Wheeler #3590

English St George flag animationMoses Wheeler (1598-1698)

Born in England. Arrived at New Haven, Connecticut about 1638 and subsequently settled in Stratford, Connecticut and

English St George flag animationMiriam Hawley (1620-1690)

Born in England.  Probably arrived at Boston, Massachusetts between 1629-1635 and later settled in Connecticut.

Wheeler-3590

Two good sources of background information on Moses Wheeler are:

  • Cutter, William Richard. Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation (New York: Lewis Publishing Company) 1911.
  • Orcutt, Samuel.  A history of the old town of Stratford and the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut (1886).

Moses Wheeler was born in England, very likely in the county of Kent, in 1598.  The Wheeler family had lived in that region for over four hundred years.  Moses sailed from London in 1638 and settled in the New Haven colony, where he was among the first to receive an allotment of land.  He was included on the Planters’ List in 1641, being Number 122, 2 in family, 50 pounds estate 7 ½  acres in 1st Division, 1 ½  in the neck, 3 ½  in the meadow, 14 acres in second division in New Haven[1].  Based on my study of old and new maps of New haven, I estimate the location of Moses Wheeler‘s homelot to be at GPS coordinates 41.30088 N, 72.93356 W (somewhere between Water Street and Fair Street: east of State Street; west of Olive Street).  The 1641 Brockett map as, shown in Three Centuries of New Haven, 1638-1938 by Rollin G. Osterweis, published in 1953 by Yale Univiversity Press, along with a legible listing of property owners, can be found —> HERE (the “Nine Squares of Ancient New Haven”).

Map of early New Haven, Connecticut (1641 division of land). Wheeler's allotment is in the lower left-hand corner of the map.

Map of early New Haven, Connecticut (1641 division of land), showing the “Nine Squares” of the original town plan. Wheeler’s allotment is in the lower left-hand corner of the map. The top of this map is oriented in approximately a north-westerly direction.

At New Haven, Moses married Miriam Hawley.  Many sources claim that Miriam was a sister of Joseph Hawley[2], one of the first settlers in the colony, although Elias Sill Hawley was not supportive of this claim in The Hawley Record[3].  Evidently, Moses was cited for a violation of the community’s strict laws regarding the Sabbath.  It seems that he returned home on the Sabbath after an out-of-town absence and greeted his wife and children with kisses.  Apparently, he was (or felt) compelled to leave, and They subsequently settled in Stratford, where his sister was wife to the settlement’s minister Rev. Adam Blakeman[4].

In 1648, Moses Wheeler became the ferryman. We don't know what the ferry looked like, but it was described as similar to a "gundalow". It lasted for 155 years.

In 1648, Moses Wheeler became the ferryman. We don’t know what the ferry looked like, but it was described as similar to a “gundalow”. It lasted for 155 years.

The date of his removal to Stratford is not known, but Moses was liv­ing there in 1648 when the General Court granted him the privilege of operating the ferry across the Housa­tonic River.  At Stratford, Moses Wheeler purchased a home from the Indians on the shore, near what is now known as Sandy Hollow.  He afterwards bought a large piece of land in the upper part of the town, extending from the river to some distance above the site of the present-day railroad line.  He was a ship carpenter by trade, and, in addition to building vessels, he was engaged in farming the lands of which he was an extensive owner, and he became one of the leading and influential men of Stratford.  In 1670, the town leased to Moses Wheeler, ship carpenter, the ferry with thirty or forty acres of upland and six of meadow joining to the ferry, for 21 years, without tax or rate, except sixpence per annum during said lease, and the inhabitants were to be ferried over for one half-penny per person, and two pence per horse and beast.

Moses Wheeler Bridge carries Interstate 95 (Connecticut Turnpike) over the Housatonic River between Stratford and the Devon section of Milford. It is one of the busiest bridges in the state of Connecticut. Construction on the Moses Wheeler Bridge began in 1955, and the bridge opened on 2 Jan 1958. The structure underwent major reconstruction between 2011-14.

