National Heritage Area

(814) 677-3152

217 Elm Street

Oil City, PA 16301-1412


Nelson Wheeler at the age of 25 chose to leave his home in Portville, New York on the upper Allegheny and come to Pennsylvania to work for the family firm, the Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumber Company, at the company’s Newton site on Tionesta Creek. He arrived on Tionesta Creek in 1865. In 1871, Nelson moved upriver to the area of East Hickory Creek and the place then known as Stowtown, later to be called Endeavor. At Stowtown, Nelson assumed the management of the Wheeler and Dusenbury property all along East Hickory Creek and its many tributaries. In 1876 while on a raft trip to Cincinnati, Nelson Wheeler met Rachel Ann Smith, a very well educated and prominent young lady of the Cincinnati area. They married and made a home on East Hickory Creek at Stowtown.

In 1897 the Wheelers erected a small Presbyterian Church at Stowtown. Essentially a Stick style structure with Gothic window elaboration, the church demonstrated the family’s deeply held beliefs. It took a number of years for the Clarion Presbytery to approve the construction of this church. While waiting, the members of the community met for prayer meetings on the second floor of the Wheeler and Dusenbury Company office building. The group met this way for several decades and called themselves the Christian Endeavor Society. When given an opportunity to name the post office at this location, Nelson Wheeler renamed the small village, Endeavor.
To the right of the Church is a small classical structure built by Nelson and Rachael Wheeler about the same time the Church was constructed. We have discussed in our Styles Section under Classical Revival the architecture of this exceptional building nestled deep in the forest. Please refer to that section.

The office of the old Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumber Company is now home to the Endeavor Lumber Company. The Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumber Company was the largest lumber company in Pennsylvania at the end of the nineteenth century. In his later years, Nelson Wheeler served two terms in Congress from 1908 through 1911. After Mr. Wheeler’s retirement from Congress, the family moved to California where Nelson Wheeler died in Pasadena in 1920.

In 1922 Nelson Wheeler’s heirs donated twenty acres of virgin white pine and hemlock to the Federal Government to be the heart of a forest preserved for all the people of the land. An additional one hundred acres around the tract was sold by the Wheeler family to the government. In time, the over 50,000 acres of land owned by the Wheelers in the East Hickory Creek area were sold to the government to contribute to the formation of the 550,000 acre Allegheny National Forest. The site of the original twenty acres given to the government as a gift is where a spring comes out of the ground about 10 miles northeast of Endeavor. The Wheeler family called the location of the spring, Heart’s Content. A plaque commemorating this gift and the genesis of the National Forest can still be seen today at the site. No one should miss an opportunity to see the great white pines soaring high into the sky at Heart’s Content. This is something future generations won’t see, at least for several hundred years.

RECOMMENDED READING AND STUDY: Pine Knots and Bark Peelers, W.R. Wheeler, La Jolla, 1960

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Tionesta drive north along the Allegheny River on Route 62. Turn right at East Hickory onto Route 666 and drive just a few miles to the east. From Warren, come south on Route 62 and turn left on Route 666.
To get to the Heart’s Content site from Endeavor return to Route 62 and head north along the River. Just before the bridge across the River to Tidioute, take the road off Route 62 which heads up the hill to the right. Follow the signs to Heart’s Content.

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