WHEELER. - In 1820 a large portion of land was taken from Bath and Prattsburg and erected into a separate jurisdiction
by the name of Wheeler; and so named in honor of Capt Silas Wheeler, the pioneer of the locality, and one of the
most worthy men of his time. Captain Wheeler came from Albany county in 1799, and brought to the new region a splendid
record of military service during the Revolutionary war. At the famous battle at Quebec he stood near the brave
Montgomery when he fell. During the war Captain Wheeler was four times taken prisoner but generally managed to
effect an escape with little difficulty. In this region, especially during the pioneer period, the Wheeler family
occupied a position of importance and prominence, and was identified with many works of progress. Therefore the
name of the new town was worthily bestowed.
However, other worthy pioneers and families came into this region soon after Captain Wheeler, and the names of
many of them can be recalled. Nathan Rose came in 1804 and married Ruth Wheeler, and about the same time came William
Holmes, who married Sarah Wheeler. Levi Gray was another early settler and was the first postmaster in the town.
Turner Gardiner settled in this part of the then town of Bath in 1799, soon after the Wheeler family, while Col.
Jonathan Barney and Thomas Bulls came in 1804. Philip Myrtle settled here in 1802, and Otto Marshall and others
named Bear, Ferval and Rifle in 1803. Daniel Marshall, a Prussian, came to the locality in 1810 Gen. Otto F. Marshall,
for many years a prominent man in county affairs, was a son of Daniel Marshall.
George Reuchan also came from Albany county and settled in the town. He died in the service during the second war
with Great Britain. John Casper Overhiser came from Otsego county in 1811, and settled on West Creek. He died in
the town in 1817, in his ninetieth year, and was specially noted for his large family, he having had eighteen children
by his two marriages; and all these sons and daughters grew to maturity. Seth Wheeler settled in the town in 1819.
Furman Gardner came with Captain Wheeler, then being only seven years old. Albertus Larrowe was also an early settler.
Among the other early residents of Wheeler may be recalled the names of Herman Lewis, William Rowley, Mr. Lakin,
George Raymond, Jenks Youngs, Thomas Cumming, Philip Beemer, Uriel Chapin, Andrew Harris, Noah Stephens, John Clark,
Reuben Montgomery and others. Among the early designated localities, in which some of these settlers lived, were
"Mutton Hollow " and South Hill.
From this we may learn that Wheeler is a somewhat hilly town. In fact the entire land surface may be called a high
rolling upland, broken by valleys and small creeks, and its soil a shaley and clayey loam, not much sought by farmers
for agricultural purposes generally. This, at all events, was said of the town three quarters of a century ago,
but notwithstanding all that was said in discouragement of the quality or fertility of the soil, the successive
generations of inhabitants have developed the resources of the town, and today Wheeler stands in the front rank
of potato producing regions in the State of New York, while in general agricultural products the town bears favorable
comparison with any in Steuben county. The recent building of a railroad through the town has been of inestimable
value to all local interests, affording ready access to good markets east and west.
However, referring again to the subject of early history, we may note some of the more important first events.
The first birth was that of William, son of Jonathan Barney, and the date November 1, 1801. The first death was
that of Joseph Kinney. John Beals kept the first tavern, and Grattie Wheeler taught the first school. Captain Wheeler
built the first saw mill, in 1802, and George W. Taylor the first grist mill, in 1803-4. The first store was opened
by Cornelius Younglove, in 1835.
In 1820 the district which afterward formed Wheeler had 798 inhabitants, and it was but natural that they should
seek a separate organization in the interest of public convenience. To this end the creating power was petitioned,
and on the 25th of February the town was erected, territory therefor being taken from the older towns of Bath and
Erattsburg. However, in 1839 a part of Wheeler was set off to Urbana, and in 1843 another part was set off to Avoca.
