citation: Year: 1800; Census Place: Frankfort, Herkimer, New York; Roll: 21; Page: 426,427; Image: 420; Family History Library Film: 193709.],  with following family configuration (identifications based on list of children in Wheeler Family):
male 26-45 [Jason himself, b. 1765]
female 26-45 [wife Patience]
female 10-16 [Elizabeth, b. 1789]
male under 10 [Silas, b. 1790]
female under 10 [Abigail, b. 1793]
male  under 10 [Jason James, b. 1795]
female under 10 [Lucy, b. 1797]
male under 10 [George, b. 1799]

2.  4 Oct. 1801  Jason Wheeler, along with Alexander Watson, John Rathbun, Benoni Vinton and Stephen Dow purchase land from Jane Constable in Herkimer co. NY (492 acres in Bayard or Freemason Patent, Lot #110) (recorded 4 Oct. 1801, Book 1, p. 288). Watson and Rathbun are listed adjacent to Wheeler in 1800 census; Vinton is four households away.

3.  3 Jan. 1803  Jason Wheeler granted land in Frankfort, Herkimer co. NY (41 1/2 acres in Freemason Patent, part of Lot #110), by Samuel Merry Jr.  (recorded 24 May 1804, Bk 1 p. 48). Samuel Merry Jr. appears in 1800 census three households away from Wheeler.

4.  3 Apr. 1805  Jason Wheeler and Patience his wife, both of Frankfort, sell 41 1/2 acres in Frankfort to Christopher Joslin of Exeter, Rhode Island (recorded 11 Apr. 1805, Book 1, p. 289).

5.  1810   Jason Wheeler appears in census of Chenango co. NY, Columbus twp., [Source Citation: Year: 1810; Census Place: Columbus, Chenango, New York; Roll: 26; Page: 256; Image: 0181380; Family History Library Film: 00138.]with following family configuration:
male over 45 [Jason himself, b. 1765]
female 26-45 [Patience]
female 16-26 [Abigail, b. 1793; or Elizabeth, b. 1789; other probably married]
male 16-26 [Silas, b. 1790]
female 10-16 [Lucy, b. 1797]
male  10-16 [Jason James, b. 1795]
male 10-16 [George, b. 1799]
male under 10 [Abel, b. 1801]
female under 10 [Lucinda, b. 1803]
male under 10 [Harvey, b. 1805]
male under 10 [Tracy b. 1807]
female under 10 [Almira, b. 1809]

6.  1820  Jason Wheeler appears in census of Clermont co. OH, Franklin twp., with following family configuration:
male over 45 [Jason himself, b. 1765]
female over 45 [Patience]
male 16-26 [Abel, b. 1801]
female 10-16 [Almira, b. 1809]
male  10-16 [Harvey, b. 1805]
male 10-16 [Tracy, b. 1807]
female under 10 [Mary Ann, b. 1811]

Jason Wheeler has not been located by name in the 1830 census; several of his children are still in Clermont co., however, including Harvey, Mary Ann (Hastings), Almira (Johnston), and the widow of Jason Jr. None appear to have persons in their household who might be Jason and/or his wife. There is, however, a Silas M. Wheeler in Erie co. PA (see below) who is quite possibly their son, who has in his household a man 70-80 and a woman 60-70; could this be Jason and Patience?

In the 1840 census, he has not been located by name; but several of his children are by this time in Lawrence twp., Marion co. IN (Mary Ann, Harvey, Tracy).  Could he be the “John Wheeler” enumerated fairly near them, whose household consisted of a male and female, each 70 to 80? Sulgrove’s History of Indianapolis and Marion Co. notes that many early settlers of Lawrence twp. came from Clermont co. OH.

By the 1850 census, Jason is apparently dead; but his wife appears in the household of her daughter and son-in-law, John and Mary Ann Hastings, in Lawrence twp., Marion co. IN.  The name appears to be “Palina Wheeler” but may be intended to be “Patience”; she is listed as age 82,. The place of her birth looks like “Va” (Virginia) but could also conceivably be “Vt” (Vermont).

