Gardner Wilder, who was born in Leominster, Mass. in 1741, was one of the first settlers of Buckland when he arrived in 1771. Wilder was a descendant of Martha Gardner, who emigrated from England to Hingham, Mass. in 1638. Wilder purchased one-half of the 400 acres in Buckland originally known as the Field Grant. Wilder and Lt. Johnson, also from Leominster, built a backwoods house on the property first. Nearby, Wilder later built a second house in 1775, which is this image. The last owner bearing the Wilder name was Edmund, born in 1855, grandson of the third Gardner Wilder. Edmund married Bertha Sanderson of Northampton, Mass. and served at least one term as a Buckland selectman. Shortly after he died in 1943, his niece, Eleanor Clark of Worthington, (daughter of his sister, Harriet), gave up her teaching career to be with her Aunt Bertha at the Homestead. Eleanor and Bertha both died in 1958. The Homestead then passed by inheritance to Charles Taylor, a cousin. Charles and his wife came to the area from Concord, Mass. to live at the Homestead, and were devoted to their new home. They became members of the Buckland Historical Society, and Charles later became an officer. In the 1960's, another Wilder appeared in Buckland-Loren Griswold Wilder Jr. (1917-2007), the grandson of Buckland native Lorenzo Colburn Wilder (1838-1892). Loren G. Wilder Jr., then living in Texas on a ranch, had come east to trace his ancestry and hopefully to find relatives. Knowing that Buckland was the place of the original Wilder home, he drove to the church cemetery to research headstones. On the way to Shelburne Falls, he noticed a small sign with the words Wilder Homestead. Turning into the driveway, he met Charles Taylor, at that time a widower, who immediately became Loren's welcoming host. Through the years that followed, there were cordial reunions. Charles Taylor died in 1977, bequeathing the property to his Texas cousin, Loren G. Wilder, Jr. Buckland residents were looking forward to the prospects of having the Loren Wilders at the Homestead, continuing the long tradition of the Wilder Homesteaders. But the Wilder family was deeply rooted in Texas. They decided to keep the Homestead a part of Buckland, and so it was offered as a gift to the Buckland Historical Society in December 1981. The house is the only one in the area to have remained in the same family over 200 years until given to the Society. Except for minor alterations, it has remained in its original architectural condition through the years.
Joseph G. Wilder (1841-1863) in his Civil War Union uniform, born in Buckland, Mass. on 22 September 1841 to Gardner and Fidelia (Griswold) Wilder of the Wilder Homestead. Joseph had two brothers and two sisters, also a half brother and half sister. He joined the 52nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Infantry in the fall of 1862 for a nine month enlistment. Wilder served in Company E as a Private. The rendezvous of the 52nd Regiment was at Camp Miller in Greenfield Mass. Having mustered in on October 2nd and 11th, the regiment left for New York State on November 20th. It then proceeded to Camp Banks on Long Island where an expedition to Louisiana was being organized. On December 2nd, the regiment left New York for Baton Rouge, La., on the steamer Illinois, arriving at its destination on December 17th. The 52nd Regiment participated in many actions of Kimball's 2nd Brigade and Grover's 4th Division, to which it had been assigned. Twenty-one year old Joseph Wilder died of disease on 19 June 1863 in New Orleans, La., just 34 days before his term of service would have expired.
This letter, dated 16 March 1864 without an envelope or postage mark, was written by Lorenzo Colburn Wilder (1838-1892). Lorenzo, born in Buckland, Mass., on 5 November 1838 to Gardner and Fidelia (Griswold) Wilder, was living in Prattville, Ala. and working for the Confederates in the Civil War. A digital scan of the original letter was gifted to the Buckland Historical Society by Wilder descendants, along with several other letters, deeds, and miscellaneous documents, which are part of the Society's Wilder Homestead collections. Lorenzo signs his name as "Loren' and "L.C.W.' in the letter written to his father Gardner Wilder (1807-1888) in Buckland, Mass. Gardner and Lorenzo's step-mother, along with several siblings, lived on the original Wilder Homestead, which was built circa 1775. LCW writes that he is "still at work for the government and expect to as long as the war lasts, if it is fifty years....' LCW mentions his conviction to the Confederate cause, his desire to receive letters from his family, his recent marriage to a woman who has several "darkeys,' his grief upon learning of the June 1863 death of his brother Joseph G. Wilder who was in the Union army, and his memories of his mother's death decades earlier on the 29th of March 1847. LCW writes of church, teaching, the costs of room, board, and clothing, his enjoyment of smoking a pipe, and his longing to see his family and his native hills of Western Massachusetts. We can glean from the context of this letter that LCW probably left Buckland to points south in 1859 at the age of 20. U. S. Federal Census records reveal that in June of 1860 LCW was living in Montevallo, Shelby County, Ala. Civil War records show that he enlisted in October 1861 in the Confederate 24th Infantry Regiment, which was organized at Mobile, Ala. just a few months earlier. He remained in the 24th Regiment until his November 1862 discharge due to disability because of chronic rheumatism.LCW stayed in the south the remainder of his life. The new bride he writes about died in Prattville on 24 October 1865. He remarried in November 1866. His first child was born in Ala. in 1868. By 1870 LCW had moved his family to Lockhart, Caldwell County, Tex. where he was a teacher and his second child was born. In 1873 LCW and his family moved to Luling, Caldwell County, Tex. He was one of Luling's original settlers and an early selectman of that town. LCW died in Luling on 25 September 1892 leaving his widow, three daughters, and a son. It was LCW's grandson, Loren Griswold Wilder Jr. (1917-2007) who gifted the circa 1775 Wilder Homestead farmhouse in Buckland, Mass., which had been in the Wilder family for eight generations, to the Buckland Historical Society. The Homestead is open for tours seasonally each year on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of July and August, as well as the Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend each October.
Buckland Historical Society — Box 88 — Buckland, Massachusetts 01338 — (413) 625-9763 — Copyright © 2019