Interviewer: Renee Garrelick
Date: October 28, 1980
Remembrance of Uncle Will and Aunt Fannie Wheeler
-- Uncle Will's work in Japan
Running The farm at Nine Acre Corner
Fondness for Thoreau
William Wheeler was my father, Frank's brother. He was a very tall and dignified man. My father made him the guardian of his children before he died and since I was the oldest, we shared this together. He and Aunt Fannie were different from us Nine Acre Corner people, who were involved in farming. They represented a different social class. While I managed the farm, Uncle Will kept track of the finances.
Before the days of Route 2, I would ride on horseback from Nine Acre Corner to see them. I remember how Aunt Fannie would hang a towel out the window to indicate if she were at home, to save visitors-the trip of climbing up Nashawtuc Hill, which they alone inhabited for 13 years.
Uncle Will was a young man (25) in 1876 when he was asked to serve the Japanese government as professor of engineering and mathematics at Sapporo College. He was engaged to Aunt Fannie at the time and came back two years later to marry her. A lot can be said for Aunt Fannie's courage. To leave for Japan, she first had to go cross country by stagecoach, and then voyaged across the ocean on a side-wheel steamer.
In Japan they had to ride to places on horseback. I remember her as a very straight, tightly corseted woman. How she ever road horseback, I'll never know.
When they returned to Concord to leave on the Simon Willard estate on top of Nashawtuc Hill, they named the home Maru-Zama Kwan, meaning Round Hill House, in memory of the four years he spent at Sapporo.
Uncle Will and Aunt Fannie enterained vistors from Japan at their home. He did so much to settle the eastern side of Japan which was hardly inhabited at the time. It is amazing how many people who come to Concord from Japan, ask about him.
I use his cane here to walk with. Some people say that I should cut it down to make it easier for a woman to use, but I won' t.
At Nine Acre Corner I had the whole farm to take care of with the help of the foreman, Mike Burke, who stayed with us for 35 years. Our farm help was mostly Irish and Nova Scotian.
I think back at my buying tons of soft coal to keep the boilers going. We did truck farming and had 8 greenhouses. I joined the Market Gardeners Association.
I married Leslie Anderson. His father's name was Lars and he came from Norway. He worked for Towle and Kent's grocery store, and later owned it. He would come out to Nine Acre Corner to get the grocery orders and deliver it
. I am one of four surviving members of the Thoreau Foundation. Uncle Will and Aunt Fannie tolerated but never understood my fondness for Thoreau. You know how people thought of Thoreau back then. Many didn't understand him.