Dr. Sarah E.Wheeler
Lakeland,s First Woman Dr.
The Lakeland Ledger, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 1960

  Dr. Sarah E.Wheeler, turned 90 on this day in Sept. 27, 1960, and she is still practicing her profession, while she lives at the Stephen's Nursing Home, after a recient fall.  Dr. Wheeler is still very much the professional woman, and on her door is a handwritten sign that states, S.E.Wheeler, Dr. of Osteopathy.
  Dr. Wheeler came to Lakeland in 1908, hoping to establish a less demanding practice than the one she left behind in Winchester,Tennessee, as she herself stated," I did not know what a day and night sleep was like".  My Doctor's there told me I did not have long to live, they were wrong, as that is very evident as today is her 90th. birthday.
  When Dr. Wheeler came to Lakeland, she moved into the old Tremont Hotel, located across from the present day, Central Fire Station. She recalls that she could not walk from the hotel to the shore of Lake Mirror, because the brush and briars were very thick, and none of the streets were paved, when the 38 year old Osteopath arrived in Lakeland.
   Later on, Dr. Wheeler moved into Mrs.Wagner's boarding house on the site of the present downtown post office and ate her meals at the lodging house operated by Miss Helen Cochran. Her office was on South Kentucky Ave. in the old First National Bank building " Dr. Sulivan's " office was nearby , but she says" I was here before him."
  Dr. Wheeler built her home at 322 S.Tennessee Ave., she lived in what she describes as the outskirts of town. ( Mrs. Harriett Sprott, now ownes the home.)
  When Dr. Wheeler was asked why she never married, she simply replied " she never had the time", but had plenty of chances, on the day she graduated from Osteopathic School, she recieved a marriage proposal from a fellow classmate, but his wish did not come true, for within 3 months her professional services were in demand, then she says " let me tell you how I became famous" in a joking manner. The parents of an 11 year old boy with St.Vitus Dance, a nervious disorder, were traveling the country looking for a Dr. who could cure their child, this was in a Tennessee town and the residents asked why they had not tried the "rubbing Dr." as Dr. Wheeler says she was called. When the parents came to see her it took both parents to coax the child to the treatment table. After 6 weeks, the boy was able to run and jump as other boys his age, after that, people came from miles around seeking help.
  Dr. Wheeler remembers Hurricane Donna as being tame for she remembers the hurricane that ripped the elevator out of the Marble Arcade Building,  her office was on the 10th. floor and she and Dr. Sullivan's nurse had to walk down 10 flights of stairs in the dark.
  She remembers being bent on being the first woman to vote on a highway bond, she arrived at the polls, the men at this poll were antagonistic towards women voters, one spoke and said, "well,I guess we'll let Dr. Wheeler vote because she's a woman," She stated, "Oh no you don't,she said, you'll let me vote because I am a citizen and a tax payer and because you can't stop me."
  Dr. Wheeler is a life member of the Sorosis Club and the Lakeland Business and Professional Women's Club, She is a member of First Baptist Church.
  In 1912- 1913, Dr.Wheeler served as president of the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. She as attended the State Osteopathic Conventions annually. Dr. Wheeler's recient fall was the result of her attempt to show friends how well she could get around without assistance, so she could go to this years convention.
  Dr. Wheeler stated she did not have any advice for the younger generation because, as she said," They wouldn't take it."

return to Polk Professional Index

return to Polk County Home
2011 by Peggy McSwain