Sylvanus A. and Rachel Wheat papers  1848-1880
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Sylvanus and Rachel Wheat

Sylvanus Wheat was born on April 7, 1823, in Franklin, New York, the son of Silas Wheat (1793-1888) and Eunice Dewey (1794-1857). He married Rachel Loveland (b. 1828) on Nov. 12, 1849, and worked as a farmer in Delaware County, New York. The Wheats' first child died a few weeks after its birth in 1852. They had four more children between 1853 and 1861, but all of them died in October 1861. In August of 1862, Wheat enlisted in the Union army as a private in Company D of the 144th Regiment of the New York Infantry Volunteers. He was 39 years old, and signed on for three years of service, but suffered frequently from illness and was discharged less than a year later, on April 8, 1863. His regiment was assigned to the defense of Washington, as part of the 3rd Brigade, Abercrombie's Division. Several weeks after Sylvanus enlisted in the army, his wife Rachel gave birth to their sixth child, Emma R. Wheat, born Sept. 15, 1862. Two other children followed -- Ella F. (b. June 9, 1865) and Duane D. (b. Aug. 7, 1867). After his return to Franklin, New York, Sylvanus continued to farm there until his death on Aug. 29, 1897.

Other Members of the Wheat Family

During his service in the army, Sylvanus received letters from his sisters Cordelia (Wheat) Drake, Mary A. Wheat, and Lemira F. Wheat, as well as from his brothers George W. Wheat of Franklin, New York, and James M. Wheat of Lenora, Minnesota. James (b. 1825) was a doctor who had moved from New York to Minnesota in 1856. He married Almira E. Foote on June 10, 1862. In addition to practicing medicine, James was elected to the Minnesota Assembly for two terms, and to the State Senate from 1877-1886. In 1887, he moved to Redlands, California, where he died on Nov. 27, 1910. George W. Wheat (b. 1821) was a farmer in Franklin, New York. Sylvanus' younger sister Mary A. Wheat (b. May 23, 1829) was a teacher of art during the Civil War. On Jan. 24, 1872, when she was 42 years old, she married Capt. George W. Reynolds, who had been a Captain in the 144th N.Y.S.V during the Civil War. He founded the first newspaper printed in Franklin, N.Y., and named it The Visitor. He published the Oneonta Herald and The Spy, as well as the Melrose Journal. He included a number of his wife Mary's poems in his various publications.Mary A. [Wheat] Reynolds died on April 17, 1901. Cordelia E. Wheat, Sylvanus' older sister, was born on October 8, 1818. She married Abial Drake (1816-1891) who was a farmer in Franklin, N.Y. Cordelia died on Nov. 28, 1887. Sylvanus' youngest sister, Lemira F. Wheat, was born in 1835. She graduated from the Delaware [N.Y.] Literary Institute in 1854. She was preceptress of Walton Academy in 1864 and 1865. She never married, and in 1900 made her home in Franklin with her widowed sister, Mary [Wheat] Reynolds.