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Wheelock, George Barton
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Wheelock, George Barton
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: The A. K. Wilson family : Abraham Key Wilson and Mary Jane Wilson, their descendants and their ancestors; Corvallis, Or.: OSU Cooperative Association, 1961, 109 pgs.

Pages 80 - 85

George Barton Wheelock was born in 1810 or 1811. He is a man of mystery so far as antecedents are concerned. Father noted in his Family Tree manuscript that his grandpap Wheelock was reared by foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elisha Freeman, and that he was born in Connecticut. But Father’s sister, Almeda, wrote me shortly after Father’s death that he was a Freeman, reared by the Wheelock family and took the name. He was a millwright, cabinet-maker and farmer. His first home in Illinois appears to have been in Adams County where in 1833 he married Eliza Hunter. He built a mill at Kingston, then moved to Ft. Madison, Iowa, where he built a mill. The next move was to Pike County, Illinois where he owned a farm. His grandchildren remembered him as a tall man, deaf, intelligent, noted for his skill as a craftsman. Aunt Meda recalled that the cherrywood cabinet which stood for nearly sixty years in the kitchen on Grandpa Wilson’s farm was made by Grandpap Wheelock.

We have a little more information about Eliza D. Hunter Wheelock than we have about her husband. Eliza was born in Tennessee in 1809, the year President Lincoln was born. Her mother was Sarah Reed (Reid), born in Scotland about 1790. Nothing is known about the Hunter who was Sarah’s husband. The had at least five children—Eliza, probably the oldest of the brood; Elizabeth Ann, who married M. B. Champe in 1834, mother of the Champes we knew in Nebraska, married Joseph Groves in 1852; James Madison Hunter; Rebecca Hunter, who married Joseph Lisenbee; and Samuel N. Hunter, the Uncle Sam that Father and his sister Meda knew so well.

Sarah “lived around” in her old age, and Father spoke of her having lived with them when he was five or six years old. He recalled the Bible she brought with her as a very large book with very large print which he tried to read. Father’s cherished keepsake, a small hand bell given to him by his grandmother Wheelock when he started teaching in 1880, had belonged to his great-grandmother Hunter. Sarah died in 1867 or 1868 at the home of her son Sam in Versailles, Ill.

Judging from his Memoirs, Father did not know his Wheelock grandparents as well as he knew the Wilson grandparents. During the frequent separations of his father and mother which so clouded his childhood, he and his brother would be taken in by his Wilson grandparents, while his mother sought refuge in her parents’ home. Furthermore, from early childhood, he and his grandfather Wilson were companionable, his grandmother Wilson kind and helpful. But this difference may be explained in part by the fact that his grandfather Wheelock was deaf, his grandmother blind. (Father recorded that she was totally blind from her 45th year.)

Father recalled the Wheelock home as a log house set in deep woods. His sister Meda painted a vivid word picture of that pioneer home in a 1943 letter recalling her childhood visits there: “dim, dingy. There is the usual housekeeping clutter, a loom near the fireplace, two spinning wheels—one large, one small, this latter dear blind grandmother operates with her foot; the former, she walks to and fro giving it a push or a pull. These elongated brushes are carding boards, and that fluffy fairy-like pile atop those quilts, homespun blankets, etc. are of course rolls. I sometimes got to card a roll or two and more often to splice the rolls, but to spin or weave – never. Mother was ver goodnatures, but I knew just how far to go.

“Grandpap would read to her from a large Bible. Mother, when not at work frequently sat back out of the way; she would be whispering to herself and I’d hear the word “taxes.” So from little things I deduce that she was an industrious and responsible person in spite of her handicap.”

Only two of the twelve Wheelock children were as longlived as their parents. George Barton Wheelock lived to be at least 75 and his wife Eliza, 81 years of age. One of their daughters and two of their sons passed away as young children. Two of the daughters died before they reached fifty years, leaving young children. Two of the sons died in their forties and the third son when he was fifty. Two daughters lived to be 69, and the other two daughters, 78 years old.

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Submitted: 02/03/08

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