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Nelson and Eliza Crittenden Wheeler Family

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Contacts - James Brown has furnished obituaries and other information on this family as well as on the Tieman family. He has also sent an interesting book kept by Mary Adeline Wheeler Tieman containing recipes and with the printed part of the book giving much information about the time period of 1869 in Mercer County. We have a separate page for the book .

Serious help is needed with locating the parents of Nelson Wheeler. James Brown tells us that the 1880 census says that Nelson’s father was born in MD and that his mother was born in PA. Nelson Wheeler was born 25 August 1820 in Ohio. If you can help email Nadine on the About Us Page.

Nelson Wheeler married Eliza P. Crittenden, daughter of Henry Crittenden, on 7/8/1841 in Washington County, Indiana. We will be putting up a Crittenden page. James Brown kindly furnished the obituaries of Nelson and Eliza which we are including here (at bottom of the page) as there is some interesting historical information in them (James has also submitted them for posting on the Mercer County Obituary Board to give them a wider circulation.) Someone else in Mercer County died of strychnine poisoning that was a mistake for quinine. We wonder if the old medicine bottles were similar and if Nelson's death was also a mistake. There must be an antique expert out there that could tell us about the bottles?

According to Eliza's obituary the Wheelers came to Mercer County in 1847 and that appears approximately correct. They are found in Township 14N Range 4W in 1850 (future Millersburg Township): #478 Nelson R. Wheeler, 29, farmer, born Ohio; Elisa Wheeler, 32, Indiana; Mary, 8, In; Martha, 6, In; Ransom, 3, In; James Crittenden, 19, laborer, In; Henry Crittenden, 69, Virginia. Since Eliza's father and brother are with them and her brother George and family are found two households away, we assume they all came together from Indiana.

Nelson and Eliza had children: Mary Adaline Wheeler (10/27/1842); Martha J. Wheeler (Abt. 1844); Ransom Perry Wheeler (4/29/1845); Helen Mar Wheeler (Abt. 1850); Emma C. Wheeler (Abt. 1855); Ruth E. Wheeler (Abt. 1862). Daughter Emma died 9/28/1858 and daughter Ruth died 12/23/1864 and both are buried in New Boston Cemetery.

Mary Adeline Wheeler Tieman

Mary Adeline married Henry Tieman on 12/2/1858 in Mercer County. There is more on their family on the Tieman page. The Wheeler family was apparently a close one as James Brown sent us this charming story about Mary Adeline Wheeler and family: "My grandmother (Mary Adeline Tieman), great grandmother (Annie Virginia Tieman), and great, great grandmother (Mary Adeline [Wheeler] Tieman), took a train from New Boston, through the midwest, and on to California to see Helen Mar (Wheeler) Bassett (Mary Adeline Wheeler Tieman’s sister). They packed baskets of food for the trip, and my grandmother, although very young, had an absolutely wonderful time on this long journey to the west coast. It was in 1911 or 1912. Other Tieman and Crittenden relatives had moved to Long Beach and Los Angeles, but they never mentioned meeting any of them - just Helen Bassett “on her fruit farm on the county road just outside Orange” (City), Orange County, CA. Helen’s son, Wilbur Bassett (Sr.) was practicing law in downtown Los Angeles, and I still have his business card my grandmother brought back from the trip."

Mary Adeline Wheeler Tieman died on 5/27/1913 in Mercer County of pneumonia and is buried in New Boston Cemetery.

Martha J. Wheeler Ballard

Martha J. Wheeler married Cyrus A. Ballard on 10/1/1867 in Mercer County. There is more about them on the Ballard page. Cyrus died 3/4/1887 and is buried in New Boston Cemetery. Martha is found as a widow in New Boston City in 1900: #226 Martha Ballard, 55, 5 children born, 3 living, widow, born Nov 1844, Illinois, parents born Indiana; John Ballard, son, 16, July 1883, Il, father In, mother Il; Hortense [Ballard] Baner, 20, Sept 1879, Il, In, Il; Harry O. Baner, son-in-law, Nov 1874, 25, Il, father Ia, mother NY; James Strawhacker, boarder, 42, Dec 1857, Pa, parents born Pa; Dan Anderson, boarder, 12, March 1882, Iowa, parents born Iowa.

