My husband’s great uncle was Frank Wheeler. We know that he was an Arizona Ranger, but not much else. What can you tell us?
Archer City, Texas
Frank Wheeler was a native of Mississippi who went to Texas, looking to be a cowboy. But in 1902, at the age of 31, he was recruited by Arizona Ranger Capt. Tom Rynning. A year later he was promoted to sergeant. He voluntarily went back to the rank of private; it’s believed he didn’t like to be in a position of commanding others.
While assigned to southwestern Arizona in 1907, Wheeler and Yuma Deputy Johnny Cameron were involved in a blazing gunfight with a couple of desperadoes near Ajo. When the smoke cleared, both outlaws were dead.
Frank continued to re-enlist every year. In 1908 rumors circulated that he would be the next sheriff of Yuma County, but he remained loyal to the Rangers. When the force was terminated by the territorial legislature in 1909, he was the longest-serving Ranger.
Frank Wheeler was no relation to Harry Wheeler, the Arizona Ranger captain and later sheriff of Cochise County.