From the "Black River Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church," published in 1898


The Rev. Ephriam Warren Wheeler, a superannuated member of the Northern New York Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Episcopal Curch, entered into rest at Cedar Springs, Kent county, Mich., Feb. 28, 1897. He was born in Henderson, Jefferson County, N. Y., March 21, 1822. When but a mere lad he experienced religion, and his testimony at the social meetings was so deep and fervent that the enthusiasm of the older believers was frequently expressed by outbursts of hallelujahs and "Priase the Lord." On account of the breaking up of his home when but a child by the death of his mother, he was early launched out into life for himself, and much to his regret in after years he drifed somewhat from his childhoos experience, and his young manhood imbibed semi-skeptical views. Nevertheless, he could never get away from the facts of his childhoos conversion.

In the town of Clayton, Jefferson county, N. Y., in March, 1842, he was married to Miss Sally Ann Putnam, an exemplary young woman of rich Christian experience, and through her influence and that of her father, Asa Putnam he was again brought under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and yielded fully at a meeting at the Kenyon school house in Mexico, Oswego county, N. Y. I have often heard him relate this point in his experience. He had been admitted to the Methodist Episcopal church at Mexico on probation as a seeker. He had been struggling for weks to get into the light when, one Sunday afternoon at a prayer meeting at the said schoolhouse, he came to this conclusion: "I can but die if I go forward; it is certain death if I go back; I will do my duty let the consequences be what they may, for God will take care of them." With that determination he rose to his feet to speak, when the glorious liberty of the gospel was revealed to him in a wonderful manner, so that not only was there light in his soul, but he said it seemed as though glory shone around. Soon after this the conviction came to him clearly that he had a call to the ministry, and soon thereafter his pastor, the Rev. John Sawyer, gave him license to exhort, which in due course was followed by license to preach.

In a few years his wife died in the triumphs of faith and testifying on her dying bed, "I see Jesus." She left him with two children, both sons, the younger following his mother to the spirit life in a few months. He continued his work as local preacher as opportunity presented, and while thus engaged he became acquainted with an estimable Christian widow lady, Mrs. Sarh E. Powers, of Parish, Oswego county, to whom he was married in October, 1848, by whom he had one son and three daughters, who grew up to manhood and womanhood, occupying useful positions in society, all becoming members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Warren H. Wheeler is a merchant at Cedar Springs, Mich. The youngest daughter, Mrs. Stella Watson, also resides at Cedar Springs; the second daughter, fell aleep in Jesus near Gouverneur (at Elmsdale) in October, 1894. His second wife died at the same place (Elmsdale) a few years ago, after sharing with him the trials and triumphs of his active itinerant life. She was a devout Christian woman and loved the old paths.

June 5, 1855, he was admitted into the old Black River Conference; into full connection June 4, 1858; ordained deacon June 6, 1858 by Bishop Ames; ordained elder April 20, 1860, by Bishop Simpson. His appointments were as follows: 1855, Van Buren, 1856, Parish and Hastings; 1857, Hammond; 1858-9, Macomb; 1860, Lisbon; 1861-2, Fowler; 1863-5, Edwards and Fine; 1866-8, Macomb; 1869, New Bremen; 1870-1, Barnes Corners, 1872, superannuated; 1873 -5, Lisbon, 1876, Clare; 1877-97, superannuated.

During the years of his active work he wrote many doctrinal papers for the Northern Independent, embracing such subjects as The Doctrine of a Future General Judgment, Universal Salvation, etc., and showing careful study and deep thought, receiving commendation for the same from such men as the Rev. Hiram Mattison, D. D., and the Rev. James Erwin.

During the years of his superannuated relation he was engaged to a greater or less extent in special work, as opportunity presented, and as his health and strength would permit. He was a man of positive convictions as to right and wrong, and would not swerve a hair's breadth from what he believed to be his duty, preferring to obey God rather than to gain the approbation or applause of man.

While he was a man who despised all shams of whatever name or nature, he was kind in spirit and would not willingly injure the feelings of any one. A firm believer in the doctrines and government of the Methodist Episcopal church, he recognized in every man a brother and every Christian denomination the follows of Christ, working togther with him for the salvation of man. To him "the gospel of Christ" was "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth".. so he "was not ashamed" thereof, and tried to persuade men to believe.

Such being his personal experience, he came up to the final call peacefully and triumphantly. Several years prior to his death he had been troubled with heart disease, so that he was expecting the summons at any time, but looked forward with the calm peacefulness that comes to the true believer to that land without a storm.

After the death of his second wife he lived with his children and grandchildren in this state and in Michigan, the last years and a half being with his youngest son, W. H. Wheeler, of Cedar Springs. The Sunday morning of his death he arose seemingly better than he had been for some time. He conducted the family worship, reading one of the chapters relating to the ascension of our Lord, making comments thereon in his usual manner. Afterward he went to the morning class meeting, in which he gave a clear testimony, and said amon other things: "I do not know that I shall die shouting, but I know that I shall be praising." He attended public service afterward, and remained at the Sunday school, taking charge of the Bible class as usual, and at the close of the school, not having gone over the lesson as fully as he desired, he asked the class to remain a short time, and they did so. It was while thus engaged in teaching the word that the summons came, and he died without a struggle and there was a smile upon his face. Truly he "walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." It was a truly ideal Christian death. One young lady who was in th class at the time, said that while she was watching him and listening to his conversation, she "noticed that he was very pale until he commenced talking with the class, and then his countenance seemed to be suddenly illuminated as though the Lord was with him." Another lady said she never saw a face lighted up with such a glorious expression. It seemed to fascinate her and she could not bear to look away from him. Thus he died as he desired, in the midst of friends, and at once ceased to work and live, and yet to enter into the true life beyond.

His funeral was attended at the Methodist Episcopal Church, Cedar Springs, the pastor, the Rev. Mr. Earle officiating. He chose for the text Job xiv:14 "If a man die shall be live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come." The hymns that were sung were favorites with him, and were: "Nearer, my God, to Thee" .. "Thy will be done".."God be with you till we meet again."

He rests from his labors and his works follow him, so that being dead he yet speaketh, and his influence over us as his sons and daughters, while it was great while he was in earth life, is yet greater now that he has entered into spirit life. We feel that he has left us that which is better than gold or silver--the example of a noble Christian man who unselfishly sought to know the will of God concerning him, and what was his duty, and strove to obey and perform the work required of him:

"Thou are gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee,
Since God was they Ransom, thy Guardian and Guide;
He gave thee, He took thee, and He will restore thee;
And death hath no sting since the Saviour has died."

                   GARDNER H. WHEELER

Return to Shirley Farone's Homepage

Return to Clipping Index (see Clayton/Henderson)