2. Harry St.Clare WHEELER (1)(2) (3)(4) (photo) was born on 23 Jul 1899 in Newville, Glenn Co., CA. He died on 21 Apr 1939 in Corning, Tehama Co., CA. He was buried on 24 Apr 1939 in Corning, Tehama Co., CA. (Sunset Hill Cemetery).
by his middle name of St.Clare and was often called "Sainty." He grew
up and went to public schools in Corning, CA. Just turning age 18, he enlisted
in the US Navy on 27 July 1917 at San Francisco, CA. He served during World
War I with the US Naval Air Service being stationed in France until after the
end of the War. He was discharged from the Service on 3 May 1919 in Hoboken,
NJ.* While in the Navy he kept up an active correspondence with his girlfriend,
Doris Birch, in Orland, CA, these letters indicating he was in France from at
least Spring 1918 until after 23 Feb 1919. After he got out of the Navy, he
married Doris and they started a family. Apparently the economy was not great
in Corning where they settled in the early 1920's. He found it difficult to
find work to support his growing family as the family business was already supporting
two Wheeler families. He found work driving tractor and doing equipment maintenance
for the large Kimball Ranches in Ventura, CA (Sep 1923). He moved his family
down to Ventura just after his son Andrew was born in Jan 1924. The family returned
to Corning in 1926 and lived in the "old tank house" behind the Wheeler
home. He then worked for the family's plumbing, pump and sheet metal business,
eventually taking it over. The family lived in the Sixth Ave. home until moving
into the old Wheeler house on Solano St. He was Commander of the Corning American
Legion during the year they built the Corning Veteran's Memorial Hall on Solano
Street. He was an active and popular local businessman and citizen. However,
this period was the time of the "Great Depression." While St. Clare
kept the family business very active during this time, he was very generous in
providing credit to his customers. Upon his death much was owed to him by the
local community, but little could be collected.
"Remembrances" by daughter Claire: "Our Dad was strong and worked hard in and at his 'Wheeler's Pump & Plumbing Shop.' He was a happy, jolly person. He liked to tell stories and play practical jokes. Everyone in town loved him. He belonged to the American Legion and carried the flag in every parade. Except for when he marched with the Drum and Bugle Corps (he played the bugle).... He was creative. He designed and built several boats ... built the surf board ... The first were speed boats... As he gained weight, he built an inboard motor boat. He was too heavy for the small speed boat. He could draw cartoon characters, build anything." His son Andrew remembers that St. Clare liked to tell stories and joke. He was generous and it seemed everyone owed him money. He did many jobs for barter (e.g., the family dog Hansel was part payment for a pump).
*His US Navy discharge papers recorded in Red Bluff, CA, on 13 Mar 1933, indicate that Harry St. Clare Wheeler was honorably discharged 3 May 1919 in Hoboken, NJ, from the USS Graf Waldersee (former German ship of stateside return) as a Machinist Mate 2nd Class with "Victory Medal" issued. At time of discharge he was 19 years, 10 months of age, 5' 10" and weighed 125 lbs - brown eyes and hair with "ruddy" complexion. A tiny handwritten note on his widowed wife's application for a pension indicates that St. Clare applied for and received $12.50 per month service related disability compensation for "sinus trouble" between 1925 and 1933.
For more information
about his WWI Naval experience with many related photos, see "His
Navy Years - World War I, 1917-1919."
The following 2 newspaper articles are from the "The Corning Observer":
Saturday, April 22, 1939, Vol. 73, No. 94, page 1.
DEATH OVERTAKES ST. CLARE WHEELER; CITY OF CORNING MOURNS LOSS OF FAVORITE SON; FUNERAL TO BE HELD MONDAY P.M. Veteran's Memorial Hall Is Selected For Last Rites.
