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Marshall Pinckney Wilder
 Marshall Pinckney Wilder, 1798-1886.

From American Series of Popular Biographies. Massachusetts Edition. This Volume Contains Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston: Graves & Steinbarger, 1891.


HON. MARSHALL PINCKNEY WILDER, Ph.D., LL.D., merchant and public-spirited citizen, at the time of his death, December 16, 1886, president of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, president of the American Pomological Society, and senior member of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, was a native of Rindge, N.H. Born September 22, 1798, son of Samuel Locke and Anna (Sherman) Wilder, he was a grandson of Captain Ephraim and Lucretia (Locke) Wilder, and was of the seventh generation in descent from Thomas Wilder, of Charlestown, Mass., 1640, who was one of the early settlers of Lancaster, Mass., 1654. The line was: Thomas; Lieutenant Nathaniel, who was killed by the Indians in 1704; Ephraim; Ephraim, who married Anne Wilder; Captain Ephraim, whose wife Lucretia, was the daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Richardson) Locke and sister of Samuel Locke, D.D., president of Harvard College; Samuel Locke; and Marshall Pinckney, named for the noted Federalists, John Marshall and Charles C. Pinckney.

From Sterling, Mass., formerly a part of Lancaster, Samuel Locke Wilder in 1794 removed to Rindge, N.H., where he engaged in mercantile business, and in 1797 married Anna Sherwin, daughter of Jonathan Sherwin, a native of Boxford, Mass., and his wife, Mary Crombie, a native of Methuen, Mass.

Marshall P. Wilder received his early education in the district school, at the New Ipswich (N.H.) Academy, and under a private tutor, the Rev. Joseph Brown. At the age of sixteen, choice being given him, he turned his attention to farm work in preference to a college course or employment behind the counter. Before very long his father needed his help in the store, and thus began his practical training for the mercantile career in which he acquired the wealth that enabled him to do so much for the pubic good. That in after years he but worked out the plan that pleased his childish thought may be judged from his own words: "I think I can truly say that, from the day my sainted mother took me into the garden to help dress and to keep it, I have never seen the time when I did not love the cultivation of the soil." At twenty-one he was in business with his father. In 1825 he established himself in Boston as a wholesale dealer in West India goods, being one of the firm of Wilder & Payson. Later on he was in the commercial house of Parker, Blanchard & Wilder, eventually Park, Wilder & Co., Winthrop Square.

Inheriting the military spirit of his ancestors who saw service in the Indian wars, he rose to the rank of Colonel in the New Hampshire militia, and in 1856 was Captain of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.

Mr. Wilder was an enthusiastic Mason; a member of Charity Lodge, No. 18, of Troy, N.H.; of Cheshire R.A. Chapter, No. 4; of Boston Commandery, K.T.; and was advanced through all the degrees, being created a Sovereign Grand Instructor General of the thirty-third degree, and made an honorary member of the Supreme Council. He was Representative from Dorchester in the State Legislature in 1839, a member of the Governor's Council in 1849, and president of the State Senate, 1850. A warm admirer of Daniel Webster whom he styled "New England's greatest son," he voted the Bell and Everett ticket in 1860, and firmly supported the Union during the Civil War. He attended the Second Congregational Church in Dorchester, where he bought a country-seat and took up his residence in 1832. Dartmouth College conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1877, and Roanoke that of Doctor of Laws in 1884.

For eight years (1840-47) he was president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, for twenty years president of the Norfolk Agricultural Society, six years president of the United States Agricultural Society, and, from its organization in 1848, president of the American Pomological Society. In behalf of these organizations and the interests to which they were devoted his labors were abundant and fruitful. He was largely influential in the embellishment of Mount Auburn, also in the founding of the Institute of Technology and the Natural History Rooms in Boston. Of the New England Historic Genealogical Society he was president from the date of his first election in 1868 to the close of his earthly life, almost the last act of which was the writing of his annual address for the meeting of January, 1887, published in the Register of that year.

Systematic in the use of his time, it has been said of Mr. Wilder that he gave all his leisure to agricultural and horticultural pursuits, sparing no expense and resting from no labors to instil into the public mind a taste for such employments. Most famous was he as a pomologist, importing fruit-trees from England, France, Belgium, Germany, and exhibiting for inspection at Horticultural Hall from his own orchards as many as four hundred and four varieties of pears at once. The banquet tendered to him on his birthday in September, 1883, has been spoken of as the crowning occasion of Mr. Wilder's long and successful career. Said Robert C. Winthrop, "He deserves grateful remembrance as long as a fine pear is relished or a brilliant bouquet admired."

