William M. Wheeler
  b: 1818 - OH
  d: 5/Feb/1895 - Douglas Co., MO - bur: Bittick Cem.

Spouse-1: Roseanna ***** - b: 14/Oct/1820 - OH
  d: 2/Jan/1867 - Gentry Co., MO

Child-1: Mary Ella
          2: William - b: 1843/1844 - OH - nra: 1860

Spouse-2: Drucilla or Drewsylla Bittick Mitchell? Hawkins - b: 20/Jun/1825 - Gasconade Co., MO
  d: 1/Jul/1922 - bur: Mt. Ararat Cem., Douglas Co., MO
 m: 6/Apr/1869 - Nodaway Co., MO

Biographical Details:

The origin of William M. Wheeler is not known, but he was very likely born in Ohio about 1818.  This presumption is substantially affirmed by subsequent census records and, moreover, in the population schedule of 1880, he evidently indicated that his father had been born in Connecticut and his mother in New Jersey.  Even so, this would seem to be at variance with later family tradition which asserted that William was "full Irish" and, consequently, that he and/or his parents had probably been immigrants.1  Obviously, further research is needed.  In any case, the household of William Wheeler was listed in the population schedule of the 1850 US Census for Franklin County, Indiana, as resident in Metamora Township and at that time included William himself, his putative wife, Roseann (or Roseanna), and two children, viz., Mary and William, Jr., all born in Ohio.  Therefore, since the younger child was six years of age at the time the census was taken, it would seem obvious that the Wheeler family must have moved from Ohio to Indiana between 1844 and 1850.  Accordingly, it also seems reasonable to presume that William and Roseanna were married in Ohio in the late 1830's, but neither a date nor her maiden name have yet been discovered.  Within this context, examination of Ohio population schedules from the census of 1840 reveals at least sixteen households specifically identified with the name "William Wheeler".  Of these, seven appear to correspond to young married couples with or without young children.  Moreover, since William and Roseanna's daughter, Mary, is known to have been born in March of 1840, only one household, then resident in Crosby Township in Hamilton County, is found in close accord with what is known of the family of William and Roseanna Wheeler, viz., this household included a young adult male between the ages of twenty and thirty, an older adolescent female between fifteen and twenty, and a young female child of less than five years of age.  Moreover, locations indicated in successive population schedules, i.e., Crosby and Metamora Townships, are separated by only a distance of some thirty miles.

Naturally, availability of unclaimed land in unsettled western regions was a strong attraction for many individuals living in nineteenth century America.  Thus, it would seem that like many others, William Wheeler and his family left the more settled regions of the eastern states and moved westward to Texas sometime in the 1850's.  Consequently, according to the population schedule of the 1860 US Census for Grayson County, Texas, the household of W. M. and Rosana Wheeler, including a sixteen year old male adolescent, William, were then living in the vicinity the town of Sherman.  Although, Indiana was given as the place of birth for W. M. Wheeler (but Ohio was indicated for the other two members of the family), it seems almost certain that these individuals should be identified as William M. and Roseanna Wheeler and their son, William, Jr.  Indeed, this is strongly supported by the appearance of the household of F. M.and Mary Welch, viz., their son-in-law and daughter, on the same page of the population schedule on the lines immediately preceding those of the Wheeler household, which, undoubtedly, indicates that the two families were then living in close proximity. Of course, the upheaval of the Civil War caused a great amount of social dislocation and distress, especially in the Confederate States.  Concomitantly, it is known that by the spring of 1865 the Welch family had settled in Gentry County, Missouri.  Likewise, it is further believed that William and Roseanna Wheeler accompanied them in this migration (which, also apparently  included a short stay in Indiana as well as, perhaps, Illinois).  Sadly, it would seem that Roseanna died the day after New Year's in 1867, probably in Gentry County, but no burial place is known.2  Accordingly, there is evidence that William subsequently remarried.  Within this context, a marriage between William Wheeler and Drucilla Mitchell on April 6, 1869, was recorded in neighboring Nodaway County.  Moreover, the population schedule of the 1870 US Census for Gentry County included the household of William and Drusilla Wheeler, resident in Huggins Township, and it was further indicated that he was fifty-two years of age and born in Ohio.  (Nodaway County adjoins Gentry County immediately to the west, just a few miles from Huggins Township, and it might be supposed that William and Drucilla eloped, perhaps, to avoid attention or disapproval of relatives or neighbors, but such a presumption can only be speculation.)  Clearly, all of this is consistent with his identification as the widowed father of Mary Wheeler Welch and, furthermore, census records confirm that Frank M. and Mary E. Welch were also contemporaneously living close by with five children.  Concomitantly, the Wheeler household included three young males, viz., Rufus A., Theodore J., and Jasper J. Hawkins, who can be plausibly identified as Drucilla's sons from a previous marriage.  Indeed, this is supported by the 1860 Gentry County population schedule, which listed the household of John J. and Duvilla, i.e., Drucilla, Hawkins including sons, Joseph, Rufus, James, and Theadore.  Furthermore, Drucilla can be identified as the daughter of Thomas Stanfield Bittick, who married John Jefferson Hawkins on December 22, 1842, in Osage County, Missouri.  Moreover, historians of the Bittick family as well as census records affirm that the families of John and Drucilla Hawkins, along with that of her brother, Henry Bittick, later settled in Gentry County where John died in the early 1860's.  Likewise, these same researchers affirm the marriage of Drucilla Bittick Hawkins to William M. Wheeler.  However, if the marriage record from Nodaway County is taken as factual in all details, then it would seem that Drucilla probably had been married for a short time after the death of her first husband, John Hawkins, to someone named Mitchell who presumably also died before her marriage to William Wheeler.  Alternatively, the surname may simply be a recording error or it is possible that the record corresponds to a marriage between two entirely different individuals and is, thus, merely a coincidence (although, there seems to be no evidence of any other William and Drucilla Wheeler in subsequent census and civil records).  In any case, it seems very probable that Drucilla Wheeler was the step-mother of Mary Wheeler Welch.  In passing, it is not known what happened to William and Roseanna's son, William, Jr., but it would seem likely that he died before 1870.

