Betty (Wheeler) Fields



Betty Fields’ Lineage and History


Betty's paternal grandfather was Ransom Christopher Wheeler (29th GA Volunteer Infantry Regiment, C.S.A.; born 10/3/1832).


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Corporal Ransom C. Wheeler, C.S.A.

(by his great-great grandson, Randy Young, W.D. Mitchell Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #163, Thomasville, Georgia)


29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, C.S.A.

Jackson Siege, July 1863; Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863; Chattanooga Siege, September-November 1863; Chattanooga, November 23-25, 1863; Atlanta Campaign, May-September 1864; Atlanta Siege, July-September 1864; Franklin, November 30, 1864; Nashville, December 15-16, 1864; Carolinas Campaign, February-April 1865; Bentonville, March 19-20, 1865.


Corporal Ransom C. Wheeler proudly served under the flag of the Confederacy while a part of the 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, comprised mostly of men from Thomas County, Georgia.


Born on October 3, 1832, in rural Thomas County and brought up in the meagerness of a farming family, Ransom was an uninvited witness to the last legal duel fought in Leon County, Florida, home of Tallahassee, the Florida capital just 15 miles to the south of the Thomas County line. Of course, small children were not allowed to attend such activities, but like any mischievous boy, eight-year-old Ransom decided the event was much too important to miss. He proceeded to climb to the top of a corn bin which allowed a view of the combatants, Mr. Reed and Mr. Austin, who had chosen pistols as their weapons. The location was surrounded by red clay hills to conceal the activity from others. Ransom told his children and grandchildren many times that he "saw the smoke from the guns before (he) heard the report". This duel took place in the spring of 1840; the following fall a law was passed that prohibited the activity.


Life as a young man growing up in Thomas County was simple for Wheeler, who worked on the family farm and for different plantations for subsidence. A deeply religious and avid outdoorsman, Ransom hunted for sport and to keep food on the family table, while his work ethic kept money in his pocket. His hometown of Thomasville was becoming a center of railroad activity for South Georgia around the same time Ransom purchased his first pair of store bought shoes from a Tallahassee merchant - when he was 20 years old.

This placid period of peaceful existence lasted until the spring of his 28th year. It was then that his state of Georgia seceded from the Union and became part of the new Confederate States of America. Against the hopes and prayers of the common people of his county, in that fateful spring of 1861, war erupted between the Confederacy and the Union, as the South sought its own identity and its independence.


True to duty, Ransom Wheeler volunteered for service to his state and new country in the newly formed Confederate Army. This decision would lead to the greatest adventure of his lifetime.


His regiment, the 29th Georgia Volunteer Regiment, was led by Captain William D. Mitchell, who organized his men along lines similar to those of other companies. There were four lieutenants, seven sergeants, and four corporals. The lieutenants included A. Q. Moody, J. Blackshear Jones, T. N. Gandy, and John James. When the official appointments came through that fall, Mitchell declared that he and his fellow officers "accept the Commissions."


Thomas County furnished six companies in 1861 alone. Before the war ended, six other companies went forward, while several companies remained at home. A Savannah newspaper correspondent wrote in 1862 that:


Thomas County has a voting population of about one thousand - of these she has sent out six organized companies, and in the latest response to the Governor, one more to make seven companies, besides nearly 100 men in other companies organized in adjoining counties - aggregating about seven-hundred and fifty men out of one thousand voters. Others counties in the state may have done better than this - it is not my object to disparage any, but to do justice to those I know. All honor and glory to whom honor and glory belong!


The 29th Georgia Volunteers left Thomas County from the bustling train depot of the county seat of Thomasville on September 30, 1861, to the cheers of a vocal crowd, one of which was county resident Henrietta Eugenia Vickers Armstrong, who noted in her journal, "I met a great many of my old friends and acquaintances at the depot this morning" to see the soldiers off as they left by steam train for Savannah and duty. On the train's roll was Ransom Wheeler, listed as a private on October 1, just two days before his 29th birthday.


Early in November, Thomas County forces were involved in some of the war's first fighting. The 29th Georgia Volunteers and Captain H.C. Bowen's 17th Patriots were among the 450 troops under Colonel William T. Stiles who left Savannah to defend Port Royal, South Carolina against a Union expedition. Although an eventual Union victory, Port Royal was the first engagement to show the mettle of the Thomas Countians. According to one reporting newspaper, "the Thomas County forces did not leave their posts until a peremptory command came from (commander Brig.) Gen. (Thomas F.) Drayton. Even then, some left in conflict, leaving their baggage, but with their arms and honor. (They) behaved with great gallantry."


The next few years of life in the war for Ransom Wheeler and the Twenty-Ninth Georgia was one of constant movement, but limited action. Under the leadership arm of Department of South Carolina and Georgia commanding head Major General John C. Pemberton, the District of Georgia was divided into two brigades. The Second Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General H.W. Mercer, contained Wheeler's regiment. Ransom saw service in and around Charleston during this time.