As president of the Genealogical Society "he infused new vigor into every department of his work, and communicated his enthusiasm to the other officers and members. He did not spare himself in the expenditure of time and strength and money in its behalf." Said Dr. Peabody, his eulogist: "we cannot but admire the diligence and breadth of his self-culture ... He was ambitious, but his ambition was to be useful He was generous; but, what was far greater praise, his liberal gifts were from what was rightfully his own, the proceeds of faithful industry and honest enterprise." Mr. John Ward Dean, in the Bay State Monthly for January, 1884, speaking of him by his military title, Colonel Wilder being then living, said: "Few gentlemen have been called upon so often and upon such various occasions to take the chair at public meetings or preside over constituted societies. Few have acquitted themselves so happily, whether dignity of presence, amenity of address, fluency of speech, or despatch of business be taken into consideration. His personal influence has been able to magnetize a half-dying body into new and active life. No one can approach him in doubt, in despondency, or in embarrassment, and leave him without a higher hope and stronger courage and manlier faith in himself."

The Memoirs in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1867 and 1888), hence most of the foregoing facts are derived, are enriched by notable utterances culled from Mr. Wilder's numerous public addresses.

The following is from the posthumous address above mentioned: "Democracy ought highly to estimate the purpose and the province of genealogy; for the range of the subject at once shows us that we must no longer confine our interest in humanity to the great ones of the earth, to princes, and nobles. Genealogy with us knows no distinction between the great and the small. It recognizes simply the lineage of families limited by natural descent." Naturally progressive, he welcomed, as a new branch of the study, heredity, whose aim is to trace, through families, the transmission through continuous generations, or by recurrence of alternating generations, physical, mental, and moral traits and qualities."

It was his wish to be remembered as one who labored to adorn and improve the earth, to promote the pleasure and welfare of those who were to follow him. "Biography," he write, "is the school-master of all time--the past, present, and future. We are pupils of the past and teachers of the future, so the examples and principles which have influenced the world for good will be handed down from generation to generation."

Mr. Wilder was three times married, and was the father of fourteen children. His first wife, Tryphosa Jewett, daughter of Stephen Jewett, of Rindge, and sister of Ezekiel Jewett, who served as Lieutenant under Scott at Lundy's Lane and as Colonel of cavalry in Chili's war for independence, also curator of State Museum , Albany, N.Y., geologist, conchologist, and numismatist (see Stearns's History of Rindge, N.H.), died in 1831; and he married in August, 1833, Abigail, daughter of Captain David Baker, of Franklin, Mass. She died at Aiken, S.C., in 1854; and he married in 1855 her sister, Julia. His surviving children are: Nancy Jewett, born February 19, 1825; William Henry, born March 17, 1836; Jemima Richardson, born June 30, 1845; Grace Sherwin, born April 23, 1851; and Edward Baker, born November 17, 1857. Nancy J., the eldest of the five, married, the Rev. Andrew Bigelow, D.D., of Boylston. He died in 1882 in Southboro, Mass., where his widow now resides. The Misses Jemima R. And Grace S. Wilder, the two younger daughters, reside at the Wilder homestead in Dorchester, which was first settled in 1832.

Captain David Baker, father of Abigail and Julia, was born in Franklin, June 5, 1782, and died there October 11, 1861. He was son of Abijah and Esther (Parker) Baker, and was of the sixth generation in descent from Richard Baker, who came to this country in 1635, the line being: Richard, John, Abijah, Abijah, Abijah, David. John was christened April 30, 1643. Abijah, born in Dorchester in 1690 married Hannah Lyon. Abijah, born in 1178 in Medfield, married in 1742 Esther Hill. Abijah, born August 11, 1749, died April 20, 1824. He married first, in 1775, Esther Parker of Watertown. She died May 12, 1795, aged forty-one years; and he married April 17, 1798, Phebe Boyden, of Wrentham, Mass., who died November 19, 1821. He was soldier of the Revolution.

Captain David Baker inherited and occupied the family homestead in Franklin. He held various civil or military offices. He married first, at Franklin, November 29, 1804, Jemima Richardson. She died July 26, 1845. He married September 15, 1846, Lucy Fairbanks of Holliston.

William Henry Wilder, son of Marshall P. And Abigail (Baker) wilder, is a resident of Brookline, and for many years was a member of the firm of Parker, Wilder & Co., He married Hannah Wallace. They have five children--Alice, Lizzie, William H., Jr., Hannah Wallace, and Josephine Hall.

Edward Baker Wilder, of Dorchester, only surviving child of Marshall P. And Julia (Baker) Wilder, married September 16, 1891, Mabel E. Wheeler, of Salmon Falls, N.H., daughter of Ezra H. and Amanda H. (Rowe) Wheeler, and has three children--Edward Wheeler, Mildred Mabel, and Richard Baker.

Mr. Edward B. Wilder is a life member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the American Pomological Society.

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Created: December 1, 2004   Modified: December 1, 2004