Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Myself, Richard Wheeler(my father), Robert Wheeler(my uncle)

My father and I began restoring the Jonathan Wheeler Cemetery in the late 90's. It was during this time that I became addicted to my family history and genealogy. I had always known that the cemetery was in Stonington, but like most young people had interests elsewhere! At the time, the right of way was from Wheeler Road. Which meant that you basically were fighting poison ivy, thorns, vines, and a mess of underbrush. Since then, a new development was put in and now has almost completely surrounded our precious historical burial plot. Progress is a good thing though because the town has deemed a small field in front of the cemetery the new right of way and as open space. Which means that no one can build there. This provided us the perfect opportunity to access the lot and dig in. We began by rebuilding the stone wall and clearing the perimeter. Next, we tackled the clean up of the interior. This meant the removal of about thirty years of oak, maple, and hickory leaves!! We also cleared twigs, branches, and other debris. Later we focused on reseting and cleaning the headstones. Since the original entrance faced Wheeler Road, my father suggested that we move the entrance to face the open field and access area. We shopped for new iron gates(The old ones had long been stolen.) and set two new oak posts to hold them. I then ordered an aluminum sign to re-establish the landmark. It has been a long ten years, but the fruits of our labor were well worth it. Jonathan Wheeler would be proud.
Yes this 100 sq. yards of space is all that is left of the old Jonathan Wheeler Homestead and farm that once stood tall in the Center of Wheeler Road. Jonathan is my grandfather, back 8 generations. He built his house on land given to him by his grandfather. Land that was part of the original 4,000 acres that Thomas Wheeler once owned. Jonathan set aside this burial place for his descendants. When I step into this sacred place, I am surrounded by generations of Wheelers and family. My Great, Great Grandfather, Horace Niles Wheeler was the last person buried there. He died March, 1909.