Barnes, Gwen: Edward Wheler (1813 -1897)

EDWARD WHELER (1813 -1897)

by Gwen Barnes

Edward was born in 1813 and lived in Biddeford, near Barnstable, Devonshire, England, where his father had a farm on the edge of the sea. Edward ran away from home to Canada at age 17 because his father was too strict.

It took three months to sail from Plymouth to Montreal. From Montreal Edward travelled up the St Lawrence on a barge pulled by oxen from on shore. He spotted a sailor on deck with an axe in his hand. Curious, he asked the sailor what he was going to do with the axe. He replied that if the oxen started slipping into the river when the current got stronger, his job was to cut the rope. "Then what will happen to us?" Edward asked. "Oh, we'll just float back to Montreal." Sure enough, the oxen started slipping, the rope was cut, and the barge floated back to Montreal.

Edward decided that after spending three months getting to Canada, he wasn't going to drown between Montreal and Toronto so he set out and walked the 350 miles or so. He had just a few clothes in a bundle that he carried on a stick over his shoulder, and a bag of gold. They were rough in those days and he knew he might be robbed so Edward told everyone he was carpenter's lad and the bag was full of nails.

Reaching Toronto he decided to settle about 25 miles further north in Stouffville.

Edward married Anna Maria Reesor, the second oldest daughter of Peter Reesor and Esther Eby.

The Reesor family had come to Canada from Pennsylvania in 1804. As Mennonites, military service was contrary to their beliefs and the Americans in Pennsylvania were not friendly. Peter, at the age of 28, was appointed by his family to ride on horseback the 500-mile 7-week journey to Little York (Toronto) to choose land for them. He continued on to the Whitchurch region where he found good land, well timbered, with water power privileges. As he was about to mount to return home, an ex-army officer, Frederick Baron de Hoen, offered him 600 acres of land in exchange for Peter’s horse and saddle. Peter agreed, and walked back to Pennsylvania.

Peter Reesor, Anna’s father, gave Anna Maria and Edward 600 acres of the land he had acquired in the Whitchurch area when he and his family immigrated. Before Edward died, as well as a big farm, he had accumulated a flour mill, a saw mill, a barrel factory and a general store. He was also the reeve of the village of Stouffville for two years. Edward and Anna Maria Wheler are buried in the Cedar Grove Mennonite Cemetery.

Edward Wheler is my 3rd Great-Grandfather.

For further information see :

The Reesor Family in Canada

A Trail Through the Centuries

Genealogical and Historical Records

1804 - 1980