Friday, June 15, 2012

Richard Wheeler History

The following is found among the research notes of Fredrick R. Boyer—
The notation at the top of the page says “Wheeler Family of Rutland, MA. Daniel M. Wheeler, Pittsfield, MA, 1924.”

The book entry is as follows:

            The Wheeler family is of ancient English origin having been numerous in and about London for several hundred years.
            It is evident that some members of the family were prominent citizens for it is recorded that during the reign of Charles II (1649-1685), Sir Charles Wheeler was appointed “Captain General of the Caribee Islands,” and in 1698 an English fleet under the command of Sir Francis Wheeler put into the port of Boston to recruit.
            Among the ????? several Wheelers who settled at Concord, Dedham, Boston, Charlestown, and Newbury, Mass, and Stonington and Stratford, Conn. And at others places according to Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary.
            No relation has ever been established between these families although it is probably that some of them, at least, were related.
            The spelling of the name has been recorded in different ways according to the caprice or ignorance of various town and church clerks, as for example, Wheelar, Wheler, Wheller, Wheyler.
            But whenever original signatures are obtainable the name is always found to be spelled Wheeler.
            This book is devoted to Richard Wheeler of Dedham and Lancaster and some of his descendents and allied families.

            Chapter 1- First Generation and Allied Families, 1611- 1676.

            Richard Wheeler, born in England perhaps in 1611, married fired at Dedham, Mass, May 4, 1644, Elizabeth Turner of Dedham, who died in Dedham, Dec. 25, 1656.
            He married second at Lancaster, Mass, Aug, 2, 1658, Sarah Prescott, daughter of John and Mary (Platts) Prescott.  She was born in Halifax Parish, England in 1697.
            The children of Richard and Elizabeth, all born at Dedham, Mass were:
1.      Sarah, born Feb 4, 1644-5  Died Dec 25, 1656.
2.      Mary, born Oct 5, 1646- married Thomas Wilder of Lancaster.
3.      John, born Oct 18, 1648 died at Dedham Feb. 17, 1661-2
4.      Samuel, born Jan 4, 1650-51, died at Dedham Dec. 25, 1656
5.      Hannah, born Aug 30, 1658
6.      Joseph, born Feb 5, 1655-6  Killed by Indians at Lancaster, Aug 22, 1675

The children born to Richard and Sarah were:
7.      Abraham, born at Dedham, Dec 7, 1659- married Tabitha- killed by Indians at Lancaster, Nov 1695.
8.      Isaac, Born at Dedham or Lancaster in 1661, married in 1682 or 1683, Experience Metcalf of Medfield.
9.      Jacob, born at Lancaster Nov 25, 1668, died Feb. 21, 1668-4.
10.  Zebediah, born at Lancaster, Jan 2, 1664-5 Married Mary, died at Stowe Mass, Dec 16, 1729.
11.  Sarah, born at Lancaster March 12, 1666, married ……. Taylor. She was living in 1742.
12.  Elizabeth born at Lancaster May 24, 1669, married Feb 12, 1691 Jonathon rice of Sudbury.
13.  Samuel born at Lancaster April 29, 1671- Soldier in expedition to Canada, died in 1691.  Inventory dated April 8, 1691.
14.  Daniel (probably)