Martha is the Mrs. Ballard referred to in Nelson Wheeler's obituary and her boarder, James Strawhacker, drove her to see her father and was almost poisoned as well.

Ransom Perry Wheeler

From James Brown:
Ransom Perry Wheeler, the son of Nelson and Eliza (Crittenden) Wheeler was born 29 April 1845 in Salem, Washington County, Indiana. By 1850 the family had moved to Township 14 N R 4 W, Mercer County, Illinois. In the 1850 U. S. Federal Census (taken 2 October), Ransom (age 3) was listed with his parents (Nelson, age 29; Eliza, age 32) and sisters Mary (age 8) and Martha (age 6) in Household #478. Also living in the household were his grandfather, Henry Crittenden (age 60), and uncle, James Crittenden (age 19).

By 1860 the family had moved to New Boston, Township 14 N 5 W, also in Mercer County, Illinois. In the U. S. Federal Census taken on 13 July 1860, James was listed as age 13; Martha was listed as age 15 and Helen M. was listed as age 10. In addition to his father (age 39) and his mother (age 42), one other person was in Household #1816: Augustus Muhlenberg, age 22, born Hanover, Germany.

In the U. S. Federal Census for 1870, Perry R. Wheeler, age 24, was listed as a farmer in Household #187 of Edwin Cornell and family in Duncan Township, Mercer County, Illinois.

(The 1850 and 1860 census information suggests that he was born in 1847; the 1870 census data suggest he was born in 1846. His tombstone in New Boston Cemetery (data transcribed by D. A. R. representatives) recorded his death as 21 August 1896, age 49 years, 4 months, and 21 days. This would suggest a birth date of 1845. His daughter, in a newspaper account, said he died in 1898; this would suggest a birth anniversary in 1847 if he were age 49 at death. The 1903 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Mercer County (page 748) states that the family moved from Indiana to Illinois in 1847. Nevertheless, Ransom Perry was the last sibling born in Indiana; his sister, Helen Mar, was born in Illinois in 1850. )

The Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900, confirms that R. P. Wheeler married Hattie I. McCandless on 9 September 1873 in Mercer County, Illinois.

William W. McCandless (born ca. 1820) and Sarah A. (Duncan) (born 11 September 1823) McCandless were both from Pennsylvania, and published material indicates they married in Washington County, Pennsylvania. They, along with other McCandless family members, settled first (by 1850) in McDonough County, Illinois, where their first two children, Mary J. and Arnott D., were born. By 1860 the family was living near Aledo, Township 14 N 3 W, also in Mercer County. Their family had expanded with the births of Isa, born ca. 1851; Harriet (Hattie), born 1856; Thomas, ca. 1857; and William J., born in 1860. Their household #1266 also included Thomas R. Duncan, age 23, laborer, and James M. Connelly, age 28, teacher, both of whom were born in Pennsylvania.

(Published reports indicate that Sarah A (Duncan) McCandless was the daughter of John Duncan and Alletha Swearingen, who was born in Hanover Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Aletha was the daughter of Basil (Van) Swearingen [2 April 1782-15 May 1852] and Sarah Wilcoxen [ca. 1782-March 1856, Bethel, Beaver Co., PA].)

During the Civil War, many men from Mercer County enlisted for service to the Union cause. William W. McCandless was among them, and he served as Corporal in Company H of the 84th Illinois Infantry. The 84th Infantry was organized at Quincy, Illinois in August 1862 with 939 men and officers. Among the many battles fought, one of the most disastrous was at Stone River, where 228 men and officers were killed and wounded out of 350 soldiers engaged. It was at Stone River that William W. McCandless died. Sarah A. (Duncan) McCandless, widow, continued to provide for her young family. By 21 July 1870 when the U. S. Federal Census was taken, her household in Mercer Township (Aledo post office) consisted of the following children: Arnott D., age 20; Isa A., age 18; Hattie, age 15; Thomas H., age 13; and William J., age 9.

