Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grace Denison Wheeler, Stonington, CT- A Woman Ahead of her Time!

Something has happened and I can no longer post pictures so I am probably going to stop this Blog and Blog at a new site. Thanks for reading what I have written and please switch to my new site. Jean

New BLOG- Mystic and Stonington, a Storied Past, CT Tales from my Ancestors, 

Grace Denison Wheeler, Stonington, CT- A Woman Ahead of her Time!  (1858-1956)

Author and historian Grace Denison Wheeler is known by name by many residents, especially if one owns an old historic home. I grew up in her beloved 1735 Wheeler Homestead, also called Maple Lawn, and heard much about "Cousin Grace"!

Even though Grace Denison Wheeler was born in 1858, she did many things a woman of today would do. In her 98 years Miss Wheeler:

  • Remained single and had a professional career as an author, lecturer, genealogist, and newspaper reporter in Mystic and Westerly.
  • Raised 4 needy children of different backgrounds: one Pequot Indian girl, 2 black girls and one white child.
  • Roamed the countryside visiting all 50 small graveyards in Stonington at age 72, transcribing engravings on every stone. Today, her inscriptions are the only way of reading the majority of gravestones due to damage by acid rain, weathering, age and vandalism.
  • Actively volunteered, taught Sunday School at the Road Church, and created book clubs before they were popular
  • Published 4 books: The Homes of Our Ancestors in Stonington, Old Homes in Stonington, Grace Wheeler’s Memories, A Stonington Love Story
  • Researched history of numerous historic houses, before the age of Google, and hand typed pages of information on an old fashioned broken typewriter.
  • Grace taught Sunday School  at the Road Church, Picture from Denison Society
  • Lived the last 20 years of her life, she died at age 98, alone in her beloved Homestead with no running water, using an outhouse and old hand pump!
Memories told of Grace Wheeler

Gladys Sebastian (adopted child):”Ma Grace” took me from the Stonington Town Farm when I was 3 and raised me. Everyone thought I was black, but as a young adult I learned that I was an Eastern Pequot Indian. Even though I was not always treated as an equal in the household, the happiest days of my life were spent with Ma Grace”

Chester J. Perkins (friend of everyone): Grace sent me letters all through World War II. Her letters were always typed with her 2 finger method on an old typewriter. She never set the right margin and every sentence had words missing.

Rudy J. Favretti (UCONN professor emeritus, author): Rudy visited ”Aunt Grace”, as she asked him to call her, when she was elderly and he was a teen. She would give him "a history lesson” and then he would play her piano, since her fingers were stiff with rheumatism. She would sing and twirl around the room!

 Grace Denison Wheeler was certainly a woman ahead of her time! 

My Friend Grace Denison Wheeler, Rudy J. Favretti, February,1992 ( Stonington Historical Society)

A JOLLY HOUR ON THE TROLLEY, By Grace Denison Wheeler

Denison Homestead, Grace's grandmother, Grace Billings Denison,(my great-great grandmother) was born in the Denison Homestead.

Grace Wheeler's Memories. Stonington: Pequot Press, 1948. Recollections of country life by a beloved chronicler of Stonington history, who died in 1956 at the age of 98. ( Denison Homestead has a copy in their Library)

An Old Fashion Stonington, Conn., Love Story by Grace Denison Wheeler The last book written by Grace Denison Wheeler who died in 1956 at the age of 98. The history of Stonington and that of her family were the primary interests in her life. 77 pages. (Denison Homestead Gift Shop)

1 comment:

  1. Lovely memories of a remarkable woman !!!

    Thanks for sharing them on the internet.

    Ethel Johanna Myers Stanton....

    a far distant relative of the Wheeler family.....through
    Elizabeth Wheeler , dau. of Thomas Wheeler and Mary.
    She married Josiah Witter of Stonington.