February 2006 - The Calvin Robert Wilders of Maine – infomation gathered by his wife Elizabeth Egerton Wilder (aka Betty) from the following sources:
Bowman’s Ancestral Charts provided by Winona (Nona) Wilder Roberts cousin of Cal. This chart was prepared for Nona by Professor Wilder of Bowdoin College in 1979.
Book of the Wilders by Rev. Moses H. Wilder, 1875.
Chapbook of the Wilders from the Wilder Farmstead Museum of the Salmon Brook Historical Society of Washburn, late 1980’s.
Anecdotal information from the 20th Century family - Wilders.
Although not all the information lines up, the general gist of the history runs through all the sources. This information follows one line of the family tree as follows:
Thomas and Martha Wilder of Shiplake House, Sulham Estate, Berks County.England
To: Edward Wilder – immigrant to the Colonies c. 1635 b. 1623
To: Jabez Wilder b. 1658 Hingham, MA
To: Theophilus Wilder b. 1710 Hingham, MA
To: Theophilus Wilder b. 1740 Hingham, MA -Capt. Revolutionary War*
To: Theophilus Wilder b. 1766 Pembroke, ME
To: Robert Wilder b. 1802 -brother of Isaac-1st Washburn resident
To: Robert Waterman Wilder b. 1830 Pembroke, ME
To: Bela Lewis Wilder b. 1869 Washburn, ME
To: Robert Waterman Wilder b. 1900 Washburn, ME
To: Calvin Robert Wilder b. 1932 Gardiner, ME
To: Robert Charles Wilder b. 1960 Augusta, ME
Scott Calvin Wilder b. 1962 Augusta, ME
Cheryl Anne Wilder b. 1964 Portland, ME
Note – Maine did not become a state until 1820 – prior to that it was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The first Wilder recorded in history was Nicholas, a military chieftain , in the army of the Earl of Richmond at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. It is believed that he came originally from Germany and joined the Earl of Richmond in France and landed in England during the battle at Milford Haven. In 1497, King Henry the 7th gave to Nicholas a token of his favor – a landed estate (Sulham) with a coat of arms. From that time to 1777, the family was born at Shiplake House – the family residence. In 1777 Henry Wilder, the heir of Sulham and the Rector of Sulham Parish, sold Shiplake and moved the family to Purley
Hall, a palatial residence. The Wilders still reside at Purley Hall and some US family members have visited the residence in Southern England. (Note: The Egerton estate is Tatton Hall in Knutsford in Northern England and the family also is tied to Henry the 7th). Shiplake House was deeded to John (Nicholas’son) in 1525. The 4th inheritor was Thomas until his death in 1634.
As was the custom of the time, when Thomas died, his widow Martha Biggs Wilder sold Shiplake House, presumably to her eldest son John who was the heir of Sulham. It is believed she sent her children - Thomas, Elizabeth and Edward to the new colonies to protect them from religious persecution as they feared the return of the Papacy. Many at the time left for New England where they would be free to worship in their simple way even though the new land would be a great adjustment to their once luxurious lives. Once her affairs were in order, Martha and her daughter Mary left Southampton in 1638 aboard the ship Confidence. She landed in Hingham where records show the town made grants of land to Martha and Edward. It is also noted in the Wilder Chapbook from the Washburn Museum that Edward was granted land in Hingham following his service in King Philip’s War. Edward lived with his mother until she died in 1652.
1. Edward1, the ancestor of all who have borne this surname in Hing. and vicinity, had his first grant of land here, containing ten acres, the 8th of Oct. 1637, "in a place as convenient as can be discovered." He subsequently received other grants from the town, including a track situated next to that given to his mother, the wid. Martha Wilder,* in 1638, which was located at or near the junction of main and Pleasant Sts., and inc. the est. now owned by heirs of Fearing Loring, deceased. He also owned all the land between Tower's Bridge and Wilder's Bridge, and, without doubt, was one of the earlier planters of this locality. His w., whom he prob. m. ab. 1650, was Elizabeth, dau. of Anthony Eames, Senr, of Mf'd. She outlived him, and d. 9 June, 1692. He d. intestate 18 Oct. 1690, having been stricken suddenly with malignant fever. Elizabeth, his wid., and s. Jabez were appointed adm's. "Farmer." Freeman 29 May, 1644, and in 1667 selectman. Dec. 1, 1675, he was one of the sixteen "Hingham soldiers impressed into the country service." at the outbreak of Philip's War. He resided on Main, between High and Friend Sts., on the est. purchased of Samuel Ward.
