Elisha Pearl Wheeler, grandson of John, and son of Lemuel and
Hannah (Pearl) Wheeler was born at Hampton, Windham Co., Conn.,
Feb. 5, 1807.
His father, Lemuel, born at Pomfret, Conn., April 20, 1782,
was a carpenter and builder by trade and for a time was a
merchant in Springfield, Mass. He resided at Red Hook,
Duchess Co., N. Y., for a few years, and subsequently took
up his residence in Saugerties, Ulster Co., N. Y., for the
aqueduct and water-wheels at the iron-works there, where he
died April 16, 1839.
By his first wife, Hannah, daughter of Philip Pearl, and
sister of Hon. Philip Pearl, who was born Aug. 14, 1785 whom
he married Jan. 25, 1806, he had two children – Elisha P.
and Emeline (wife of Charles Sanford), who died in Newburgh.
By his second wife, Orinda Goodell, he had children – Lydia
Angelina (widow of James G. Swezey), and Cordelia Wheeler,
Elisha P. Wheeler received his education at the district
school and at Red Hook Academy, which was thorough as far as
it went. He had a good command of language, wrote well and
to the point, and was very accurate accountant.
At Saugerties he was engaged for a few years in a
rolling-mill and furnace located there.
At the age of twenty-three he went into the employ of
Charles Sanford, who married his sister, and was in the
stove and tin business at Rhinebeck. He remained in the
employ of his brother-in-law in the same business at
Rhinebeck and Catskill until 1830, when they came to Orange
County, as partners in the same business at Montgomery. The
firm was Sanford & Wheeler. For a while Mr. Wheeler managed
a branch store at Walden, which was afterwards removed to
Newburgh. They remained in business together – Mr. Wheeler
at Montgomery, and Mr. Sanford at Newburgh – until the
latter died, in 1832.
He then went into partnership with Jonah F. France, in the
stove and tin business. In 1839 they took into the firm
Joseph Lemon and Abner Madden, and built a furnace. The firm
of Wheeler, France & Co. was engaged in the business of
making castings, stoves, etc., and in the tin trade, until
1842, when they sold out. Mr. Wheeler first came to
Middletown in the spring of 1843. He commenced in business
here with Jonah F. France, Edward M. Madden, and Joseph
The new firm started in the spring of 1843, under the
firm-name of Wheeler, France & Co., in the tin and foundry
business, with a store on North Street. The foundry business
gave Mr. Wheeler his first favored start in Middletown. He
was connected with it as a part owner until 1854, when he
sold out, and it was in other hands until 1863, when he
became its sole owner.
After 1853 he was connected with many of the principle
manufacturing enterprises which have given Middletown its
chief growth and prominence. In the year mentioned the
Monhagen Saw Works were started, of which he was one of the
three original owners. The firm was first Wheeler, Madden &
Bakewell, and afterwards, in 1860, Wheeler, Madden &
Clemson. The factory was one of the first in the country and
it is now one of the largest. Its business increased so that
in 1862 the firm started the Monhagen Steel-Works and
Rolling-Mills, under the firm-name of E. M. Madden & Co. In
1866-67 Wheeler, Madden & Clemson, with others, started the
Middletown Forged Horse-Nail Works. A few years ago the firm
became a stock company, under the incorporated title of The
Wheeler, Madden & Clemson Manufacturing Company, and Mr.
Wheeler was its president.
In 1866, Mr. Wheeler began to make connections with new
railroad enterprises, which promised to be beneficial to
Middletown, and not unprofitable to those who should engage
He was made a director of the Middletown and Unionville
Railroad on its organization, and was its president till
1875. He broke ground for that enterprise, throwing the
first shovelful of dirt Oct. 8, 1866. He was among the
earliest of those who were enlisted in the Midland Railroad
enterprise, and drove the last spike at its completion.
Unfortunately, he was among the most severely punished of
its victims. He was an original director and the first
vice-president of the New York and Oswego Midland from 1868
He was a director of New Jersey Midland from its
organization in 1870 till 1874. He was also an original
director of the Middletown and Crawford Railroad in 1870.
He was from the first a director of the M. U. & W. G.
Telegraph Company, also of the Middletown and Wurtsboro’
Turnpike Company. He was also director of its predecessor,
the Middletown and Bloomingburgh Plank-Road Company, and of
the Middletown and Unionville Plank-Road Company.
He was a trustee of the Middletown Gas-Light Company and of
the Orange County Milk Association. He was one of the
originators and first life members of the Middletown
Lyceum. He was a director of the Middletown Bank from 1850
to 1857. He was one of the originators of the Wallkill Bank,
and its first president for a few years. And a director
until it closed. He was a member of the board of trustees in
the year 1869, and was a member of the board of education
for every year except one since 1867, and was its first