This information is courtesy of the Book of Wilders written by Moses Wilder.

Thomas Wilder, Founding Father

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:
Mary Wilder - born: Jun. 30, 1642
Thomas Wilder - born: Sept. 14, 1644
John Wilder - born: 1646
Elizabeth Wilder - born: 1648
Ebenezer Wilder - born: about 1651. Died: Oct. 23, 1667 (He is named in the will)
Nathaniel Wilder - born: Nov. 3, 1655

+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 Line

Nathaniel 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:
Nathaniel Wilder - born: 1675, Lancaster, MA. Died: May 19, 1679, Sudbury, MA
Ephraim Wilder - born: Apr. 16, 1677, Sudbury, MA
Mary Wilder - born: May 12, 1679, Sudbury, MA. Died: 1728
Elizabeth Wilder - born: Feb. 14, 1680-81, Sudbury, MA
Jonathan Wilder - born: Apr. 20, 1682
Dorothy Wilder - born: 1686, Sudbury, MA
Nathaniel Wilder - born: 1688, Sudbury, MA.
Eunice Wilder - born: 1690, Lancaster, MA. Died: May 15, 1778
Oliver Wilder - born: 1694, Sudbury, MA

The following is quoted from Moses H. Wilder's "Book of Wilders".
At the time of the Indian attacks upon their settlement, an Indian who had surrendered to the people was treacherously murdered by this young Nathaniel Wilder and Daniel Hoar, who were tried, condemned, and sentenced to be hung. In October 1676 they presented a memorial to the General Court, acknowledging the justice of their condemnation and asking for pardon. Their request was granted on condition that they should pay ten pounds each, one half to be given to the Indian who had prosecuted them, and also that they should pay the expenses of their imprisonment and trial. This was done and they were set at liberty. Nathaniel was a brave man, and active, useful citizen, and a Captain in the militia. This "Lieut. Nathaniel Wilder, youngest son of the first Thomas, was killed by the Indians near the gate of his garrison on the 10th day of August, 1704, early in the morning of the first onset. He was shot in the thigh, of which he died the same day. The Indians killed off his cattle, six oxen, five cows, three calves, sixteen sheep, twelve swine, and burnt his barn and twelve loads of good English hay." Records of Middlesex Court of Sessions say, " Nathaniel Wilder (1685 - 1704) and widow, Mary Wilder (1705 - 1707) are licensed inn holders and retailers of liquors."

Nathaniel Wilder, son of Nathaniel and grandson of Thomas
Nathaniel Wilder, the son of the above mentioned Nathaniel was born in 1688 in Sudbury, MA, and died June 9, 1775 at Petersham, MA, when he was 88 years old. He married Damris Whitcomb, daughter of Josiah Whitcomb and Rebecca Waters, on December 26, 1707 at Marlboro, MA (V.S.). Damaris was born in 1686 and died on December 3, 1772 at Petersham MA, when she was 86 years old, 6 months and 6 days.

Nathaniel and Damaris' children:
Nathaniel Wilder (twin) - born: Nov. 26, 1708, Lancaster, MA
Jonathan Wilder (twin) - born: Nov. 26, 1708, Lancaster, MA
Charles Wilder - born: Sept. 15, 1710
Joshua Wilder - born: Sept. 20, 1712, Lancaster, MA
Bezaleel Wilder - born: Nov. 24, 1714, Lancaster, MA
Aholiab Wilder - born: Feb. 5, 1717
Damaris Wilder - born: Jan. 1, 1720. Died: 1747
Jerahmeel Wilder - born: May 8, 1721 at Leominster, MA
Prudence Wilder - born: Jun. 24, 1722, West Lancaster, MA
Aaron Wilder - born: Aug. 25, 1723, Lancaster, MA
Samuel Wilder - born: Jan. 19, 1725. Died: May 9, 1725
Elias Wilder - born: Jan. 17, 1727, Lancaster, MA

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 was born on January 17, 1727 in the west part of Lancaster, MA. (later became Sterling) He moved with his father Nathaniel to Petersham, MA in 1743. His farm was near the boundary and they went to church in Templeton.

