|This information is courtesy of the Book of Wilders written by Moses Wilder.|
|We find no record of when or how Thomas Wilder came to America. Originally it was thought that Thomas Wilder was brother to Edward and Elizabeth Wilder, immigrants from Sulham, England. Recent efforts by a dedicated group of Wilders determined through DNA testing, that there are 2 tribes of Wilders. Thomas of Charleston, MA and his descendants identified as a separate family group. Very exciting news as these same dedicated Wilders are now on a journey to identifying from where in England Thomas came. For more information on the details of the Family DNA project, and the Wilders that coordinated these efforts, read “DNA Solves A Wilder Ancestral Enigma” ,written by Donald F. Hansen and Michael F. Hansen, and published in American Ancestors Magazine. (If you are one of our Wilder cousins in England and wish to participate in ongoing DNA testing, please contact us and we'll put you in touch with Don and Michael.)|
In the old Book of the Wilders, Rev. Moses H. Wilder relates that "It was a time of bitter persecution in England. Charles I had alienated the best of his subjects by enforcing religious conformity and great numbers fled from the star chamber, the administrations of Laud and the fear of a return to Papacy, to the new colonies in New England and with the multitudes, it was not difficult for this family to be provided for."
Not knowing the official immigration date, we are clear that on March 30, 1640, Thomas was received into the church at Charlestown, MA, and was married there two days later. He was made a freeman there June 2, 1641. In 1659, he moved about forty miles westward to an area eight by ten miles which had been purchased from the native americans to form the community first called Nashawa or Nashawena for the river on which it was located. He was supposed to have been forty years old then, from which Rev. Moses H. Wilder figured his birth to have been in 1618. His farm of 500 acres was near and easterly from the present town of Lancaster, as marked by the burial ground on his old farm in which he was the first one buried. His stone which was placed there much later and contains errors says that he first settled 1641 in Hingham, MA. Rev. Wilder found indications in the old records that, "He was a substantial, capable man, respected in the community, an active member of the church, a thorough Puritan, jealous of the rights of the brotherhood and willing to resist the encroachments of the ministry, as he estimated them. He was a selectman in Lancaster from 1660 until his death. His widow Anna and son Thomas were executors of his estate, according to his will which is printed in "The Stevens Miller Ancestry". He married April 1, 1640 at Charlestown, MA to Anna Eames+, who died June 10. 1692.
On a recent visit to Massachusetts, cousin Carol McPhail found and recorded the writing on a newly engraved slate headstone, located in the Old Common Burial Ground in Lancaster, Mass. The headstone states... "Sacred to the memory of Thomas Wilder from Lancaster England who first settled at Hingham in 1641, & came to this town July 1, 1659 & died Oct. 23, 1667 leaving three sons viz. Thomas, John & Nathaniel from whom are derived all of the name of Wilder in this town and vicinity." *
*Note that whoever erected the cenotaph erred in claiming that Thomas first settled in Hingham. There is no record that Thomas ever set foot in Hingham, and now that we know that the two branches of Wilders are not related, it highly unlikely that he ever did. The claim that Thomas came from Lancaster England is further suspect and believed to be an embellishment by the person who erected the stone.
Thomas Wilder and Anna Eames' children:
+Clemens, Marriage Records Before 1699, 1926 and Genealogy Magazine, July 1930. However, she was not the daughter of Anthony and Margery Eames, as that Anna Eames married William Ford and lived with him to an old age. Some say Thomas married Anna Johnson of Boston, a sister to Elizabeth who's husband Robert Mears, in his will, called Thomas Wilder of Lancacter his brother.
Wilder Family LineNathaniel Wilder, Son of Thomas
We now follow Thomas' youngest son Nathaniel Wilder. He was born November 3, 1655 and died July 31, 1704 at Lancaster, MA at the age of 54.
Nathaniel Wilder married Mary Sawyer, daughter of Thomas Sawyer and Mary Prescott. They were married in either November or January 24, 1673. Mary Sawyer was born January 4, 1653.
Nathaniel and Mary's children:
The following is quoted from Moses H. Wilder's "Book of Wilders".
Nathaniel Wilder, son of Nathaniel and grandson of Thomas
Nathaniel and Damaris' children:
According to the "Book of Wilders", Nathaniel was one of the first signers of the Petersham Church roll in 1738. In 1743, he was a farmer of the west part of Lancaster, now Sterling, where he bought a large tract of land. A further description of the character of Nathaniel can be found in the book “The Wilder Connection”, by Donald R. Davis M.D, of which an expert is listed below.