Richard Wheeler was killed by the Indians at Lancaster in King Phillip’s war, Feb 10, 1675-6.
            Richard Wheeler’s name first appears in this country upon the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Turner, May 4, 1644.  From this time on his name appears frequently upon the Dedham records.
            While there seems to be no proof of the fact, it is probably that this Richard is the same who, at the age of 24, embarked for “Virginia” from the port of London in August 1635, on the ship “Thomas” Henry Tavener, Master and who with 57 others were examined by the minister at Gravesend “touching their conformity in our religion” before embarking.  (see Hotten’s list of Emigrants in American {Plantations, page 126.)
            The term “Virginia” was an elastic one in those days and often included New England, at one of whose ports the “Thomas” may have entered, or if he first landed in Virginia, he may have come afterward to New England.   At any rate there seems to be no record of Richard in Virginia.
            At a town meeting in Dedham, Jan.1, 1646-7 the following votes were passed:
            “Richard Wheeler and John Farrington are admitted Townsmen,” and “Granted unto Richard Wheeler and John Farrington, 2 acres of vpland to be laid out at the discretion of Peter Woodward, Rob’t Hinsdale, and Richard Euered beyond the house Lott of the Richard Euered and betixt the highway and ye swampe ther.”  (Dedham Records)
            Richard Wheeler’s house was built soon after, as it appears upon the valuation list of 1648 and in that year he and John Farrington bought Will Barstow’s grant of 8 acres.
            On February 26, 1651-2 the town voted “Granted to Rich Wheeler one parcel of vpland being about 1 acre more or less as it lyeth upon the South and west sides of his house Lott a highway to the swamp reserved.”  (Dedham Records)
            On March 1, 1652-3 a division of 500 acres of common land was made and Richard Wheeler drew lot No. 29 consisting of 8 acres and eleven rods.
            On Feb 20, 1656-7 a division of the “cow commons” was made and Richard’s share was eight “cow commons”.  As will be seen later these eight “cow commons” descended to his son Isaac and afterward to his grandson, Isaac Wheeler.
            On July 5, 1660, he drew lot No. 48 containing eight acres as his share of another divisions of common lands and on the same day the town voted “Libertie is grant to Rich. Wheeler to have he pt of the 500 acre diuident layed out to him vpon the ragged playne neere the ponde and on the south side of that ponde of the eat side of the ridge, to be laid out by Lieut. Fisher and Peter Woodward.” (Dedham Records.)
            He also owned other land in Dedham as allusion is made to it in a deed from Ephraim May to John Draper dated Dec. 27, 1717, of land in the Great Cedar Swamp, “Abbuting upon the swampe of Richard Wheeler.” (Suffolk Registry of Deeds B. 32 P. 272).
            Richard Wheeler was one of the original proprietors of the town of Medfield which was set off from Dedham and organized in 1651.
            His name is among the first twelve signatures upon the original agreement of the proprietors, now preserved by the town of Medfield.
            While it is not probably that he ever lived in Medfield, it is evident that he owned land there from the fact that for 100 years thereafter reference, is made in deeds to “Wheeler’s Bottom Swamp” in that town.  He also had land at Wollomonopoag, now Wrentham, which was then an outlying precinct of Dedham.  In the Wrentham tow records in 1696, twenty years after his death, mention is made of the setting off to the right of Richard Wheeler, of three cow, and two sheep commons.
            On May 17, 1652, he was appointed one of three commissioners to lay out the road between Dedham and Braintree and on May 3, 1659, he was appointed upon a similar commission to lay out the road between Dedham and Dorchester.  On Dec. 25, 165, his wife Elizabeth and two of their children, Samuel and Sarah, died, perhaps by fire or other accident, and on Aug. 2, 1658 he married at Lancaster, Sarah Prescott, daughter of John Prescott, the founder of Lancaster.