In September 1862, several companies of the Twenty-Ninth were stationed with the Savannah River batteries, while others were sent to Causton's Bluff. Later in 1862, companies of the Twenty-Ninth saw service in Florida. In January of 1863, the Twenty-Ninth was moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in the district of Cape Fear. Remaining there no longer than two months, the Twenty-Ninth then spent a month at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. In May of 1863, the entire regiment was moved back to Savannah. This move would eventually lead them into some of the most brutal fighting of the war.


General P.G.T. Beuregard, as overall commander of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, ordered the Twenty-Ninth to join Pemberton's forces, then engaged in Mississippi. Under orders to report to the city of Jackson, the 29th arrived in mid-May, near the time the city fell to the Yankees. Unable to establish contact with Pemberton, they retired to Forest Station, 44 miles from Jackson.


It was in July of 1863 that the Twenty-Ninth engaged in its first heavy fighting in the exchanges around Jackson after the fall of Vicksburg. A member of the 29th wrote his wife from Mississippi, "we have had some mity hard marching..."


In the fall of `63, the Twenty-Ninth was part of Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee, and was part of the many battles around Chattanooga, including Mission Ridge, Dalton, and the vicious battle of Chickamauga, where new regiment commander Colonel William J. Young lost his right arm (which would lead to his eventual discharge), and Captain Mitchell was wounded. Totaled, there were nearly 35,000 casualties in this lone, awesome firefight in the north Georgia wilderness. And, it was here, due to his dedication to regiment and to the Confederate army, Ransom C. Wheeler was appointed Corporal.


Throughout 1864, Corporal Wheeler and his regiment were heavily involved in the bitter fighting surrounding Sherman's Georgia Campaign. From the Confederate camps around Atlanta, Cpl. Wheeler wrote to his sister, Mrs. A.C. Holt of Jefferson County, Florida, describing the anticipation of what would be known as the Battle of Atlanta.

Corporal Wheeler wrote:


Camp Near Atlanta, Georgia, July the 18, 1864.


Dear Sister,


It is with great pleasure that I address you with a few lines which is in answer to your very kind letter which came to hand on yesterday bearing the date of July 8, which gave me great pleasure to receive. It found me not very well, though by no means bad off. I have the direut with some fever, but I hope to be better soon. I hope these few lines may find you and the family well. As for news I have none worth your attention.


We are now lying in line for battle, resting, and have been for the past 8 days. I do not think we will stay here much longer, but some think the great battle will be fought here in a few days. As for my part, I can not say but I hope the Almighty God will crown us with a victory over the enemy and enable us to restore peace once more in our once free and happy land, as I think a defeat of the this Yankee army would end this cruel civil war.


We are now on the south side of the Chattahoochee River, five miles north of Atlanta and three miles south of the river. We feel a good deal better by resting and bathing. We are camped on a little creek, the name of it I do not know. It is a very small one. The weather is very warm and most every evening comes a refreshing shower. We have too much rain, which does not suit a soldiers life, though the Lord's will be done, not mine.


Sister, we have some very nice meetings up here. I saw five soldiers baptised on Friday last, and six joined the Methodist church yesterday. Right here at our Regiment there is to be preaching this morning and I think there will be some more who will join today.


Sister, I have some bad news to write you. My little captain died on the 14th day of June from wounds received in battle. On the 15th day of June my company lost seven men and six have been wounded since we left Dalton.


Mr. Stringer sends his love and best respects to you. As I have nothing to write, I will close. Hoping to hear from you soon. Give my love to all inquiring friends, and my best wishes to Mrs. Mumford and her mother and the same to Uncle Dick Taylor.


I remain as ever, your true brother, R. C. Wheeler.


Write as soon as you get time."


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Four days later, on July 22, 1864, Corporal Wheeler was badly wounded, shot by Union bullets in the left hand, right shoulder, and left thigh. Incapacitated in the trenches, he was captured by Union forces. Sherman's troops would go on to burn Atlanta to the ground, and eventually cut a 60-mile wide path of destruction through Georgia as they pressed toward the sea and Savannah through the ensuing fall and winter.


Cpl. Wheeler was held as a prisoner of war in the infamous confines of Camp Douglas near Chicago, Illinois until February 20, 1865, when he was sent in a prisoner exchange to Point Lookout, Maryland.


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Still hampered by his wounds, Wheeler nonetheless quickly rejoined his compatriots of the 29th Georgia, now led by Captain F.L. Langston, on March 2, 1865, when the regiment moved as part of General Joseph E. Johnston's forces near Smithfield, North Carolina. Wheeler and his Georgians were fated to be part of the bloody battle of Bentonville as Johnston made one last desperate attempt with his now tattered 21,000 Confederates to turn Sherman's masses of over 60,000 Union troops. The carnage of Bentonville was endured three whole days.