Moses Wheeler Bridge carries Interstate 95 (Connecticut Turnpike) over the Housatonic River between Stratford and the Devon section of Milford. It is one of the busiest bridges in the state of Connecticut. Construction on the Moses Wheeler Bridge began in 1955, and the bridge opened on 2 Jan 1958. The structure is undergoing major reconstruction between 2011-16.

Driving on I-95 through Connecticut, you may find yourself on the Moses Wheeler Bridge that spans the Housatonic River between Stratford and Milford.  The bridge, opened in 1958 and undergoing major renovations from 2011-16, was named for Moses Wheeler, who operated the ferry crossing in the early days of Stratford.  For many years, Wheeler, a ship’s carpenter, operated a ferry across the Housatonic River at this location.  His son and later his grandson also ran the ferry.

Here’s another photo of the bridge:

This bridge spans the Housatonic River somewhere near the site where Moses Wheeler once piloted the ferry.

This bridge spans the Housatonic River somewhere near the site where Moses Wheeler once piloted the ferry.

The following description is taken from 
William Howard Wilcoxson’s History of Stratford, Connecticut: 1639-1939 (1939), p. 699:

“Moses Wheeler was a picturesque character of indomitable courage, incredible height and remarkable strength… He was a strong powerful man of whom the Indians are said to have stood in mortal terror. The Milford Indians were thought to be unfriendly to him. One day as some of them came to attack him, he took a big dipper of boiling soap, which his wife was then making, and threatened to throw it on them. They dared not advance and left immediately. Another tradition relates that Mr. Wheeler was one morning in the cellar of his house, when 3 Indians with tomahawks appeared in the doorway. Realizing his helplessness if attacked, he raised a half-emptied cider cask, saying has he did so ‘Let’s all have a drink” pretending at the same time to drink from the bunghole. The Indians seeing this and supposing the barrel to be full went away, saying they did not want to fight with such a strong man.”

About ten years before his death, Moses gave most of his property to his children: to Moses Jr., Samuel and (son-in-law) Jacob Walker, he gave the tract near Derby that he had bought from the Indians about forty years before, and by his will dated 19 Feb 1689/90, his son Samuel received the homestead and all pertaining to it.  This homestead, according to Samuel’s will of 30 Nov 1689, lay at ye upper end of ye upper Island, probably in the Housatonic.

The will of Moses Wheeler’s son (Moses Jr.), proved 23 Jan 1725, confirms that he received the ferry from his father Moses and left it to his own son, Elnathan, so it remained in the family at least over one hundred years.

Moses Wheeler, husband of Miriam Hawley
 (Old Congregational Burying Ground
, Stratford, Connecticut)

Moses Wheeler, husband of Miriam Hawley
 (Old Congregational Burying Ground
, Stratford, Connecticut)

Moses Wheeler died 15 Jan 1698, possibly one of the first white man of one hundred years who had lived in New England.  He was buried in the churchyard of the old Congregational church at Stratford.  A rough stone, cut from the rocks at his homestead, marks his grave, with the inscription:

Moses Wheeler, Aged 100, Dyed Jan. 15th. 1698

Moses Wheeler’s will was proved 19 Feb 1698, and after disposing of his real and personal property generally, he says:

I give to my daughter Miriam two pewter dishes, to my son Moses, his wife, ye pewter platter, and to my daughter Mary, a bras kitle houlding ten to twelve gallons, the Abridgement of the Marter Booke, and Mr. Brooks His Devices of Satan, and to Elizabeth ye wife of my son Samuel, ye great kitle, and to Mr. Israel Chauncey twenty shillings in silver.

Jane, a sister of Moses Wheeler, also came over to America with him, and married Rev. Adam Blakeman, the first clergyman of the Church in England in Stratford.  Jane was two years younger than Moses, having been born in 1600.  She died in 1674.  She married (second) Jacob Walker, son of Robert Walker, and brother of Rev. Zachariah Walker, pastor of the Congregational church in Stratford.  Rev. Adam Blakeman was rector of this church from 1639 to 1665.  Adam’s son, Samuel[5], married Elizabeth, the daughter of Moses Wheeler.