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:
Elias Wilder - born: 1751
Abigail Wilder - born: Nov. 28, 1755, Petersham, MA
Charles Wilder - born: Jun. 14, 1757, Petersham, MA
Sarah Wilder - born: Sep. 11, 1763, Brattleboro, Vermont. Died: Nov. 16, 1842 in Herkimer, Co., New York (Married Sep. 11, 1784 in Lancaster, Worsester, MA, to Nathaniel Willard - born: Jul. 04, 1765 in Lancaster MA)^
Charles Wilder - born: 1766 (Charles married Sara Spaulding on Oct. 27, 1782. Sara Spaulding - born: Jul. 19, 1763, daughter of Lt. Leonard and Margaret Spaulding)***
Joshua Wilder
Aaron Wilder

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
There is no historical note in the Book of Wilders on Elias, the oldest son of Elias and Abigail. I am hoping we can do a little research and fill in the blanks on the history of his life. Elias was born 1751, and died Jan. 14, 1808 at Dummerston, Vt. There is a note in the book which states "Res. Dummerston, Vt. on the Stephen Dutton Place, and references foot notes: V.S. Dummerston. "Ancient town and road records of Brattleboro, as well as V.S. Vermont Historical Society, Hemenway's Vermont Historical Gazetteer, and Mansfield's History of Dummerston.

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.
Dolly Wilder of Dummerston - born: Oct. 28, 1773, Dummerston, VT
Dolly married George Miller, son of Captain Vespasian Miller on Nov. 30 1801.***
Elias Wilder - born: Oct. 15, 1773, Dummerston, VT
Samuel Wilder - born: Feb. 22, 1775, Dummerston, VT
William Wilder - born: Mar. 30, 1780, Dummerston, VT
Artemas Wilder - born: May, 1782, Dummerston, VT. Died: Mar. 1783
Artemas Wilder - born: Apr. 20, 1784
James Wilder - born: Aug. 15, 1786, Dummerston, VT
Susanna Wilder - born: Jun. 15, 1789, Dummerston, VT.
Susanna married a Mr. Chamberlain
Lucy Wilder - born: Mar. 30, 1791, Dummerston, VT
Sally Wilder - born: May 3, 1794, Dummerston, VT
Abigail Wilder - born: Apr. 20, 1796, Dummerston, VT
Abigail married Solomon Lawton, brother to Asa Lawton***

Artemas Wilder, Son of Elias
Artemas Wilder was born April 20, 1784, and married "Dolly" Dorthy Doletha Crowninshield Dolly Crowninshield.of the famous Crowninshield family, on November 4, 1802 at Dummerston, Vt. They were married by Jason Duncan, J.P. This information footnotes reference "Mansfield's History of Dummerston, Vt. and V.S. Dummerston, Vt.

Artemas Wilder and Dolly Crowninshield Marriage Certificate. Copy reproduced here, courtesy of Kim Buck and the Dummerston, Vermont Town Hall.

Artemas and Dolly Crowninshield's children:
Chestmany(?) Wilder - born: Aug. 12, 1806
Alzadi Wilder - born: April 26, 1807
James Wilder (twin) - born: April 24, 1808, Dummerston, Vt.
Elias Wilder (twin) - born: April 24, 1808, Dummerston, Vt.
Artemas Wilder - born: June 19. 1810

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.
More challenges for the family would come soon. 1816 the New England area experienced deathly frost, killing many crops and leaving farmers and their families hungry. This came to be known as "the Poverty year". It is possible that this was when Artemas and Dolly lost their first two children, Chestmany and Alzadi, as we have no information on them, but are sure they passed on before the family left Dummerston, Vermont some time around 1826.

Elias Wilder, Son of Artemas and California Emigrant
Elias Wilder, his wife Turzah Fuller, and their children are the Wilders this site is dedicated to. They and their families traveled to California 1865 - 1875. For more information on Elias and Turzah visit the section of this site Elias Wilder's Family.

Contact Us | 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.
^Courtesy of Donald Dunn.