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Jacob Francis Wheaton

Jacob Francis Wheaton was born a free Black man on Valentine's Day 1835. Active in the freedom movement, Wheaton's home in Hagerstown, Maryland, was the last stop on the Underground Railroad before entering Pennsylvania. He worked as a nurse during and after the Civil War and in 1863 is credited with helping stop the surge of smallpox that was running rampant through the Black community. Wheaton was the first African American to cast his vote in Maryland after the Civil War in the election for mayor of Hagerstown in the spring of 1868 and according to his obituary, he never missed an opportunity to cast his vote until his death. He was the first Black man to sit on a petit jury in Washington County. He was the first Black man to serve as a bailiff in Washington County. And Wheaton helped establish North Street School in 1888, which would provide a high school education in Hagerstown for “colored” children.


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