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Clarissa Caroline, though, was a story yet to emerge. I’d checked the records of Salem, Massachusetts, where the siblings were reportedly born. Also those of Farmington and Freedom, New York, where the family lived later on. Followed brothers Benjamin and Henry to Ohio, where Census records indicate they raised their families after leaving Freedom around 1836. But nothing seemed to mention any Wheeler girl except Harriet.
On May 29, 2009, Valerie and I drove into Little Valley, Cattaraugus County, New York and visited the county offices there. Spent most of the afternoon in the company of the estimable Jim Griffith, County Clerk, chasing the ownership records of the Wheeler homestead in Freedom. But first I stopped in the upstairs office of the Surrogate Court, where I found the original papers from the probate of Grandpa Oliver Wheeler’s will. Including this tiny clipping from the Albany Evening Journal for July 10, 1856.
So here, at last, was the elusive Clarissa Caroline, mentioned in her mother’s affidavit as “Caroline Sawyer, deceased,” and as the mother of four children. I address the lamentable condition of Wheeler family communications in another document: Grandma Hannah Ashby Wheeler was able to list only seven of her descendants living in 1856: we’ve identified thirty.
Working from these clues, we were able to piece together Aunt Caroline’s poignant if sketchy biography. Assuming Grandma Hannah’s accuracy, Clarissa Caroline Wheeler:
  • Was born about 1810 in Salem (though I’m not sure of my source on this)

  • Made an uncle (for us) of a man named Sawyer around 1829, in time to give him four children (our 4C1R) whom Grandma Hannah listed as living in 1856:

    • Malvina Sawyer, born about 1830, married about 1849 to Azro A Jaquish, residing in Michigan by 1856
    • Oliver Sawyer, born between 1831 and 1856, residing in Michigan by 1856
    • Andrew Sawyer, born between 1831 and 1856, residing in Michigan by 1856
    • George Sawyer, born between 1831 and 1856, residing in Michigan by 1856

  • Died by 1856.
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