No history of Plymouth would be complete or satisfactory without reference to Henry Wheeler, Jr., who for many years figured as a leading and representative business man and public-spirited citizen whose activities in behalf of the community in which he lived were ever of a practical and beneficial character. He was born March 31, 1854, in Woodville, Jefferson county, New York. His father, Henry Wheeler, was born April 16, 1830, in Rodman township, Jefferson county, New York. His grandfather and his great-grandfather bore the name of Henry Wheeler, a name that appears again and again in the annals of the family through many generations.
The ancestors came from England, the family in America having been established by three brothers who settled on this side of the Atlantic in colonial days. One of the brothers returned to the mother country but the other two remained on this side of the Atlantic. When a young man the grandfather settled in the state of New York and in recognition of his service as a soldier in the War of 1812 he received a land grant from the government which he located in Jefferson county. There he married Mrs. Lucy (Barrett) Butterfield, and unto them six children were born, four of whom reached adult age, including Henry Wheeler, the father of him whose name introduces this review. He supplemented his public-school education by study for a short period in a seminary at Rodman, New York. He was married September 30, 1852, at Ellisburg, New York, to Miss Helen M. Gardner, a daughter of Horace and Sophronia (Lewis) Gardner, who were then residents of Jefferson county, New York.
The Gardner family was also from England. Horace Gardner and his wife emigrated to Sheboygan county in 1855, settling a mile and a half northwest of Plymouth. The family of Henry Wheeler numbered three children: Henry Jr.; Philo K., of Plymouth; and Ella, the wife of Charles Reed, of Fountain, Colorado.
In 1853 the father removed to Plymouth township, Sheboygan county, where he purchased eighty acres of timber land, which he cleared and improved. He later added to his holdings and developed a very fine farm. He was prominent in the community and for a number of years served as a member of the county board. He was also supervisor and assessor of Plymouth township and was president of the Plymouth Farmers Fire Insurance Company. He took an active part in promoting the County Fair Association and served as one of the officials for many years. He died April 22, 1902, and his wife passed away November 10, 1884.
Henry Wheeler, Jr., was only six months old when brought to Wisconsin by his parents and was reared in Plymouth township, pursuing his education in the public schools. No special event occurred during that period and when he started in the business world he chose farming as his occupation, renting the old Andrews farm north of Plymouth. This he cultivated for two years, at the end of which time he entered the cheese factory of S. H. Conover, where he learned the trade of cheese making. In 1880 he leased the Harmon factory, which he operated for three years and then purchased. In 1884 he disposed of that place and opened a wholesale cheese business in Plymouth, which he conducted to the time of his death on the 27th of August, 1907. His trade constantly grew in volume and importance and he became one of the successful wholesale merchants in this line in Sheboygan county. The business was incorporated under the name of the H. Wheeler Company, of which he was president to the time of his demise. His business policy was ever a straightforward and honorable one and needed no disguise. He never made engagements that he did not fulfill nor incurred obligations that he did not meet. Honored and respected by all, he occupied an enviable position in commercial and financial circles not alone by reason of his success but also owing to his enterprising, progressive and reliable business methods.
On the 17th of March, 1880, Mr. Wheeler was united in marriage to Miss Catharine Sharpe, a daughter of Edward E. and Emma Pamela (Mills) Sharpe, both of whom were of Holland descent, their ancestors having settled in New York, the Sharpes taking up their abode in Willsboro and the Mills family in the Mohawk valley at Amsterdam. A great-great-grandfather of Mrs. Wheeler served in the Revolutionary war. Her grandfather, Peter Sharpe, came to the west about 1847, settling in Sheboygan, and in 1849, attracted by the discovery of gold in California, made his way to the Pacific coast. In 1851, however, he returned to this state and settled at Elkhart Lake in Rhine township, Sheboygan county, where he spent the remainder of his days. He had three children: Edward E., the father of Mrs. Wheeler; Jerrett C., living at Elkhart Lake; and Helen M., the deceased wife of Joseph L. Santee, of Plymouth.
Edward E. Sharpe was born in 1837 in Willsboro, New York, and was brought to the west by his father in 1847. In this state he was reared to manhood and acquired his education in the public schools. He learned the printer's trade in the office of the Sheboygan Journal, which was owned by his grandfather, Flavius Mills. He acquired an interest in this paper, which he held to the time of his death in 1870. During the Civil war he was sergeant of Company C, Fourth Wisconsin Cavalry, and served for three years. In every relation of life he was a man whom to know was to esteem and honor, his many sterling qualities placing him in an enviable position in public regard.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Sharpe were born five children: Catharine J ., now Mrs. Wheeler; Grace, who became the wife of Henry Meyers and died at the age of nineteen years; Mildred, who is the wife of Richard I. May, of Peoria, Illinois; Edward C., living in Seattle, Washington; and Helen M., the wife of Albert Miner, of Livermore, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler became the parents of four children: Edna, who is the wife of Carl Corbett; J. Harmon, mentioned elsewhere in this volume; Grace, who is the wife of Dr. Ralph K.aysen, of Plymouth; and Bernice, who died at the age of fifteen years. The family are of the Episcopal faith. Their social prominence is widely recognized and their home is justly celebrated for its warmhearted hospitality.
Mr. Wheeler was a republican in his political views and for a number of years served as alderman of Plymouth, during which time he exercised his official prerogatives in support of many measures for the general good. He always stood for that which is progressive in citizenship, for that which he deemed right and just between himself and his fellowmen and throughout the community in which he lived he is spoken of in terms of high regard.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL