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The Mysterious Micheal "Micah" Wheeler
Standish Forde - 1968

Thomas Wheeler's house on King's Highway, Hauppauge.
It stood until May 25, 1931, when it was destroyed by fire.
    What do you do when you have a family Bible showing Micheal Wheeler born in Suffolk County, Long Island, December 15, 1749, married to Joannah Smith October 15, 1775, died February 9, 1789, but a treatise on the Wheeler family makes no mention of Micheal? You dig, follow clues, dig some more, and finally with elation establish that such a person actually existed.
    Micheal Wheeler was the son of Timothy and Mary Wheeler. Of the mother Mary we find little, not even a maiden name, except she was born about 1726, joined the Presbyterian church in Smithtown February 4, 1753 and died in 1803. So let us start with the Wheelers as far back as we can go.
    Thomas Wheeler lived in New Haven, Conn. on December 6, 1643 because he was fined 5 shillings on that date for not having a ladder. (Does your house have a fire escape, your boat a life preserver?) He took the oath of fidelity (his criminal record apparently no obstacle) by signing his mark on July 1, 1644 with his son Thomas, both tenants of the Eldred lot. Thomas the elder was a lieutenant in 1658, a marshall in 1659 and died January 22, 1673. The son Thomas remained in New Haven, as he died there in December 1656, a tailor leaving an estate of £200, but he had had a chance to marry Alise (later married to Josiah Stanborah of Southampton and died intestate about 1673, also known as Alice Stanborough and produced Captain John Wheeler, born about 1647.
    John crossed the Sound to Southampton in 1668, but quickly, in 1669, bought land in East Hampton from Peregrine Stanborah of "Saggoponek". He married Sarah (Talmadge?). He was Supervisor in East Hampton from 1704 to 1718 and a trustee at least in 1707 (J. Lawrence Smith tabs him as an "original" trustee). As stated in Hedges, History of East-Hampton (1897): "John Wheeler. Honored by his fellow citizens repeatedly with public trusts as committeeman, as captain, as town trustee, as Supervisor, venerable for age, he well deserved the distinction. He died June 18th, 1727 aged about 80. His descendants removed to Smithtown, L. I., and there now reside." See also Baldwin, Stories of Old New Haven (1902); 1, H. Francis Smith, American Ancestry, p. 128; Rattray. East Hampton History, p. 297; Howell, Early History of Southampton; Savages Genealogical Dictionary, New England Gen. Register, p. 501; Adams, Memorials of Old Bridgehampton, p. 69.
    The immediate descendants were Thomas and his sons Thomas and Timothy Wheeler, the first settlers of Hauppauge (J. Lawrence Smith, Smithtown), the site being known as the Wheeler Village or Settlement, in Wheelers Hills. Thomas, Sr. sold his house in East Hampton in 1724 and settled in the Islip part of Hauppauge (Simeon Wood, Hauppauge). Thomas, Jr's house (see illustration above) was on Kings Highway, near where the store and post office stood in 1920. It burned down in the middle of the night of May 25, 1931. Timothys house was a mile further west, opposite the Wheeler cemetery, and the house was later occupied by his son Elkanah. The fishermen wanted Timothy to keep a tavern, being half way between Block (Horse Block) Isaac Smiths and Conklins Inn.
    Thomas, Sr. had married Arm(e) Edwards, daughter of John Edwards (son of William and Ann Cole Edwards, said to have come from Maidstone, Kent County, England, arriving in Lynn, Mass. 1649-50) and Mary Stansborough Edwards (daughter of Josiah Stanborough from Kent County and of Southampton and Frances Grunsden Stanborough). The Wheelers paid rent to Smithtowm, but after Nicoll the patentee claimed the land and there was an arbitration, they paid rent to Nicoll.
    Thomas. Sr's children, just to keep the Thomases and Timothys straight, were at least Thomas, Timothy, Josiah, Nathan, Jeremiah and Anna. This Timothys children as listed in the Wheeler treatise, were Timothy Born 1744, Jacob born 1748, George baptized 1753, and William (but no Micheal). Remember, according to the family Bible Micheal was born in 1749.
    We next move to the First Presbyterian Church in Smithtown, and find that Timothy Wheeler, who with his father Thomas and his brother Thomas founded Hauppauge, and his wife Mary and their children Timothy, Jacob, George and Micah joined the church February 4, 1753, the children then being baptized. So now we have a Micah -- could he be "William"? Could he be Micheal? We find Micah was a signer of the oath of fealty in 1775. Letters of administration were granted in Suffolk County March 17, 1789 for the estate of Micah Wheeler, yeoman, of Islip, to (his brothers) Timothy and William Wheeler, of Islip. (Was Micahs wife deceased, his children minors?) Bond was put up by Jonas Wheeler and Samuel Wheeler, of Islip. Witnesses (to the bond?) were Daniel Wheeler and Thomas Tredwell (File 65, p. 20). But is Micah the same man as Micheal?
    We next pass quietly over a long period of search. The June 25, 1776 census is checked, and many treatises. There turn up depositions taken in 1834 in the ejectment action of Sarah Nicoll as guardian of William and Louise Nicoll against James Smith, Stephen Jayne, Philip Longbothum,* Davis and Hiram Overton, Elijah and Daniel Terry, Daniel G. Gillett, Daniel Terry, Sr., William Gould, Richard Woodhull, and as from an ancient recording we hear William and George Wheeler, Micahs brothers in their 70s, talk, apparently all about the Conkling Road, or Country Road, or Kings Highway, anciently the Quaker Road, cut out about 1767 guided by the blowing of a conch shell horn, and all quite incomprehensible without benefit of the complaint and old maps. But without clue to Micheal -- Micah.  But then the bonanza finally turns up, in the form of Evelyn Briggs Baldwin, Marriages and Baptisms Performed by the Rev. Joshua Bartt, in the Long Islands Historical Societys N. Y. Gen. and Bio. Record of April 1911. For the year 1775 appears the entry: "Oct. 15. Micah Wheeler & Johanna Smith". The date is right, the wife is right -- Micah must be Micheal. Mr. Treatise writer, add an erratum.
    Postscript. Now we face the task of tracing Micheals wife Joannah or Johanna (or perhaps Joanna or just Hannah) Smith, born in Suffolk County November 30, 1757 and married to friend Micheal in 1775. There do seem to be a lot of Smiths in Suffolk County. There was a Job Smith who left a will dated May 25, 1780 mentioning a daughter Hannah, witnessed by Rachel Merchant and Micah Smith, yeoman (Kate W. Strong, A Will of 1780, Long Island Forum, August 1967). Job left at least sons George, W o o d h u 11, Charles, Josiah, Nicolls and Ebenezer. What more likely than for one of such sons to name his son, the witness to the will, after his brother-in-law? An executor is Epentus Smyth, and our Micah Wheeler left a grandson Epenetus Wheeler. A fellow organizer with George and Jacob Wheeler (and their brother Elkanah -- Mr. Treatise writer take note, and therewas also an Isaac) of the Hauppauge Methodist Church was Joshua Smith, Jr. (Paul Bailey, Historic Long Island, Hampton Chronicle, November 2, 1951). Joshua Smith was one of the deponents in the Nicoll ejectment action and lived within a mile of the Wheelers and when you "went by Wheelers they fell into the same road southerly of Timothey Wheelers which road runs by Elias Smiths property". The latest Richard Smith Family treatise has a footnote concerning Joseph and Hannah Longbotham whose daughter Joanna married a Smith, firstname not given. Is this Joannas daughter our Joannah?
    The Smith genealogies, whether Joshua or Elias or others, show no Joannah Smith marrying a Micah (or even Micheal) Wheeler. Perhaps the marriage to Micheal was her second marriage, even at age 18, so she wasnt initially a Smith. Perhaps she has been omitted by the treatise writers. Here we go again.
*A lead to another mystery. There is recorded in the Smithtown church the marriage December 31, 1800 of Micah Wheelers son Henry Clark Wheeler to Catherine Longbotham (or Longbothum as in the Wheeler Bible), born February 9, 1784 in Suffolk County, died August 25, 1878; also recorded is the marriage October 14, 1799 of Abraham Nicol and Sarah Longbotham (Sister?). Catherine Longbotham is also missing.


First appearing in the LI Forum 1968 No Copyright Information Data Found