Our family has a letter dated Sept. 20, 1917, San Angelo, TX, written by Emily GIRVIN, dau. of John T. and Matilda Lyon (RUTHERFORD) SHIELDS, to her first cousin, Gus RUTHERFORD, son of Clinton RUTHERFORD and Mary WILDER, Graham, Young Co., TX.
The important part of the letter reads:
"One thing I remember is that a Dr. OWENS lived where Mr. PLUMMER lived when we left there [in the 1860s].Where your grandfather WILDER lived I haven't the least idea.I am very sure that your mother's stepmother and Mrs. OWENS were daughters of grandfather FORESTER and that they were both old maids when they were married.I have heard mother tell of Mrs. WILDER saying that if every stepmother would walk out on the gallows and be hanged that she would freely go."
The details in this paragraph have plagued me for years because Emily GIRVIN is obviously telling Gus about his mother's family.
The 1860 Bexar Co., TX, census places the RUTHERFORD, SHIELDS, and OWENS families in close proximity to each other.
Family 1760/1708, page 447A, Clinton and Mary (WILDER) RUTHERFORD.
Family 1762/1709, page 447A, John T. and Matilda Lyon (RUTHERFORD) SHIELDS and their daughter Emily, age 6, who wrote the 1917 letter.
Family 1770/1716, page 447B, J. W. C. OWENS and wife Rachel, age 45, born in TN.Mr. OWENS was a rancher, not a doctor, and owned five slaves (1M age 44, 1F age 25, 1M age 12, 2F ages 3 & 2) with real estate valued at $1,250 and personal property valued at $21,380.
Wiley WYLDER descendants have long known that Wiley's third wife (step-mother of daughter Mary) was Elizabeth FORESTER, md. October 16, 1850, DeKalb Co., TN.
However, an early WYLDER researcher identified the wrong Elizabeth FORESTER as that wife.
Believe it or not, there were two Elizabeth FORESTERs in the 1850 DeKalb Co., TN, census who were about the same age.
Page 31A identifies an Elizabeth FORESTER, obviously a widow, living with, presumably, her parents, George and Bridget BARNS.If the early researcher had taken a look at the 1860 DeKalb Co., TN, census ten years later, he/she would have seen that this Elizabeth FORESTER was still living with her parents in DeKalb Co., TN, and not in Greene Co., IL, as the wife of Wiley WYLDER.
Page 30B identifies another Elizabeth FORESTER and her sister Rachel, daughters of Robert FORESTER.
Rachel presumably became the wife of J. W. C. OWENS seen in the 1860 Bexar Co., TX, census but a marriage record hasn't been located to prove this connection.In fact, J. W. C. OWENS has only been located in that 1860 census, in an 1886 Texas court record (details not available), and nowhere else.
The 1917 letter states that the sisters "were both old maids when they were married" which is confirmed by the 1850 DeKalb Co., TN, census identifying sisters Elizabeth and Rachel still living with their father.Both sisters were in their mid-30s which definitely identified them as "old maids" at the time.
So far so good -- this now firmly identifies and corrects the identity of Wiley WYLER's third wife.
But important questions have yet to be answered, namely how did Mary M. WYLDER/WILDER get to south Texas to meet and marry Clinton RUTHERFORD, May 13, 1858, in, reportedly, Mason Co., TX?
The 1917 letter makes it abundantly clear that Mary, her step-mother Elizabeth, and obviously Mary's father were in south Texas for several years during the 1850s decade.Otherwise, Emily GIRVIN could not "have heard mother tell of Mrs. WILDER saying that if every stepmother would walk out on the gallows and be hanged that she would freely go."
Wiley WYLDER and Elizabeth returned to Illinois where they were enumerated in the 1860 Greene Co., IL, census, July 17, 1860, and where Wiley died 14 days later, July 31, 1860.
Our families often did a surprising amount of traveling during the ten year period between censuses, and our 1917 letter suggests that Wiley WYLDER was no exception.
Did any of Wiley's children or grandchildren also go to south Texas in the 1850s?No evidence has been found to date suggesting that they did.Does anyone know if any of Wiley's grandchildren were born in Texas?