Laban Morey Wheaton is Born

Laban Morey Wheaton (1796-1865), a businessman, citizen, and husband to Eliza and Wheaton Female Seminary co-founder, was born in Norton in 1796. A bit of a wild child—he was infamous in town for taking the family Christmas sleigh down Main Street one July—he was sent by his father to Brown University in hopes that the smaller town of Providence would prove better for his temperament than the big city of Boston or Cambridge and Harvard University. Upon graduation from Brown, Laban Morey Wheaton returned to Norton, where he was appointed postmaster in 1818—just like his father.  In 1828, having retained and embellished some of the influence of the Wheaton family name, he was appointed Justice of the Peace, a post which he held until his death in 1865.   Like his father, and indeed with his influence, Laban Morey Wheaton was elected to the state legislature in 1827, 1828, and 1838. Also active in the town of Norton, he served as Town Moderator, Tithing Man, and Town Surveyor. He twice ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Liberty Party ticket.  He was an active Freemason.

Laban Morey Wheaton married Eliza Baylies Chapin in 1829, building a mansion on Norton’s Main Street as a wedding gift to her—the home now known as the President’s House. Upon the establishment of the Seminary in 1834, Laban Morey Wheaton served as trustee, a position he held until his death in 1865. He also served as the Secretary of the Board for the seminary from 1834 to 1846, and the Treasurer from 1855 to 1858, and from 1861 to 1862. It was Laban Morey Wheaton who arranged for Mary Lyon’s assistance in founding the Seminary, and who oversaw the construction of the first buildings.