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Edward Collister Wheeler (1853-1889)

Edward Collister Wheeler was born 25 October 1853 in Wisconsin and died 12 June 1889 in East Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. He married first, as her first husband, Ella C. Chase about 1872, daughter of Isaac Thomas Chase and Abagail Greene. She was born 28 June 1854 in Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan. He married second, as her first husband, Fannie DeClarke 11 October 1882 in East Portland, daughter of Tallman DeClarke and Eliza Johnson. She was born 4 March 1860 in Beaver Dam, Dodge County, Wisconsin and died 29 April 1933 in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California.

Algoma, Winnebago Co., WI, 23 Jul 1860, Series: M653 Roll: 1437 Page: 307

Edward Collister Wheeler was the first of seven children born to John Collister and Adeline (Freeman) Wheeler. John and Adaline were both born in New York, but met and married in Wisconsin. They lived in the Algoma Township near what is now Oshkosh. Edward came into this world on his father’s twenty-fifth birthday. He grew up helping out on the family farm and probably received a good education since “Adaline Freeman was a school teacher and John C. Wheeler was for many years a school superintendent in Wisconsin.”

During September and October of 1863, John C. Wheeler took a train east to inspect the newly forming town of Vineland in Cumberland County, New Jersey. He wrote at least four letters to the editor of the Oshkosh Northwestern that described his journey and various stops in New York and New Jersey. Although these letters do not mention his family, their contents attest to the quality of Edward’s upbringing.

Landis Twp, Cumberland Co., NJ, 21 Jul 1870, Series: M593 Roll: 859 Page: 389D

On September 28, 1863, John made a bond of agreement to purchase 40 acres from Charles K. Landis, the founder of Vineland. About six weeks after Clarence was born in the summer of 1864, the family moved to Vineland, and John purchased the land on October 18, 1864. The second daughter, Effie Rose, was born in 1868.

By the time Milton Irving Wheeler was born in 1874, Edward had been married for more than two years and was expecting his second child.

Edward married Ella C. Chase in 1872. She was the eldest daughter of Isaac and Abbie (Greene) Chase. They had a daughter Adalene Irene, born 1873 in Hector, Schuyler County, New York and a son Edward Isaac born 1875 in Vineland. Apparently, they divorced before the decade ended. Ella and the children were enumerated in the 1880 census with her parents in Hector. She married Julius Witham about 1881, probably in Hector. According to Edward’s will, the Withams lived in New Britain, Connecticut in 1889. By 1900, Julius, Ella, and Adalene had moved to Glendale, Los Angeles County, California. Her parents followed within a few years.

Wheeler's in 1880 Portland city directory Wheeler Bros. advertisement

According to Edward’s nephew Collister, Edward was in the furniture business in Albany, New York. The furniture business is not yet verified, but an E. C. Wheeler was listed in the 1879 and 1880 Albany city directories. Edward, Elmer, and Elmer’s wife are in the 1880 census in Portland, Oregon. Edward, Elmer, and their new business are all listed on page 241 of the 1880 Portland directory. An advertisement for “Wheeler Bros.” appears on page 206.

The 1881 Portland directory shows that Edward was still running Wheeler Bros., but Elmer is no longer listed. He and his wife may have returned to New Jersey about this time in order to adopt a son. By 1882, Charles M. Forbes had resigned his position as general manager of the Howe Sewing Machine Company in order to fulfill a “long-felt desire to be his own master.” The new business of Forbes & Wheeler is listed at 245 Main, selling furniture and novelties. Edward quickly established himself in social circles, including the East Portland chapter of the Council of Chosen Friends.

Perhaps forseeing the need for a larger home, Edward purchased, on August 10, 1882, a lot on 8th Avenue between G and H streets. He probably contracted shortly thereafter to have a house built. Two months later on October 12, 1882, the Oregonian reported the prior evening’s wedding of Edward to Fannie DeClarke. An indication of the popularity of the newlyweds was the newspaper’s rare detailing of the extensive guest list. On December 30, the paper reported that “Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Wheeler have removed to their new residence just completed in this city, located on Eighth street, between G and H.”

