1833: Griswold Whipple Wheeler to William Plummer Wheeler

What medical student Wheeler might have looked like

This letter was written by 25 year-old Griswold Whipple Wheeler (1808-1865) to his brother, William Plummer Wheeler (1812-1876). They were the sons of Col. Nathaniel Wheeler (1781-1864) and Huldah Whipple (17xx-1833) of Croydon, Sullivan County, New Hampshire.

G. W. Wheeler “pursued his studies at Kimball Union Academy; studied medicine with Willard P. Gibson, M. D., of Newport, and graduated at the Medical Department of Dartmouth College. After spending about one year at Hopkinton and one at Covington, Ky., he settled at Perryville, the county seat of Perry County, Mo., where for twenty-five years he was extensively engaged in the practice of his profession, and was the leading physician and surgeon for a large section of country. While attending to his professional duties he found time to master the German and French languages, and gave much attention to the natural sciences, especially Chemistry, Geology and Botany, to which be was passionately devoted. His clear and logical mind, and love of study and observation, combined with his great industry, justly gave him a high position as a professional and scientific man. His attachment to country life was so strong that no solicitations could induce him to remove to the city, and he declined a professorship proffered him in the St. Louis Medical College. Dr. Wheeler was never married. A large share of his time and earnings were devoted to deeds of benevolence. He was a patriarch in town, beloved and respected by all, and died firm in the Christian faith.”

William Plummer Wheeler “lived at home on the Wheeler place in the south part of the town until he was about thirteen years of age, when he went to reside with his uncle James Wheeler at Newport. He remained there until 1836; and, after the death of his uncle, was for a time engaged in the harness making business. He pursued his studies at the Academy in Newport, and afterwards at Kimball Union Academy, where he remained nearly three years. He left there in 1839, and commenced the study of law, which he pursued at Keene, at the Law Department of Harvard University, and in Boston. In 1842, he was admitted to practice in this State, and soon after opened an office at Keene, where he has since been actively engaged in the practice of his profession. He received the degree of LL. B. at Harvard University, in 1842; and in 1850, that of A. M. at Dartmouth College. He was Solicitor of Cheshire County for ten years; and in 1851 was appointed a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, which he declined. He has several times since been tendered a seat upon the bench of the Supreme Court of this State. In 1855, and again in 1857, he was a candidate for Congress in the third district. He was married in 1849 to Sarah D. Moulton, of Randolph, VT. He is a Trustee of the State Reform School, and of the State Agricultural College.”

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. G. Plumer Wheeler, Newport, New Hampshire

Hanover [New Hampshire]
October 31st 1833

Dear Brother,

Time only allows me a very few moments to write & as I am at this time engaged in writing for another man with the promise of the enticing remuneration of having the postage paid, I shall make his business the beginning of this letter and then perhaps finish with something else if time is any more favorable.

Here is a young man from Cornish or somewhere else — I don’t know certainly which — whose name is Tracy, a medical student, brother to the Rev. Mr. Tracy who embarked as missionary to China within the last year. He informed me that them owned a horse which was warranted to him & which did not appear altogether without blemish. He gave me the following written description of the horse — “a light iron grey — tail natural — little mane — neck set rather high on the shoulders — was called fro, seven to ten years old but was probably older — was owned by Mr. Newell some time one year ago this fall or last summer — came from below — enquire if he was ____ in the left fore foot or in his hind or any where else. He does not limp but when standing frequently shows lameness — about common use perhaps rather small.” Now it is probable that you remember something about the horse. If you do, write me some time next week and let me know what you recollect about him. If you should not recollect him or even if you should, you might obtain useful information by enquiring of some individual — Mr. Newell’s brother perhaps, or even Newell himself. Your inquiries however must be made inadvertently so as not to show any design for them as a possibility that Newell might have cheated somebody when he put the horse away as the lameness is much as would not readily be perceived. Newell’s suspicion must not be excited until you hear again from me. Let me know all the information you can get (honestly, of course) in season to forward by the last mail of next week.

Last night a few minutes before eleven o’clock I was awakened by the cry of fire and ringing of the bell. After rubbing my eyes and looking about to see that my room was yet safe, I got up and looked out the window but could see no appearance of fire. However, as the bell continued to ring and the cries of fire increase almost to screaming, I concluded to go down and take a few observations relative to the symptoms of the case. On my way downstairs, came in contact with ________ who informed me that it was Mr. Grant’s house at the upper end of the plain. After disengaging myself and beginning to feel somewhat in haste, I hurried to the “open end of the plain.” Amidst all the tumult necessarily attendant on such scenes, it did me good to see the professors grunting away at the rate of ten or twelve knots an hour at the bucket or engine. Loss about $3000. Insurance $1000. The house has been repaired in very superior style within the last two months and a large amount of the finest furniture was carried into it yesterday, most of which was saved though in a damaged condition.

Yours, — G. W. Wheeler


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