Name of Jason’s Wife.  Wheeler Family indicates “Patience,” and deed listed in #4 above confirms this; 1850 census looks like “Palina” which one might take for a census taker’s sloppiness (e.g., failure to cross the “t,” making it look like an “l”). It should be noted, however, that the 1850 census for Vermont also includes an entry for a woman whose name looks to be “Palina Wheeler,” so the possibility that  this was the name of Jason’s wife cannot be completely discounted. We should probably assume, given especially the evidence of the deed, that “Patience” is correct.

Birthplaces. The Wheeler Family indicates New York, and the 1880 census for his son Abel (Lawrence twp., Marion co. IN) gives his father’s birthplace as New York, and his mother’s as Vermont or Virginia (unclear). However, the 1880 census for a woman who appears to be the daughter of Jason and Patience (more on this below) gives the birthdates of both her parents rather clearly as Vermont. It seems likely that both Jason and Patience were born in Vermont, and perhaps came to New York state soon after their marriage.

Children. While Wheeler Family seems to have a good record of their children, it is not without some problems. We will consider each child in turn:

i.               Elizabeth Wheeler. Wheeler Family says she was b. 1789, d. 1849. No spouse is listed, which might suggest that she never married. But none of the identified family members in the censuses of 1820-1840 appear to have an unmarried woman of her age listed in their family configurations. Was she, in fact, married—perhaps in New York, and remained there when the other migrated west, so that the informants of Wheeler Family didn’t know her married name?

ii.              Silas M. Wheeler, born, Wheeler Family says, 11 Feb. 1790, married Rhoda ---; died 18 June 1855. Wheeler Family lists his children. Silas appears in the 1820 census of Clermont co., b. 1775/94, and then he is probably the Silas M. Wheeler listed in 1830 in the Fairview twp., Erie co. PA, whose family configuration is close to that suggested by Wheeler Family. In this household are also a man, aged 70-80 and a woman aged 60-70—Jason and Patience? He is also likely the S. M. Wheeler in Girard twp., Erie co. PA in 1840 (but no elderly folks in household in that year). His oldest son Solomon appears in Marion co. IN as early as 1840.

iii.            Abigail Wheeler, b. 1793, d. 1832, with no spouse listed in Wheeler Family.

iv.             Jason James Wheeler, b. 1795, d. 1828 in Wheeler Family. He is probably Jason Wheeler Jr. in Franklin twp., Clermont co. OH in 1820 (found in Franklin twp. on page 20; note that he doesn’t seem to be listed by this name in the online indexes for the 1820 census). But the census suggests a wife and two children, while Clermont co. marriage record show that he married Prudence Wheeler 6 Feb. 1823 (a cousin, or unrelated Wheeler, or clerk’s error?). Prudence Wheeler is then listed in the 1830 census of Clermont co., offering support to the statement that Jason d. 1828. Did a first wife die? Who was she? (The census shows a male 16-26, which would be Jason, and a female 26-45, presumably his [first] wife; then a boy and a girl under 10. Possibly one of these children is James P. Wheeler, who shows up in Marion co. IN censuses for 1850 and 1860, b. ca. 1818, and who names his eldest son Jason. Note that this Clermont co. Jason Jr. is living in close proximity to members of the Reddick family; John Reddick will become the guardian for this Jason, son of James, when James dies ca. 1862. Possibly the daughter is the Elizabeth Wheeler who married Joseph Bolander in 1842 in Marion co. IN, and who seems to have died shortly after the marriage. )