Thomas Wilder became quite prosperous and was made a freeman* in Charlestown in 1651. He moved his family to Nashawena (now Lancaster) where he was a town leader until his death in 1667. Mary married a man in Plymouth. In 1639 Elizabeth Wilder married Thomas Ensign of Scituate and they settled in Duxbury. Edward settled in Hingham and as a good Christian took his freeman’s* oath as soon as he turned 21. There is much information on the ancestors of the Wilders through 1875 in The Book of
the Wilders but for our family we will follow a direct line from Edward Wilder, the immigrant to Calvin Robert Wilder as of this date.
*freeman – at first I thought this could be a freemason but I found a definition
in Merriam-Webster that states “one having the full rights of a citizen” which
makes a lot of sense as they were immigrants.
The immigrant Edward Wilder married Elizabeth Eames in 1652. (I noted that he married the year his mother died.)
One of his sons, Jabez Wilder was a farmer in Hingham. He was born in 1658 and married Mary Ford of Marshfield.
A son of Jabez, Theophilus Wilder(1) was also a farmer in Hingham and married Mary Hersey in 1732.
Their son Theophilus (2) was born in 1740 in Hingham. He married Lydia Cushing in 1762. He was constable there in 1768 and also served as Captain of the Hingham Company in the Revolutionary War. He was present at Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered. After the war he moved his family to Perry, Maine. Among his sons was
Bela Wilder (brother to Theophilus (3)) born in 1776 who married Hannah Lewis. They in turn had sons named Bela and Lewis.
Our line continues in Maine from Theophilus (3) who was born in Hingham in 1766 and died in Pembroke, Maine in 1836. His first wife Mary Bridges died in 1801. They had no children. His second wife was Hannah Waterman Lewis, daughter of Theodore French and Mehitable Lewis. They were farmers in the Pembroke area in Maine – some records show them in Perry – the two towns are adjacent with Perry being just a bit closer to the coastline. They had 12 children including Robert born July 14, 1802 and Isaac born Feb.10, 1813.
At the end of the War for Independence, The Treaty of Paris(1793) vaguely defined the northeastern boundary of the United States. Lumbermen from both Maine and New Brunswick, Canada would go up the Aroostook River to cut pine along the banks. As the population grew in northern Maine, there was confusion as to whether this land belonged to Maine or New Brunswick (a British Dominion once the French were forced from Acadia). By the 1830’s problems developed between rival gangs of lumberjacks and one American was seized by the Canadians. This caused friction with Britain. Maine raised forces to prepare to fight “The Aroostook War” but the sides were persuaded to submit the measure to a commission. In 1842, Sec.of State Daniel Webster met with the British Foreign Minister, Baron Ashburton and the matter was resolved in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty establishing the northern boundary of Maine.
Prior to the Treaty, both Canada and Maine built up troop numbers for the “The Aroostook War” (aka Pork and Beans War, Lumberman’s War and Northeastern
Boundary Dispute). U.S. infantry was sent from the Hancock Barracks in Houlton to Fort Fairfield. There Isaac Wilder worked on the new barracks. Once the Treaty was signed in 1842, the area was opened for settlements and Isaac was in the area. It is said that Isaac “chopped his way” up the Aroostook River and built a saw mill on the falls of Salmon Brook. Others had taken up land further downstream so Isaac became the first resident of the new village. In 1843 he persuaded his brother Robert to move his family to Salmon Brook from Perry. A handful of other families came with them. With Robert came his sons Benjamin Cushing Wilder and Robert Waterman Wilder. This small band of settlers plus Canadians who had already settled along the Aroostook organized as the Salmon Brook Plantation in 1851.
When Robert arrived in Salmon Brook, he decided to take up two lots numbered 4 and 5.
Subsequently Benjamin acquired #5 and Robert Waterman #4. These were in the center of the village. Benjamin became the first official Postmaster and bartered with shaved shingles to pick up household items and supplies for his store (as did his Uncle Isaac before him). His house at lot #5 is now the Salmon Brook Plantation Museum in Washburn. (Personal note: When Cal and I visited the Wilder Museum we found a rafter in part of the attic that was marked Isaac in pencil. We know that Isaac provided the wood and helped build the house.)
In 1861, Salmon Brook plantation incorporated into the “city” of Washburn. (They named the town after Maine Governor Washburn).
