JOHN O. WHEELER, born in Columbus, Chenango County, N. Y., October 12, 1829. The subject of this sketch is descended from one of the early settlers in Herkimer County. His grandfather, Moses Wheeler, a native of Worcester, Mass., had the experience of all the pioneers going into the interior of the State, in finding
none but heavily timbered land, and being obliged to fell the trees and make his settlement remote from any human life but the casual meeting of the aborigines of the forest, and hearing no sounds save the growl of the bear and the screech of the night-owl. His father, Prentice Wheeler, was born in the above-named county, and there carried on agricultural pursuits until his death, at the age of sixty-five years. His wife was Miss Sarah Hill, of Brookfield, N. Y. Four children were born to them, of whom John
O. was the youngest, being only three years of age when his mother died. Some five years later his father married for his second wife a Mrs. Warren, of Columbus. She reared four children,--Mary, Dwight E., Tracy B., and Lynn S. This lady died in Utica, N. Y.
On the death of his mother John O. Wheeler went to live with an aunt, with whom he remained until about his eighth
year, from which time until he was twenty-one he had a home with his step-grandfather, Nathaniel Spurr, in Columbus. In his younger days he attended the district schools, and at the age of fourteen went to the academy at New Berlin, N. Y., graduating at the age of seventeen. He then commenced teaching, and followed that vocation until he was twenty-two years old. He spent one summer in Washington, D.C., having a position there as clerk for a road company. In
this capacity he met some of the great men of the day, including Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Robert Toombs, of Georgia, and many other noted statesmen.
When twenty-three years of age, Mr. Wheeler began as clerk and book-keeper for the Leonardsville Manufacturing Company, a large concern of its kind, with whom he continued till the incorporation of the Leonardsville (State) Bank, in 1856, into which he went as book-keeper and teller. Nathan T. Brown was the President, and Dennis Hardin
was the Cashier. He remained in this bank until its close, when a National Bank was opened, and he entered it as Cashier, Dennis Hardin being made the President and Luke Hoxie Vice-President. After some years Mr. Wheeler, with Mr. Hardin, opened an office and conducted business as bankers, under the name of the "Leonardsville Bank," which
continued until April 1, 1869. On that day he was elected Cashier of the First National Bank of West Winfield, N. Y., and has remained there ever since. He is also a stockholder and director in this bank, as are his sons, Henry H. and Charles D.
On June 16, 1856, Mr. John O. Wheeler married Miss Rebecca E. Hardin, only daughter of the President of the bank at Leonardsville. Her mother, Eliza Brown Hardin, was a native of Brookfield, her grandfather, Daniel Brown, having been the first settler of the town, going to Leonardsville from Stonington, Conn. He bought nearly all the land upon which the town is now situated. Her grandfather Hardin, who was also born in Connecticut, went at an early day to the town of Plainfield, Otsego County, making the journey by ox-team, and clearing the land to make his farm. He had a family of twelve children. From Plainfield they removed to Winfield, where they remained until the grandfather's death. His eldest son, General Abner C. Hardin, was a wealthy man, residing in Monmouth, Ill. During the war General Hardin raised a regiment in the surrounding country of the city of Monmouth, Warren County,
Ill., and equipped them for the field, besides assisting in the formation of other regiments at his own expense. He also built a part of the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad.
At one time Mr. Wheeler was very deeply interested in politics, and belonged to the Whig party. Since the dissolution of that party he has uniformly supported the Republican ticket. He was Supervisor of the town during the year 1863-64. He also enlisted fifty men for the late war to fill his town's quota. In his busy life our subject fills many important offices. He is Director of the First National Bank of Richfield Springs; a stockholder and Director in the Agricultural and Insurance Company at Watertown, N. Y., also a stockholder of the Utica City and First National Banks at Utica, N. Y., Commercial National Bank of Saginaw, Mich., and the City National Bank of Corsicana, Tex.
Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler have four sons. Henry Hardin, born December 29, 1857, is
now and has been for many years the First Assistant Cashier of the bank at West Winfield, N. Y. He married Miss Julia, daughter of John Tyler, of West Winfield. They have four children,--Harry, Louise, Stuart, and Agnes. The second son, Charles D., who was born April 18, 1859, married Miss Fannie A. Spencer, of West Winfield. They have two children,--Henry H. and Fred S. John S., the third son, born June 21, 1864, married Miss Mary C. Harter, niece of Dr. Getman, of Richfield Springs. They have
one son, Robert Lawrence. Lynn, the fourth son, born June 19, 1870, is teller and bookkeeper in his father's bank. Charles is Vice-President of the West Winfield bank, and has held the position for fifteen years. He is a thirty-second degree Mason. John S. is much engaged in literary work.
Mr. Wheeler is a member of the Masonic Lodge Western Star, No. 15, and Warren Chapter, No. 22, and is a Royal Arch Mason. While Mrs. Wheeler is a member of the Seventh Day Baptist church, her husband, with characteristic benevolence, assists all of the denominations of his town, proving by his generous liberality that his creed is
"charity, the greatest of all virtues." As one of the leading men of the town of Brookfield, Mr. Wheeler receives the respect of the citizens of the whole county of Madison.
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