Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Repeat Tombstone Tuesday: Richest Woman in Stonington

SHEPARD, Mary by midgefrazel
SHEPARD, Mary a photo by midgefrazel on Flickr.
Favorite Posts From the Past

If wishes were horses....

I SO want to be directly descended from Mary Shepard (1679-1761), wife of Isaac Wheeler. She was very cool and I know you want to know more about her.

Mary was the daughter and granddaughter of ministers in Lynn, MA. Right away you know there is a story here. Her father was the Rev. Jeremiah Shepard [his grave] and his wife Mary Wainwright. Mary's grandfather was the Rev. Thomas Shepard, the first pastor of Cambridge, MA and his third wife Margaret Borodell (who was the sister of my ancestor Ann Borodell, second wife of Capt. George Denison.) Got that? 

Mary married Isaac Wheeler (1676-1737). Isaac was the son of Isaac and grandson of Thomas. I am directly descended from both Isaac and his father.

Isaac inherited land from his grandfather Thomas, upon which he built a house for his bride. They were married in Stonington, CT on 12 Sept 1697 [Barbour index Stonington VR 1:185]. When they wed he brought her to his house and he commenced his life as a farmer. Obviously, Mary was not brought up to be a farmer's wife. Here's what the History of Stonington states about Mary. [p. 638]

"...But, his wife aspired to a more active business life, and to gratify her wishes he changed and enlarged his house, making it two stories on the south and one on the north, with show windows on the west, which were utilized for a variety store by Madame Wheeler, who became the leading merchant of the town, buying up all the surplus farm products of the region round about, which she sent to Boston and the West Indies for market, exchanging the same for goods necessary for the planters of the town."

She made equestrian trips to Boston ALONE, where she purchased her dry goods. She was not only the leading merchant of the town, but her mansion house was the center for all the neighborhood families. Her store was not only a place of business, but a political center, where slates were made for all the offices of the town. She became wealthy, and at her death was the richest woman of the county.

The couple only had two children. My closest relationship with this amazing woman, calculated by Ancestry.com's relationship calculator, is "2nd great grandmother of husband of 2nd great grant aunt".

Isn't this a great story? The gravestone you see here was taken with permission of the present owners of the land on which it rests by Fred Burdick. The graveyard is located in their front yard! After Mr. Burdick took the photos, they planted bushes all around the perimeter so no visitors to their house could see the graves. He took me there and asked me (from the driveway), so where are the gravestones? Seriously, I would not have know they were there.

Paul Wheeler Cemetery #40?


Sara E. Campbell said...

Love it. I have a Main family in Stonington, but that's not the kind of name you can google.

Midge Frazel said...

The Main family is Listed in the History of Stonington. Please email if you need to know something about what is recorded there.

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