Oregonian, October 12, 1883
Mr. E. C. Wheeler, who has been married a year and is still alive and happy, celebrated the event last evening, at his residence in this city, with a number of intimate friends, his wife and baby. They did the affair justice, though the latter did not seem to appreciate it.

On July 10, 1883, Fannie gave birth to a daughter Alma. As there seem to be no close relatives with that name, she may have been named after Miss Alma Storey who was an attendant at the wedding.

Edward turned his attention to politics. On June 16, 1884, he was elected councilman from the second ward of East Portland. He defeated his opponent Joseph Burkhard by a count of 227 to 190.

On Tuesday, June 24, 1884, the Oregonian reported “Mr. Clarence Wheeler and Miss Matie Wheeler, brother and sister of Mr. E. C. Wheeler, arrived here over the Northern Pacific Sunday evening from New York, to reside permanently. They are stopping at their brother’s residence in this city.” Mary Elizabeth “Matie” Wheeler quickly found employment as a teacher, and she found romance with Edward’s close friend John Thomas Stewart who was recorder for East Portland. Clarence went to work for Walter Bros.

Edward took every opportunity to participate in the community. On March 13, 1885, he and Matie performed in the play “Among the Breakers” given by the Library Aid Dramatic club, “. . . the object for which the entertainment is given is a worthy one, namely: the establishment of a free library for East Portland.”

By this time, he was also the district deputy chief councilor for the I.O.C.F, the parent organization of the Council of Chosen Friends. In this capacity, he and his wife went “to pay fraternal visits to the lodges at Albany and Corvallis” during late March, 1885.

Alma's inscription on her father's monument

For the residents of East Portland, a popular summer pastime was camping on the beach. In 1885, the encampment was up to some 500 people. On July 21, the Oregonian reported “Among those who leave East Portland for the coast this morning are the following: Louis Nicolai, wife and family; A. K. Colburn, wife and family; Mrs. L. A. Patterson; Herman Wittenberg, wife and family; Rev. S. P. Wilson, Mrs. E. C. Wheeler and child, Miss Matie Wheeler, Mr. Clarence Wheeler, Mrs. J. M. Partlow, Mrs. Lillie Davis and daughter.” They returned on August 7, perhaps because of their daughter’s health. Alma’s death was reported on August 26:

. . . After a brief spell of fever a few weeks since, she was taken to the coast in the hope of being benefited by the change, but the result proved otherwise. A second attack was followed by another shortly after returning home, from which she never rallied.

In June of 1885, Clarence helped form a volunteer fire company in the third ward of East Portland. Edward was a volunteer for the Pioneer Engine Company, and in December he helped to plan the annual New Year’s Eve ball put on by that fire department.

December of 1885 was also busy for J. T. Stewart. On December 10, he left for San Jose, California, to visit his brother who was dying of consumption. About December 17, the usual result came to pass. J. T. Stewart returned to Portland a few days before Christmas. His year ended on an up beat when, on December 30, the Rev. David O. Ghormley presided over his marriage to Edward’s sister Mary.

For the next year and a half, Edward continued to be very active with the city council and the Pioneer Engine company. On July 27, 1886, he found time to go to Yaquina bay on business and pleasure with Arthur Burr Cox. On September 2, 1886, a son John Tallman was born.

East Oregonian, November 11, 1887
Forbes & Wheeler, the new furniture dealers, whose store is on Main street, in the Association block, are now ready for business. It is the remark of every passer by that this is one of the finest furniture stores in the State, not even excelled by those of the big cities. The firm carry a large stock of furniture, carpets, oil cloths and every article usually found in a first-class establishment of this kind. Forbes & Wheeler have been in business in Portland for several years and are young men of energy and enterprise. Hearing of the progressive nature of Pendleton they determined to visit it with a view to opening a branch store. They were so pleased with the town that it only took a few hours for them to determine that this was the place for them to locate, so the branch was started, with Mr. E. M. Wheeler in charge. It is the firm’s intention to start other branch stores in the best towns east of the mountains.