Evidently, as confirmed by corresponding census records, William M. and Drucilla Wheeler remained in Gentry County until after 1880, but evidently some years afterward they, along with at least two of her sons, moved to Douglas County, Missouri, which lies more than three hundred miles to the south.3  William M. Wheeler died in Douglas County on February 5, 1895, and was buried in the Bittick Cemetery.4,5  Concomitantly, his obituary affirms that he had come west from Indiana before the Civil War, although no mention was made of Texas.  This is, perhaps, understandable since he and Drucilla were not married until after he had settled in Missouri.  Moreover, he apparently had very little property when he died since his widow refused administration of his estate on February 18, 1895.6  According to family historians as well as corresponding census records for 1900, 1910, and 1920, Drucilla Wheeler survived in Douglas County until the summer of 1922.7

Source Notes and Citations:
1. The ethnicity of William Wheeler and his wife as Irish has been affirmed by anecdotal accounts passed down through descendants, viz., "Aunt Molly (Mary E. Evans Birbeck) says Great-grandfather Wheeler was a full Irishman."  Similarly, from Margie Evans Duley, "Dad's great-grandmother was full Irish."  Even so, such oral family traditions are frequently incorrect.  In this case, although it is quite possible that the Wheelers were, indeed, of Irish extraction, census records indicate that they were both born in the United States as, in addition, apparently were also William's parents.  (Margie Duley Evans, private communication, July, 1985.)
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2. "----anna Wheeler died January 2nd 1867   aged 46 years, 2 months and 19 days"  This was written in pencil in a Bible owned by Mary E. Wheeler Welch and remains barely legible.  Consequently, it had been thought that the indicated given name was "Susanna".  However, it is evident from contemporary census records that it was almost certainly "Roseanna".  The Bible was a King James Version published by the American Bible Society imprinted with a date of 1830 and is a medium-sized, leather bound volume.  (Mary E. Welch, Bible Record.)
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3. Laine Sutherland, Death Notices Abstracted from The Douglas County Herald, 1887-1910, Dunrobin Productions, Flagstaff, AZ, 1996: pgs. 58-9.
     July 25, 1895 article which mentions the "late William Wheeler", Mrs. Wheeler [Drucilla Bittick], Rufus Hawkins [probably Drucilla's son, Rufus M. Hawkins], and Rev. Joseph Beesley [Joseph C. Beesley/Beasley]  (Mary Bittick Gallano and Ronda J. Snider, "Show Me...The Bitticks", www.showmethebitticks.com/index.htm, 2005.)
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4. ibid.: pg. 55.
     "February 21, 1895--Vanzant--Died--on February 5th, William Wheeler.  Was buried February 6th at the Bittick cemetery.  Uncle Billie, as he was usually called, was one of the old land marks of Mo. and of Douglas county, having come to the state before the war from Indiana.  The funeral services were conducted by Rev. Joseph Beesley."
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5. Shari Brame and Ronda J. Snider, "Bittick Cemetery", unpublished.
     Stone in Bittick Cemetery [survey 1989]:  W. M. Wheller  B. 1818  D. 189(8?).  According to Bittick family researchers, the cemetery was established prior to 1887 on land formerly owned by the Bittick family and is located near the North Fork River in Clinton Township, in northeastern Douglas County, Missouri.  (Mary Bittick Gallano and Ronda J. Snider, "Bittick Cemetery, Douglas County, Missouri", www.showmethebitticks.com/tombstones/bittick_cem_doug_mo.htm, 2005.)
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6.  Petition for Refusal of Administration   For Insufficiency of Property  STATE OF MISSOURI  County of Douglas}SS.
     Drewsylla Wheeler being duly sworn on her oath, says that she is the widow of W. M. Wheeler deceased, late of the County of Douglas who died on or about the 5th day of February 1895, and that the estate of said deceased does not exceed the sum of 129 Dollars in value consisting of:

     FIRST.  A Family Bible and other books of the value of 1.00 Dollars.
     SECOND.  Household, kitchen and table furniture, including beds, bedsteads and bedding of the value of 30.00 Dollars.
     THIRD.  Provisions of the value of 20.00 Dollars.
     FOURTH, other personal property, consisting of ten head hogs, one cow, and one horse Eight stand of bees amounting in the aggregate to the sum of 78.00 Dollars.

     That the family of said decedent consisted of the widow and that in addition to provisions on hand and provided at the time of death of said decedent, there will be needed for the subsistence of said family, for twelve months, the sum of 25.00 Dollars, in lieu of provisions not so on hand.
     Said affiant further states that the deceased had no property or effects of any kind whatsoever, at the time of his death except the property above mentioned, as she has been able to ascertain.
     Whereas She prays the Court to Order that no Letters of Administration be issued on said estate, unless on application of creditors or other parties interested, the existence of other or further property be shown.  Drewsylla herXmark Wheeler
     Sworn to and subscribed before me this 18 day of February 1895  /s/Simon Spurlock  Probate Clerk

This document is a standard form and according to Bittick family researchers it is the only probate record for William M. Wheeler on file at the Douglas County Courthouse in Ava, Missouri.  (Mary Bittick Gallano and Ronda J. Snider, "W. M. Wheeler Petition for Refusal of Administration", www.showmethebitticks.com/probate/w_m_wheeler_ref_adm_transcription.htm, 2003.)
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7. Brenda Sutherland Coffman, David Coffman, and Laine Sutherland, Gone But Not Forgotten: Cemetery Survey of the Eastern District, Douglas County, Missouri, privately published, Flagstaff, AZ, 1995: pg. 112.
     "Wheeler, Drewseylia         June 20, 1825 - July 1, 1922
       Hawkins, Theadore J.       Mar 3, 1860 - Apr 5, 1900
       Hawkins, Jefferson           Oct 28, 1888 - Jan 28, 1912
       >Hawkins, N. Ellen          1867 - 1951
       >Hawkins, Rufus M.        1854 - 1925"  A shared tombstone is indicated by the symbol ">"  ("Mt. Ararat Cemetery", Douglas County MOGenWeb Archives, 2006.)
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Additional Citations:

8. 1840 US Census Population Schedule for Hamilton County, Ohio, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 377, (microfilm: roll M704_400; img. 149).

9. 1850 US Census Population Schedule for Franklin County, Indiana, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 268A, (microfilm: roll M432_146; img. 214).

10. 1860 US Census Population Schedule for Grayson County, Texas, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 182A, (microfilm: roll M653_1295; img. 364).

11. 1870 US Census Population Schedule for Gentry County, Missouri, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 615A, (microfilm: roll M593_776; img. 449).

12. 1880 US Census Population Schedule for Gentry County, Missouri, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 524B, (microfilm: roll T9_687; img. 380).

13. 1900 US Census Population Schedule for Douglas County, Missouri, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 186A, (microfilm: roll T623_853; img. 375).

14. 1910 US Census Population Schedule for Douglas County, Missouri, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 245B, (microfilm: roll T624_773; img. 495).

15. 1920 US Census Population Schedule for Douglas County, Missouri, National Archives, Washington DC:  pg. 60B, (microfilm: roll T625_917; img. 703).

16. Marriage Records, Nodaway County, Maryville, MO:  Bk. 4, pg. 39, (Missouri State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Jefferson City, MO (microfilm: roll 9805; img. 281)).  (Elizabeth Prather Ellsberry (comp), Marriage Records of Nodaway County, Missouri, 1845-1874, privately published, Chillicothe, MO, 1965.)

17. Bittick Cemetery, Douglas County, Missouri (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=27609&CScn=Bittick&CScntry=4&CSst=26&CScnty=1430&, continuously updated).

18. Mount Ararat Cemetery, Douglas County, Missouri (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=895298&CScn=Mt.+Ararat&CScntry=4&CSst=26&CScnty=1430&, continuously updated).

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