William V. Wheeler and the Founding of the Mission

Wheeler Mission Ministries was founded in 1893 by the Meridian Street WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) as the “Door of Hope,” a rescue home to help needy girls. The mission was organized shortly thereafter when it became obvious there was more work that needed to be done. They called upon William Wheeler, whose wife was a WCTU member and who was a well-known community lay preacher, to help run a mission.  


Undated photograph of William Vincent Wheeler.


“In these proofs (especially the one with the hat) I think my grandfather enjoyed picture taking (!) and revealed his humor in many of the poses.”

- Arthur R. Hall, January 1993


This former saloon at 49 East South Street was rented by the Rescue Mission and Home of Indianapolis (the name was changed to Wheeler Rescue Mission after the death of William Wheeler on Christmas Day, 1908) from 1895 to 1905.


Handwritten history of the mission, ca. 1895.


“This work was started by the Ladies of the Meridian WCTU, Oct 13-1893 and continued under their direction until Sept 1st 1895, when by a unanimous vote of the Union, the work was transferred[sic] to W V Wheeler, the superintendent, who assumes all responsibility for the work. The Rescue work has now been put on a Perminent[sic] and Substantial Basis, Articles of Incorporation and organization have been adopted. And will be filed on Thursday, with the following well known Gentlemen as Trustees and Board of Managers.                                   

Hugh H. Hannah, Rev M L Haynes, Geo W Snyder, W.H. Roll, W V Wheeler. The Board organized by Electing officers as follows

W H Roll   President                       Supt Rescue Work W V Wheeler

Hugh H Hannah   Treasurer       assistant    “    ”    ”    W H Roll

C S Grant   Security                       Missionary Miss Ella Laltuab

The work is to be known as Rescue Mission and Home of Indianapolis.”


Testimonial by Daisydean Judkins Deeds, April 25, 1951

Prior to running the Rescue Mission, William Wheeler was a salesman for Layman & Carey Hardware Company who was also a lay preacher on the south side of Indianapolis. He preached on Sunday afternoons under a beech tree at Greenlawn Cemetery. Here, Daisydean Judkins Deeds recalls hearing him preach at a camp meeting in August of 1884.  


Explore the Documents:

Click through to read Bessie's letter to her mother, May 7, 1931.

Letter to Mrs. Morincie R. Wells, former president of the Meridian Street WCTU, from her daughter, Bessie. Mrs. Wells was instrumental in the foundation of the “Door of Hope.” 

William V. Wheeler and the Founding of the Mission