Freeport Daily Journal, Freeport, Illinois
February 3, 1906

Decedent Had Been Traveling Engineer for Illinois Central Road for Five Years
Had Been a Resident of Freeport since 1888 -- Was an Estimable Citizen and Man of Noble Spirit -- The Funeral Monday

Andrew Lawrence Wheeler, traveling engineer of the Illinois Central railroad, died last evening at 8:57 o'clock at his residence at 141 Washington Street after a protracted illness of Bright's disease, combined with heart trouble. During the past year Mr. Wheeler had suffered four attacks of the disease and had not been able to pursue the duties which his position entails. The gravest apprehensions of his relatives and friends were aroused each time, but he rallied after heroic fights and showed perceptible signs of improvement.

For the past two months Mr. Wheeler's condition has been the most alarming. Four weeks ago he was confined to his bed and his friends felt encouraged each time that any improvement was noticeable. Nevertheless, the members of the family were keenly conscious of the fact that he could not long survive, as the great inroads that the disease was making into his constitution reduced the fears of his friends to a practical certainty that he would not arise again from his bed. Shortly before the end came Mr. Wheeler lapsed into a state of coma, although he had previously been able to identify the various members of his family.

Mr. Wheeler was a native of Belleville, N. J., where he was born on June 8, 1845. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Luke Wheeler, and came west with his parents when he was a small child. The family settled at Wheaton and after a brief residence there, moved to Rochelle in 1855.

On January 25, 1864, after Presidents Lincoln's call for more troops had been sent out, Mr. Wheeler enlisted in Company K of the 92nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry. His service for his country continued until the close of the war. Mr. Wheeler was mustered into the service Feb. 8, 1864, and was transferred at the time the 92nd Illinois Volunteers were mustered out, to Company I, 65th Illinois Volunteers. On June 21, 1865, he was mustered out at Concord, N.C. Although Mr. Wheeler's service in the federal army was only over a period of seventeen months, he served with marked distinction as a scout, securing much valuable information relative to the movements and locations of the enemy for his commanding officer.

When Mr. Wheeler was mustered out he returned to Rochelle and resided there for some time. He learned the molder's trade and worked at that occupation for a number of years. He was united in marriage to Miss Katherine Dee, Nov. 28, 1875, at Rochelle. After this event Mr. Wheeler secured a responsible position with the C. B. and Q. Railroad, assisting in the construction of the line between Aurora and Forreston. During these years Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler resided in Aurora for five years. They later made their home at Rockford, where they lived for nine years before moving to Freeport. Mr. Wheeler's abilities came to the attention of the officials of the Illinois Central Railroad, and he then began his career as a passenger engineer. As a railroad engineer Mr. Wheeler had few equals. He was regarded as a railroad man of first rank, and his co-workers cheerfully accord him that distinction. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and John A. Davis Post. Mr. Wheeler was a communicant of St. Mary's Catholic Church, and was a consistent Christian. His many friends in this city mourn with the members of the bereft family that the life that had achieved so much is suddenly snuffed out. Yet there is one great consolation in Mr. Wheeler's death, the tapers will be kept burning, spreading a golden sheen of light over the many good deeds of his authorship.
Mr. Wheeler was a man who thought much of home life and he spent the happiest moments of his life while he was surrounded by Mrs. Wheeler and his children.

During Mr. Wheeler's residence in this city he has won a host of friends among all classes of people. In railroad circles he was regarded as one of the most capable men in the service, which is attested by the fact that he entered the employ of the Illinois Central Road in 1888 as a passenger engineer, taking a run over the Freeport division, and was promoted five years ago to the position that he held until death relieved him of all of the cares of this life. Mr. Wheeler was a man of dignified, bearing, who commanded the utmost respect of of everybody, and was a pleasure to meet him. In every sense of the word, he was distinguished for posessing all the gentle graces and the fine sensibilities of a gentleman. In the pursuit of his duties as traveling engineer, Mr. Wheeler won the unbounded affection and confidence of all the engineers on all the divisions that were assigned to him to cover.

He was a skilled mechanic and thoroughly knew all the constructive parts of a locomotive. he was a close observer and made a study of men as well as machinery. He knew the exact value of each man and of what he would be capable of doing. Traveling through Iowa, Illinois and the southern states brought Mr. Wheeler into contact with all sorts and conditions of men. One of the most distinguishing of his admirable characteristics was his altruistic spirit. In fact, he was a modern member of the Socratic school of philosophy and believed the study of the inner consciousness of his fellow men. Mr. Wheeler was a great student and his splendid intellectual abilities easily rendered him one of the most compassionate of men. Being well informed on all the current topics of the day, he was an ardent devotee to the principles of the Republican Party, although the nature of his position would not admit of him taking more than a passive part in political campaigns.

Mr. Wheeler is survived by his wife and four children who are: Paul, Arthur, Dee, and Mary. He also leaves two brothers and one sister as follows: John and Maurice Wheeler and Mrs. Margaret Martin, all of Chicago.
The funeral will be held Monday morning at 9 o'clock from the family residence and at 9:30 from St. Mary's Church. Rev. Father Croke will officiate.

Note: His son John Arthur Wheeler's obituary states that John Arthur was formerly a reporter for the Freeport Journal, which may explain this long obituary.

Contributed by Peg Allen Arnold

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