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Monhagen Saw Works - Middletown, N.Y.

Wheeler, Madden & Bakewell
Wheeler, Madden & Clemson

  Elisha Pearl Wheeler - Company Founder   8 of 21  

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, of Middletown.

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 Lemon.

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 in them.

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 until 1872.

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 president.

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