Wheelock, Eleazar Louis Ripley (1793–1847)

By: Mary Foster Hutchinson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 8, 2019

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Eleazar Louis Ripley Wheelock, soldier and surveyor, was born on March 31, 1793, in Hanover, New Hampshire, the son of Col. Eleazar Wheelock, Jr., a Revolutionary War veteran, and Thankful (Pennock) Wheelock. At the age of thirteen he moved with his family to Boat Run, Ohio. After the deaths of his parents he entered the United States army and served first in the Ohio Militia and later as an ensign in the New York Twenty-first Infantry Regiment, seeing active duty during the War of 1812. After the war he settled in Illinois, where he became a successful businessman and in 1818 married Mary Prickett. Their daughter and four sons were all born in Illinois, but as early as 1820 Wheelock began to invest in Texas real estate. In 1823 he made his first visit to Texas, where he spent a year surveying the town of Tampico. During a second visit in 1823 he met Sterling C. Robertson in San Felipe and returned home determined to settle his family in Robertson's Colony. In 1832 he answered the call of Governor Reynolds of Illinois for volunteers and served in the Black Hawk War. Throughout his adult life he was active as a militiaman in several states and had risen to the rank of colonel by 1833, when he brought his family to Texas and established the town of Wheelock in what is now Robertson County. There he served as a surveyor, land agent, lawyer, rancher, farmer, and soldier.

During the Texas Revolution he organized and captained a company of Texas Rangers. During the years of the Republic of Texas he served as a regional land commissioner. From 1836 through 1845 he was either advisor or leader on all expeditions that went out from Robertson and Milam counties against the Indians. During one of these raids his son-in-law was killed and he and his daughter taken prisoner, but like his friend Sam Houston, he was a defender of Indian rights. Toward the end of the Republic he served as Indian commissioner under President Anson Jones. In 1837 he organized the Texas University Company and gave land generously for its support. The coeducational institution died aborning due to Indian raids. In the spring of 1845 the Mercer Colony contracted with Wheelock as subagent to aid in surveying sixteen townships on the west side of the Trinity River. By September he had traveled nearly 1,700 miles within the grant and had been captured by Indians several times. He supported Robertson in his winning dispute with Stephen F. Austin over the control of Robertson's Colony. After statehood Wheelock expanded his business interests to include plans for silver and copper mining and traveled to Washington, D.C., to gather financing and support for this venture. In 1847 Sam Houston and the other members of the Texas delegation to Congress wrote to President James K. Polk on his behalf. On his way home Wheelock died unexpectedly in Edwardsville, Illinois, on May 14, 1847, at the home of his brother-in-law.

Malcolm D. McLean, comp. and ed., Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas (19 vols., Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington Press, 1974–93). E. L. R. Wheelock Papers, 1814–1935, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Exploration
  • Surveyors and Cartographers
  • Military
  • Soldiers

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mary Foster Hutchinson, “Wheelock, Eleazar Louis Ripley,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 18, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wheelock-eleazar-louis-ripley.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 8, 2019