Wilders connected to many families in SV area

Taken in 1910, this photo shows Electa Hutchinson Wilder and her family. In front are Electa and her granddaughter, Melba Stevens, and daughter, Bernice Wilder. In back are Clyde, Mae and Ray Hutchinson.
By : 
Mary Jo Dathe
Glimpses of Yesteryear

In June of 1994, Sharon Jahn wrote stories of the Wilders being connected to other families in the Spring Valley area.  We are repeating at least one of those as follows:

In the June 8 issue of the Spring Valley Tribune, readers learned about the connection of R.G. (Royal) Wilder as peddler and a merchant to our community.  Royal's family was also a part of life here in Spring Valley, and the Wilders became connected to other families in our area. 

James and Angelina Wilder must have been pleased when their son, Royal, moved back to Spring Valley in December of 1891 after living in DeSmet, South Dakota.  Royal's brother, Almanzo, and wife, Laura Ingalls, with little Rose had left two months before for Florida after living with James and Angelina for over a year.  Almanzo had two sisters in Florida and he hoped the climate there might be better for his health.

Almanzo's sister, Alice, had married A.A. Baldwin at the Methodist Episcopal Church on Sept. 29, 1878.  This Sunday evening ceremony might well have been the first wedding in the newly completed brick church (now a museum), which had its dedication service on Aug. 16 of that year.  By 1891 the Baldwins were living in Florida and Angelina Wilder and her youngest son, Perley, were to spend the winter of 1891-92 in Florida.  In February of 1892 Alice died after a lengthy illness, the first death in the James Wilder family.

Almanzo's oldest sister, Laura, was living with the Baldwin family in 1891, probably because of Alice's illness.  Laura had also married at Spring Valley in 1874, to Harrison Lamanzo Howard, uncle of Frank Howard.  The Maxine Ronken, John Howard, Alice Paulson, and Laura Krahn families are all descendants of Frank Howard still living in our area (remember, this is 1994).   Laura and H. Lamanzo had four children, and two of the children, Angelina and Waldo were living with their Wilder grandparents while Laura was in Florida from 1891 to 1893.

The third Wilder sister, Eliza Jane, was working in 1891 for the Department of the Interior at Washington, D.C.  She had taught school in Spring Valley in the 1870s after which she had taken a homestead along with her brothers at DeSmet.  In 1891 Eliza Jane had not married, was 41 years old, and proud to call herself a successful career woman.

Because most of the Wilder children had left Spring Valley, James and Angelina were indeed grateful to have Royal again living near them.  Royal had little interest in farming, so did not intend to take over his parents' farm but he was eager to establish a variety store on Broadway.  He never had a large business, but was considered a successful businessman and an eligible bachelor at age 45.  The Mercury of May 18, 1893, reported that "R.G. Wilder's Novelty Store must be prospering as he was observed this morning coming down the street wearing a new silk hat."

The spring of 1893 brought other changes in the Wilder family.  Laura Wilder Howard returned from Florida in July, stopping to see her sister Eliza Jane in Washington, D.C., and then visiting the World's Fair at Chicago on her way home.  Eliza Jane followed Laura to Spring Valley coming for the 50th anniversary of her parents on Aug. 7.  The celebration was held on the Wilder farm a mile west of town with 150 guests attending, according to the Mercury on Aug. 10.  One of these guests was probably an old family friend going back to their days in New York, Thomas Jefferson Thayer.  Thayer was twice widowed with six children from the two marriages and now at age 61 was living at Crowley, Louisiana, after being a successful merchant in Spring Valley for many years.  Frank Cornwell, who spent his whole life in Spring Valley, was a grandson of T.J. Thayer.

On Sept. 6, a month after the golden anniversary, the Wilders' farm hosted another special event with the marriage of T.J. Thayer to the "career woman" in the Wilder family.  Eliza Jane never returned to her job in Washington, but as Mrs. Thayer, made her home at Crowley, where a son was born in 1894.

This column continues next week with the story of the Wilders, Royal and his family, and so on.  We trust that Sharon will not object to her covering the saga of the Wilder family.