On Monday Afternoon Residents of Corning were shocked and deeply grieved when word flashed over the community late yesterday afternoon that St. Clare Wheeler, one of Corning's favorite sons had passed away suddenly. Death came at 3:15 at his home where he had been ill during the day. Although his physician had advised Wheeler to remain in bed, for a short time he was at his place of business directing some rush work. He was stricken with a sudden heart attack and expired before aid could be summoned. St. Clare Wheeler is a native Californian, born in the old town of Newville, July 23, 1900 (sic). When a small boy the family moved to Corning where the late Andrew J. Wheeler entered the plumbing and sheet metal work. His three sons grew up, were educated and entered business with their father. St. Clare, second son, is a graduate of the Corning high school and at the entering of the United States into the World War, enlisted in the Navy Air Service. He served overseas at Brest and St. Lazaire and when the Armistice was signed was one of the crew to bring back one of the large German liners. He is a charter member of Raisner Post, No. 45, American Legion, and served as Commander several years ago. He is also a member of Corning Lodge, No. 305, I. O. O. F., and the First Christian church. St. Clare Wheeler was a big hearted man, who was loved by a large circle of friends, and he will be sadly missed by his family and friends. In 1920 he was united in marriage to Miss Doris Birch of Orland, to which union four children were born, Miss Clair, senior in the high school, Andrew, Janice and Keith. Two brothers, S. A. Wheeler of San Jose, and Hilton Wheeler of Sacramento, and a number of uncles and aunts, survive. His father passed away many years ago and on March 15, 1939, his mother, Mrs. May Belle Wheeler, passed away suddenly at her home here.
Funeral Monday --- Funeral services will be held Monday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the Memorial Hall, with Rev. Herbert Werner, pastor of the Presbyterian church, officiating, and interment will be in the family plot beside his parents in Sunset Hill. Members of Raisner Post will be pallbearers, color bearers and will sound taps.
Tuesday, April 25, 1939
RITES OF ST. CLARE WHEELER LARGELY ATTENDED
The Memorial Auditorium was filled to overflowing yesterday afternoon for the funeral service of St. Clare Wheeler, a favorite son of Corning and a charter member of Raisner Post, No. 45, American Legion. Legionnaires and members of various Auxiliaries came to Corning from other towns to pay tribute to a young man who numbered his friends by his acquaintances. Rev. Herbert Werner of the Presbyterian church delivered a eulogy to his memory, reading passages of scripture from the 14th Chapter of John, his subject being "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled". Music was provided by the high school quartet composed of Harold Swiggett, Merton Morris, Robert Clark and Victor McLane, who sang "Beautiful Isle Of Somewhere" and "This Way Of the Cross Leads Home", Miss Evelyn Kees accompanist. Mrs. George A. Hoag with Mrs. E. J. Poole pianist sang "Face To Face". The casket was draped with the American Flag. Color bearers were Al Greenberg and George Hawker; guards, Ray Holden and Frank B. DeFries; Casket bearers, John L. Moran, Harry R. Jenkins, Newton Isaac, G. R. Armstrong, Glen Case, and Henry Gumble. Taps were played by William Sheppard and Paul Fallows. St. Clare Wheeler will be sadly missed by his 'Buddies: in Raisner Post where he was a ardent worker. His happy good nature made him a general favorite with both old and young. Not only will he be missed by the Legion but by his host of friends. His wife and children and other relatives have the deepest sympathy of the entire community in their loss.
The following is from A HISTORY OF THE WHEELER FAMILY AND ITS CORNING PLUMBING SHOP (Wagon Wheels, Fall 1998): " When A. J. Wheeler retired, his oldest son, Gus, took over the business. After a few years Gus left Corning to work for a pump company in the San Jose area. The business was then taken over by the next oldest son, St. Clare ("Sainty"), with the youngest son, Hilton ("Wooky"), working at the shop periodically. St. Clare remodeled the shop moving the original shop back from the street and built a new front show room with the front door set back and angled display windows . Just behind the show room was a small bookkeeping office, a room for pipe fittings, and a room for job design, layout and estimating. The rear of the building was a large barn-like shop with the ground floor housing sheet metal racks, metal and pipe working machines (e.g., metal brakes, forming tools, pipe threading machines), work benches, tool racks, metal working chemicals and a layout area. At one time the Wheeler shop had the longest metal brake in Northern California. Above the work floor, an L-shaped mezzanine was for storage and this was where the main equipment motor used to power the belt driven machines was located. Also on the mezzanine, for a time, an electrician by the name of Mr. Ford had an electrical business. In coordination with the plumbing shop business, Mr. Ford would wire service poles and control boxes for the pumping turbines. He performed other services from wiring houses to selling light bulbs. The fenced-in back yard of the shop had racks holding different sizes of pipe on the sides. There was usually found the large Dodge truck with chain-link fence on the sides and metal top. This truck, equipped with pipe racks and vises, was used to hold and carry the heavy equipment and materials used in installations and repairs. Across the field to the west of the shop, was a fenced-in storage or "bone" yard where large items were stored. As electric deep-well pumps came into wider usage, sales, installation and repair of pumps accounted for more of the business than windmills. The windmills that were installed were then made elsewhere and assembled on-site by the shop crew. The sheet metal works continued to construct tanks, water troughs and smaller items. With plumbing coming into the house from the "outhouse," the shop sold and installed all household plumbing fixtures and supplies. One of St. Clare's largest jobs was installing the water tower for Corning (which still stands today). In addition to being known as an inventive and generous businessman, St. Clare was active in early Corning civic and social life. As a veteran of World War I, he was active in the local American Legion, playing in their drum and bugle corps, and was Commander the year the Corning American Legion Memorial Hall was constructed. He was also a member of Corning Lodge, No. 305, I. O. O. F., and the First Christian church."
