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Dexheimer, Florence Chambers, 1866-1925 / Sketches of Wisconsin pioneer women
([1924?] )

Wheeler, M. P.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox,   pp. 57-60 PDF (776.9 KB)


Page 58


    Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born November 5, 1850.
in the village of Johnstown, Rock County, Wisconsin,
(not in Johnstown Center as sometimes stated.) Her
parents were Marcus H. Wheeler, and Sarah Pratt
Wheeler, with three older children they had followed,
"Grandsir Pratt" from Vermont in 1849.
    In the spring of 1852 the Wheeler family settled in
Dane County, Wisconsin and in 1853 were at home on
Section 2, town ofWestport, where Ella grew up, in the
home where she made her reputation as a writer of ap-
pealing poetry, until her marriage in 1884, when she
went to Connecticut; from which state her Grandfather
Wheeler had migrated to Vermont years before.
    Her education was acquired in a district school, now
named Ella Wheeler Wilcox School, except one short
term at Wisconsin University, which was as she saw it
a "waste of time."
    Riding horseback, dancing, visiting girl friends,
dreaming great dreams and being kind, was better than
trying to master mathematics, of which she had a "holy
horror."
     Recently the old Wheeler home was accidently
burned.
     With a Great Grandfather Pratt seven years in the
 Revolutionary War, and his wife Elizabeth Currier of
 French blood; a Grandmother named Connor; a Mother,
 who, like most of her aunts and cousins, was addicted to
 the habit of composing verses, Ella had the inherited
 tendency; a regular family study of Shakespeare, Byron,
 Burns and modern poets all year round, 1849-50 doubtless
 added a prenatal influence, which formed the character
 of her ambition.
     Our mother inherited a poetic strain, a talent for
 versification. I recall several rhyming parodies, sarcas-
 tic verses and sentimental compositions or additions to
 songs of those days. One sang was of a lovelorn girl,
 who constantly asked "Are we almost there." She was
 returning home after a fruitless search for health. As
                          58


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