Half-Shire has been awarded a part-time paid staff position through the experience works program for senior citizens. Long-time member and “founding father” George Widrig interviewed for the position and began work on March 23, at the Pulaski Court House. George will work out of the Richland historian’s office until early May when our Richland facility is “warmed up” decently. While working at the Court House, George has been labeling a backlog of copied photographs from the Waggoner-Moore and Porter-Blodgett Collections. He has also been doing an inventory of our family files, and working on the obituary collection.

Richard Cooper of Sandy Creek has been doing research for us in the Pulaski Democrat collection at the Pulaski Public Library. Two weeks ago we gave Richard a list of names of persons whose death records we sought, and Richard has come through on most counts! George Widrig is organizing the clippings that Richard has brought in , and they will be added to our existing obituary collection at Half-Shire.

Significant among Richard’s finds was the May 1882 obituary of Eli Wheeler, who was the builder of the Selkirk Bethel Church in Port Ontario. Wheeler’ roots have been obscure, the obituary mentions that he was a native of New Hampshire, and had settled in Lorraine, Jefferson County. In 1832 Wheeler moved to Port Ontario where he began a store on the corner of Port Rd. and modern Rte. 3, that store years later became Walker’s Restaurant. Wheeler was elected Justice in 1850, and served at least a term. He was briefly the Postmaster in Port Ontario under the Andrew Johnson Administration.

In 1848 Eli Wheeler was among those who founded the Selkirk Bethel Society. Wheeler worked with the group in raising money for a church that he himself built on land he and his wife donated. In his later years Wheeler lived with the family of his friend Sylvester Brown. Eli and his wife Abigail had no children that we have found so far. We have asked our friends in South Jefferson historical for assistance in culling their files, and if anyone in the area knows something about the Port Ontario Wheelers we’d appreciate hearing.

On March 23, we drew the winning tickets in the annual afghan raffle. George Kirkpatrick of Syracuse was the first name drawn, and he chose the large afghan hand made by Keith Munz of Osceola. Helen “Sue” Phillips of Pulaski was the second name drawn, and she was very pleased with the baby afghan donated by Carol Thompson of Oswego. Five other names were drawn for free 2009 calendars. Our thanks go out to all who participated in this years drawing, the money raised will go towards genealogical supplies for our library.

Our first meeting of the year at Richland will be Saturday April 18, beginning with a noon lunch. The meeting that follows at 1 pm will be of short duration. Please call if you are able to come to lunch 298-3620 and leave a message. We are looking at scalloped potatoes and ham dinner. We have begun the bid process to begin work on our 2nd floor classroom that is gutted. We are looking to get this room restored this year, beginning with a new floor.

Half-Shire can be reached at P.O. 73, 1100 County Rte. 48, Richland, NY 13144 or on the web at halfshire@hotmail.com. Our web site is www.halfshire.com

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