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.