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                   Osgood Church Wheeler, an original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge, was born in the township of Wolcott (now Butler) Wayne County, New York, March 13, 1816. Working his way through an eight year course at Madison University he graduated with honor from both the college and the Theological Seminary. Soon after graduating he married Miss H. E. Hamilton who presented him with a son and a daughter. Before reaching the age of thirty he was ordained a Minister of Gospel at East Greenwich, Rhode Island and became the first pastor of Baptist Church at that place. After two years he was called to Jersey City , New Jersey, and, after organizing a strong church there was asked by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society on Nov. 1, 1848, to go to California as its Pioneer Missionary. After several refusals he finally accepted and on Dec. 1, 1848, he and his wife boarded the steamer Falcon enroute to Chargres. In ninety days Chargres was reached and a dugout trip carried them to Cruces, followed by a mule-back trip to Panama. At Panama, on February 1, 1849, the steamer California was boarded bringing them to San Francisco on Feb. 28, 1849. The California was the first of the U. S. Pacific Mail Steamships and the first steamer to enter the Golden Gate. Mrs. Wheeler had the distinction of being the first lady missionary to reside in California. On March 18, 1849, Rev. Wheeler commenced preaching in the private dwelling of C. L. Ross and on May 27, 1849 organized a Sabbath School. It is claimed that Rev. Wheeler was the first Protestant Clergyman to preach a sermon in California. On July 6, 1849 the First Baptist Church of San Francisco was organized by Rev. Wheeler with six Charter Members. During this month he purchased a lot on the north side of Washington Street between Dupont and Stockton Streets and with his assistance, the first Protestant Church edifice in California was erected. It was completed August 2, 1849 and dedicated three days later. This building was used during the week as the first free public school on the Pacific Coast. On October 21, 1849, Rev. Wheeler baptized Col. Thomas N. Kellum by immersion in the waters of San Francisco Bay; the first known baptism by immersion in California. On Feb. 27, 1850 Rev. Wheeler was elected President of the Public Tract Society which office he retained until his move to Sacramento. The First Baptist Church of Sacramento was organized by this pastor on Sept. 9, 1850 at the residence of Judge E. J. Willis on H Street between 6th and 7th Streets. There were 15 charter members and the first service was held on Sept. 15, 1850 at the Court House, corner of 5th and I Streets. In the Spring of the next year the building for the First Baptist Church of Sacramento was erected at the corner of 7th and L Streets at a cost of about $4,000. On Nov. 2, 1851, Rev. Wheeler resigned the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of San Francisco and the following February accepted a call to the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Sacramento. In the next fall the church edifice was enlarged at a cost of some $3,000 but was destroyed by the great fire of Nov. 2, 1852 shortly after its completion. The congregation then held its meetings at the Court House corner of 7th Street through the cooperation of Rev. B. F. Crouch, Jr. (also an original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge). Rev. Wheeler, with the assistance of Judge E. J. Willis published and edited a weekly paper The Baptist Banner, the first issue bearing the date of Aug. 19, 1852, and the first religious paper of this denomination published west of the Rockies. A throat infection, acquired during his career as a minister of the Gospel and a public speaker, caused his resignation from the ministry in April 1854. A trip to the Eastern States seeking relief from the infection was unfruitful, and after sixteen days he again embarked for California. His throat became worse and in 1869 he abandoned all hope of continuing in his profession. In 1855 he was recording secretary for the State Agricultural Society which had been organized the previous year but declined reelection unless the Society would establish itself and offer some degree of permanence as the result of his labor. This assurance was not granted immediately and during the year 1856 he was only an un-official aid to the Society. The following year, however, the required stability was assured and he resumed his duties as Corresponding Secretary serving until 1863 when he resigned to become Chief Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. At the close of the session which lasted approximately 120 days, he was placed in charge of the Fourth Collection District of Internal Revenue in California under President Lincoln and was one of the most energetic workers in the United States Sanitary Commission, which was instrumental in raising so much money for the relief of the wounded soldiers and prisoners of the Union Army during the war. Rev. Wheeler's wife died in 1869 and for a while he was so prostrated that for a period he was not expected to live, but recovered and in 1871 was engaged by the Central Pacific Railroad to organize its Baggage Department and was so successful as chief of that department that in the spring of 1873, the Company sent him through the 26 States and Territories of the United States and into the Dominion of Canada to inspect the operation of every prominent railroad. This assessment was completed in just 58 days. In April, 1872, Rev. Wheeler married Miss Ellen R. Frisbie of Quincy, Illinois. In May, 1879, the California College conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity and in July of that year the University of Jackson, Tennessee, conferred upon him the Degree of Doctor of Laws. Rev. Wheeler passed away on April 16, 1891, at his home in Oakland where he had resided for the last nineteen years. Brother Wheeler was initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on April 7, 1852, passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on May 3, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on May 31, 1852 in Tehama Lodge No. 3 of Sacramento. In July 1853, he became a member of Sacramento Lodge as one of its original petitioners but, after the Lodge was duly organized, returned to Tehama Lodge No. 3 serving that Lodge as its Chaplain in 1856. During this year he also served the Grand Lodge of California as Chaplain. He became Worshipful Master of Tehama Lodge No. 3 in 1862. On May 5, 1877 at the age of 61 Bro. Wheeler affiliated with Oakland Lodge No. 188 F. & A. M., Oakland, California, dimitting from Tehama No. 3 and remaining a member of that Lodge until death.





Transcribed by Sally Kaleta.

Proofread by Betty Vickroy.

2007 Sally Kaleta.





Sacramento County