Willis Henry Wheeler

WILLIS HENRY WHEELER, a prominent and successful agriculturist of Crawford township, Cherokee County, Kansas, owning 178 acres in section 26, is one of the early settlers of this region, having been in the vanguard which entered Cherokee County in 1868. Mr. Wheeler was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, in 1849, and is a son of Nathan and Margaret (Milliken) Wheeler.

The Wheeler family is of English extraction, and of Quaker religious belief. Many of the name still reside in North Carolina, but the parents of the subject of this sketch moved to Indiana in 1859, and located in Morgan County, where the mother died in 1860. The father continued in Indiana until 1868, when he came to Cherokee County, Kansas, where he died in 1881, at the age of 60 years. He was a mason by trade, but spent his later years engaged in farming. Like his father, he was a devoted member of the Society of Friends, and assisted in establishing a meeting house in his section of Kansas, in 1869. He was a man who commanded the respect of all who knew him, and whose life was in full consonance with his religious belief. The subject of this sketch has four brothers and one sister, the sister being Mrs. Phoebe Jane Stanley, of Lowell, Cherokee County. The brothers are all well known citizens in their respective localities. Isaac C., Benjamin Albert and Samuel E. live in Carthage, Missouri, and John F. lives in Los Angeles, California.

Willis Henry Wheeler was reared in Indiana, and attended the common schools. Farming has been his chosen occupation and in it he has met with much success. After coming to Cherokee County, in November, 1868, he located in Quaker Valley, Crawford township. In 1878 he purchased 40 acres of his present farm, now consisting of 178 acres, and moved onto the place in 1879. Mr. Wheeler is a man of taste, as his fine improvements show. The 14 by 16 foot shanty, on the place when he purchased it, has been replaced by a handsome modern residence, with commodious and substantial buildings, and all the necessary conveniences for scientific and successful farming. When Mr. Wheeler first made his home in Cherokee County, Baxter Springs was the nearest town, and where is now the busy little city of Columbus, with its fine residences, churches, schools and business houses, stood but a single log house, forlornly situated on the wide prairie. His neighbors were some distance away, several farm houses being just in sight. Mr. Wheeler made spring wheat his first crop, but since then he has carried on diversified farming.

In 1875, Mr. Wheeler was married in the Indian Territory, where he was employed for five years as farmer at the government Indian school of the Sac and Fox Agency. During 1873 and 1875 he was superintendent of the absentees' Shawnee school, of which Mrs. Wheeler was matron from 1875 to 1878. Mrs. Wheeler was formerly Elma J. Coltrane, who was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, and is a daughter of Jesse and Abigail Coltrane, who located in Johnson County, Kansas, as early as 1867, Mrs. Wheeler having located in Douglas County, Kansas, in 1865. Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler have two children: Horace, who married Viola Smith (born in Cherokee County, Kansas) and resides near the homestead; and Flora, who is at home. The family belong to the Friends' Meeting in Crawford township, in which Mr. Wheeler is one of the elders. Politically, he is a Prohibitionist. Few men in this locality are more universally esteemed than Mr. Wheeler, and the family represents the best intelligent element of Crawford township.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Mike York, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 11/26/96.


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