In 1873 Hattie I. McCandless married Perry Wheeler, and her brother, Arnott D., married Gertie Cabeen on 8 October 1873. Isa (Icy) McCandless married John Connell on 31 October 1870. Mary (Mollie A.) married William H. Ward on 16 February 1869. All of the marriages were in Mercer County.

Perry Wheeler and Hattie I. (McCandless) Wheeler had one daughter, Grace Evangeline Wheeler, born 10 April 1878 in Lenox, Taylor County, Iowa. Newspaper reports, in which Grace was interviewed, indicate that the family was not a stable one. “After her parents’ separation, Grace went with her mother to Nebraska to live with her grandmother. The grandmother had stayed in Illinois after the death of her husband at Stone River. She was left with six children to raise, the youngest of whom was only two years old. After the children were raised and in homes of their own, she heard of homesteading in Nebraska so traveled to near Hemingford and took up a homestead. She was living there when Grace and her mother [Hattie] came to be with her.

At the age of 14, Grace went to Illinois to live with her father. This was in 1892, and the next year they attended the World’s Fair. Her father passed away in 1898, so she returned to Nebraska where she lived until her marriage to James Waisner in 1904. Then they came to Wyoming to a ranch down the river from Arvada, where they lived for many years.... Others in the family moved to Nebraska as well. A. D. McCandless, attorney, was listed in the 1893-1894 Directory for Beatrice, Nebraska. (At age 80 he was living in Gage County, Nebraska [1930 U. S. Federal Census].) In the 1900 U. S. Federal Census, William H. Ward and his wife, Mary A. (McCandless) Ward and family were living in Hemingford Village, Dorsey precinct, Box Butte County, Nebraska. Harriet Wheeler (Mary’s sister), was also in their household, and data in the census report that she was born in July 1856, and that she was a widow.

Around 1901, Hattie I. (McCandless) Wheeler married Benjamin E. Johnson. They were listed in the 1910 U. S. Federal Census for Hemingford Village, Dorsey precinct, Box Butte County, Nebraska. Benjamin was a merchant, and Hattie was a music teacher. Living with them was Hattie’s mother, Sarah A. McCandless, age 86. Of her seven children, five were living as of 3 May 1910.

Grace Evangeline (Wheeler) Waisner, and her husband, James (16 Dec. 1875-29 Dec. 1937), had three children, all of whom were born in Sheridan, Sheridan County, Wyoming: Perry Waisner, born 22 November 1905; Wilbur Alger Waisner, born 31 August 1908; and Nelson Wheeler Waisner, born 10 September 1911. Grace married second, in 1927, Thomas Samuel Hughes (18 January 1895-4 January 1952). Grace Evangeline (Wheeler) Waisner Hughes died 23 January 1975 in Buffalo, Johnson County, Wyoming at age 97.

Helen Mar Wheeler Bassett

Helen Wheeler married Fletcher S. Bassett on 1/19/1874 in Mercer County. They had a son Wilbur S. Bassett as mentioned in the trip to California that Mary Adeline Wheeler made in the 1900s (above). Fletcher Bassett was son of Isaac N. Bassett, a long time resident of Mercer County. Fletcher Bassett served in the Civil War and his widow, Helen, applied for a pension in 1918 in California. Photos of Helen and Fletcher are posted on the Bassett page, courtesy James Brown.

