Sunday, October 24, 2010
My dad and I visited the Jonathan Wheeler Cemetery yesterday to begin part of our "fall cleanup". I am truly amazed at how far it has come! I can remember when I was really young driving down Wheeler road with my father and Grandfather looking for the cemetery. We stopped just below where the Pequot Golf Course is now and pulled off the side of the road. There, we made our way through brush, briars, poison ivy, and other New England varieties. I remember how neglected and buried this place was in the middle of nowhere. I only really began my fascination with family history and genealogy after my grandfather passed away. My dad and uncle were going through the many family stories and treasures and I became hooked. The intrigue and mystery of how ancestors persevered, lived, and died has become a treasured hobby. I only wish that I could spend more time researching, discovering, and writing about their lives. For now, I cherish the time my dad and I spend caring for the little plot of land that holds the remains of my ancestors and their many stories
Our trip to England this summer was fantastic. We stayed in the Peak District for the first week in a small little village called Monyash. Our host was very generous and thoughtful. Bakewell was about 4 miles away and was a definite highlight of our trip. We missed the open market on Monday of that week, but had fun exploring the side streets and many shops. Then, we were off to Stewkley, about 40 miles north of London. We stayed at Dormer Cottage with Jill Scott. This was the very same place were my dad and I stayed just one year before. Angela enjoyed both places but preferred the north. However, she throughly loved the town of Woburn and Woburn Abbey. This is home of the Duke of Bedford. His surname is Russell, the same as Angela's Great Grandmother. Angela was able to trace her family genealogy back to this illustrious family at Woburn Abbey. It was a special visit. We had a hard time leaving. It felt good to be home, but the beauty and simplicity of England is calling us back!
Monday, February 15, 2010
My wife, son, and myself will be visiting England this summer for 2 weeks. We will stay in Derbyshire, Monyash for the first week, then back to Buckinghamshire, Stewkley for the last week! My son Jack is very excited to visit the place where my father and I stayed. He can't wait to meet Jill Scott, our most wonderful host at Dormer Cottage. I can't wait to show Angela Woburn Abbey, home to the Russell Family. She is connected to a Sir John Russell from the 1500's that was from Bedford, England. And of course, I can't wait to share Cranfield with them both. It will be neat for Jack to see where the Wheeler family came from and to visit the church. We have British friends that have lived in the states for over 25 years. They have family that live in Sheffield. We plan to meet up with them when we are in Monyash. Angela and I both love Jane Austen, especially the movies that have been about her books. It will be neat to see some of the places that she mentions in her novels.
Horace Niles Wheeler was my great, great grandfather. He is by far one of the most adventurous family members, with the exception of our great ancestor, Thomas Wheeler. Horace was born on February 1, 1831 in Stonington, Connecticut. His mother, Esther Ann Potter died on October 10, 1837, Horace was only 6 years old. His father Gilbert, remarried quickly to Angelina Byron Wood on March 15, 1840. Family stories dictate that he struggled with his new family situation. Horace's relationship with his father, Gilbert became strained and distant. When he was only 16 years old, he went out to sea to earn money and to explore the world. He returned to Stonington village in 1852 and fell in love with Margaret Havens. They were married on June 21, 1853. The events that took place next altered their life forever. They boarded a ship in Stonington Harbor that was headed for San Francisco. The ship went around Cape Horn and the journey lasted almost six months. They spent nearly 20 years in a small mining town called Timbuctoo. Horace did not strike it rich, but found enough gold to return to the east coast. They left California in 1878 by stage coach to Indiana. From there they took a train back to Connecticut. Horace owned and operated a jewelry store at 123 Water Street in Stonington Village. He made a fine ring out of one of his last pieces of gold. This ring is still in our family today. His story has inspired me to write a book about his life.