June 7, 2006

The name of Brevet Brigadier Gen. Charles Wheelock was invoked several times by speakers during a ceremony last Saturday under a picnic pavilion at Boonville's Erwin Park.

The pavilion was where people sought protection from the day's steady rain. The gathering was there for the unveiling of a historical marker, in the park near Route 12, honoring Boonville's 97th New York State Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which Wheelock commanded.

What kind of man was this Civil War hero from Boonville? There's information on a Wheelock genealogy website. Here's some of it:

Wheelock was "born in the town of Claremont, County of Sullivan and State of New Hampshire, on the 14th day of December, 1812. He was the son of Daniel and Lucinda Wheelock, who removed with their family when the subject of this sketch was a mere lad and settled near the west bank of Black River, in the town of Boonville, north-east of the village, on lands now owned and occupied by Peter Ward and J. A. Fiske. His father was of English descent, and his mother first saw the light on the famous battle ground of Lexington. Her maiden name was Stewart. Two of her brothers took part in the Revolutionary War, one of whom fell at the battle of Bunker Hill. General Wheelock was married on the 20th day of May, 1835, to Miss Lucy Jones, daughter of Hezekiah Jones, Esq., of Boonville, N.Y.

"Colonel Wheelock was a resident of Boonville for a period of forty years prior to his entering the military service of the United States. Besides attending to his farm affairs for the latter twenty years of his business life, he was a stirring, energetic produce dealer, and a square and honorable man. He was a member of the New York State Militia for ten years and the last four held a captain's commission. He was offered the coloneley but declined. He was about five feet ten inches in height, of florid complexion, blue eyes, and possessed a heavy frame and strong muscular power; and his usual weight was something over two hundred pounds. He possessed a highly social nature but was a man of great determination; and was keenly sensitive in his views of right and always ready to defend them. He took a deep interest in politics and was a man of great influence with men, and a strong man in electing his favorites, but never sought or would accept office himself. General Wheelock was eminently domestic in his tast
es and sympathies. No man prized more the endearments of family ties; he loved his home; his wife and children were most dear to him and he cherished their associations."

The website goes on to state that Wheelock was captured during the battle at Gettysburg. "Colonel Wheelock began to devise means of escape, which he effected, as aforementioned, on Sunday night in the darkness of the mountain pass. Soon after Wheelock's return to his regiment, he was ordered to Elmira, N.Y., with other officers of the Army of the Potomac, to take charge of, and forward conscripts."

Wheelock died of an illness in a Washington, D.C. hospital in 1865. He is buried in the Boonville cemetery, as are many other Civil War veterans. Wheelock's grave marker is hard to miss.

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Joe Kelly is the editor and publisher of The Boonville Herald & Adirondack Tourist and THE GRIFF.