On June 20, 1887, he was elected Mayor of East Portland. As the Republican candidate, he received 574 votes. His Democratic opponent, G. W. Shaver, received 329 votes. Common problems during his term of office had to do with widening and paving of streets, installation of electric street lights, and contracts with the water company.

The summer of 1887 finds the family visiting Ashland in July and the ocean in August. On September 28, his brother Elmer, with wife and son, returned to Portland. Elmer initially took a job with Walter Brothers, but in early November, Edward took him to Pendleton where Elmer was “placed in charge of the branch house at Pendleton recently established at that point by the firm of Forbes and Wheeler.”

Edward was smart enough and well-connected enough to profit from the growth on the East side of the Willamette River. Over the years he put as much money as he could into land in and around East Portland. An example of shrewd investing occurred on September 9, 1886 when he attended an auction put on by the city to recover back property taxes. He and Harland McGuire bid on four lots that had back taxes ranging from 30 cents to $2.85. They spent a total of $18.43. J. T. Stewart was also a frequent co-investor. During the summer of 1887 they invested $3500 to purchase most of what would become Hart’s addition to East Portland.

In May of 1888, Matie (Wheeler) Stewart and Fannie (DeClarke) Wheeler took their children to New Jersey so that John and Adaline Wheeler could meet their grandchildren. On June 4, Edward was elected Multnomah County Clerk. Since the office required a deputy, he appointed J. T. Stewart for that position. The two of them left for New Jersey on August 2 to retrieve their families. All returned safely the first week of September.

Edward was a leader in the campaign to join East Portland with Portland. In November 1888, a petition to the state legislature was created urging unification. His name headed the list of signers published in the Oregonian on the 17th.

April 10, 1889, page 3, col. 3
Mayor Wheeler left last night for a trip to Pendleton and Spokane Falls, returning by way of the Sound. Being somewhat broken in health, he will travel about until he receives some improvement.
April 21, 1889, page 8, col. 3
Mayor Wheeler returned from Pendleton yesterday where he has been for about ten days. He is much improved in health. It was his intention to go to the sound over the Northern Pacific, but he changed his plans, and will go there direct in a few days.
April 30, 1889, page 8, col. 3
Mayor E. C. Wheeler was confined to his residence on I street most of all last week, and was threatened with fever, but the attack was warded off. He was sitting up yesterday, but was quite feeble. He was taken down soon after returning from Pendleton.
May 2, 1889, page 3, col. 2
The improvement of Mayor Wheeler, mentioned a few days ago, was not permanent, and now he is in a very precarious condition. A consultation of attending physicians will be held this morning in his case. Although the case is a serious one, the best is hoped for.
June 21, 1889, page 8, col. 3
A Regular Meeting
of the Board
of Fire Delegates.
Whereas, The Great Chief of the universe has called to eternal duty our fellow fireman and esteemed municipal ruler, E. C. Wheeler, and
Whereas, We desire to express our sincerest sorrow upon the loss we have sustained in the transfer to another department of one we universally respected and mourn, therefore be it
Resolved, That the board of fire delegates of the city of East Portland does most sincerely express the loss we feel in the absence from our midst of one whom we could look to for counsel and aid when the need was greatest, and on whom we always could rely, and
Resolved, That we tender his bereaved family our most heartfelt sympathy in their affliction and deepest hour of grief.

By early 1889, Edward was noticing a decline in his health. His condition worsened and frequent reports were given in the newspaper. On May 10, his wife and J. T. Stewart took him by train to Pendleton where it was hoped a change of air would improve his health. He returned on the 18th with a grim prognosis. Probably with the intent of simplifying his estate as well as providing cash for his wife, the Wheelers and Stewarts executed at least nine deeds on May 29 to sell their investments in Hart’s addition. This came to over $12,000 for 17 lots. The Oregonian was silent on his condition until June 13 when the paper reported “Mayor E. C. Wheeler, who has been sick with heart disease for the past four months, died yesterday afternoon at the residence of J. T. Stewart, at 1:15.”