v.              Lucy Wheeler, b. 1797, d. 1875, according to Wheeler Family. This is a puzzle, since the Wheeler Family  also lists another daughter, Lucinda, b. 1803, d. 1834, m. James Murtch. But a James P. March with wife Lucy (b. ca. 1797 in NY) is listed in the 1850 census of Washington twp., Marion co. IN, and then continues to appear in Lawrence twp., Marion co. IN, same birthdate, with the spelling Murch in 1860 and 1870. Lucy Murch appears in the household of (her son?) George W. and Amanda Murch in 1880, again b. 1797 in NY, parents born in Vermont. This is almost certainly the daughter of Jason and Patience. Did Wheeler Family conflate two different daughters? Were there indeed both a Lucy and a Lucinda? Seems unlikely, though certainly not impossible.

vi.             George Wheeler, b. 1799, d. 1829 according to Wheeler Family. He is apparently the George Wheeler listed in 1820 census of Clermont co., with a wife and one daughter, though I find no marriage record for him in Clermont co. Assuming he in fact d. 1829, what became of his wife and child? No unaccounted for Wheeler female seems to be listed by name in 1830 in Clermont co.

vii.           Abel M. Wheeler, b. 1801, d. 1881 according to Wheeler Family. Abel is apparently the Abel Wheeler in Erie co. PA in 1830 just two households away from Silas M. (see ii above). There is an Abel M. Wheeler in Swan Creek twp., Lucas co. OH in 1840, but the oldest male in the household is 15-20; there is also a Wheeler in Girard twp., Erie co., with initials that are difficult to discern, age 40-50, who might conceivably be he. In 1850, he appears in Girard twp., Erie co. PA, age 48 b. NY, with wife Fanny and apparently three children: Cynthia, 22, James, 17, and then Ellen, an infant.  In 1860 he appears in Hudson twp., Summit co. OH, age 58, with wife Fanny and young daughter Ellen b. PA age 9. In 1870 he appears in Marion co. with wife named as Anna (probably a misunderstanding or nickname for Frances) and daughter Ellen. In 1880 he is in Lawrence twp. Marion co. IN, age 78, wife Frances. Marion co. records show that Fanny Wheeler d. 16 Nov. 1883, age 75. He is listed as Assessor of Lawrence twp. from 29 Oct. 1868 to1 Aug 1873, and again 27 Mar 1875 to 11 Apr. 1878 [B. R. Sulgrove, History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., 1884. p. 536.]

viii.          Lucinda Wheeler, the Wheeler Family book says b. 1803, d. 1834. See #v above. Larry Stout, in a 2000 GenForum posting, spoke of his ancestor Lucinda Wheeler, b. 3 Apr. 1803 in NY, d. 19 Apr. 1836 in Rush co. IN, m. John Aldridge Jr., b. 27 Feb. 1798 Clermont Co., d. 22 Feb 1842 Rush Co. His parents were John Simpson Aldridge & Mary Lakin. This seems likely to be a daughter of Jason and Patience, and suggests that they had both a Lucy and a Lucinda, but that the Wheeler Family book misunderstood which one married James Murtch.

ix.            Harvey B. Wheeler, b. 1805, d. 1878 in theWheeler Family. He is likely the Harvey G. Wheeler in Washington twp. Clermont co. OH in 1830, the Harvey Wheeler in Lawrence twp. Marion co. IN in 1840. He then appears in the same location in 1850 with wife Susanna; in 1860 as “Harvey D.Wheeler” with wife Susan; in 1870 as “Harvey D. Wheeler” with no wife listed.

x.              Tracy R. Wheeler, b. 1807, d. 1888, m. 1828 Abigail Day, according to Wheeler Family. The marriage is confirmed by the Clermont co. marriage records (7 Apr. 1828),  but there is no apparent record of them in the 1830 census of that co. (or anywhere else). In 1840, however, he appears as Trassey Wheeler in Lawrence twp. Marion co. IN. In 1850 he is in Marion co. IA, listed as Tracy R. Wheeler, with wife Abagail and 11 children. In 1860, “Abby Wheeler” appears in Lawrence twp., Marion co. IN, with the younger children from the 1850 listing, so apparently widowed or divorced from Tracy (no listing for Tracy has been found, and so likely he had died, in spite of the later date given by Wheeler Family).