During this bitter battle, Cpl. Wheeler was again wounded, this time in the left arm. He was admitted to Confederate States of America General Hospital #11 at Charlotte, North Carolina on March 21, 1865. General Johnston surrendered to Sherman on April 26, 1865 at the Bennet Farmhouse near Durham. The war was over.


After recuperating from his wounds and returning to what was left of his home, Wheeler moved to Leon County, Florida and served as overseer of Walters Plantation, near Miccousukee. After a few years of work on the plantation, he saved enough money to purchase a piece of land in his native Thomas County, and moved back to Georgia.

Wheeler was very proud of his rank of corporal in the Confederate army, and many times in his long life he said he "preferred to hold this position as it allowed (him) to suffer hardships with the soldiers." When asked while applying for his Confederate pension by whose authority he had left the war, he stated "By two Yankee bullets - one in my thigh and one in my shoulder."


On August 10, 1871, he married the daughter of Captain James E. and Louisa M. Norwood of Brooks County, Miss Louisiana Missouri Norwood, with the ceremony taking place in Metcalfe, Georgia. Captain Norwood died shortly after retuning to Brooks County from wounds received in the war. Together, Ransom and Louisiana bore 11 children - nine boys and two girls.


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Ransom Wheeler's Family, 1895, Claudia Roddenberry, Georgia Virginia Norwood Roddenberry, Gussie Roddenberry Walker, Louisiana, Nick, Ransom, John, Ramsey Wheeler


One endearing example of the heart of Corporal Wheeler is shown by his adoption of Joe, a tiny negro baby, who was left behind by his parents in Thomas County when they were freed after the war ended. Joe would grow to adulthood under the care of Cpl. Wheeler & Mrs. Wheeler.


Some years after the war, while on business in Tallahassee, Ransom experienced a sharp pain in his upper back. A doctor was summoned, and made an immediate examination. The doctor quickly took out his knife, and, on the spot, removed an object from Corporal Wheeler's back - the bullet that had lodged in his shoulder during the war! That remarkable momento is still held and treasured today by members of his family.


Ever true to his God, Ransom served as steward in the Old Union Methodist Church in Monticello, Florida for over 60 years. Records show his service was longer than any in church history. According to his grandchildren, "Papa" Wheeler was very active throughout his long life, and at 85 years of age walked seven miles for a few hours stay with one of his daughters.


At noon on January 3, 1918, Corporal Wheeler was walking through a local railroad yard, taking a shortcut to his home, when a freight engine unexpectedly rolled into him. The impact knocked the elder Confederate down, and the engine ran over both legs. He died at 7 pm.


Corporal Ransom C. Wheeler's passing did not diminish the memory of the gallant display of his love for family and homeland, and his service to the South as a member of the 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Confederate States of America still today wells pride in the hearts of his ancestors. Long may his example, alongside countless others who valiantly served for their homeland, be revered and remembered!


Jake:  “Randy Young is the grandson of D.C., son of Aunt Emma and nephew of Daddy, thus our second or third cousin.  He teaches at Thomas County Central High School.  And writes a weekly Column for the Times-Enterprise in which [as Trudy puts it] he reports the latest news on the Confederacy!  He has a romantic view of that period.

I had not seen this article and appreciate you telling about it.  However, I did a lot of the struff but did learn some new . I have told him before of Daddy said about that “adoption”. Seems the ex-slave stayed on after freedom until he got in a “cutting scrape” but another man and had to had the area in a hurry.  As he left, as Daddy reported it, he asked Grandmother to keep his son.  She did until he turned “sorry” and she chased him off!  Randy likes the more romantic story.

Nick Harris Wheeler was cousin Nick of Tallahassee.  Uncle of Uncle Gus.  His mother, Gus’s first wife died in child-birth or shortly afterwards.  Grandmother raised him along with Daddy which have him more like a brother.  Gus was the oldest brother, Daddy the youngest which made and him and Nick near in age. Ramsay was slightly older.

Walter was son of Ed and Aunt Bobbie.  He was killed in 1944 in France.  He had been wounded once, sent ton England to recover, sent back to France, was given a battlefield commission,  and killed about a week later.  Loraine nearly remarried and still  lives here.”