On the 14th, the funeral at Stewart’s house was conducted by David O. Ghormley. The procession to Lone Fir cemetery was estimated to consist of 70 carriages. At the grave, Samuel Bullock gave a Masonic committal service. Businesses were closed for four hours during the funeral, and city buildings and offices were draped in mourning for thirty days.

His mayoral term was due to expire on July 1, 1889. The evening of his death, the local Republican party held its convention. In addition to other business conducted at the convention, J. T. Stewart was nominated for Mayor. On Monday, June 17, he was elected by receiving 610 votes. His Democratic opponent, G. M. Stroud received 508 votes. Two votes were cast for J. Byers. J. T. Stewart assumed office July 1, and became the last mayor of East Portland as the city voted on June 1, 1891 to merge with Portland.

Edward dictated his will to J. T. Stewart on May 25, 1889. It was witnessed by J. T. Stewart and Mary E. Stewart. Executors were “my Brother-in-law J T Stewart, my partner C M Forbes, and my brother Clarence J Wheeler.”

His daughter Adalene received $5000 from his life insurance policy with the United States Masonic Benevolent Association. He gave to his son “Edward Wheeler, son of Ella C Witham (formerly Ella C Wheeler) of New Brittain, Connecticut the sum of Five Dollars and no more.” He bequeathed to “Elmer M Wheeler of Pendleton, Oregon all my right, title and interest in the business, known as the Furniture Store of E C and E M Wheeler, located at said Pendleton, Oregon, also the hotel stock owned by me and held by said firm, in the Pendleton Hotel, provided that said Elmer M Wheeler pays all outstanding indebtedness against the said firm, amounting to about two thousand Dollars.” The net value received by Elmer was almost $3300. From personal property and the East Portland store, his wife and son John received about $5400 each.

Fannie raised John alone until January 3, 1907, when she married Arthur Burr Cox, an old friend who had been at her first wedding. For 37 years, he had been an employee of the railway mail service and for some time was postmaster of East Portland. He died July 28, 1918 and was buried in the Wheeler plot in Lone Fir Cemetery. Fannie then moved to Santa Monica, California to be near her son. She died there in 1933 and is buried in Sierra Madre Pioneer Cemetery, Los Angeles.

E. C. Wheeler's monument in Lone Fir cemetery

The children of Edward Wheeler and Ella Chase were

  1. Adalene Irene Wheeler was born 13 July 1873 in Hector, New York and died 28 November 1946 in Los Angeles County, California. She married, as his second wife, Leonard Warren Bradley about 1916, son of James Bradley and Rebecca Morse Knowles. He was born 19 August 1868 in Massachusetts and died 21 July 1948 in Los Angeles County.
  2. Edward Isaac Wheeler was born 14 May 1875 in Vineland, New Jersey and died 21 August 1939 in Los Angeles. He married first Josephine Bartel 6 February 1899. She was born about 1876 in Germany. He married second Winnie Frances Porter between 1914 - 1917, daughter of John Sherman Porter and Irene Evaline Morris. She was born 25 July 1894 in Auburn, King County, Washington and died 26 January 1964 in Glendale, California.

The children of Edward Wheeler and Fannie De Clarke were

  1. Alma Wheeler was born 10 July 1883 in East Portland, and died 25 August 1885 in East Portland.
  2. John Tallman Wheeler was born 2 September 1886 in Oregon and died 7 May 1947 in Los Angeles County. He never married.

