Jefferson County Pioneers


ROSWELL WHEELER (son of JAMES WHEELER and RACHEL ________) was born 11 May 1790 in Chesterfield Twp, Cheshire Co., NH. He married PHILA MILLS (daughter of CHAUNCEY MILLS and RUTH DOOLITTLE), born 15 Sep 1792 in Winchester, Litchfield Co., CT (town record spells her name “Fyler”). She was a twin of Fanny Mills.

Roswell Wheeler came to Henderson, Jefferson County about 1810, and lived with his brother Ephraim among the residents of Bishop Street. (John Bishop was a neighbor of the James Wheeler family in Chesterfield, NH.) Roswell was a private in Captain McNitt’s Company of New York Militia in the War of 1812. He married Phila Mills about 1820. By 1840, Roswell’s small family had moved to Smithville, in Adams Twp. They and their two children moved west to DeKalb County, Illinois in 1855. Roswell Wheeler died in Dekalb County, Illinois between 15 Mar 1855 (when he sold land in Jefferson County before leaving for Illinois) and 1 Jun 1859. (He was present on the 1855 Illinois State Census at Clinton, Dekalb Co., but not on the 1860 US Census or the 1860 US Census Mortality Schedule for Dekalb Co.) Phila appears to have died about 1864. (She was on the 1860 US Census, and had given testimony of the birth of daughter Orissa’s child for her Civil War Widow’s pension in 1862, but when Orissa reapplied for benefits in 1866, two other women gave testimony of that event instead.) The burial locations of Roswell and Phila Wheeler are as yet unknown.

Children of Roswell and Phila Wheeler:

Orissa Wheelerb. about 1830 (NY)d. 1 May 1878 (WI)*m. Albert B. Pierce (13th IL Vol Inf, Co. E, died 7 Jan 1862 in winter camp.)
Dempster Wheelerb. about 1835 (NY)d. 3 Jul 1864 (GA)(did not marry –105th IL Vol Inf, Co. K, killed in action outside of Marietta, GA.)

*Orissa P. Wheeler Pierce stayed in Dekalb County until after 1873, her last request for a pension increase, which was denied. She became a seamstress to supplement her pension, and moved to Orion, Richland Co., WI. She is buried there, in Orion Cemetery. Son William M. Pierce made his way back to his mother’s birthplace, Jefferson Co, New York. He died there on 2 Oct 1916, and is buried in Adams Rural Cemetery.


1) The History of Chesterfield, Cheshire County, N.H. by Oran E. Randall, 1882.
2) Land Deeds of Jefferson Co., New York, Book L2, Pg 70, Heirs of Ruth Mills to Jesse Smith.
3) Annals and Family Records of Winchester, CT. by John Boyd, 1873.
4) United States Censuses of 1810-1830, Henderson Twp, Jefferson County, New York.
5) US Land Warrant No. 23712, Roswell Wheeler, assigned to Philo Wheeler.
6) United States Censuses of 1840-1850, Adams Twp, Jefferson Co., New York.
7) Land Deeds of Jefferson Co., New York, Book 126, Pg 410, Roswell Wheeler to O.M. Stanley.
8) Illinois State Census of 1855, Clinton, Dekalb Co., Illinois.
9) 1860 US Census Mortality Schedule for Dekalb Co., Illinois.
10) United States Census of 1860 for Afton Twp, Dekalb Co., Illinois
11) Civil War Widow’s Pension Application File of Orissa P. Pierce.
12) Roster of the 13th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.
13) Roster of the 105th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.
14) Find A Grave, Orion Cemetery, Orion, Richland Co., Wisconsin.
15) United States Census of 1880, Worth Twp, Jefferson Co., New York.
16) FindaGrave, Adams Rural Cemetery, Adams Twp, Jefferson Co., New York.

Submitted by Vanessa Herring.

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