Nelson Wheeler Obituary

The question the past week that everybody has been asking is, was Nelson Wheeler poisoned, and, if so, how did it happen? The facts of the case brought out at the coroner’s inquest were about as follows: Mr. Wheeler was in New Boston Thursday and did not arrive home until a little after twelve o’clock. The noon meal was over but the table had not been cleared, and Mr. Lingafelter, a tenant with whom he made his home insisted on his eating his dinner. He complained of not feeling well and said he did not care for anything to eat. He went to his room and rested a short time. Mr. Lingafelter again went to him and again insisted that he go (to) the table and get something, if nothing more than a cup of coffee. he finally consented and went out and ate a light meal and drank a cup of coffee. He then returned to his room and rested until about 5 o’clock. At that time he left the room and started down the steps when he fell and hurt himself considerably, but not seriously. Mr. Lingafelter thought best to send for some of Mr. Wheeler’s family and for a doctor but Mr. Wheeler would not consent. When he fell he was on the east side of the residence and in the shade. Those present wanted to help him into the house, but he insisted, on account of the heat, it was more pleasant on the steps than in the house and remained there until bedtime. When they assisted him to bed they found instead of being dizzy as was at first supposed, the trouble was with his legs. They cramped and were stiff and would give way under him. After retiring he felt much better, but Mr. Lingafelter slept on a cot in his room. Mr. Wheeler had a restless night and did not feel like getting up the next morning, but still insisted that there was no need of sending for a doctor or for his children. When breakfast was over Mrs. Lingafelter drove to Henry Tieman’s and told Mrs. Tieman of her father’s condition. Mrs. Tieman telephoned for Dr. Cutts and Mrs. Ballard. Mr. and Mrs. Tieman returned with Mrs. Lingafelter. The doctor on his arrival found Mr. Wheeler was threatened with lockjaw and prescribed for him. He immediately grew better and in the course of the afternoon concluded he would go home with Mrs. Ballard. The doctor told him it would not do. Mr. Wheeler then told Mrs. Ballard she had better go home and get things in readiness to move, for she intended to move to the Arpee house, and he would come in Saturday. Before she left he invited Mr. Tieman and James Strawhacker, who had driven Mrs. Ballard out, to drink with him and pointed to a bottle of liquor on a table at the foot of the bed. Strawhacker drank first, and remarked after drinking that it was the most bitter tasting whiskey he had ever drank. After Mr. Tieman drank he told Mr. Wheeler he had put quinine in the liquor but he assured them there had been nothing put in it. Strawhacker soon complained of being sick and went out into the yard. Shortly afterwards Mrs. Ballard went to where he was and he told her his limbs were cramping and he felt as if he was poisoned. Mrs. Ballard went and asked her father if there was any poison about the house and he told her there was not. She then asked if there was any oil and was given a bottle containing about one and one-half ounces which Strawhacker took and was soon relieved. Mr. Tieman by this time was also feeling strange. The women folks tasted the liquor and decided it was best for Mrs. Ballard to take charge of what was left of it and take it home. The father insisted that he would be all right in the morning and for them to go home. They left him about 4 o’clock and he apparently improved until about 9 o’clock. It had been arranged for Mr. Lingafelter to give him his medicine and to sleep on the couch in the same room. At 9 o’clock he gave him his medicine and he complained that it was bitter and had him get some beer to take the taste out of his mouth. He said the beer did not make it any better and he would have to get him some water which he did. Upon drinking the water he was taken with convulsions. Word was immediately sent to the family, but before they could arrive he was dead, dying in about 20 minutes. Coroner Austin went out Saturday morning and impaneled the following jury: A. V. Larrance, L. L. Lutz, James Stevenson, D. O. Blaisdell, Clyde Pullen and Bud Retherford.

The jury called Drs. Cutts and Criswell who held a post mortem examination but found no signs of anything that threw any light on the subject. They adjourned without reaching a verdict until Saturday, July 6th and in the meantime the stomach, a portion of the liver and the bottle of whiskey has been sent to a chemist for analysis. There was nothing brought out to give any light on how the poison, if there was poison, had got in the whiskey. Mr. Wheeler was not an intemperate man, but for years had used liquor in small quantities as a stimulant. The liquor in question was bought about the first of June and perhaps a dozen or more of his friends had drank of it with no bad results. The poison, if poison there were, had been put in the jug or bottle which was used to pour it into within a short time previous to Thursday. The question with our people still unsolved is, was he poisoned, if so, how did it get there?

