Wheeler Douglass


Spelled variously, one-time Albany innkeeper Wheeler Douglass was born in April 1750. He was the son of Asa and Rebecca Wheeler Douglass. He grew up a younger son in the large family of Connecticut yankees who moved west after the French and Indian War. In 1766, his parents were among the first settlers of Stephentown, New York. His father and older brother were prominent members of the Revolutionary army from the region along the New York-Massachusetts border.

In August 1773, Wheeler married Martha Rathbone of Stonington, Connecticut. At that time, he was living in Stephentown. By 1793, the marriage produced at least ten children - many of those offspring would survive to have notable lives and careers.

He is said to have relocated to Albany in 1780 where he established the firm of "Douglas & Wheeler" and also operated an inn. As a newcomer innkeeper, he was watched by the Albany commissioners. In August 1780, he was among those who were required to post bail. He also was permitted to post bonds on behalf of others. He seems to have been involved in a number of business associations.

In September 1780, he was engaged by the Albany council to supply meats to the city market, In July 1784, his landmark establishment was referenced in an Albany newspaper.

After the war, he was accorded a land bounty right in conjunction with the Albany militia regiment. Later, he would purchase the bounty rights of a number of Revolutionary War veterans.

Wheeler Douglass was an active participant in the post-war real estate market. He is best known for the so-called "Wheeler Douglass Patent" - tracts on the west side of Lake George obtained in 1794. In 1789, he held title to a tract of 4450 acres in Tioga County. He also held property with other family members in what became the state of Vermont.

In 1790, his household was configured on the census for Watervliet.

In 1794, his name was among those of the founders of the Lansingburgh library. He also was a member of the Albany Masonic lodge.

A fire seems to have destroyed his Albany holding in 1797. By 1798 or 1799, he had removed to the Grand River valley in Upper Canada where he acquired land and set up a milling operation.

Wheeler Douglass was about seventy-nine when he died in Canada in 1829. His widow survived until 1837.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Wheeler Douglass is CAP biography number 7884. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. This sketch strives to focus on the subject's Albany life which lasted no more than twenty years. NYNEF

first posted: 4/15/10