He was married to Doris Marjorie BIRCH on 7 Aug 1920 in Orland, Glenn Co., CA.
3. Doris Marjorie BIRCH (5)(2) (6) (photo) (additional photo albums) was born on 24 Mar 1901 in Orland, Glenn Co., CA. She died at the age of 101 on 20 Nov 2002. She was buried on 25 Nov 2002 at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Corning, Tehama Co., CA.
She grew up in Orland,
graduating from Orland Grammar School 8 Jun 1916 and Orland Joint Union High
School 4 Jun 1920. The caption underneath her photograph in the High School
Yearbook ("Copa de Oro," p. 6) reads, "Though Doris Birch is quiet,
As the robin in winter time, We're glad to count her as, One of the twenty-nine,"
indicating that she was a shy teenager. Doris often recounts her early childhood
years with the remarks about how she always resented the fact that her mother
worked and she (Doris) was raised by hired girls. Her happiest times were with
her father. He was the one that took her on walks and they picked wildflowers
together. He is said to have scolded the hired girls if Doris was crying, saying
"A happy child is a good child." . Mae Birch was 34 when Doris was
born. She was an only child for 9 years. She speaks of her mother having spoken
of herself as being just a "broken down nurse."
When Doris married St. Clare Wheeler in 1920, they honeymooned across Highway 36 to the coast and the redwoods. She remembered buying bananas in Hayfork, near where they camped the first night (Red Bluff to the Coast being a 2 day trip in those days). Her firstborn was a daughter, Claire. Then Andrew was born and a stillborn daughter after which Doris was told not to have any more children. Disregarding this she had two more: Janice and then Keith. She was determined to be an at-home mother for her own children. And so she was. So much so that when St. Clare suddenly died in 1939 (at the latter part of the "Great Depression"), she had done very few business transactions, not even grocery shopping. She also never drove a car. (There had been a fatal automobile accident when they lived in Ventura that convinced St. Clare that women should never drive. ) In a noble effort to pay off the creditors of the plumbing business, she entrusted "Uncle Gus" to help her who in turn made a poor job of it, and she was forced to end the business with no profit. At that point she took in laundry and other people's children. She speaks of being the first baby-sitter in Tehama County. This was a particularly difficult time for Doris. She tells the story of approaching the Welfare Agency for aid, being scrutinized, and made to feel like dirt. She was persuaded to allow her oldest son, Andrew, to join the Navy. This was in 1941 and Andrew was then stationed at Pearl Harbor. She had gone on an outing to see Shasta Dam being built Sunday, Dec. 7, with Mr. Pryne, Janice and Keith. She saw the newspaper headlines as they were driving through Red Bluff and Mr. Pryne took her directly to her mother's in Orland. Doris recalls being very sick with the news. It was several weeks before she received news of Andrew's survival. Doris took care of her aging and ailing mother who had broken her hip for the last several years of her life trading off with her brother, Tennant, and his wife, Dorothy. During the 1950's she went to work seasonally at the Olive Plant in Corning. She married John Carter, a widower, 30 Nov 1958. John was a long time olive grower in Corning and worked in the olive plants as a mechanic. They were married for almost 18 years until John's death of heart failure in the summer of 1976. Doris lived alone after John's death until Jan 1994 when her sight and memory had failed to the extent that she needed to be in a care home setting. In 1997 she broke her hip requiring hospitalization. She returned to the care home in Corning only to break her pelvis in Jan 1998. She was then placed in a skilled nursing facility in Williams, CA. In November of 1998 she was given the diagnosis of "late stage Alzheimer's disease" and by this time her eyesight, memory and cognitive functioning had deteriorated severely. On 24 Mar 2001 many friends and family members gathered in Williams, CA, to honor Doris' 100th birthday. At that time she remained in an Alzheimer's unit of a skilled nursing facility where she was receiving excellent care. Because of her mental condition, she was unable to appreciate the significance of this landmark birthday, nor all of the good wishes expressed by family and others who have known her over the many years of her life.