            In 1659, he was one of the fence viewers for “Purgatory playne.”
            At a town meeting on June 22, 1660, Richard Wheeler was appointed one of the committee “deputed to views the Lands both vpland & meadow near about the pondes by Georges Indians wigwam and make a report of what they find to the selectmen in the first opportunity that can take” – this being his last recorded service to the town of Dedham.
            Richard removed from Dedham to Lancaster sometime between 1660 and 1663, in which latter year his son Jacob was born in Lancaster.  Joseph Willard in his historical address at Lancaster in 1826, says that at the time of his death (1676) “Wheeler had been in town about fifteen years” and it is probably that he came soon after the death of his son John which occurred at Dedham, Feb. 11, 1661-2.  There is little doubt that he had moved prior to Nov. 21, 1662, as upon that date the town of Dedham paid to Richard Ellis upon an order a sum of money due to Richard Wheeler for three days service at “Woolomonpuck,” now Wrentham, thus indicating the latter’s absence from town.
            This is the last record of Richard at Dedham except in the matter of taxes which continued uptil 1669, his last assessment being for the purpose of raising the money for the payment of King Philip’s claim at “Wollomonupoage,” the day being Nov. 15, 1669.
            Richard ownder land in Lancaster previous to his settlement there, however, for in the records of Lancaster under date of Feb. 5, 1659-60 after voting to lay out a “Second Division” of meadow land and giving directions as to the part first to be laid out, the town voted “And then to begin at the _____end of Goodman Whellers meadow and lay out what is meadow fit to mow toward Master Josllins house”—In this second division Richard Wheeler drew lot No. 28.
            The “Book of Lands” of the proprietors of Lancaster has the following description of   “The Lands of Richard Wheeler,”
            “house lott- first he hath his house Lott whereon he built near unto danes Brook bounded southerly by the Lott of John Houghton and partly by the Common and northardly by the stated common and easterly and westerly it buts upon the stated common lying for twenty acors be it more or less together with sum small additions one adjoyning to it and another lying near Johns Jump.”
            “Enteruail Lott.  More he hath twenty acors of enteruail laid being his enteruail Lott in the first division lyaing on the east side of Nashaway Riuer lying in two pieces bounded weterly by the Riuer and eaterly by the upland and buts southerly upon sum enteruail of Thomas Sawyer and northardly upon the upland and Riuer meeting.”  The Thomas Sawyer here referred to was Richard’s brother in law.
            In the record of Lancaster town meeting under date of Feb. 2, 1668-9 is the following vote: “Goodman Wheller desired the town to give him a little piece of land lying by the side of Nashaway Riuer a little above Johns Jump which was granted by the towne.”
            Richard Wheeler’s house lot was situated in what is now known as South Lancaster south east of Georges Hill extending probably to or beyond the B. & M. R.R. at and the south of Thayer Station, formerly South Lancaster.  His intervale or meadow was upon the east side of the Nashua River between South Lancaster and Clinton and north east of the corner of High and Allen streets in the latter town.  The north end of this intervale was probably opposite and easterly of the sewage pumping station of as his name appears upon the valuation list of Lancaster in 1653 as one of the six wealthiest residents, his father-in-law John Prescott, being also among the number.
            He was “admitted freeman,” May 19, 1669. (N.E.Hist. & Gen. Register, Vol3, page 240