Betty:  “Walter Wheeler was a Lt in WW11.  He was the son of Uncle Ed and Aunt Bobbie who lived two houses down from Man  on Rosedale Avenue.  His little girl, Jane, was just a baby when he was killed in the landing of the US Troops in France.  A very well loved young man.  I remember him.  Randy, is the son of Patricia Duren Young , Thomasville, Ga.  She was the granddaughter of Aunt Emma, Man's sister, who lived out in the country outside Thomasville on the Hall Road.  Randy is a well liked young man in Thomasville.  I have not seen him since he was a little boy.  Nick Wheeler, was the son of Man’s brother/  His mother died (I THINK) at childbirth.  Jake would know this for sure.  Nick was raised by Grandma Wheeler and Grandpa Wheeler.  Nick and Onie lived in Tallahassee, FL, all my life.  He worked for the Tallahassee Democrat (newspaper) and he and Man were always so close.  They were like brothers.  I use to go to Tallahassee on Trailways Bus and spend the weekend with them as they had two daughters, Bobbie and Martha, both living in Tallahassee.  I always thought of them as being "rich" as they always had a nice home.  They treated me with so much love.  I wrote to them before they died and thanked them for the kindness they had shown to me as a child.  I am so glad I did.  Martha is about Jakes age and they remain close.  Bobbi was about two years older than I.”


Betty:  "They said that when Grandpa Wheeler prayed in church he always knelt and his prayers brought tears to the congregation. He was said to have been a beautiful Christian man who really disciplined his children.  Today, it would probably be classified as child abuse, but back then, it was taking them out behind the barn.  I never heard an unkind word about him.  Grandma Wheeler was a smart woman.  Could talk to you about any subject, loved to read.  She nor Grandpa were school educated, but were self educated.  He was a Corporal in the Georgia Regiment, wounded twice in the battle of Atlanta, taken prisoner to a camp near Chicago, and probably escaped back to Georgia.  He and Louisiana Missouri Norwood Wheeler had John, Jim (Tallahassee), Ramsey [Ramsay], Gus, Charlie, Lula, Emma, Russell, Tom, and Ed.  Ransom could do hand stands at 70.  They raised a black boy who had lost his parents."  Ransom died 10/3/18, when he was hit by a train in the Thomasville trainyard.  J.P. Wheeler was born 26 March 1897 and was named for Dr. Perry Macintosh (physician).


Betty:  “Man talked a lot about his mother.   she didn’t have a formal education,   but could  talk to you about  almost any subject.   very smart person.   she was 20 years younger than grandpa wheeler .  she died  before i was  born.   i never got  to see any of my  grandparents  which always hurt me.   mama was pregnant with me when her mother died in l93l.  she died during a church  service.  she lived  with man and mamaw  next door to  the old country church.  aunt jenny died in her 90s.  aunt  jenny was mans aunt, so she  was really my great aunt.  people really aged back then.  grandpa wheeler was old when man was born as man was the last to be born.   they did not have viagra back then either.!”


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Here's a picture of a 1942 Wheeler Reunion.  L-R and F-B:  Lula Buckhalt, "Papa Gus" Wheeler (oldest child), Aunt Sissy (Georgia Virginia; Man's mother's sister), Mamie Wheeler (wife of Gus), Mamaw, Emma Duren (wife of Clarence), Stella Wheeler (wife of Charlie), Ruby Wheeler (wife of Jim), Bobbie Wheeler (wife of Ed), Ramsay Wheeler, Man, Clarence Duren, Charlie Wheeler, Jim Wheeler, and Ed Wheeler.  Compare it to a picture of a November 2004 Wheeler Reunion below.  Betty is third from right, seated.  Jake is next to her, and Chris next to Jake.


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Times Enterprise, 1918, John Wheeler (l)



John (a.k.a Man) started at the Thomasville Times Enterprise as a janitor (age, 15).  He started learning the linotype, and worked up in the company.  He wanted to start his own print shop but didn't have any money.  The editor probably backed him.  Our family had to move into an apartment above the print shop for two to three years.


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J.P. Wheeler’s WW1 Draft Card



J.P. Wheeler



From Jake:

HIRAM WHEELER buried near Miccosukee FL [father of Ransom C]
RANSOM CHRISTOPHER 10/3/1832 - 1/3/1919
   WILLIAM AUGUSTUS--GUS   8/7/1872 - 3/14/1955
       m. Mattie Harris 8/3l/1883 - 5/9/1904
       m. Annie Ward  7/28/1887 -5/9/1904
       m Mamie ?
   THOMAS T.  5/27/1874 - 12/6/1903
   CHARLIE HENDRY 11/14/1880 - 11/12/1964
       m. Stella 3/2/1880 - 8/1/1951
   RUSSELL E. 3//7/1883 - 2/7/1909
       m. Reno Duren
       m. Clarence Duren [Reno’s son]
       m. Ruby
       m. ?
   EDWARD C. 1888 - 1970
 Bobbie L.  1890 - 1966
       m. Bert
   JOHN PERRY 3/26/1897 - 12/8/1978
       m. Addie Rucell Phillips 1/21/1901 –



Andrew S. Phillips, born 5/6/1866, died 7/4/24 (Mother's father) married Mary Alice Deese, born 4/7/1867  (Rucell's mother) (married 1/13/1887)


