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Wheeler, William Lamont (?-1887)


Born in Mansville, New York, William Lamont Wheeler received an educated both in the United States and in Canada. He gradated from McGill University in Montreal before going on to study medicine in New York. He held a position for three years at Bellevue Hospital, as well as a position at a smallpox hospital on Blackwell's Island. During the Civil War, Dr. Wheeler served as a surgeon for the US Navy, a commission he received from President Lincoln. After the end of the war, Wheeler moved to Ithaca, NY to be near his mother. Here, he set up a medical practice and married Hester Gracie Lawrence, who herself, established a literary career (New York Times, Oct. 17, 1887, 1). She was described in a New York Times article as a "recognized leader in all matters social, literary, and artistic" (New York Times, Feb. 28, 1893, 3). William and his wife moved to Newport, Rhode Island after their wedding. Together the Wheelers traveled throughout Europe, where he was injured while climbing in Switzerland. Later in life, Wheeler served as the commander of Charles Lawton Post of the GAR in New York City. He committed suicide in October 1887, likely as the author of his obituary argues, because of the pain he continued to suffer from his injury in Switzerland (New York Times, Oct. 17, 1887, 1).

Information about Wheeler's connection to Pfaff's is scarce. He apparently met Walt Whitman at Pfaff's. The poet did not seem to form a favorable opinion of Wheeler, if his description of the doctor as a "damned shyster" is anything to go by (Glicksberg 275).