Robert Waterman became a successful a potato farmer. In 1856 he married Amanda Julia Brown who was born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1832. They had 7 children one of whom was Bela Lewis Wilder (Cal’s grandfather) who was born Dec. 28, 1869 in Washburn.
Bela Lewis worked the potato farm in Washburn and married Myrtle Tozier of New Brunswick. They had 5 sons – Clifford, Robert (Cal’s father), Stanley, Harvey and Carelton. The farm was large and we have been told that it ran on the right side of Main Street as you entered Washburn from the south (Presque Isle) nearly to where the museum is now. That makes sense as the museum is the Benjamin Cushing household on lot #5 so the land for lot #4 would have been Robert Waterman’s land coming into the village. There are about 5 houselots on that land on Main St. now. The farm was very prosperous and “the potato fields ran right up to the back of the houses”. If you go to Washburn the new High School is on a large field behind the museum. This could have been part of it as well as land to the south. The story goes that his father Robert Waterman Wilder told Bela that if he named his son Robert Waterman that his son would inherit the farm. Bela did so but the promise never came about. By the way, Cal’s Dad hated the middle name Waterman. Around 1920, The Bela Lewis Wilder family left Washburn and bought a farm in South Gardiner. We have not found out why but here we take a guess that when Cal’s Dad did not get the farm, there was some kind of break in the Wilder clan in Washburn. We think this because, until I started digging for the material for this narrative, Cal did not know his father had any uncles or aunts. It turns out he had 4 uncles and 2 aunts. They were never mentioned. The only family member
his father ever mentioned from Washburn was a cousin named Carroll Wilder. This gave me at least a clue that there had to be one uncle.
We since have been in touch with Caroline Wilder Kelley of Caribou. She is the daughter of Carroll and the granddaughter of Vernon – one of Bela Lewis’s brothers.
She is 86 years old and we hope some day soon we can meet her and perhaps fill in some of the missing parts of the Washburn story.;
Robert Waterman Wilder, son of Bela Lewis and Myrtle was born in Washburn in 1900. We know he went through the Washburn school system and Aroostook Normal School in Presque Isle (now the University of Maine, Presque Isle). When his parents
moved the family to South Gardiner, they bought a farm on the River Rd. which was next door to the Reynolds farm. Here is where he met the young school marm – Bertha Ellen Reynolds who was born in South Gardiner in 1899. They were married in Gardiner July 7, 1926 and settled into a home by the Kennebec River near the Riverside Congregational Church in South Gardiner. Bob was known as a great jokester and no matter where he went, folks knew him. In 1932, Calvin Robert Wilder was born. When he was 12, they bought the “old homestead” on Bartlett Street overlooking the Kennebec for $1200. For 15 years Robert (Bob) was a car salesman in Augusta, Maine selling Pontiacs. During this time Bertha went back to work as a teacher at the grammar school in South Gardiner. During WWII, Robert (Bob to everyone except Bertha) worked at the Bath Iron Works. That was quite a daily drive but he would pack his car up with men from the neighborhood and follow the winding roads to Bath. One story is that he had a 1928 2 door Studebaker sedan and to get more folks in, he took the bucket seats out and put in a bench seat in the front and the men climbed over the seat to get into the back.
After the war, he went to work as Chief Engineer of Maintenance at the Augusta General Hospital where he had a heart attack in 1952. Because of his health, he worked briefly as a salesman at Clark Buick in Gardiner and passed away at home May 25, 1953. Bertha lived until she was 96 and passed Oct. 2, 1996.
Calvin Robert Wilder married Elizabeth Anne Egerton Sept. 19, 1959 in West Chelmsford, MA. They settled in Augusta and then South Gardiner, Maine. Their sons Robert and Scott were born in Augusta in 1960 and 1962 and daughter Cheryl was born in Portland, Maine in 1964. We will continue their story at another time.
Betty and Cal still meet with Roger and Nancy Wilder and Martha Barron for dinner . Roger is Stanley Wilder’s son and Martha is Harvey’s granddaughter. Also we have met Pat Celorier at church. She plays bells with Betty and they realized that her great great grandfather is Cal’s great grandfather (Robert Waterman Wilder). Her great grandfather Lincoln Alonzo was one of the brothers we never knew Bela Lewis had. Also until I noticed it on the grave marker, Cal never his grandfather’s name was Bela. He always heard Myrtle call him Lewis.