            Clemmon Ivy Phillips, born 10/25/1888, died 11/25/1917 (Married Lillian Alma Baggs--born 8/27/92 or 93--on 7/26/11)

                        Andrew Crawford Phillips, born 11/25/18

                        Louis Gilbert Phillips, born 4/17/16


            Harmon Eugene Phillips, born 6/25/1889 (married Mary Beulah Bass--born 3/31/97--on 7/23/1913)

                        Sallie Phillips, born 6/5/1914

                        Harmon Eugene Phillips, Jr., born 3/13/16

                        Mary Beulah Phillips, born 1/9/24

                        Charles Lee Phillips, born 11/28/17

                        Virginia Mae Phillips, born 10/?/20


            Charlie Murray Phillips, born 7/24/1892, died 6/1/1967 (married Lenna VanLandingham 7/3/?)

                        Mary Charlene Phillips, born 5/10/?

                        Charles Larry Phillips, born 4/13/?

                        Arthur Franklin Phillips, born 4/13/?


            Eidie Arrie Phillips, born 3/27/1895, died 3/26/1964 (married Benjamin Saxon Powell 5/23/16)

                        Leon Saxon Powell, born 8/18/17

                        Murry O'neal Powell, born 4/26/19, died 1/26/64

                        Mary Alice Powell, born 3/7/22

                        Sarah Esther Powell, born 10/10/23


            Andrew Clyde Phillips, born 6/16/1898, died 6/10 or 20/1899


            Addie Rucell Phillips, born 1/21/1901 (married John Perry Wheeler [born 3/26/97, died 12/8/78] on 3/19/21)

                        Christine Wheeler, born 8/31/22

                        John Perry Wheeler, born 4/16/28

                        Betty June Wheeler, born 3/2/32


Rucell's Mom and Dad were separated.  Rucell was the baby of the family.  She had a brother, they just called “Uncle,” in Bainbridge.  Ainey was Mom’s sister.   Betty on her mother (Memaw):  “I think of her pound cake, turnip greens, lemon cheese cake, fish fries in the b ack yard, her love of fishing, playing cards, slot machines, Bingo, Elks Club, her love of the her grandkids, keeping ice water in the fridge and her Coca Colas which she tried to hide from Zack.  That's a funny story.”


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John and Rucell Wheeler


John and Rucell honeymooned in Perry, Florida.  They traveled from Thomasville in a little two-seater Model A or T with no top.  Man had put a sheet of oilcloth over the top in case of rain.  It rained on them all the way to Perry and he had five flat tires.  Mom:  "Can't you hear him saying, 'Dad gum it' or 'Consarn it' or his many other 'little sayings.'" Mom told me Harmon had owed John some money, and gave him a check, which later bounced.  Apparently John kept the check in his wallet for whatever reason.  She said John would get up for breakfast, sit at the table, and on various occasions pull out the check and say, “Speaking of Harmon, here’s a check he once gave me that bounced…”


Man was born in Thomas County, GA, and lived his entire life there--from farmer to printer.  He wanted to be a doctor.  He died 8 Dec. 1978 of a heart attack.  Was taken ill on the Friday before, went to the hospital on 5 Dec. and died about 12:20 p.m. on the 8th.  The last time Betty and Memaw saw him was on the night of the 7th and he turned over and flapped his right hand goodbye.



John and Rucell Wheeler’s 50th Wedding Anniversary


John P. Wheeler, Jr., known to friend and foe alike as Jake died .......   No cause for death was given but since he was cared for by several -logists---ocono-, urolo-. opthama-. dermata-, neur-, as well as two primary physicians and a surgeon---any number of things might have taken him off.
Jake was a life-time resident of Thomasville, Georgia, but was out of town for half a century.  That time was spent mostly at Hollins University [now College] in Roanoke, Virginia, where he met classes and occasionally deaned.  When asked how many students he had had he replied, "about 2%."  When asked about his relationships with faculty during his various deandoms, he replied, "Well, I wish they had some time charged me with just plain incompetence, not always with conspiracy."

He and Edna Gertrude Grubb of Mt. Pleasant, Florida, were married in June 1950 and lived some 50+ tumultuous years together, producing along the way five children.  Alas, Dan, the oldest son died of AIDS in 1989 but in his last year of life taught the others of us how to live.  The other four children, Mary [Cricket], Amy, Joshua and Zachariah, are currently dutifully employed and have never been incarcerated.  Three of them have produced heirs, four girls and a boy---Molly, Ruffin, Chloe, Allison, and Katie.

He is also survived by two sisters...Christine Pittman of Hickory, North Carolina, and Betty Fields of Hendersonvillle, North Carolina.  And from them two nieces and two nephews.