End Notes

Most items from The Oregonian have been transcribed at Wheeler’s in the News, online at

Edward C. Wheeler tombstone, Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. ibid. Multnomah County Marriage Record Affidavits, book 4, page 319, at the house of T. De Clarke, witnessed by G. E. Nottage and C. M. Forbes (image online) Fannie De Clarke Cox, death certificate no. 33-021612 (1933), State of California, Department of Health Services (image online) Multnomah County deeds, book 57, page 397. Lot 3 in block 185 of East Portland. $850.00. Purchased from George E. and Kitty C. Nottage. In 2005, the property address is 122 S.E. 8th between Ankeny (formerly G street) and Ash (formerly H street). Now, there are only commercial buildings on the block. The Oregonian, 12 October 1882, page 3, column 2 The Oregonian, 30 December 1882, page 3, column 4 The Oregonian, 12 October 1882, page 3, column 2 The Oregonian, 17 June 1884, page 4, column 4 The Oregonian, 24 June 1884, page 3, column 4 The Oregonian, 13 March 1885, page 4, column 3 The Oregonian, 21 March 1885, page 1, column 3 The Oregonian, 21 July 1885, page 3, column 5 The Oregonian, 8 August 1885, page 3, column 4 The Oregonian, 26 August 1885, page 3, column 3 The Oregonian, 5 December 1885, page 4, column 1 The Oregonian, 11 December 1885, page 3, column 4 The Oregonian, 18 December 1885, page 3, column 1 The Oregonian, 21 December 1885, page 4, column 1 Multnomah County Marriage Record Affidavits, book 6, page 2, at the house of Edwd. C. Wheeler, witnessed by Clarence J. Wheeler and Jessie E. Samuels (image online) The Oregonian, 27 July 1886, page 3, column 4 The Oregonian, 21 June 1887, page 8, column 1 The Oregonian, 16 July 1887, page 8, column 5 The Oregonian, 25 August 1887, page 8, column 3 The Oregonian, 29 September 1887, page 8, column 4 The Oregonian, 16 November 1887, page 2, column 5 Multnomah County deeds
Book 93, page 301. 9 Sep 1886. Lot 7 in block 15 of John Irving’s addition to East Portland. $0.30 in back taxes owed by John Andrew. Purchased for $3.30
Book 93, page 304. 9 Sep 1886. Lot 2 in block 79 of Holladay’s addition to East Portland. $2.85 in back taxes owed by Mary A. Mallory. Purchased for $6.00
Book 93, page 307. 9 Sep 1886. Lot 5 in block 10 of Cole’s addition to East Portland. $0.30 in back taxes owed by Demetric Fallenges. Purchased for $3.30
Book 93, page 310. 9 Sep 1886. Lot 4 in block 28 of McMillan’s addition to East Portland. $2.70 in back taxes owed by Catherine Shevey. Purchased for $5.83 Multnomah County deeds
Book 95, page 63. 30 Jul 1887. Newsome, $1500
Book 96, page 287. 30 Sep 1887. Killingsworth, $2000
Book 102, page 23. 12 Mar 1888. Platting and dedication of Hart’s Addition to East Portland. The Oregonian, 11 May 1888, page 6, column 4 The Oregonian, 1 August 1888, page 3, column 5 The Oregonian, 4 September 1888, page 3, column 6 The Oregonian, 17 November 1888, page 3 The Oregonian, 10 May 1889, page 6, column 4 The Oregonian, 16 May 1889, page 8, column 3 The Oregonian, 18 May 1889, page 6, column 3 The Oregonian, 13 June 1889, page 8, column 1 The Oregonian, 13 June 1889, page 8, column 1 The Oregonian, 18 June 1889, page 8, column 3 Multnomah County Marriage Record Affidavits, book 19, page 447, at house of Andrew J. Montgomery, witnessed by Dr. G. E. Nottage and Mrs. G. E. Nottage (image online) The Oregonian, 29 July 1889, page 7, column 2, obituary Arthur Burr Cox, death certificate no. 1747 (1918), Oregon State Board of Health (image online) The Oregonian, 30 April 1933, page 13, column 2 Edward Isaac Wheeler, death certificate no. 8552 (1939), State of California, Department of Public Health (image online) Winnie Frances Wheeler, death certificate no. 1446 (1964), State of California, Department of Public Health John Tallman Wheeler, death certificate no. 47-037437 (1947), State of California, Department of Health Services (image online)