xi.            Almira Wheeler, b. 1809, m. James Johnston. The marriage of James Johnston and Ellmary Wheeler is recorded in Clermont co. OH 5 Sept. 1828, and James Johnston appears with wife and one daughter in the 1830 census of that county,  then as James Johnson in close proximity to Tracy Wheeler in Lawrence twp., Marion co. IN in 1840, and consistently in that township in 1850,  1860,  and 1870; her name is spelled variously, but always indicates a birth date of ca. 1809. She died 25 Oct 1875 and is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Lawrence twp. Marion co. IN. James died 29 Sep 1883 and is buried in the same cemetery.

xii.           Mary Ann, b. 1811, d. 1852, m. John Hastings. Their marriage is recorded in Clermont co. OH 15 Aug. 1829, and they appear in the Clermont co. census in 1830, and then in Lawrence tp. Marion co. IN in 1840 and 1850, but no later. Family tradition says that she died and he “disappeared,” and this is confirmed by several of their children appearing in various places in the 1860 census—two with the oldest son, Oliver and two with Harvey Wheeler. A woman who is apparently Mary Ann’s mother, Patience (though the writing looks like “Palina”), appears in her household in 1850,  age 82 (i.e., b. ca. 1768) in Virginia (Vermont?).

Questions. Many questions remain unanswered. Patience was apparently still living in 1850; when did Jason die? Where are they buried? (No grave for them has been found in Marion co.)  What was Patience’s maiden name? Is it possible it was Tracy, and that their son Tracy was named for her family? (It seems an unusual name, and one that could be a family surname.) Or perhaps Harvey?

Were they in fact from Vermont? If their oldest daughter was born ca. 1789, we would expect to find Jason Wheeler in the 1790 census. There is indeed a Jason Wheeler listed in the census of  Lunenburg, Orange co. VT in that year, with one male and three females. One female would be his wife, one daughter Elizabeth b. 1789; but who would the other be? A daughter who died in infancy? Some female who was not a child of Jason and Patience? And why is the son Silas not counted if he was born early in 1790?  (Interestingly, there are several Tracys also in Orange co., though in different towns.) Is this our Jason? (Note: in 1793, Essex co. was formed from part of Orange; Lunenburg is today in Essex.)


  1. This was an excellent post. I'm going to throw out another idea here. Some trees on the internet are listing Jason Wheeler as being John Jayson Wheeler. In my experience, a lot of the families on this tree do go by their middle names, so I'm not totally opposed to this idea. If Jason was actually John Jayson, there is a man by the name of John Wheeler who fits the age, who enlisted in the US Army in 1813. He was 48 years old, and was a weaver. He was discharged in November of 1814 for disability, at Sackett's Harbor. Was he wounded? If so, is this possibly how he arrived in Clermont County, which was military land? I'm going to "dog this bone?"

  2. I am looking at Jason Wheeler again, because I've just read a book about Ethan Allen that went into a good deal of detail about how Vermont was formed. Indeed, Essex and Orange County Vermont were once considered, by New York, to be Gloucester County, NY. Hence the confusion about where Jason and his wife were born, I suppose. It was New York when they were born but became Vermont sometime around 1785 and Vermont became a state in 1791.

    I was just looking at the marriage records for Lunenburg, Vt. on FamilySearch. So far I haven't located Jason Wheeler, but I did locate a Lucinda Wheeler who married Andrew Caswell on August 12, 1790 in Lunenburg. This was where Jason was in the 1790 census, and Lucinda is a name he used for one of his daughters. I think this Lucinda Wheeler could be Jason's sister. I'm not sure this is much progress, but it's more than I had before! Have you found anything new?