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History of the Wharton-Whelan and Shoemaker-Chapman Families

Updated December 28, 2008

About Our Family Research

Wilbur Worth Wharton, Sr. descended from the Wharton and Whelan families that research dates to 1700s England, Ireland, and Germany. Mary Sue (Chapman-birth; Winans-adoptive) Wharton descended from Shoemaker-Va(n)long or (Va(n)tony)(?)TN and VA and the James Silas Chapman (ARK) families biologically. Adoptive parents are the Winans, b. MO, and the Normans, b SC living in Muskogee, OK when they adopted Mary Sue.

This effort at historical research is to continue and pay tribute to the work done by my remarkable Iowa Grandmother, Edith Mae (Whelan) Wharton, who prized her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Daughters of the American Colonists (DAC) and delighted in uncovering family links. Grandmother spent hours handwriting family history to pass on to some of her grandchildren. These prized notebooks and multiple notes form the historical foundation for this branch of the family. Additional information comes through internet search and from the wonderful anecdotes of our cousin Bob Holdefer who grew up spending summers on the farm with grandmother and grandfather Wharton.

Grandmother Edith Wharton was a hard working, but mischievious and humorous woman who undoubtedly spent thousands of hours corresponding with people across the United States to record the lives of these interesting and contrasting families. Grandmother visited countless cemeteries and purchased several headstones for distant family members' graves.

This work also attempts to trace our mother's roots and to solve the mysteries of her biological family--an unfulfilled goal that she had to finally "give over to the Lord" when she met with nothing but brick walls before the days of the internet,, and in an era when everything about adoption was a dark secret. I undertake this attempt to trace mother's roots with today's technology out of love for her and to pay my debt to her for the treasured things in life she gave to me--the love of music, appreciation for art and literature, nature, and the knowledge that the power of God is what sustains us, enriches us, and guides us.

Our mother's mother, Annie May (Mae) Shoemaker, was born about 1888 in Kansas, older than her three brothers. There was an older half-sister in the household re the 1900 census. Annie May's father was John Shoemaker; her mother was Mary (perhaps Va(n)long(y) or Va(n)tony(g). In the 1910 census, Mary boarded with a black family in Wagoner, Ok; other boarders were James Valony(g)/Vantony(g) (a brother or father?) and J. E. Witt (whom she had married by the time our mother Mary Sue and her sister were taken from their mother and sent to an Oklahoma orphanage in 1914).

The following information comes from copies of letters supplied by the Oklahoma orphanage. Annie Mae lived in Oklahoma in 1912 through 1914 at least. She gave birth to our mother, Mary Sue (Goldie Jewell Chapman birth name) in 1912 at Yeager or Holdenville, OK. There was an older child (b. abt 1908-1909) named Rosa Belle. Annie Mae married James Silas Chapman, Jr. b. May 1884, known as "Dude". He deserted Annie and children by 1914 when the girls were taken from their sick mother in Sallisaw, OK. The little girls were adopted by different families in Okla: the Winans and the Hoopers. Annie's widowed mother, Mary remarried W. J. Witt in Wagoner, OK just days before the girls were taken from their mother unbeknownst to her.

In 1918, J. Silas Chapman farmed at Blue Mound near Wagoner, OK when he registered for the WWI draft. His draft record says his wife was Annie, but in 1916 and 1917 he fathered two sons by Rosie Frances Wright, so apparently Annie Mae and James were still married in 1918. By 1923 he was with Pearlie Hughes and fathered 7 children. “Dude” is buried, it is thought, in Woodville, CA where his two sons by Rosie Wright are buried.

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