Jake did not want a funeral but his friends are invited by the house to meet the family and to have a drink if that doesn't shock Thomasville too much.

Since there will be no funeral, flowers are not expected. [He regrets that potential loss of business to a cousin, Jimmy Singletary, who runs the finest florist shop in Thomasville.] If you are inclined to contribute to something try Safe Haven in Thomasville, the National Democratic Party [which badly needs funds...and votes], or Hollins University [please specify the Jake Wheeler professorship since that is still short of full funding].


January 20, 2011

John Perry ‘Jake’ Wheeler Jr.

The Times Enterprise Thu Jan 20, 2011, 07:13 PM EST


John Perry “Jake” Wheeler, Jr. passed away on January 19, 2011.  Born on April 18, 1928, he was a lifelong resident of Thomasville, Georgia, except for being “out-of-town” for the period of 1946-1997. During that 51-year absence, Jake enlisted in the Army Air Corp, earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in political science from Florida State University and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University, taught at Middlebury College in Vermont, taught and served as Dean and Vice President at Hollins College (now University) in Virginia, authored numerous works on American constitutional law, served 27 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve rising to the rank of Captain, ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives for Virginia’s 6th District in 1962, served on the Roanoke City School Board, and hosted “Jake Wheeler’s Nightline” on Blue Ridge Public Television for 13 years.  Throughout this period to his passing he was married to his beloved college sweetheart Edna Gertrude Grubb (“Trudy”) whom, because of her never aging beauty, he often suspected married him just to change her maiden name.  When recently asked the secret of a successful marriage, Jake stated, “The husband should always have the last word…provided it is ‘Yes, dear.’” Together, Jake and Trudy somehow found the time to produce and raise 5 children, all of whom they took with them to live in Trinidad and Tobago, where Jake served as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of the West Indies from 1965-66, and to London, England, where he directed Hollins College’s study abroad program from 1975-78 (a program he founded as Dean). Upon his retirement from Hollins in 1997, he was awarded the Hollins Medal, given by the University’s Board of Trustees to those individuals who embody the ideals and values of the institution. An avid traveler, Jake’s most satisfying professional experiences came towards the end of his career, leading 55 trips mainly to England and Scotland, but also to Ireland, France, Spain, Central Europe, and Greece.   Proclaiming Jake as their “Fearless Leader,” a total of 850 old and newfound friends joined him on these learning vacations.  When Jake retired from Hollins in 1997, Roanoke resident and repeat trip participant Bob Fishburn described what Jake did to make the trips so popular. "He gets up in front of the bus and says outrageous things, gives a little history and plays a little music. The major attraction is just Jake." Jake was predececeased by his father, John P. Wheeler, Sr. of Thomasville, Georgia, a printer described by his son as “the smartest man I ever knew,” and his mother, Addie Rucell Phillips of Miller County, Georgia, who often threatened Jake with a switch but “never used it” and “spoiled me rotten.”  John and “Cell” also had two daughters: Christine Pittman, of Hickory North Carolina, who sadly passed away on January 18, 2011, and Betty Fields, currently of Hendersonville, North Carolina. Jake is survived by Trudy, his “first” wife of 61 years; daughter Mary (“Cricket”), a college admissions officer at Meredith College of Raleigh, North Carolina, her children Molly and Ruffin, and new husband Paul, a researcher into children’s respiratory diseases; daughter Amy of Thomasville, Georgia, a volunteer at an AIDS service organization and caretaker of her parents; son Josh, a constitutional law attorney in Charlottesville, Virginia, his wife Susan, a fundraiser for public television, and their daughters Chloe and Katie; son Zach of Thomasville, Georgia, Vice President for Human Resources at Archbold Medical Center and Colonel in the US Army Reserves, his wife Stacy, a registered nurse, and their daughter Allison. Jake’s eldest son, Dan, died in 1989, an early victim of the AIDS virus. Per Jake’s instructions, there will be no funeral, but a memorial service will be held at Hollins University at a date to be determined.  It was Jake’s final wish that those who wish to send flowers please consider instead making a donation to one of the following: Hollins University, P.O. Box 9629, Roanoke, VA 24020 (ph) 800-Tinker1; in Roanoke, Virginia; Safe Haven (an AIDS services group), P.O. Box 1533, Thomasville, GA 31799 (ph) 229-226-9310; The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression (a First Amendment advocacy organization), 400 Worrell Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22911 (ph) 434-295-4784.  Condolences can be sent to 122 N. Love Street, Thomasville GA 31792. Jake left the world “believing in a God of Grace, and hoping for an epitaph reading, ‘he made his world a little brighter.’”  Those fortunate to know this man of incredible civility, intellect, and humor, have to agree that he earn his desired epitaph.