Nelson Wheeler was born August 25, 1820, in Harrison county, Ohio, and died at his home in this township at 9:20 Friday night, June 21, 1901, and was buried Sunday afternoon in the New Boston cemetery. Funeral services were held from the residence at 2 o’clock p.m., Rev. J. F. James officiating. Mr. Wheeler came west from Ohio, settling first in Indiana and later, in 1847, in Illinois. While residing in Indiana he was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Crittendon. To this union 7 children were born, three of whom are still living, namely: Mrs. Henry Tieman and Mrs. M. Ballard of this township and Mrs. Helen Bassett of Chicago. All were present at the funeral together with a granddaughter, Mrs. Minnie Dewey and a grandson, Wilbur Bassett, both of Chicago. The funeral services were held in the yard under the same beautiful trees where like services were held 32 years ago over the remains of his wife. Nelson Wheeler was a plain, unassuming man, a man whose word was as good as his bond, true to his friends, kind to his family, industrious and economical. His life was a success and in death we lose one of our oldest and most respected citizens.

(The article and obituary for Nelson Wheeler was originally published in The Times Record, Aledo, Mercer County, Illinois, on Thursday, June 27, 1901. H. F. Babbitt was the undertaker and burial was in New Boston Cemetery on June 23, 1901. The Certificate of Death, #1549, was filed on 17 July 1901 with Fred Hendrickson, County Clerk for Mercer County, Illinois. The death certificate was signed by W. C. Austin, M. D., Coroner; the official cause of death was “strychnine poison administered by some unknown person.”)

Eliza Crittenden Wheeler Obituary

On Monday evening, September 11, 1871, Mrs. ELIZA P. WHEELER, wife of Nelson Wheeler, of New Boston Township, aged 54 years.

Mrs. Wheeler was born in Washington County, Ind., on the 27th day of May, 1817, and was married on the 8th of July, 1841. Accompanied by her husband, she removed to Illinois in 1847, and settled in New Boston township, Mercer county, where the family still reside.

Mrs. Wheeler was a woman whose amiable traits of character would naturally draw around her a large circle of friends, and, coming to Illinois when the country was but sparsely settled, neighbors wide apart, and the troubles and privations of western life of frequent occurrence, she found an ample field to test her innate humanity, and soon became the center of a large circle of friends. Her pathway of life was marked by many acts of of noble generosity. At the bedside of the sick, at the hearth-stone of the destitute, at the solitary abode of distress, her presence was ever the herald of relief. As the country developed in richness, and earthly comforts clustered around her, her sphere of usefulness extended, and she was enabled to render more substantial aid to the needy, while her home was the shrine of genuine western hospitality.

As a wife and mother, Mrs. WHEELER was not less noted than as a kind neighbor. Affectionate in disposition, confiding by nature, and with a warm, loving heart, she was admirably adapted to grace and adorn the domestic hearth, over which she presided for thirty years. As might be expected, love ruled the household, and its holy influences bound all its members in filial unison. Her life, like that of all mortals, had its trials and darkness. Two branches from the parental stem, withered in the morning of life, and left vacant places. While weeping over their departure, she devoted herself more closely to the living, whose life character she moulded with a mother’s love. Without a moment’s warning, the death messenger came. She had enjoyed her usual health until the Saturday evening before her death, when she was struck by paralysis. Though conscious, she was unable to speak, and the spark of life went out at 11:20 o’clock on Monday night. She leaves a husband, a son, three daughters, and an extensive circle of friends, to mourn her loss and cherish her virtues.

“Rest, spirit, rest,
In the green pastures of the heavenly shore,
Where sin and sorrow can approach no more,
With all the flock by the Good Shepherd fed,
Beside the streams of life eternal led,
Forever with thy God and Saviour blest,
Rest, sweetly, rest.”

(The obituary for Eliza P. [Crittenden] Wheeler has been retyped as it appeared in The Aledo Weekly Record, Volume 15, Number 13, Aledo, Illinois, on Wednesday, September 20, 1871.)