The voters of Wheeler first met soon after the town was set off and elected Thomas Aulls supervisor, together with
a complete board of officers, but on account of the imperfect condition of the records, we cannot furnish the names
of all who were chosen at that time. It is understood, however, that Mr. Aulls was reelected in 1822 and 1824,
and probably held the office until succeeded by Mr. Barney in 1830. Grattan H. Wheeler was supervisor in 1823.
The records of this town previous to 1830 are indeed defective, but reasonably well preserved during later years.
The supervisors of Wheeler since 183o hnve been as follows: Jonathan Barney, 1830, '32, '35-38, and '46; Thomas
Aulls, 1831; Seth Wheleer, 1833-34; S. H. Rose, 1839; Hosea Longwell, 1840-41; O. F. Marshall, 1842-44; H. N. Rose,
1845; H. H. Rose, 1847; J. E. Gunsalus, 1848-49; Benj. Myrtle, 1850-51; Grattan H Wheeler, 1852; Dan D. Thompson,
1853-54; Ira P. Barney, 1855, and 185758; Daniel Gray, 1856, '59, '61, and 1866-68; James Derrick, 1860 and 1862-64;
S. H. Rose, 1865; J. H. Lewis, 1866; Julius Stickney, 1870-71; Samuel H. Lewis, 1872; L. H. Wheeler, 1873; William
Gardner, 1874-75; Thomas Aulls, 1876-78; Ira P. Barney, 1879-80; R. W. Thompson, 1881-82; F. J. Marshall, 1883-84;
Jerome B. Ellis, 1885-88; Julius Stickney, 1889; Jerome B. Ellis, 189o-91; O. F. Marshall, 1892-95.
The officers of the town for the year 1895 are as follows: O. F. Marshall, supervisor; Marshall Myrtle, town clerk;
Julius Stickney, Dennis S. Derrick, Oliver Fox and Cornelius Grants, justices of the peace; O. D. Wheeler, O. D.
Fox and S. S. Shant, assessors; L. E. Cook, collector; Lemuel H. Lewis, overseer of the poor; Martin Clark, highway
commissioner; E. K. Clark, C. H. Butts and W. L. Rose, excise commissioners.
The civil, social and political history of Wheeler, from first to last, has been uneventful, yet has been an almost
continuous record of progression. The town has furnished its full quota of strong men for public positions, and
all have been competent, faithful and worthy. During that unfortunate period commonly called the anti rent conflict
local interests were represented by Jonathan Barney, Nathan Rose 2d, Abram J. Quackenbush, David Barney and John
C. Overhiser. However, even this temporary disturbance had no serious effect upon the wellbeing of the town, and
after it had passed the people returned to their accustomed pursuits; and by persistent and diligent effort they
succeeded in obtaining the relief they once sought at the hands of the land agents. In 1830 the population was
1,389, and in 1850 the greatest number of inhabitants ever attained in the town was reached, being 1,471. The population
in 1890 was 1,285.
In 1860 the population was 1,376, yet, during the war which followed, the patriotism of Wheeler was demonstrated
in the fact that the town sent into the service a total of 126 men. These were scattered through the several commands
recruited in the county and vicinity and the story of their experiences and hardships, successes and reverses,
is told in another chapter of this volume.
Wheeler has an area of 27,900 acres of land, nearly all of which is devoted to general agriculture. As a farming
town it ranks well and as a potato producing region it is unsurpassed. During its history there have been built
up two small hamlets or villages, but neither has gained sufficient population to justify incorporation. In another
department of this work will be found a reference to each of these hamlets. In still another chapter will be found
a notice of the church history of the town, in which almost the entire population take just and pardonable pride.
Of the early schools little is known which may be considered reliable, and the records bearing on this subject
are incomplete and imperfect. We have already mentioned the first and early schools, and it is known that soon
after the organization of the town the territory was divided into districts to suit the convenience of the people,
and a school was provided for each district. As at present arranged Wheeler has thirteen school districts, each
of which is provided with a comfortable school house. During the last current year thirteen teachers were employed.
The value of school property in the town is $6,325. The town receives of public moneys about $1,500 annually, and
raises by local tax for school support about $1,700.