Burial register ID: 15712
Surname: WHEELER
First name: ISABELLA
Middle names: CRAWFORD
Gender: Female
Age: 89 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 31-Jan-1951
Date of burial: 02-Feb-1951

Block: 99B
Plot: 18

There is no monument or inscription on this gravesite, only a nameplate saying “Wheeler”.

Bio contributor: Lesley Treweek

Isabella Crawford Wheeler née Gillies (1860-1959)

Isabella Crawford Wheeler was the second daughter of Daniel and Mary (née Stewart) Gillies formerly of Rothsay, Isle of Bute, Scotland and later of Milton, New Zealand. Isabella married John Wheeler in 1884, third son of William and Jessie (née White/Hamilton) Wheeler who married in 1855. William was from Berkshire in England and Jessie from Airdrie, Scotland. Isabella’s mother died from a stoke at an early age leaving the care of the family to Isabella who gave up school in order to fulfil this responsibility. In 1881 she moved with her family to Dunedin.

Once married, Isabella’s life was hard, with siblings still to care for and children of their own the family faced financial difficulties compounded by the ill health of her husband John who suffered from diabetes. John died from the complications of diabetes in 1910 leaving Isabella to cope alone; thankfully her children were mostly grown.

Arthur her eldest son made smallgoods at Bartons Butchery and was to be married in a few weeks time and Alma, clever, pretty, a fine pianist and painter would be married a month later. Ada worked for a drapery wholesalers, Sargood, Son and Ewen. The younger children were aged 25, 13 and 6. The family pulled together. Isabella’s strength was the familiy’s strength. She sewed long into the night. Widows pensions were still in the future. When they were introduced in 1911 a widow with one child received 4s 7d per week. This compared with a carpenter’s weekly wage of 2 pounds 12 shillings. With bread costing 1d per loaf it was definitely a case of cutting your coat according to your cloth. Isabella could do just that. Her sewing bought in extra money. She knew how to turn collars and mend so that clothes looked ‘ next to new’. It was she who coined the family maxim ” There is no point in being poor and looking poor”. Isabella herself was always immaculate, family pride was at stake.

The war brought heartbreak for Ada. Her fiancé, young, charming William Schaumann died in France in 1916. Years later Ada married Charles Bain but sadly the couple were childless. Placid, good natured Margaret found work at Ross and Glendinning’s Roslyn Mill, a job she held for all her working life. She was employed as a ‘presser’ and a ‘looker’ checking garments for defects in manufacture. She never married and is buried with John and Isabella here in the Northern Cemetery.

Jack Wheeler departed for Australia after serving as a trooper in WWI. He took up a position as a boundary rider at Longreach Station in Queensland. Young Boonie, the only Wheeler child to inherit diabetes, did office work prior to marrying. It should have been time then for Isabella to relax but fate intervened. Alma, the eldest of the Wheeler girls, and her husband had three children. Joy the youngest was just a baby when Alma contracted a virus which affected her nervous system. The disease left her a helpless invalid and contributed to her early death.

Isabella again took control, moving in with her daughter and filling the role of mother. Her cooking and sewing were legendary,and frequently drew admiration from outsiders. Following Alma’s death, her husband remarried and shifted to Cromwell. Isabella, Margaret and the three grandchildren all went to live with Ada and Charlie Bain in MacAndrew Road. Here the family enjoyed many happy times.

After raising three generations, Isabella Crawford Wheeler died from heart failure on the 31st January 1951, aged 89 years. She is buried with her husband John and daughter Margaret here at the Northern Cemetery. Isabella’s grandaughter Joy had this to say, “I looked to her as my mother. Grandma was the most wonderful human being I have ever met. Accomplished, strong and loving. I never heard her complain or say she wished her life had been any different. If there is a heaven, Grandma will be there”.

Isabella Wheeler
Source: Lesley Treweek

There are 4 Interments in this grave:

Surname First names Age Date of death Date of burial
WHEELER ISABELLA CRAWFORD 89 Years 31-Jan-1951 02-Feb-1951
WHEELER JOHN 52 Years 05-Dec-1910 07-Dec-1910
WHEELER MARGARET LEITH SINCLAIR 66 Years 05-May-1962 21-May-1962
WHEELER RONALD GIFFORD 9 Weeks 03-Jun-1913 03-Jun-1913