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Wilder, John Thomas (1830-1917)



John Thomas Wilder was born 1830 January 31 in Hunter, New York to Ruben Wilder of Massachusetts and Mary Merritt of New York. At the age of 19, John moved to Columbus, Ohio and worked as draftsman and then an apprentice millwright at a local foundry. In 1857, eight years after he arrived in Columbus, Wilder relocated to Indiana, first to Lawrenceburg and then to Greensburg, where he married Martha Jane Stewart on 1858 May 18. John and Martha had six children: Mary, Anne, Rachel, Martha, Edith, and Stewart. During this time, Wilder managed to establish his own foundry and in 1959, he patented an improved waterwheel.

At the outbreak of the United States Civil War, John Thomas Wilder volunteered for the 17th Indiana Infrantry Regiment. Wilder's Lightning Brigade served in the Western theater, and distinguished themselves by playing a particularly significant role in the Chattanooga area campaign of 1863. In 1864, Wilder was brevetted a brigadier general.

After the war, Wilder settled in Rockwood, Tennessee, and later in Chattanooga, perhaps remembering the rich mineral deposits of East Tennessee. In 1867, he founded an ironworks in the Chattanooga region, then built and operated Roane Iron Works in Rockwood, Tennessee, which boasted one of the first blast furnaces in the southeastern United States. In 1871, Wilder became active in politics and was elected mayor of Chattanooga, but he resigned shortly thereafter to focus on his various businesses. He accepted several political appointments, one of which was postmaster of Chattanooga in 1877 and served until 1882. In 1897, President William McKinley appointed Wilder to the pension office in Knoxville and that appointment was renewed by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft.

Wilder died on 1917 October 20 in Jacksonville, Florida. His body was returned to Chattanooga, Tennessee and is buried in the city's Forest Hill Cemetery.

"John T. Wilder: Colonel (January 31, 1830 - October 20, 1917)." Civil War Trust. CivilWar.Org. Accessed 2014 Feb 15.
Williams, Samuel C. "General John T. Wilder." Indiana Magazine of History 31, no. 3 (1935): 169-203.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Thomas Maher collection of John T. Wilder photographs

 Collection — Box MS-054 001: [Barcode: 11988006944469]
Identifier: MS-054
Scope and Contents

This collection contains facsimiles of photographs of Union Army officer John T. Wilder ranging from 1858 to 1719.

Dates: 1858-1917
Found in: Manuscripts

John T. Wilder papers

Identifier: MS-001
Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence and military records regarding Brigadier General Wilder's service in the Union Army during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 as well as personal correspondence and papers dating from 1865 to 1937.

Dates: 1861-1937
Found in: Manuscripts

Nelson Wilder collection of facsimiles of John T. Wilder correspondence and photographs

 Collection — Box MS-087 001: [Barcode: 11988006884038]
Identifier: MS-087
Scope and Contents

This collection of facsimiles of John T. Wilder correspondence and photographs contains photocopies of correspondence, photographs, and newspaper clippings regarding Nelson Wilder's great-grandfather, Civil War officer John T. Wilder. Materials in the collection range from 1862 to 1917.

Dates: 1862-1917
Found in: Manuscripts