A direct descendant of Medfield founder Ralph Wheelock – and an activist in all things Wheelock – Ted Wheelock of Pittsburg, California, stopped in at the historical society booth at Medfield Day, September 14. Ted made a generous donation to the society and to the Vine Lake Preservation Trust.
About the Wheelocks
Medfield founder Ralph Wheelock (1600-1683) and Rebecca (d. 1680) had nine children who lived to adulthood. He attended Cambridge University while John Eliot and John Milton were students there. The Wheelocks fled England because of religious persecution; they came to Watertown in 1637 and then helped found Dedham in1638. In 1644 he was the first teacher at the new school in Dedham; he was probably the first public school teacher in America. The general court passed a law in 1647 requiring all villages with more than 50 families to have tax-supported schools.
Five years later Wheelock was chosen to lead a group to establish New Dedham, which was soon renamed Medfield. He founded Medfield’s first public school in 1655 and was the first schoolmaster. In both Dedham and Medfield he was a one of the leading figures and at different times held virtually all of the important leadership posts in the towns.
Among Ralph Wheelock’s notable descendants are
- Elezear Wheelock, founder of Dartmouth College
- Benjamin Ide Wheeler, president of the University of California – Berkeley 1899-1919
- Lucy Wheelock, founder of Wheelock College
- Emily Dickinson, poet
- Matt Damon, actor and filmmaker
Roderick “Rick” Sullivan of Northborough has been an avid genealogist for the last 20 years, concentrating on the family history of his mother, Betty Jean Wheelock. In 1997 Rick created the website WheelockGenealogy.com, and he has been enhancing and growing the Wheelock genealogy ever since. He has communicated with Wheelock family members all over the United States, and he has had the good fortune to collect family stories from all branches of the Wheelock tree.
Rick has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tufts University, and a master’s from the University of Illinois. He has been a software engineer for most of his professional life.
Rick spoke at the October 3, 2016 historical society meeting to about 30 people, including two distant cousins he met for the first time.
His talk can be seen on Medfield TV.
For more information, here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on Ralph Wheelock.
And here’s a link to 1,235-page (wow!) and growing Wheelock genealogy published by Rick Sullivan.