1845: Harriet Janet Wheeler to John Gibson Wheeler

Painting of Harriet Gibson Cole Wheeler, ca. 1843, courtesy of Kathy Gould

Painting of Harriet Gibson Cole Wheeler, ca. 1843, courtesy of Kathy Gould

This letter was written by Harriet Janet Wheeler (1810-18xx), the daughter of Levi Wheeler (1780-1852) and Sarah Partridge of New Marlborough, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. She became the second wife (1847) of John Partridge (1803-1870), the son of William and Jemima (Bidwell) Partridge of Pittsfield in New Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Harriet wrote the letter to her brother, John Gibson Wheeler (1803-1868) who had just lost his third wife, Harriet (Cole) Wheeler, on 3 September 1845. After Harriet’s death, he married Mary Jane Dwinell (1814-1882), the daughter of Stephen and Sarah (Wright) Dwinell. Harriet also addresses her brother’s daughter Mary Wheeler in the letter.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. John G. Wheeler, Auburn, Cayuga County, New York

New Marlborough [Massachusetts]
December 6th 1845

Dear Brother,

I now take my pen to address you which I have neglected for a long time, not because I have not thought of you. My time has been much taken up since I wrote you. I think you will excuse me for you know what a task it is for me to write. I have lived with Lucy eleven months. I left there last week and [am] now at home. Lucy and family are usually well. The old people fail gradually. I suppose you have heard that Lucy has another daughter. Her name is Laura Jennett.

My health is tolerable good. Father and Mother are in usual health. His eyes remain sore. He cannot work nor go out much. Brother and Sister B. were here yesterday. They informed us that Uncle ___son had received a letter from you but knew not what was in it. I should like to know how you all are and how you get along.

Dear brother, you have again passed through the billions of affliction since I saw you. You have had my sympathy and my prayers. God in his infinite wisdom and goodness does not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men and will support all who put their trust in Him. It is a consoling thought to our never dying souls. Jesus is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. I trust he has been your friend and your support in the many trying scenes which you have passed through.

Mary, you too have been afflicted. You are bereft of a kind and affectionate Mother. May this affliction be sanctified to your spiritual and everlasting good. Cast your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you. Hope and trust in His mercy and you will find peace to your soul.

After I heard of Harriet’s illness, I often wished I could see her but distance prevented. I should like to have been there to her funeral. I was glad to hear that some of the relatives were there and that Sarah Par___t was there. If she is with you now, please give my respects to her and all the relatives when an opportunity presents. Please tell her to write.

Mary, I thank you for your letter. It contained a good deal of information. I wish you would write again. Please give my respects to the two Miss Douglass’, Mr. Gates’ people, and Mr. B____ and all who take the trouble to inquire. I want to see you and Emily very much. I hope you will all come and see us. I think Emily would enjoy the visit with her cousins for they can chatter and talk as lively as herself.

As for news, I hardly know what to write. I do not know but Sister C. has informed you all that will be interesting, Cousin W has sold out his share in the Paper Mill to Merrick Sheldon and has moved to Pittsfield. His health is poor. The rest of our friends are usually well. Uncle Chapin has buried his youngest son this fall. It is a usual time of health here and also in Sandisfield. I visited last Spring to your Father Jones with Father and Mother; also to Aunt Ann’s [and] had an agreeable visit. John lives with her and does well. Oliver Harmon has a daughter born this fall. He teaches the school in that district. Warren Walker is married to Philena Woodrogh [Woodrow], Harriet Higley to Lyman Sagerson of Sandisfield, Steven Powell is married to Electa Furgason [Ferguson] of Verona. Eliza Ann Wright is published to James Cone of Winsted. Dennis Laird is married to Harvey Sage’s daughter of Sandisfield.

We have had a fine Autumn and is now beautiful sleighing. It is rather a cold, stupid time here. As to religion in this vicinity, I have not heard Mr. Fitch but a few sabbaths since I come home. I think he is not preferable to Mr. Anderson. I should like to go to church with you and hear him. I have attended church mostly in Tyringham.

I expect to go soon to Sister Sheldon’s to assist her a few weeks. Father says he should have answered your letter before now if his eyes had not been so sore. He says you must write often. Father and Mother unite with me in sending respects yto you all. I think you will say I have already written more than you can read. Write me as soon as you receive his. I must draw to a close for want of room.

I remain your affectionate sister, — Harriet J. W.


5 responses to “1845: Harriet Janet Wheeler to John Gibson Wheeler

  • Kathy

    Awesome! John Gibson Wheeler is my husband’s third great grandfather and this is fascinating to read.

    • Griff

      So glad this letter found its way to you. It’s loaded with family information that I hope will be useful to you and other Wheeler descendants. Let me know if you have a picture of either Harriet or John. Thanks for the comment!! — Griff

    • Joan Vaught

      I loved seeing this letter. John G was married three times and I believe Harriet Cole was his first or second wife. I know he had a daughter named Emily who subsequently married William Dwinell. He and his third wife were my ggggrandparents (I haven’t calculated how many “greats”). Mary Jane Dwinell was his third wife and I descend from this union. I’ve thought about how difficult it must have been to lose so many family members at a young age.

      Thank you for sharing this letter. I am going to figure out the family members, if I can. So interesting to me. Thank you again.


  • Kathy Gould

    I do have a photo (portrait?) of Harriet Gibson Cole Wheeler. How do I get it to you? What I have in my family tree: John Gibson Wheeler first married Emily Jones. She died a year after their marriage and they had no children. He next married Harriet Gibson Cole (who was the widow of Alvan Cole; m. 5 Dec 1825, d. 19 Feb 1832). She brought to the marriage her daughter, Mary Cole (mentioned in the letter) and bore John a daughter, Emily Jones Wheeler, named after John’s first wife. John then married Mary Jane Dwinell 14 Sept 1846 and had four more children, John Clarence, Ella Eugenia, Edward Dwinelle, William W. and Arthur H. My husband is descended from Emily Jones Wheeler. Lucy is probably Lucy Ann Wheeler Markham, John’s half sister.

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