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Sullivan, Parks, Wheeler, & Hawkins

Mary Elizabeth Wheeler (1862-1933)

Hunt, Rockwell D., ed., California and Californians, Vol. III, Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1932

Landis Twp, Cumberland Co., NJ, 21 Jul 1870, Series: M593 Roll: 859 Page: 389D
Landis Twp, Cumberland Co., NJ, 26 Jun 1880, Series: T9 Roll: 776 Page: 372

Mrs. Mary E. Stewart is president of the general insurance firm of M. E. Stewart & Son, with offices at 24 California Street, in San Francisco. Mrs. Stewart has the distinction of being the first woman member of the Insurance Brokerage Exchange of San Francisco. She was also the first woman to engage in the insurance business at Portland, Oregon.

She was born in the State of Wisconsin, daughter of John C. and Adaline (Freeman) Wheeler, who came from New York State. The Freeman family had in its membership a number of physicians and ministers. Adaline Freeman was a school teacher and John C. Wheeler was for many years a school superintendent in Wisconsin.

The Oregonian, June 24, 1884
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.
The Oregonian, December 31, 1885
License to wed was issued to J. T. Stewart and Mary E. Wheeler.
The Oregonian, April 29, 1886
Mrs. Mary E. Stewart’s room (4th and 5th grades) -- Forty pupils are enrolled in this department, and appear to be among the brightest in the district. They carry the banner for the least tardiness. Mrs. Stewart gave her scholars several intricate problems in multiplication and addition of fractions, but the solutions were quickly forthcoming in every instance. Several specimens of maps drawn from memory were examined, many of them indicating a thorough training in outline geography. Mrs. Stewart is one of the most popular and thorough preceptors in the city, and is greatly beloved by her pupils.
The Oregonian, August 14, 1886
Mrs. J. T. Stewart had a narrow escape from a terrible death on Tuesday at the East Portland camp on North Beach. While preparing breakfast over a sheet iron camp stove her apron caught fire, and the blaze communicating to her dress, she was in an instant enveloped in flames. Luckily she had presence of mind to seize a blanket and wrap herself therein, thus smothering the fire. No one was present at the time, Mr. Stewart having just gone out. The lady was quite painfully burned on the left arm and hand.

Mrs. Stewart was educated in that state, finishing her public school work at Trenton, New Jersey, and after normal instruction taught school there. She went out to the Northwest and taught at Portland until she turned her attention to the commercial field for its broader opportunities. She entered the insurance business there as agent for the Palatine Insurance Company, and for a number of years specialized in fire insurance.

Mrs. Stewart came to San Francisco in 1897, and for nearly ten years was associated with the Palatine and Commercial Union Companies. After the fire of 1906 she established offices of her own in the Alaska Commercial Building, and for a quarter of a century has presented to the business public a complete general insurance service. She was in the work alone until her son, Thomas Wheeler Stewart, joined her and made up the firm of M. E. Stewart & Son. The son died in 1916, at the age of twentyfive, but Mrs. Stewart has retained the firm name and organization. Her broad experience has enabled her to give an expert service in all forms of insurance, and she has a well distributed business.

Mrs. Stewart is a member of the Woman’s Club, the Woman’s City Club, Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the Down-Town Association, is a charter member of the Soroptomists Club, and a past matron of the Berkeley Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.

She has one daughter, Margaret, who was born at Portland, Oregon, and attended the University of California with the class of 1908. Margaret is the wife of D. Power Boothe, who graduated from the University of California in 1906 and is president of the Boothe Fruit Company at Modesto, California. Mr. and Mrs. Boothe have four children, D. Power, Jr., a graduate from Stanford University at the age of twenty, Thomas Wheeler, Ferris Freeman and Peggy Boothe, the last two being twins.

[ Also see her obituary and the rest of the Wheeler family ]