Caleb Kendall Wheeler Papers, 1931-2005 (bulk 1944-1947)

Vault A45, Wheeler, Unit 4


Extent: 0.4 linear feet (one container)

ORGANIZATION: Four series: I. Correspondence and manuscript, 1939-1947; II. Photographs, 1931-1944; III. Newspaper clippings, 1935-1962; IV. Personal and military documents and family remembrances, 1943-2005.

BIOGRAPHY: Caleb Kendall Wheeler (1922-1944) was a native of Concord, Massachusetts and the third son of Ruth Robinson Wheeler and Caleb Henry Wheeler, Jr.  Ruth Robinson Wheeler (1890-1973), was a prominent Concord historian, newspaper editor, and author.  Caleb Henry Wheeler, Jr. (1891-1970) was a dairy farmer and native of Concord, Massachusetts.  Caleb Kendall Wheeler and his four brothers grew up on Thoreau Farm on Virginia Road in Concord.  He graduated from Concord High School in 1939 and entered Bowdoin College in the fall of 1939.  After graduating in February of 1943, Caleb attended Harvard Graduate School but promptly left to join the military.  In January of 1944, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Force, and married Elizabeth Kathleen Trundy at Presque Isle, Maine.  Caleb Kendall Wheeler was killed in action over Budapest on July 2, 1944.  Townsend Scudder’s Concord: American Town was given by Caleb’s parents to friends and to professors at Bowdoin in Caleb’s memory.  As a lasting tribute to their son, Ruth and Caleb Henry Wheeler purchased and presented to the Concord Free Public Library N.C. Wyeth’s The Carpenters Repairing Hubbard’s Bridge, one in a series of Wyeth’s Men of Concord paintings.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: Papers, 1931-2005, bulk 1944-1946.  Series I: Correspondence and manuscript, includes correspondence from the United States War Department to Elizabeth T. Wheeler regarding husband’s death and Air Medal citation (1944-1946), letters from two of Caleb’s fellow crew members who survived the attack on their B-24 (Liberator) on July 2, 1944, and Caleb Kendall Wheeler’s high school paper on Henry David Thoreau (1939); Series II: Photographs of Caleb Kendall Wheeler, including high school photograph (1939), portrait as member of Sigma Nu (1941), and photograph in military dress (1944); Series III: Newspaper clippings, including announcement of Caleb Kendall Wheeler’s first prize in the Acton County Fair (1935); Series IV: Personal and military documents and family remembrances, including graduation program from Army Air Forces Navigation School at Selman Field in Munroe, Louisiana (1944), certificate of marriage (1944), Ruth Robinson Wheeler “poem for Caleb” (1944) in her own hand, award of Purple Heart (1945), and notes by younger brother Joseph Coolidge Wheeler recalling conversations with acquaintances of Caleb’s regarding his brother and their own experiences in World War II.

SOURCE OF ACQUISITION: Gift of Joseph Coolidge Wheeler, July 2008.

NOTES/COMMENTS: Accessioned in July 2008.  AMC 164.

RELATED MATERIALS: Ruth R. Wheeler—N.C. Wyeth Correspondence, 1944-1970 (bulk 1944-1947).

PROCESSED BY: Lindsey A. Dewar, October 2008.



Folder 1.

Correspondence: United States War Department to Elizabeth T. Wheeler (1944-1946), including telegram from Major General J.A. Ulio confirming death (1945)

Folder 2.

Correspondence: crewmembers Corporal Paul Vassar and Lieutenant Morris Padeu to Elizabeth T. Wheeler (1945) regarding the attack on their B-24 (Liberator)

Folder 3.

Correspondence: to parents regarding Concord: American Town by Townsend Scudder, given by parents in memory of son, including newspaper clippings about book (1947) and handwritten note about book (“Frederick” written on back) (1947); letter to parents from Paul Nixon of Brunswick, Maine (1947); letter to parents from E.C. Helmreich of Brunswick, Maine (1947); letter to parents from Jean Boyd Cable of Ridgewood, New Jersey (1947); letter to parents from Nathaniel C. Kendrich, Dean of Bowdoin College (1947); letter to parents from John Gallagher, a cadet friend at Selman Field (1947); letter to parents from George Quimby, Director of Dramatics at Bowdoin College (1947); letter to parents from Kenneth C.M. Sills, President of Bowdoin College (1947); letter to parents from Edward C. Kirkland of Bowdoin College (1947)

Folder 4.

Manuscript: Caleb Kendall Wheeler high school paper about Henry David Thoreau, including photographs, pages from The Concord Tercentenary (1935), leaflet from Concord Antiquarian Society (1936), and maps drawn and colored by Caleb (1939)

PHOTOGRAPHS, 1931-1947

Folder 5.

Photographs: including photograph of Caleb at eight years old (1931), high school photograph (1939), portrait as member of Sigma Nu (1941), photograph in military dress (1944), negative of photo used for memorial book (1947), and a montage of photographs showing Bowdoin Memorial and nephew of Caleb Kendall Wheeler


Folder 6.

Newspaper clippings: announcement of Caleb Kendall Wheeler’s first prize in the Acton County Fair (1935); announcement of Payson Scholarship award by Scholarship Committee of Bowdoin College (1941); reported missing in action (1944); reported killed in action (1945); memorial service delivered by Rev. Edward P. Daniels of First Parish Church in Concord, Massachusetts (1945); remembering lost son (1962)

Folder 6A.

Newspaper clippings: original newspaper clippings and microfilm copies


Folder 7.

Personal documents: Bowdoin College diploma (1943); marriage announcement (1944); Certificate of Marriage (1944); memorial card with handwritten translation of Latin motto on card and “Grandpa” written on envelope (1947)

Folder 8.

Military documents: fabric military badge; War Department brochure “Personal Affairs of Military Personnel and Aid for their Dependents” (1943); graduation program from Army Air Forces Navigation School at Selman Field in Munroe, Louisiana (1944); Power of Attorney (1944); For Your Guidance, War Department Pamphlet No. 20-15 (1945); certificate of Purple Heart (1945); certificate announcing presentation of decoration; certificate of gratitude from Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1945)

Folder 9.

Family remembrances: Ruth Robinson Wheeler poem for Caleb (1944), both typed and in her own hand and with “Caleb’s Wall” noted on back; biographical note “Caleb Kendall Wheeler” by Joseph Coolidge Wheeler; handwritten note by Joseph Coolidge Wheeler detailing telephone conversation with Paul Yuschak (1996), who had been shot down near the Philippine coast and who knew Caleb during basic training; typewritten note by Joseph C. Wheeler detailing visit from Tom Hayes, fellow Concordian, who was a radio operator and gunner in the 454th Group in Italy and who knew Caleb (2005); wedding announcement for marriage of Elizabeth Trundy Wheeler to Ralph Foster Verrill (1946)

c2008 Concord Free Public Library, Concord, Mass.
Not to be reproduced in any form without permission of the Curator of Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library.

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Mounted 15th November 2008.    rcwh.