From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Wheeler, John Leonidas

(born: 1869  -  died: 1957) John L. Wheeler left teaching to become a leader within the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, the largest African American owned business in the U.S. He was an 1897 graduate of Wilberforce College [now Wilberforce University]; immediately after graduating, he became a faculty member at Kittrell College, where he would become a president of the school for four years. [Kittrell College was a Black College in North Carolina, 1886-1975. The location is now Kittrell Job Corps Center.]

In 1908, Wheeler left Kittrell College to accept a position with North Carolina Mutual, where he would become superintendent of the Raleigh District. Wheeler would later move to the records department in the Durham office. He also served as master of the Knights of Pythias while in Durham. He invested in real estate and owned property in North Carolina, Ohio, and New York. In 1913, Wheeler was named the North Carolina Mutual state agent for Georgia. In 1922, he was elected to the company's board of directors and in 1927 was named regional supervisor.

In 1930, Wheeler was insurance superintendent in Atlanta, GA, and would become assistant director of agents in charge of the southern region. In Atlanta, he was also a member of the NAACP, the Negro Business League, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Wheeler was born and raised in Nicholasville, KY, the son of Phoebe Wheeler, a former slave. He was the husband of Margaret Hervey (b. in 1880 in KY).

For more see John Leonidas Wheeler in History of the American Negro and His Institutions, 1917, edited by A. B. Caldwell [online at Google Books]; and in An Economic Detour, by M.S. Stuart [online at Google Books].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jessamine County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Nicholasville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Wheeler, John Leonidas,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 30, 2021,

Last modified: 2020-06-26 18:23:04