“He was a man of great force and character, never failing in an enterprise because of its difficulty, and did much to give strength and character to the new town. It is said of him as a kind of tradition in the family, that when over seventy-two years of age, he took a horseback journey, and put up for the night in a tavern where he was accustomed to stop. On retiring for the night, the landlord told him he must not go to the barn in the morning, as he was in the habit of doing, until he was with him, for there was a furious bull in the yard, and his life would be in danger. He had always cared for his horse, and he was not baffled. He took his whip and, booted and spurred, he went into the yard, when, true to his nature, the bull came after him. He stepped aside, and as he passed, he sprang upon the back of the enraged animal, and with spur and whip, he rode him around the yard until he (the bull) was unable to go any further.”
Note: That this is NOT the oldest son of Nathaniel Wilder and Mary Sawyer. The oldest Nathaniel died at the age of four. This Nathaniel is his younger brother, who is not in the old edition of the Book of Wilders. This Nathaniel married the same woman, fathered the twelve children and did all the other things attributed to his older brother.
Elias Wilder, youngest son of Nathaniel, grandson of Nathaniel and great grandson of Thomas
Elias Wilder married Abigail Rice, daughter of Ephriam Rice and Sarah Whitney. Abigail was born on March 28, 1732 at Sudbury, MA. At some point her father Ephriam Rice Sr. moved his family from Sudbury to Petersham, where she met and married Elias.
We do not know exactly when Elias and Abigail moved their family to Vermont. It seems the Wilders were traveling back and forth between Petersham, MA and Brattleboro VT, for several years before finally settling in Vermont.
We believe it is most likely that Elias Wilder, his wife Abigail Rice, relocated their family to an area in Vermont close to Abigail's brother "Deacon" Amos Rice. Amos Rice had relocated his family there and would have been supportive of the family as they started farming in a new area.
In reviewing Dummerston Vermont historical information and the well documented Edmund Rice Family Web site, it is clear that many Rice families living in the Dummerston, VT area, were the children of Deacon Amos Rice, and therefore nephews to Abigail Rice-Wilder. In fact, well known Dummerston resident Ephraim Rice, was son to Deacon Amos Rice and nephew to Abigail Rice-Wilder. He farmed close to the Wilders and purchased land previously owned by the Dutton's,*** land on which Elias and his family were known to have resided on.
Birth information on Elias and Abigail's daughter Sarah, puts the family in Brattleboro, VT in 1763. Vermont land records provide the first official verification of their presence as 1770: "June 27, 1770, Elias Wilder bought lot, No. 47, from Benjamin Gould of Brattleboro."***
Elias' death date and final resting place are unknown. Abigail Rice-Wilder died June 20, 1793 in Dummerston, VT at the age of 60 years and 3 months. She is buried in Locust Ridge Cemetery, Brattleboro, VT.
Elias and Abigail's children:
Note: Mrs. Olive (Wilder) Waterman, in 1875 wrote the author of the old Wilder book, that "her father's name was Charles and that he had brothers, Charles, Joshua and Aaron, and that her brother Charles lived in Brattleboro, VT."
Elias Wilder Jr., Son of Elias and Abigail
No reference to his life were found until recently when when family uncovered his will which includes an inventory of his real and personal estate. Contents reflected a man of good standing and some wealth. The will mentiones Elias' wife Dolly, sons Elias, Samuel, Artemas and James, and daughters Dolly and Susanna. Elias had been a good father, advancing his son's money to build their own homes and ample dowrys for his daughters. We had a chance to see the location of the farm during a recent visit to Dummerston. A beautiful spot. It must have been a lovely farm and difficult for the family to overcome the loss. During our visit we stopped at the Dummerston graveyard and saw Elias' headstone, on which was a lovely epithet. (photo and quote coming soon).
Elias married Dolly (last name unknown). It is recorded that Elias and Dolly had 11 children.
Artemas Wilder, Son of Elias
Artemas and Dolly Crowninshield's children:
Artemas borrowed money from his father Elias Jr. to build a home for his bride. He no doubt was taking up farming in Dummerston, as his father and grandfather before him. The year brought the blessings of twin sons, James and Elias. But the joy would be short lived as the same year Artemas would loose his father and be asked to pay back the money borrowed to build his home.
Elias Wilder, Son of Artemas and California Emigrant
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Acknowledgements and Copyright
Copyright, all rights reserved, 2011, Wilder Families Web Site.
*This information reproduced by permission of the "Revised" Book of the Wilders, originally writen by Moses Hale Wilder, revision compiled by Edwin M. Wilder M.D. Sacramento, CA. third printing 1998, and authorization for reproduction on this site given by Justin E. Wilder. Wilder Families of the West Coast is independently run by members of the Wilder Family.
**Copy of the marriage certificate for Artemas Wilder and Dolly Crowninshield courtesy of the Dummerston, Vermont Town Hall, and Kim Buck.
***DUMMERSTON,BY DAVID LUFKIN MANSFIELD: Referenced online at: http://www.rootsweb.com/~vtwindha/vhg5/dummerston.htm
^Courtesy of Donald Dunn.