The children of Moses Wheeler and Miriam Hawley as listed as follows:

  1. Elizabeth Wheeler, born 1 Aug 1642 at New Haven, Connecticut.  She married (1st) Samuel Blakeman, and (2nd) Jacob Walker.  With her second husband, she was the grandmother of Gen. David Wooster (1711-1777), hero of the American Revolution at the battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut.
  2. Miriam, born 28 Mar 1647 at New Haven, Connecticut and died 1693.  She married James Blakeman, and was the maternal ancestor of the Blakeman or Blackman families in the towns of Huntington, Monroe and Newtown, Connecticut.
  3. Samuel, born 28 Apr 1649 at Stratford, Connecticut.  On 29 May 1678, he married Elizabeth Harris, and he died in 1699, leaving no children.
  4. Moses, born 5 Jul 1651 and died 30 Jan 1725, both at Stratford, Connecticut..  He inherited the ferry from his father, together with the homestead.  He removed the stone house, which his father built and replaced it with a wooden house, which was standing until 12 May 1891, when it was burned down.  He was a farmer, as well as ferryman.  He died 30 Jan 1724 and is buried beside his father, with a similar headstone, evidently from the same place.  The inscription says: Here Lays The Body of Mr. Moses Wheeler Who Departed This Life Jan. The 30th. 1724, in The 74th. Year of His Age.  He was one of the wealthy men of Stratford, as his estate is inventoried at £1,463-5-6.  He bequeathed to his wife five pounds above their marriage agreement; to his son James £40; also to his sons Nathan and Robert and his daughter and to his grandchildren.  His son Elnathan was made his executor, and he left to him all his lands, with the ferry, and all movable goods and personal estate.  On 20 Oct 1674, he married Sarah, daughter of Caleb Nicholls.  Children: Moses, Caleb, Sarah, Nathan or Elnathan, Samuel, James, Robert and Elizabeth.
  5. Mary, born 13 Sep 1655 at Stratford, Connecticut and died 17 Aug 1747 at Wallingford, Connecticut.  She married (1st) Samuel Fairchild, and (2nd) Benjamin Beach.
  6. Joanna, born 5 Mar 1659 at Stratford and died in 1694, unmarried.

In 1660, Elizabeth Wheeler married Samuel Blakeman (son of Adam Blakeman and Jane), who was probably born before 1635 in England and died 27 Mar 1668.  Adam Blakeman’s wife, Jane, was a sister of Moses Wheeler, which would make Elizabeth Wheeler and Samuel Blakeman first cousins.  Samuel Blakeman was only 48 years of age at the time of his death.  After he died, Elizabeth married Jacob Walker, a lawyer, in 1670.  Jacob (born 1644 at Boston, Massachusetts) was the son of Robert Walker of Boston and brother of the Rev. Zachariah Walker, pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Stratford, and which removed to Woodbury.

The children of Elizabeth Wheeler and Samuel Blakeman are listed as follows:

  • Son, born 1661
  • Abigail, born 11 Dec 1663 and died 30 Mar 1719
  • Adam, born 14 Sep 1665 and died young.
  • Johanna Blakeman, born 1667 at Stratford, Connecticut and died in Newark, New Jersey in 1729.

The lineage of Elizabeth Wheeler and Samuel Blakeman is continued under the heading of Adam Blakeman (1598-1665).

 


[1] Atwater, Edward E. (ed.). History of the City of New Haven to the Present Time, by an Association of Writers (New York: W. W. Munsell & Co.) 1887, p. 11.

[2] Joseph Hawley (1603-1690), my 10th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.

[3] Hawley, Elias Sill. The Hawley Record
(Buffalo, New York: Press of E H Hutchinson & Co.) 1890.

[4] Rev. Adam Blakeman (1598-1665), my 9th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.

[5] My 8th g-grandfather, discussed under the heading of Rev. Adam Blakeman (1598-1665).

 

 

 

 

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