Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Grace M. Wheeler, 1864-1947
By Carrie Dunham-LaGree, professor, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa
Grace Adams Mason was born August 26, 1864 in Nebraska City, Nebraska to Oliver Perry Mason and Mary Jane Turner Mason. In 1881, the family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where her father served on the Nebraska Supreme Court. Mr. Mason was a provost marshal in the Civil War, a member of the first Nebraska constitutional convention, and the first chief justice of Nebraska.
Ms. Mason graduated from Brownell Hall in Omaha in 1881. She was valedictorian of her class and awarded a scholarship medal in literature.
She married Hiland Hill Wheeler, Jr. on May 20, 1885. They had three children, Mason, born 1886, Margaret, born 1888, and Hiland III, born 1889. Mr. Wheeler was a lawyer. Mrs. Wheeler assisted him in the compiling and annotating of the Nebraska compiled statutes.
Mrs. Wheeler was a leader in the Nebraska suffrage movement. At the 1912 convention in Omaha, December 4-6, Mrs. Wheeler was elected first auditor. From 1910 to 1920 she served as the legislative chairman for the Federation of Woman's Clubs. This work included making numerous speeches at educational meetings for women across Nebraska. She wrote frequently on the constitution and educational topics, lectured on current events, and contributed to numerous magazines. In 1919, she published Handbook for Nebraska Citizens. In 1920, she became a Nebraska board member for the League of Women Voters.
Mrs. Wheeler was legislative chairman of the Federation of Women's Clubs. In 1919 she served on the Ratification Committee of the State Woman Suffrage Association. In 1920 she was one of the republican electors from Nebraska. In 1921, she was the first woman to be a member of the U.S. Electoral College. She served as historian of the Nebraska State Woman Suffrage Association and is credited as the author of the Nebraska state report in the History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6.
Mrs. Wheeler was an honorary member of the Axis club and received a distinguished service medal from the organization in 1937. She was an early member of the Sorosis Club, a social and literary group in Lincoln. She served on the Lincoln library board. She was a member of the State Historical Society and Native Sons and Daughters, an organization founded to preserve the history of the first families in Nebraska.
Mr. Wheeler died in 1928. Mrs. Wheeler died on July 10, 1947.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]
"Grace Wheeler." The Nebraska State Journal, July 12, 1947, p. 6.
"Mrs. Wheeler, Prominent in Politics, Dies." Lincoln Journal Star, July 10, 1947, p. 1-2.
Young, Joanne. "Parcel from the Past." Lincoln Journal Star, June 25, 2017, p. 1-2.