JOHNSON CITY, TN – Christine Wheeler Pittman passed away on January 18, 2011 at NHC Healthcare facility.    She lived her entire adult life in Hickory, NC, until moving to Johnson City, TN in 2008 to be closer to her daughter.  She was born on August 31, 1922 in Thomasville, GA.  Christine was preceded in death by her parents, Addie and John P. Wheeler, and her husband, Perry L. Pittman.  She was joined in death by her brother, John P. “Jake” Wheeler, Jr., who passed away on January 19, 2011.  Christine is survived by her sister, Betty W. Fields, of Hendersonville, NC; her sister-in-law, Trudy G. Wheeler of Thomasville, GA; her son, Ronald W. Pittman and wife, Jackie of Columbus, NC; her daughter, Elaine P. Eidson and husband, Robert, of Johnson City, TN; her grand children Mike and wife Nancy Pittman, Amy and husband Matt Dean, Zachary and wife Valerie Eidson and Robert and wife Cora Eidson; and three great grand children.  Mrs. Pittman was a life-long member of First Baptist Church in Hickory, NC.  After working for many years in the education department at Lenoir-Rhyne University, Christine and her husband owned and managed The Garden Spot. Services for Christine will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, Jan 22, 2011 at Bass-Smith Funeral Home chapel.  Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery.


Betty was born on Hall Road in Thomasville.  She was five years old when she was playing with Charlene in Lenna's yard.  A dog was scratching in the garden.  Mom tried to run the dog off and the dog bit Mom on her ankle.  A police officer tracked the dog down, got scratched by the dog, and became infected with rabies.  Uncle took Mom to the Doctor's office.  She received 21 shots.


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Betty, 1935


Jake:  "Our early years coincided with Shirley Temple's rise to national consciousness.  I think that Betty [along with her parents] thought Shirley would not last and that Betty would be her replacement.  So they were always running her out at every family gathering to tap dance and sing.  She did very well for having no talent.  You can picture your mother in a frilly short skirt whirling around singing 'On the Good Ship, Lollypop.'  Of course, there was not a single ounce of jealousy in me."


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Mom was ten years old at Ann Peyton’s birthday party.  Ann received a baton as one of her gifts.  A dog was chained to a stake in the back yard.  One of the girls at the party threw the baton near the dog.  Mom went to get it and the dog bit Mom on her arm.  She received booster shots that time.


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Betty 1944


Mom remembers the air raids in Georgia during WW2.


Betty:  “I grew up going to the First Methodist Church...At l6, I moved my letter along with Mom to the Dawson Street Methodist Church...When I began learning about the Bible, the Lord, the church was when I met Robbie...Then, going to the Assembly of God in Dothan was like a door opening up for me. Then, Naples Church and now the best of all-Mud Creek Baptist. I know that the church is the people not the building.  I forgot to mention Man. I do not ever remember him going to the First Methodist with me. He did attend Dawson Street Methodist and enjoyed going.  The one thing he did not like was getting ready and sitting in the car waiting for Mama, and she would slowly get ready and they would always  leave the house at ll when the service was suppose to be starting. She  never like to get there on time and as soon as it was over, she was out of  the church. Man would love to stand around and talk. Mama would blow the  horn for him to come on. It was the same routine every time they went.”


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Mom went to Plain Dealing, LA, to live with Pitt for 18 months (middle of 10th grade, age 16).   Betty:  "I spent several days at LSU when I was living with Chris in Louisiana.  I was selected to represent our high school out there at the district meet (Louisiana Tecj)and then went on to represent high school at state at LSU.  i had so much fun.  infact, my stay in LA was the best time of my life.  had no money, no decent clothes, but i made friends there who will always be in my heart.  in fact, one of thegirls still stays in touch with me.  we email all the time and she and her husband visited us at Carriage Park.   kim was there, butshe can't remember visit.  she and i were the best of friends when i lived out there for a year and a half.  that was in l948 and l949.  i was a cheer leader and got to go on the football bus with the football players!  what fun!!!!  don't ask me what we did.  no, we didn't smoke, we didn't drink, we didn't take drugs, nor did we have sex ( at least, I didn't for sure) but we enjoyed "smooching".  i think everyone who attended that school loved me.  i had never experienced so much love and friendship from people.  Even the parents of the students loved me and the teachers too.  it was a small school and they did not get too many transfer students and especially one as far away as Georgia.  i was their Georgia Peach.  i went out there as chris was having ronnie and beucase of her health problems, mama needed to be with her.  mama would not leave me at home alone with daddy for that time as she said it would not look good for me to stay in Tville with Man!!!!!!  So, she took me out of school and off we went to LA.  I enrolled in high school the day i got there.  i am so glad that it worked out like it did. ronnie was born in april 16, l948 and pitts brother came to the school cafeteria and told me i was an aunt!!!!!!"


