1862: Martha Augusta Wheeler to William Egbert Wheeler

Martha Augusta Wheeler (ca 1875)

Martha Augusta Wheeler (ca 1875)

This letter was written by Martha Augusta Wheeler (1845-1909), the daughter of William French Wheeler (1811-1892) and Flora Atkins (1815-1850). After Augusta’s mother died in 1850, her father married Marilla Clark (1820-1907).

Augusta was married in 1874 to Edward Alburn Skinner (1841-1912), a veteran of the 9th New York Cavalry. Edward became a banker after the war.

Augusta wrote the letter to her brother, William Egbert Wheeler (1843-1911) who was at the time attending school in Homer, New York. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1863 and then from Yale College in 1866. He engaged in the manufacture of leather in Portville in 1870 and in oil in 1878. He married Allie E. Mersereau in 1875.

Augusta also mentions her brother Nelson (“Nel”) Platt Wheeler (1841-1920). Nelson became a surveyor and civil engineer. He moved to Endeavor, Pennsylvania, and was engaged in the lumber business and also became interested in agricultural pursuits and banking. He was elected as county commissioner in 1866, and held various township offices. He was a member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in 1878 and 1879 and was elected as a Republican to the Sixtieth and Sixty-first Congresses.

1862 Letter

1862 Letter

Addressed to Wm E. Wheeler, Homer, Cortland Co., New York

Portville, [Cattaraugus County,New York]
Sunday, August 24, 1862

Dear Brother,

Your welcome letter was received Friday afternoon and afforded us considerable satisfaction. We were glad to hear that you were “back in Homer, with your old chum, in your old room,” and hope that you will be satisfied to remain there one more year, or one more term at least. I was quite delighted that your first letter was addressed to me for you must know that I felt pretty bad the night you went away. I was surprised to receive the money (twenty-five cents) you sent but found it very acceptable. Father thought you rather foolish for sending the silver but I did not feel like complaining for you know, it is quite a rarity here.

Your account of meeting your old friend “Dwight” was quite interesting. I am sorry that you did not see the Misses Marvin when you were in Binghamton. What did “Doolittle” have to say? Does he know anything about the Wildes’? Aunt Mary wrote that Rahner Burrows had enlisted and was Captain. He joined the Presbyterian Church a short time ago.

You have probably ‘ere this received a letter I wrote you last Thursday (and the two letters a paper that I forwarded at that time) when I mentioned that Nelson had gone to Jamestown. He returned that evening and after walking up from Olean reached here about 9 p.m. He enjoyed his visit there very much — eating and sleeping with the soldiers of which he thinks there are about eight hundred encamped there. The regiment is now so full that there is to be a division and Cattaraugus and Chautaugua are to each fill out a regiment. “Strenuous” efforts are being made to have the company for that Cattaraugus Regiment all Olean, but it will probably not be changed from Jamestown. ¹ Addison G. Rice is thought will be our Colonel. Capt. [Lewis D.] Warner’s Company is full. Eugene Davis is also Captain of a company. Burritt [F.] Witherell ² and Addison Scutt ³ have enlisted. If about fourteen more are sent from this town, there will probably be no drafting here. Therefore, there will be great efforts made to raise that number this week.

There was a large (seventy invited) party at Mr. Bates [?] Friday evening where we met Charley Cass who, with Ed Porter and someone else, returned Monday or Tuesday. It was reported that the others had enlisted but he says it is a mistake. Towle & Murray are so much ashamed to return that they talk of enlisting as Marines, as Dan’l S. Dickinson (who is Murray’s Uncle) has promised that he will get them out at the end of one year. Wands had not volunteered at last account. Lin__ Deming returned Wednesday with his constitution very much injured. Both Albert Langdon and Albert Calbert are sick. Hebe is still with his regiment as the band hasn’t been discharged.

Augusta's father, William French Wheeler (c. 1855)

Augusta’s father, William French Wheeler (c. 1855)

Nel has been having a serious time with inflammation in his eyes. They commenced paining him Friday afternoon and because so very much inflamed that he was unable to sleep at all until about daylight (of that night). He tried all kinds of remedies so now he is much better and we think as Father says, “he is going to have a quick trip.”

Yesterday the company horse “Billy” that Dickinson drives fell through a bridge “up in the hollow” and would have died if Mr. Huntley hadn’t happened to find it and by hard labor succeeded in extricating him. Father has been “all over” to find him but thinks he is “no-where” and perhaps dead by this time. Possibly he may not be hurt very badly. The haying is done. “By order” Johanna will leave this week.

Mr. Tracy, Charley Cass, Mary Royce, and Dora are coming up here tomorrow evening to ride on the river. Mr. & Mrs. Robinson of Cuba and Rev. Mr. McCall are also coming here tomorrow. The two gentlemen are going up in Pennsylvania while “Truss’ Hurd” remains here. Frank is not going to return to Canandaigua and Mr. Paise [?] seems inclined to send her with me to College Hill. Father is anxious to have me go to Deposit.

Please excuse this disconnected epistle. I have been writing under great disadvantage. — Augusta

I will send a neck-tie soon. Love to H. J. G. B.

¹ Under Lincoln’s call, only one regiment was required of the New York State senatorial district composed of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. It was to rendezvous in Jamestown, Chautauqua County, at a fairground converted to quarter the volunteers, called Camp James M. Brown to honor a fallen officer. During that summer’s recruiting drive, enthusiastic war meetings were held throughout the two counties. Enough volunteers from Chautauqua County gathered at Camp Brown to form the 112th New York. In the meantime, Addison G. Rice, an attorney from Ellicottville, then the Cattaraugus County seat, secured permission in Albany to raise a second regiment. Eight companies enlisted for Rice’s regiment in Cattaraugus County. The other two were from Chautauqua and anticipated joining the 112th Regiment; their assignment to Rice’s regiment caused some disappointment, which wore away as time passed and the bonds of esprit de corps tightened.

² Burnett F. Witherell enlisted, August 24, 1862, at Portville, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. G, September 21, 1862; discharged for disability, February 23, 1863, at hospital, New York City.

³ Addison Scott enlisted, August 21, 1862, at Portville, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. C, September 24, 1862; wounded in action, July 1, 1863, at Gettys- burg, Pa.; promoted sergeant prior to October 31, 1864; first sergeant, May 1, 1865; mustered out with company, June 11, 1865 near Bladensburg, Md.; also borne as Scutt.


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