She was a long time member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Raisner Unit #45. She joined the Auxiliary in 1937, served as their Chaplain for several years, and attended regularly until her health failed. Following the example of her mother, Doris was also a long term member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). As a youth she attended the Orland Methodist Church but later joined the Corning First Christian Church where she continued active membership until her failing health prevented further attendance.
The following is from A HISTORY OF THE WHEELER FAMILY AND ITS CORNING PLUMBING SHOP (Wagon Wheels, Fall 1998): "In 1939, at the age of 39, St. Clare died suddenly from a heart attack. His wife, Doris (who had been raised in Orland and descended from the early Glenn County families of Birch and Cushman), tried to continue the business. Jim Holland did the trade work, and her brother-in-law, Gus, returned to also help out. Doris was not much of a businesswoman but was able to pay off all of the debts before she sold the business around 1940 to Stanley Roush, an owner of a local olive plant. After the Wheeler family was out of the plumbing shop business, Doris returned her focus to raising her four children and started many years of doing child care locally. Later she worked in Roush's olive plant and in 1958 married John Carter, a local olive plant mechanic and olive grower."
i. Marjorie Claire WHEELER (photo) was born in 1921 in Orland, Glenn Co., CA. She died on 25 Jun 2002 in Colusa, Colusa Co., CA. She was cremated prior to her Colusa funeral service on 29 Jun 2002; her ashes were interred at the Paskenta Cemetery, Tehama Co., CA, on 12 Oct 2002 (northwest section of cemetery).
Her obituary reads as follows:
Marjorie Claire Wheeler Johnson, 80 of Colusa died June 25, 2002, at Colusa Regional Medical Center.
Born in Orland, she was a life-long Mid-Valley resident. She was a state certified long-term ombudsman in Nevada and Colusa counties and received a master's degree from California State University, Sacramento. She was a member of the American Association of University Women.
Survivors include her husband of 15 years, Richard Johnson of Colusa; two daughters, Yvonne Bennett of Coulterville and Janice Weisenborn of Battle Ground, Wash.: a son, John Jolly of Corning; her mother, Doris Carter of Williams; a sister, Janice Craig of Wheatland; two brothers, Andrew Wheeler of Sacramento and Keith Wheeler of Mad River; 11 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by a daughter, Marilyn Taylor Underwood.
Contributions may be mad to the Inter Faith Community Helpers of Colusa County, P.O. Box 846, Colusa, CA 95932; or to a charity of choice.
Service: A memorial service will be conducted at 10 a.m. Saturday at St.
Stephen's Episcopal Church, 642 Fifth St., Colusa. Arrangements are under
the direction of McNary-Moore Funeral Service.
ii. Andrew Tennant WHEELER (photo) was born in 1924 in Orland, Glenn Co., CA. He is a Pearl Harbor Survivor having been aboard the Cruiser USS Raleigh (CL-7) on 7 Dec 1941 when the Japanese made their infamous attack. While the cruiser was hit, both Andrew and his ship survived to serve with distinction in the Pacific for the remainder of World War II.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: PRIVATE
iii. Dorothy (stillborn) WHEELER was stillborn on 13 Sep 1929 in Corning, Tehama Co., CA. She was buried in Corning, Tehama Co., CA. (Sunset Hill Cemetery)
iv. Janice Marie WHEELER (photo) was born in 1932 in Corning, Tehama Co., CA.
1 v. Osborn Keith WHEELER.
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