Cumberland County Public Library

Ancestry.com

ancestry.com

We are pleased to announce that the library now has full access to Ancestry.com, Library Edition! Ancestry Library Edition is a research tool offering the most comprehensive, international genealogical information available online, with more than 5 billion names in thousands of collections.
This service is only available within the library, by clicking the above image.


The Cumberland County Public Library’s staff occasionally assists people from across the United States with genealogy information about former residents of Cumberland County and the surrounding area. They often work closely with the Cumberland County Historical Society/Museum to accomplish this task. Read on for a story about one family who found out more about their Cumberland County family tree:

A “Debt” Repaid

Several years ago, John Wheeler’s daughter Karla Williams bought him Ancestry DNA for a Christmas gift. There is no way that Karla could ever have imagined the results that John received.  Originally from St Louis, Missouri, John joined the Air Force after he completed his Aerospace Engineering education. Subsequently, he completed his Master’s Degree in Astronautical Engineering and later came to Virginia as a duty station where he reached the rank of Colonel. Now retired after 27 years in the USAF, John and his wife Phyllis (recently retired from Fairfax County Public Schools) currently reside in Prince William County, Virginia. As far as John knew, his family was from Missouri; but his Ancestry results showed a direct link to Central Virginia and namely to the Wheeler’s of Cumberland and Buckingham Counties.

With this in mind, Karla began to help her dad look for information and she reached out to the Cumberland County Public Library for more information. The library actually had a copy of an out-of-print book entitled Trails West: Genealogy of the Wheeler Family of Buckingham and Cumberland County, Virginia by Roy Wheeler. Library Director Lisa Davis was able to find information about John Wheeler’s great-grandfather Thomas David Wheeler listed in the book as well as details about several previous generations. It turns out that Thomas’ father William Henry Wheeler, Sr., was born in Cumberland County around 1803 to Samuel and Polly Osborne Wheeler. He married his wife Elizabeth around 1829 in Buckingham County and settled down in Cumberland County to raise his family.

However, sometime after the 1850 Federal Census, William Henry Wheeler packed up his entire family and migrated to Randolph County, Missouri, where he received a land grant signed by President James Buchanan in 1857. According to his father Samuel’s will dated May 30, 1850, William Henry owed his father $350 which was to be subtracted from the inheritance he would receive at his father’s death. That information along with other details from the federal census, marriage records, Cumberland County Historical Society materials, etc. was sent to Karla with an invitation for her and/or her father to visit whenever they were in the area.

While we can’t be sure after all that time, we could always wonder if Henry borrowed the money to move west and…. if that debt was completely paid when his father’s estate was settled. But now we can definitely say that the Wheelers have returned both to Virginia and to Cumberland County from Missouri and that “debt” has been paid in a different form. On Wednesday, December 2, 2020 John and Phyllis Wheeler stopped at the Cumberland County Public Library on a return trip from visiting their son in Tampa, Florida. They spent time looking over the physical materials that Lisa had gathered in the search and the three discussed Ancestry search results in an attempt to figure out more information about other ancestors from Cumberland and Buckingham Counties.

Before leaving, John presented a check to the library as a token of thanks for assistance in researching his family tree.

The amount? $350.

John Wheeler presents a donation of $350 to CCPL Director Lisa Davis.

This site is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. It is managed by the The Library of Virginia Library Development and Networking Division.