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Memaw went to help Christine with her pregnancy and took Mom.  Mom went back to Thomasville and graduated from Thomasville H.S. (12th grade).  She then went to South GA College in Douglas, GA for two years (majored in Education).  She transferred to UG in 1952 and graduated with a BS in El. Ed. in 1954.  It was there she met Julian Wycliffe Armstrong.


Betty graduated from Thomasville High School.  She attended South Georgia Junior College in Douglas, GA (1950-52, Education), The University of Georgia (1952-54, B.S. in El. Ed.), Armstrong College in Savannah, GA (1967-68), Savannah State College in Savannah, GA (1970), Troy State University in Troy, AL (1973, M.S. in Education), Rich's Cooking School in Atlanta, GA (1981), Auburn University in Auburn, AL (1982), and The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL (1983).


Betty taught at Elcan-King School in Bainbridge, GA (3rd grade, 1955-56), Windsor Forrest and Butler Elementary Schools in Savannah, GA (1st, 3rd, and 4th grades, 1967-70), Enterprise State Junior College in Enterprise, AL (Reading, 1976), Lisenby Elementary School in Ozark, AL (Remedial Math and Reading, 1971-78), and Troy State University in Troy, AL (Graduate and Undergraduate Reading and Director of Reading Department, 1977-79).


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Below is a picture of Mom at Julian's house in Kathy, SC.  Julian opened bottles with his teeth.  The called him "Big Arm."  He weighed 260 lbs.--a weightlifter.  Picked Mom up and threw her through the air.  They called Mom "Legs."  Betty:  “Remember the "big guy" who went with Mom, Dad and me to Syracuse back in the 50's?  Well, I was using the computer the other day and up popped some info that asked if I wanted to locate someone from my past.  I had often wondered what had happened to him, so I typed in his name and the little info that I had.  Would you believe I was able to pull up his obit.?  I almost fainted!!!!!  I dated him from 5l-54.  He was a very nice guy.  Remember your [Jake] sleeping in your bunk beds in Syracuse and you just knew he was going to fall thru on you!  By the way, that trip was the first time I had ever had pizza!!!!  The things we remember!  Chip and Kim, you remember my talking about Julian.  If you remember, he weighed 260 and was 6'4.  I always felt like a feather around him.  He was all muscle.”


Obit:  Mr. Julian Armstrong

Web posted Saturday, April 28, 2001
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Mr. Julian Wicklief Armstrong, 71, passed away on April 26 at Saint Josephs Hospital in Atlanta. He was a native of Greenville, S.C., but lived much of his life in Augusta. He attended Boys Catholic High School (now Aquinas), where he was a linebacker and kicker for the Shamrocks. He received his BS in Education from the University of Georgia, where he served the Bulldogs as a defensive tackle. He was a member of First Baptist Church and sang in the choir. He was Public Safety Director at Augusta College until 1979. He then moved to Savannah, where he worked as Vice President/Coastal Regional Director for Sizemore Security through his retirement in 1992. He has been a resident of the Hiawassee area since then. He proudly served his country in the Army Reserves for 36 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1990. While in Augusta, he was Executive Officer of the 382nd Field Hospital Army reserve Unit. Survivors include, wife, Faye S. Armstrong; son/daughter-in-law, Steven Wicklief and Cathy Armstrong of Charlotte, N.C.; daughter/son-in-law, Julie Armstrong and James C. Sculac, of Atlanta; daughter/son-in-law, Carolee Armstrong and Bruce W. Smith of Atlanta, son/daughter-in-law, Julian Wicklief Jr. and Donna Armstrong, of Augusta, step daughter/son-in-law, Cindy Struwe and Steve White of Houston, Tex.; grandchildren, John and Laura Armstrong of Charlotte, Gram C. Smith and Marlene L. Sculac of Atlanta and Ben White of Houston, Tex. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Sunday at Poteet Funeral Home, Wheeler Road. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Monday at Poteet Funeral Home, Wheeler Rd., burial in Hillcrest Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association or American Diabetes Foundation. Poteet Funeral Home, 3686 Wheeler Rd. The Augusta Chronicle-April 28, 2001


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This "picture of Man and me was made down at the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.  We had gone down for the day with George (my old boyfriend), Mamaw , Man and me. This was made in l954 before D Day in l955!!!!! (D Day being the year of my marriage to you know who.)"


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Betty and George Hartmann


Betty:  "This was a wonderful young man from N.J. that I dated.  I visited he and his mother in N.J. for 10 days in Jan.  1955.  He took me to NYC and showed me the city!  He looks so much like Obama.  My family did not like him as he was a yankee!!!  Even uncle sat me down and talked to ma about breaking off my relationship with him!  He became President of an import/export corporation in the Carribean!!  I can't believe that I always let people tell me what to do.  Anyway, I thought you'd like to see your mom at 22!"






Charlie and Betty Married


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