The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770

www.portvillehistory.org
Portville, New York
Credits

The lovely watercolor
in our toolbar above is
a depiction of the office
at 17 Maple Avenue.  
The artist is Portville's
very own talent,
Marilyn Reynolds.
Welcome to PHPS

Old Wheeler Letters and Correspondence Collection

We seem to be having early snow flurries this November but our work at PHPS continues, just not at
the office.  One of our activities over the last year or so has been to attend the many auctions held at
Corey Brown's in Great Valley (external site).  He has been selling off the collections belonging to Bob
Schaumleffel for several years now.  One of the many items that interested us were the letters and
correspondence that Bob acquired from the various Wheeler estates.  The Wheelers saved everything,
both personal and business related.

So far, we have been able to acquire hundreds of these letters and documents.  They tell an
interesting story about the families and many date back to William French Wheeler's days
(1811-1892).  One special diary that we purchased belonged to William Egbert Wheeler.  He began
this particular journal in 1860 and it details his first raft trip down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh.  
He chronicles his journey and names all the places the pilots and raftsmen frequented like Cornplanter
and other ports on the river.

If you ever wondered what a large raft looked like, here are some photographs that came to us from
Susan Strong, a descendant of William F. Wheeler's daughter, Augusta.  She put together an
interesting biography of WFW, her great great grandfather, showing some rafting photos from the
Cincinnati Public Library Archives.  These really give you a sense of how primitive this mode of
transportation was for anyone daring to make the trip down river.  They lived right on the rafts in
makeshift shelters that could be disassembled when they arrived at their destination.  No GPS back in
those days - just a human pilot to keep the rafts out of trouble on their journey.
This page was last updated on 11/11/2013
Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumbermen, East Hickory, and Tionesta, Pa

William F. Wheeler had two sons to help him run the family's lumber interests, Nelson and William Egbert.  William E.
Wheeler stayed in Portville while Nelson eventually ran the mills in Pennsylvania with the Dusenburys and later in California,
under the name
Soper-Wheeler (external website).  

The following excerpt was copied from Susan Strong's document, referencing her source as "Autobiographic Sketch of the
Hon. William F. Wheeler of Portville, N.Y.  Edited by his daughter Lilla C. Wheeler, Assisted by Rev. William Waith, Ph.D.,
1892."  It was published in the year of his death.

"It was difficult to get provisions for our men in the woods; for it had to be either brought up the river from Pittsburgh, in a
canoe, 180 miles, or gathered up among the farmers for forty or fifty miles around.  When Mr. Stow first went to the
property, in June, he took his family from here on a raft to Hickory, then on an ox sled; and much of the wayhad to cut a
road on the twelve miles to the mills where he lived for thirteen years.  In those days it required not only energy to make
lumber, but very much to get it out of the Tionesta Creek into the river.  But Mr. Stow never failed, and was always among
the first to reach the market in Cincinnati.

"After Mr. Stow moved to Cincinnati, my son, Nelson P. Wheeler, went to the mills now called Newtown to take the
management of the property.  This was in September, 1865.  On going to take charge, he rode eighty miles on horseback,
much of it in the night, in order to see Mr. Stow, and ask what to do, and how to manage the property.  In answer to his
inquiry, Mr. Stow said, “Do just what you’ve a mind to.”

"In about two years, we bought out Mr. Stow’s interest in the property at Tionesta, and finally at Hickory.

"In October, 1867, William Dusenbury, a son of my first partner, joined my son in the control of the business.  Under their
management it has been conducted more thoroughly and profitably than ever before.

"Our lumber yard in Cincinnati was continued for about thirteen years, after which Dusenbury & Wheeler sold out to
Gregory & Burnet; and we then sold our lumber at wholesale prices as it reached the market from here and from Tionesta.  
This we continued to do for many years.

In 1851 my father died, and Mr. Dusenbury in 1860.  I am now, in 1890, the only survivor of the original firm; and I am,
with my two sons, in partnership with the three sons of Henry Dusenbury."

[They eventually owned about 40,000 acres or more of forestland.  In the twentieth century, two-thirds of their acreage was
sold and donated to the government, forming part of the Allegheny National Forest.]
Looking down Deer Creek
toward Yubadam Creek
A Beautiful Autumn at Bedford Corners

The highway that runs through Bedford Corners is a busy one so the traffic rarely slows down through there.  That will all
change though when people realize that there is a reason to stop.  Bedford Corners will become a destination and the attraction
will be our PHPS Museums.

We are over there all the time so we have occasion to stop and admire the scenery.  Here are a few photographs of the leaves,
the creek called Deer Creek, and our latest projects at the corners.
A Pretty Autumn Day
Charlie's House - Main museum building
Envelope from  a letter from Nelson to his brother, William Egbert Wheeler
Latest Updates on Bedford Corners

Our most recent Homespun Collage newsletter featured the Grange, which received a new green Asphalt roof in October.  
The schoolhouse is undergoing a transformation as well, with the foundation for a new flag pole and memorial brick pavers.  
We added several new pages to provide updates on our recent work at the following links.

                 
New Life for the Old Grange

                 Bedford Corners School House Update
Looking up Deer Creek
toward Sherry Hollow
Charlie's Back Yard - Behind the garage
The School House Excavating
Ron and Bob Nolder - "Up on the Roof" - Grange