Yesterday we looked at the beautiful record of the marriage of William Wheeler and Nellie Call- antique shops can be such a treasure chest! Today let’s look at their family, and lives after their marriage.
The children of William and Nellie (Call) Wheeler were:
Kent C.E. Wheeler, b. 5 Nov 1891in Ohio.
Achsah M. Wheeler, b. 4 Oct. 1893 and d. 4 Feb 1894; presumably named after her paternal grandmother.
Elizabeth Call Wheeler, b. 13 Dec. 1894 in Cleveland, Ohio, d. 10 November 1959.
Chrystal Grace Wheeler, b. 26 Nov. 1897 in Alabama.
Willie Nell Wheeler, b. 22 April 1905 in Alabama, d. 15 July 1969.
Mae Irene Wheeler, b. 5 May 1907 in Montgomery, Alabama, d. 25 June 1970 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Some of this information is from Ancestry trees and I have not yet heard back from those tree owners, so please do verify the above information before adding it to your tree.
We do know that the family moved from Ohio to Montgomery, Alabama before the birth of their daughter Chrystal in 1897.
William apparently was an electrical engineer. Interestingly, his headstone states, “He died at the post of duty.” Sounded like a story there. He died 1 July 1921, and Nellie lived 27 years longer, until 8 August 1948.
William M. Wheeler’s final resting place is in Greenwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama; see Find A Grave Memorial #63284383. Nellie G. Wheeler (possibly her middle name was Grace, as she gave that name to a daughter? Or was the “C” for “Call” accidentally changed to a “G”?) may be alongside him in Greenwood Cemetery- their stones look similar but there is no plot information; see Find A Grave Memorial #90289114. The image of her headstone on FAG is sweet- a little plastic/magnetic guardian angel like what used to be on people’s dashboards, and possibly an urn holder, engraved “Mama.”
Addendum: OK, could not resist the genealogical muse… I had to find out about “He died at the post of duty.” GenealogyBank.com came to the rescue with a Montgomery, Alabama newspaper.
William Wheeler had worked for the Montgomery Light and Water Power Company for 25 years, 10 of them as Chief Engineer. (So he would have started about 1896, when electricity was still a fairly new source of power.) Apparently there was a short circuit in some wires which caught a switch box on fire. William was notified by the night watchman, and arrived at the plant soon after. He determined where the problem was, and attempted pulling out the switch. Unfortunately two of the terminals in the box came into contact with each other as he pulled, and this caused a short, which then caused a burst of flame which ignited William’s clothes. By the time help arrived to put out the flames, William was already severely burned over his entire upper body. He was coherent enough to explain the accident when he got to the hospital, but he unfortunately died at 4:20 that afternoon.
William was dealing with quite a lot of electricity- the switch was connected to one of the three main lines that powered the city. In fact, William’s funeral notice stated it was “an explosion,” not just a ‘flame.’ The “entire city was put into darkness for a period of about two hours” in order to repair the line. William saved the plant from being severely damaged and compromising the distribution of power to the entire city of Montgomery, Alabama.
The news story gives us a bit more information about the family, too. His wife Nell was still living and they were married, son Kent was living in Galveston, Texas, and daughters Nell and Mae were still single and living in Montgomery. The other two daughters were married, and, if they were listed in birth order, Elizabeth was married to Herbert Keister and living in Houston, Texas, and Chrystal was married to S. D. Connor and living in Montgomery. (If not in birth order, as is customary in obituaries, the spouses would be reversed.)
It must have been comforting to Nell to have three daughters close by when this terrible accident happened. And now we know that William Wheeler was a brave man, who truly “… died at the post of duty.”
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Notes, Sources, and References:
- Leading image, “William Wheeler Residence, Norwich Twp., Huron Co. Ohio” from Picturesque Huron or Huron County Ohio as seen thru a camera. 1896, GoogleBooks. If this book was published in 1896, Kent would have been 5 years old and Elizabeth 1; the other children were not born. So who are the children in the picture? Is William Wheeler on the right?
- The genealogical and encyclopedic history of the Wheeler family in America. Compiled by the American College of Genealogy under the direction of Albert Gallatin Wheeler, Jr, Volume 2, pp906-7. https://archive.org/stream/genealogicalency02whee#page/906/mode/2up/search/call
- Find A Grave- see above links to memorials.
- “William H. Wheeler Dies Friday From Injuries at Power Plant.” Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), Vol. XCII, No. 183, Page 1, Saturday, 2 July 1921, via GenealogyBank.com.
Notes, Sources, and References:
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