Thomas Wheeler, now deceased, belonged to that sturdy band of pioneers who conquered the wild conditions of California that existed in the middle of the century, and thus aided in laying a foundation for the present prosperity and advancement of the commonwealth. He came to the Golden state in 1850 from Saline County, Missouri, which was the state of his birth, his natal day being October 16, 1827. The family is of Welsh lineage, and the paternal grandfather of our subject was one of the early settlers of Kentucky, while Samuel Wheeler, the father of our subject, was born, reared and educated in that state; and Mrs. Wheeler, the mother of our subject, was born and reared in Tennessee.
After the discovery of gold on the Pacific slope he crossed the plains with ox teams, joining a company that was six months in making the journey. They met with no misfortunes on the way, escaping the Indians and the epidemics which decimated so many of the emigrant trains, arriving safely in San Francisco in October, 1850. It was his intention to engage in mining, but he saw his opportunity to enter another line of industry, for the large number of mining men created a demand for food supplies that made the production of any articles of food a profitable source of income. Mr. Wheeler engaged in raising cattle, with headquarters in San Joaquin County. In this enterprise he met with prosperity. In the early days he received very high prices for his cattle and there was always a good market for his stock, for he raised high grades and retained his patronage through honorable and correct business principles. He became possessed of a fine ranch of seven thousand acres, which he left to his family. It is located in Stanislaus County and is a very valuable property. In 1861 he sold his cattle and turned his attention to the raising of sheep, continuing successful in that business up to the time of his death, having upon his ranch from five to ten thousand sheep. He was thoroughly conversant with the best methods of conducting such an industry and his sound judgment and careful management in business affairs brought to him an excellent financial return.
In his political views Mr. Wheeler was a Democrat and socially he was identified with the Masonic fraternity. His home life was a pleasant one and was instituted on the 29th of February, 1860, when there was celebrated his marriage to Miss Louvicia Thompson, a native of Virginia. She was a daughter of John and Mary (Williams) Thompson, both natives of Virginia. By hear marriage she became the mother of seven children, six of whom are yet living, namely: Josephine, the wife of J. P. Churchill, of Yreka, California; Samuel Henry, a large stock raiser living in Reno, Nevada; May Visa, the wife of J. W. Churchill, also a resident of Yreka; Rees Thompson resides on the home farm; and the eldest daughter, Mary Ella, is living at home; Maggie Lee died March 5, 1895, and John Thomas, an attorney, living at Winnemucca, Nevada. Mr. Wheeler was a man of the highest probity of character, his name being synonymous with all honorable dealing. He was most energetic and enterprising and through the exercise of those qualities he gained a place among the substantial citizens of Stanislaus County. His death occurred on the 17th of October, 1899, when he was seventy-two years of age, and he left to his family not only a valuable estate but also the priceless heritage of an untarnished name. His widow still resides on the ranch with her son Rees, and they are together managing the place. He completed his literary education in the high school of Oakland, where the family resided for a number of years, while his business training was received in Heald’s Business College in San Francisco, in which he was graduated in 1891. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity and is identified with the Benevolent Order of Elks. In his native county he is highly esteemed in social and business circles, being true and faithful to every duty in every relation of life. Thoroughly reliable in all his dealings, he possesses the high regard and confidence of all with whom he has come in contact.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.