Marshall Pinckney Wilder, 1798-1886

No. 899 Marshall Pinckney Wilder

His books include:

Address at the American Pomological Society.

Address at the eighteenth session of the American Pomological Society : held in Boston, Mass., Sept. 14, 15, 16, 1881. (1881)

Address at the seventeenth session of the American Pomological Society, held in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 17, 18, 19, 1879.  (1879)

Address delivered at the Eighth Session of the American Pomological Society held in Philadelphia, Pa. Sept. 11, 12, & 13. (1860)

Address delivered at the eleventh session of the American Pomological Society : held in St. Louis, Sept. 11, 12, and 13, 1867.  (1868)

Address delivered at the semi-centennial anniversary of the Massachusetts horticultural society … (Boston, 1879)

Address delivered at the semi-centennial anniversary of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, September 12, 1879, (1879),

Address delivered at the thirteenth session of the American Pomological Society. (1871)

Address delivered before the Norfolk agricultural society, on the occasion of its first annual exhibition, at Dedham, Sept. 26, 1849. (1849)

Addresses and other papers. (1885)

California. (1871)

Fifth national exhibition by the United States Agricultural Society : to be held in the city of Louisville, August 31st, and September 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th, 1857 : Twelve thousand dollars offered in premiums. (1857)

Fourth national exhibition by the United States Agricultural Society : to be held in the city of Philadelphia, October 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th, 1856 : Fourteen thousand dollars offered in premiums. (1856)

An historical address delivered before the Massachusetts agricultural college, on the occasion of graduating its first class, July 19, 1871. (1871)

An historical address delivered before the Massachusetts Agricultural College : on the occasion of graduating its first class, July 19, 1871. / by Marshall P.  (1871)

History and progress of the Massachusetts State board of agriculture for the first quarter of a century, with a report on fruits. at the annual meeting, Feb. 5, 1878. (1878)

The horticulture of Boston and vicinity. (1881)

The importance, progress and influence of rural pursuits : a lecture delivered before the Massachusetts state board of agriculture, at Fitchburg, December 2, 1873 / by Marshall P. Wilder. (1874)

National exhibition of cattle : to be held by the United States Agricultural Society, at Springfield, Ohio : on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the 25th, 26th, and 27th days of October, 1854.  (1854),

The people I’ve smiled with: recollections of a merry little life, ([1889])

President’s address : first annual meeting of the United States Agricultural Society, February 2, 1853.  (1853)

Third national exhibition by the United States Agricultural Society : to be held in the city of Boston, October 23d, 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th, 1855. Ten thousand dollars offered in premiums. (1855)  also by United States Agricultural Society (page images

United States Agricultural Society : Fifth exhibition September 1857. ([Boston? : s.n., 1857?]),


The following is from

A merchant and amateur horticulturalist from Dorchester, Mass., Marshall P. Wilder was a key figure in American pomology during the mid-nineteenth century and an important supporter of agricultural education in Massachusetts. Born in Rindge, New Hampshire, on September 22, 1798, Wilder was presented at 16 with a choice of attending college, starting a farm, or working in the family store, and elected to farm. Following the death of an uncle two years later, however, he was called upon to join his father in their burgeoning wholesale business, remaining there until he set out for the larger markets of Boston in 1825. As senior partner in the firms of Wilder and Payson and Wilder and Smith, Wilder enjoyed considerable success within the city’s mercantile community. In 1837, he joined Isaac Parker and Abraham W. Blanchard in the commission dry goods trade, to create a notably prosperous and long-lived firm, Parker, Blanchard, and Wilder (later Parker, Wilder and Co.).

In 1831, Wilder purchased an estate in then-suburban Dorchester from Gov. Increase Sumner where he turned to his avocation, horticulture, with extraordinary zeal. He rapidly transformed Hawthorne Grove into a model in horticultural experiment. Noted particularly for his work with camellias and azaleas, as well as flowers, Wilder experimented extensively with new cultivars, importing or developing as many as 1,200 varieties of pear, for example, including the wildly popular Bartlett from England and the Beurre d’Anjou from France. The inevitable setbacks did little to dampen his industry. Although a greenhouse fire in 1839 cost him all but two of his eight hundred camellias, Wilder had rebounded sufficiently quickly that a year later he was able to exhibit three hundred varieties to a touring group from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Perhaps the most notable feature of Wilder’s career in horticulture was his remarkable energy and organizational capacity. A regular at horticultural fairs, he was a founding member of the New England Horticultural Society in 1829 and the Massachusetts Academy of Agriculture (a reform school for boys) in 1845, president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (1840-1848), a founder and president of the American Pomological Society (1848-1886), the Massachusetts Agricultural Club, the Norfolk Agricultural Society, and the United States Agricultural Society, among many other organizations. Outside of horticulture, he was president of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (1868-1886), an officer in the state militia in New Hampshire and later in the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, and he was elected to single terms in the Massachusetts General Court (1839), the state Executive Council (1849), and the state senate, of which he predictably chosen president (1850).

Wilder’s 1849 address on agricultural education before the Norfolk Agricultural Society was considered instrumental in building support for establishing an agricultural college in the Commonwealth. Although he was not the first to propose the idea of an agricultural college for Massachusetts, he may have been its most persistent advocate. To build political support for agriculture, Wilder helped establish the State Board of Agriculture in 1852 (it was first constituted unofficially the year previously), and although it was more than a decade before the college became a reality, Wilder did not flag in his support. A trustee of MAC from 1863 until 1886, Wilder was singled out for the honor of addressing its first graduating class in 1871. He was similarly important in supporting the founding of MIT, though only after William B. Rogers agreed that the college would provide instruction in pomology and horticulture.

Wilder died in Dorchester on December 16, 1886.


The following is from William Dana Orcutt. Good Old Dorchester. (1893), p 451

Dorchester’s greatest debt of gratitude for it prominence n the horticultural world is due to the Hon. Marshall P. Wilder.  His estate, on which his experimental grounds were laid out was formerly owned by Governor Increase Sumner.  At his death in 1790, the estate passed into the hands of his son, General William H. Sumner, who was one of the founders of the Horticultural Society, and from whom it finally passed into Mr. Wilder’s possession.  On these experimental grounds there were produced, during the last fifty years of Mr. Wilder’s Life, under his personal supervision, more than twelve hundred varieties of fruits; and from thence there were exhibited, on one occasion, four hundred and four distinct varieties of the pear.  Here the Camellias Wilderi, and the Mrs. Abby Wilder were originated by the art of hybridization, the latter of which received a special prize of fifty dollars.  The Mr. Julia Wilder, the Jennie Wilder, and other camellias were also raised n great perfection; while from Mr. Wilder’s estate went to the Boston Public Garden, on its foundation in 1839, the entire collection of green-house and garden plants.


Marshall Pinckney Wilder, 1798-1886.


The followig is 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 instill 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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December 13, 2021

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