COLUMBUS WHEELER. The farming community of Brushy Mound Township recognizes in the subject of this notice a representative citizen and a most successful agriculturist. He is the owner of a fine landed estate comprising nearly seven hundred acres. On his home farm he has erected a commodious frame house and barn, and all necessary and adequate buildings, and has improved the land until it presents a very attractive appearance. The attention of the reader is invited to his portrait on the opposite page.
The native place of our subject is Christian County, Ky., and the date of his birth April 7, 1826. His father, James Wheeler, was, it is thought, born in New England, and when a young man he went South, settling in Kentucky, where he engaged in teaching school. In Christian County he married Miss Catherine Harlan, who is thought to have been a native of Kentucky, and was a daughter of Jehu Harlan. In the fall of 1832, accompanied by his wife, three children, and five of his wife's brothers and sisters, Mr. Wheeler started for Illinois, journeying with teams, and cooking and camping by the way. He located in Macoupin County, settling in Gillespie Township on land which his father-in-law had purchased for him. At that time there were but a few settlers in the county, and he was thus numbered among its early pioneers. The greater part of the land was held by the Government, and later was sold for $1.25 an acre. Where the town of Bunker Hill now stands there was but one building, and that was a log cabin. Deer, wolves, wild turkeys and sand hill cranes were very plentiful.
Into the log cabin that stood on the place the family moved, though it was a rude structure at best. No sawed lumber entered into its construction; the clapboards on the roof were rived by hand, and held in place by poles; the doors were made of boards split by hand, and had wooden hinges; the floor was of puncheon, and the chimney of earth and sticks. Mr. Wheeler bought other Government land near the home place, and was a resident of Gillespie Township until his death, when his community was deprived of a valued citizen, who had contributed his share in the development of the agricultural interests of the county. He was twice married. By his first wife, mother of our subject, there were five children, and by his second wife two children.
Columbus Wheeler was but eight years old when he accompanied his parents to Illinois, and he attended the first school ever taught in Gillespie township. It was held in a log house, and the seats were made by splitting basswood logs, and hewing one side smooth, and then inserting wooden pins for legs. There were no backs to the seats, and desks were an unknown quantity. A substitute for the latter was made by splitting a log, and placing it against the wall at a convenient height, it thus serving as a writing desk for the larger scholars. On one side of the house a log was cut out to admit the light.
As soon as large enough our subject commenced assisting on the farm, residing at home until twenty-three years old, when he settled on the place he now owns and occupies. At that time it consisted of eighty acres of prairie and twenty of timber. He first erected a small frame house, hewing the frame and riving the shingles to cover the roof, and also the boards for the sides, and built the house entirely himself. He has since replaced it by a fine and well-appointed residence, and has greatly added to the value of his landed property by the many fine improvements that he has made, besides increasing its acreage.
On the 26th of April, 1849, Mr. Wheeler and Miss Naomi Wilson were united in marriage. Mrs. Wheeler was born June 13, 1831, in Logan County, Ky., and is a daughter of Isaac and Rebecca (Mitchell) Wilson. Her father was a pioneer of Madison County, this State, where he settled in 1834. The following year he came to Macoupin County, and became an early settler of Brushy Mound Township. He bought a squatter's claim on section 19, entered it from the Government, built on it, and there resided until death closed his mortal career. His wife also died on the home farm in Brushy Mount Township.
Of the sixteen children born to Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler, six are living - Elma E., Carrie, Frederick, Terry, Bird and Grace. Carrie is the wife of Jefferson Dedrick, and has one child Nellie; Frederick married Nellie Swank. Mr. Wheeler and his estimable wife are members in high standing of the Baptist Church. Their unpretentious, sensible and upright lives, and their kindly interest in their community at large, have won them the hearty good will of their associates, and the friendly regard of those to whom they are not intimately known.