            He was chosen “Grand Juryman” from Lancaster Oct. 17, 1672, this being an elective office at that time.
            Richard Wheeler was also one the earliest proprietors of “Pocomtuck,” now Dearfield, Mass. Although he never lived there.  His name appears with those of other property holders of Dedham in the list of proprietors of Pocomtuck in 1669 and 1673.  (Sheldon’s History of Deerfield.)
            His son Joseph was killed by the Indians at Lancaster, Aug 22, 1675 in King Phillip’s war.
            Richard had built a “block house” or garrison house on his farm at South Lancaster, this being one of the five similar defences of Lancaster and it was here that he, his brother-in-law, Jonas Fairbanks, and his nephew Joshua Fairbanks, together with two other persons were killed by the Indians in King Phillip’s attack Feb. 10, 1675-76
            Concerning these persons it is said, “The first three were shot by the Indians who climbed upon the barn and so shot down over the palisades.  The other two were waylaid while outside upon some errand.”  (Hurd’s History of Worcester County Vol. 1, pg 15.)

            Ephraim Sawyer, a nephew of Richard Wheeler, was killed at the same time at the block house built by John Prescott the father-in-law of Richard and the rest of Richard’s family together with the remaining inhabitants were taken to Concord by the soldiers sent to rescue them.  Richard’s widow, Sarah, removed later to Dedham with her children. From 1675 to 1697, seventy-two persons were reported killed by the Indians at Lancaster.  The list includes Richard Wheeler and fourteen of his relatives as follows:  Joseph and Abraham, his sons; Jonas Fairbanks, brother-in-law; Hannah (Prescott) Rugg, sister-in-law; Joseph Rugg and wife, Jonathan Fairbanks and Ephraim Sawyer, nephews and niece; Grace and Jonas, children of Jonathan Fairbanks and three young children of Joseph Rugg.  Thus out of seventy-two victims whose names have been preserved, at least fifteen, or more than one fifth were either members of Richard Wheeler’s family or related to him by blood or marriage.
            In addition to these fatalities, three of his relatives were taken prisoner by the Indians during this time.  Viz.  His daughter-in-law, Tabitha, wife of Abraham, his niece, the wife of Jonathan Fairbanks and a son of his nephew, Joseph Rugg- (see History of Lancaster and Nourse’s Military Annais of Lancaster.)   Richard’s son Samuel was a soldier under Maj. Wade in Sir William Phils expedition to Canada in 1690 and died soon after his return in 1691.  In 1738 his nephew Joseph Wilder, petitioned for and received the grant of land due “his uncle Samuel Wheeler his mother’s brother who served under Maj Wade in the Canada expedition.”  (Marvin’s History of Lancaster, page 125.)
            On Sept. 1, 1742, Sarah Taylor gave a receipt to Joseph Wilder for “what I was to received from him on account of a lot granted to my brother Samuel Wheeler by ye court as a Canada soldier.”  Inventories of the estates of Richard Wheeler and his two sons, Abraham and Samuel, are preserved in the Middlesex Probate records.  From the Inventory of Richard’s estate dated Aug 6, 1676, it appears that he owned probably 450 (certainly 400) acres of land in Lancaster and some personal property at Dedham, among the latter being a sword and three muskets.
            His real estate in Dedham was not mentioned in this inventory which was attested by his widow, Sarah, who was administratrix. (Middlesex Probate Records B 5 page 94.)
            Samuel’s estate consisted of 108 acres of land in Lancaster.  One charge to the estate was for “money expended to fit him for Canady.”
            This inventory was dated April 3, 1691.  Reference is made to portions of Richard Wheeler’s real estate in the Middlesex Registry of Deeds at Cambridge as follows: On July 6, 1700, Zebediah Wheeler of Stowe deeded to Henry Willard 40 acres of land (2nd Division) near Great Pond Meadow and 6 acres of meadow (3rd Division) at Pine Hill meadows, Lancaster, both pieces formerly belonging to “my late deceased father, Richard Wheeler” (Middlesex Registry of Deeds B pg. 31)  Abraham and Isaac Wheeler some time previous to the death of the former in 1695, deed to Josiah Whitcomb about 100 acres of their father Richard’s estate in Lancaster.  This deed is not upon record, but allusion is made to it in the deed from Zebediah Wheeler of Stowe to David and Hezekiah Whitcomb (sons of Josiah Whitcomb) dated Feb. 5, 1721-22 which he conveys his interest in a tract of land lying “on the south end of Long Hill and belonging to my late honored father Richard Wheeler” being the same land deeded by “my brothers Abraham and Isaac to Josiah Whitcomb.”  (Middlesex Registry of Deeds B 32, pg 84)
            Mention is also made of Zebediah’s selling some of his father Richard’s land “up North River” (North branch of Nashua River) to Daniel and Samuel Wheeler and his sister Sarah (Wheeler) Taylor.  (Notes of Hon. H.S. Nourse, Historian of Lancaster.)
            On Sept 21, 1731, Zebediah Wheeler of Stowe, but later of Western (now Warren) son of Zebediah deeded 25 acres of land in Lancaster belonging to his grandfather, Richard Wheeler.  Some at least of the real estate held by Richard in Dedham descended to his son Isaac and through him to his grandson Isaac.
            There are no deeds records that are signed by Richard Wheeler but his name appears as a witness to deeds in 1646. (Suffolk Co. Registry of Deeds B 1 pg 120-121)
            Nothing is known of the burial place of Richard Wheeler or any of his family.
            Sarah Prescott, wife of Richard Wheeler was the daughter of John Prescott the founder of Lancaster and was born in England in 1637.
            After the death of her husband, she joined in petition of the remaining inhabitants of Lancaster for an escort of soldiers, as the town was to be temporarily abandoned.  When the soldiers arrived she with her children accompanied them to Concord.  From Concord the family removed to Dedham where on Feb. 22, 1677-78 she married Joseph Rice of Marlboro, Mass.


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