There are many efficient and popular traveling salesmen representing various lines of trade, who are residents of Sheboygan county, but few if any have attained more prominence or developed more worth than Philo K. Wheeler, one of the most valued field men employed by the F. Mayer Boot and Shoe Company of Milwaukee, of which firm Mr. Wheeler is now a member although he has always lived in Plymouth, the place of his nativity.
He was born December 22, 1859, in Plymouth township, Sheboygan county, the son of Henry Wheeler. The father was born April 16, 1830, in Rodman township, Jefferson county, New York, and the grandfather and great-grandfather were given the same name that has been borne by the heads of the family for many generations past. The ancestors came from England, the family in America having been established by three brothers who settled in the colonies. One of the brothers returned to the mother country but the other two remained loyal to the colonies, where they lived and died. The great-grandfather when a young man settled in the state of New York. He fought in the War of 1812 and received a land grant from the government as a reward for his services. This land was in Jefferson county, New York, and there he married Mrs. Lucy (Barrett) Butterfield, to which union six children were born, four of whom grew to maturity, namely: Philo, who lived in Oswego county, New York; Henry, the father of Philo K., of this review; Mrs. Louisa Bedient, of San Diego, California; and Mrs. Lucy Gale, residing at Bristol, Connecticut.
Henry Wheeler was educated in the public schools of the east and also for a short time attended a seminary at Rodman, New York. He was married September 30, 1852, at Ellisburgh, 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, the paternal ancestor coming over in the Mayflower. Horace Gardner and wife emigrated to Sheboygan county in 1855, settling one and one-half miles northwest of Plymouth, where the father died. In the family of Henry Wheeler were three children: Henry, Jr.; Philo K., of this review; 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 piece of agricultural property. The mother died November 10, 1884. The father was a very prominent man in the community where he lived during his later years and for a number of terms was a member of the county board. He was also supervisor and assessor of Plymouth township and for a time was president of the Plymouth Farmers Fire Insurance Company. He was also for many years an official of the County Fair Association and one of the leading spirits in its organization. After an eventful and useful life he passed away April 22, 1902.
Philo K. Wheeler was educated in the public schools of Sheboygan and later taught for years, beginning that work when he was eighteen years of age. He then entered the employ of the F. Mayer Boot and Shoe Company of Milwaukee, becoming one of its traveling salesmen, and still later acquired an interest in the firm. Mr. Wheeler ever since early life has taken an active interest in the Sheboygan County Fair Association, following in the footsteps of his father in that respect, and has for years been president of that organization.
In 1883 Mr. Wheeler was married to Miss Kate Ford, a daughter of Elisha and Achsach (Westland) Ford. The Ford family was originally from Vermont. In 1819 Grandfather Elisha Ford removed to Lake county, Ohio, where he was one of the early settlers. Elisha Ford, the father of Mrs. Wheeler, was born in that county in 1828 and in 1851 came to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, immediately following his marriage, and settled in Lyndon township, where he engaged in farming. He resided there until 1895, when he removed to Plymouth and there passed the remainder of his life, his death occurring in 1905. The Westland family came from Connecticut and settled in Ohio in 1799.
To Mr. and Mrs. Ford were born three children: Thomas and Emerette, both deceased; and Kate, the wife of Philo K. Wheeler, of this review. Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler are the parents of two children, George W. and Elisha Ford, both of whom reside in Seattle, Washington, and represent the F. Mayer Boot and Shoe Company in that city.
Fraternally Mr. Wheeler is a member of the Masonic order, in which he has attained the thirty-second degree, and he is also a member of the Mystic Shrine and the Order of the Eastern Star. He likewise belongs to the Iroquois Club.
Mr. Wheeler was born and reared in Plymouth and is one of the representatives of Sheboygan county's highest class of citizenship. He has always been a hard worker and during his long connection with the house which he now represents he has been loyal and efficient, his services having been so much appreciated and his work so successful that the company admitted him to an interest in its business. He is thoroughly familiar with every detail of the boot and shoe trade and during his association with this firm, has formed the acquaintance of a large number of people, being received warmly in all circles which he frequents. There are few men in the community who are more popularly known or more universally respected than the subject of this review, who is esteemed in business, fraternal and social circles, being greatly respected by all who know him.
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