Wheeler House

A special smile for a big day: It’s my 5th birthday! (Or at least it’s close to today — I was adopted at around 7 months old, and this was the vet’s best estimate.)

This is the Wheeler House in Concord, Mass., and at least part of it is thought to be the 17th century house of Captain Thomas Wheeler, who led the Middlesex troop of soldiers to the rescue of Brookfield in King Philip’s War of 1675. Wheeler is also said to be the first settler in Concord Village (now Acton), where he cared for cattle during the summer.

Town records list the house as being built in 1688, but parts of it might be even older (!). Wheeler deeded his house and lot to Nathaniel Harwood, and it changed hands several times before becoming a double house for rent in 1806.

Tenants included “Put” Merriam and widow Mary Dunbar Minot, who moved her with her son after her husband died. Her daughter, Cynthia, married John Thoreau, and after Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817, the family lived here for a few months before moving to Chelmsford.

Charles Davis owned the house through the middle of the 19th century, and by 1875, it was purchased by the daughters of wheelwright, James C. Beals.

They worked in Boston as “forewomen of some large establishment,” saved up their money and bought the house to be a home for their elderly parents.

Some renovations took place around 1880, and it was occupied for a few years by Colonel Samuel Richardson, who died in 1884. Originally from Framingham, Richardson had been a dry goods trader, and became a Deputy Sheriff — the first in Norfolk County — then was appointed by J.S. Keyes as Deputy Sheriff at East Cambridge.

Richardson subsequently fought in the Civil War, during which he organized a regiment from Cambridge, and was appointed Colonel. After the war he became Keyes’ Chief Deputy Marshal for a while, kept a hotel in Boston, and ended up in Concord as an officer at the state prison.

Around 1885-1886, the house was purchased by Benjamin H. Huttman, who had recently acquired the amazing house next door, and hired John Chapman to enlarge and remodel both places.

Huttman lived next door, while this house was occupied for years by his brother-in-law, farmer Alonzo B. Schureman, and his family. It was subsequently rented out and eventually fell to to B.H. Huttman’s widow, Maude. It was sold at auction around 1911 to mail carrier Patrick E. Cull, who passed it on to his son, Edward, a chauffer. He lived there until 1937.

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