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OBITUARY OF COL. JOHN WILDER

Editor of the Kansas City Journal Slain at City Hall

Published in the Kansas City Journal of Commerce
March 10, 1870

     The sudden murder of Col. John Wilder, editor of this paper, shot down my James Hutchinson, sent a curdling chill through all the thoughts of our people.  In less than thirty minutes of the firing of the fatal bullet, the mind that to-day should have filled these columns with its customary messages, had without any word of intermediate communication to surrounding friends, parted with all its earthly work forever.

     Col. Wilder was born in Concord, Mass., about the year of 1836.  A portion of his infancy was spent in Michigan, whither his father moved from Massachusetts.  After a few years residence in Michigan the family returned to Massachusetts, where in Cambridge his father died in 1845.  It was here that Col. Wilder was prepared for college; he subsequently entered Union College, at Schenectady, N. Y., where he graduated with high honor in 1857.  Rev. Mr. Nott of this city was one of his classmates at Union College, and remembers him there as a young man of conspicuous uprightness and scholarship. 

     He was subsequently graduated at the Harvard Law school, and practiced law in Boston and vicinity until the breaking out of the war.  In the year 1862 he entered the army as a private in the Mass. Regiment, but was rapidly promoted until he attained the rank of Colonel.  He was at one time in command at Key West, Florida.  His varied abilities occasioned his detail for such special services as were arising, and he frequently served with marked success as a Judge Advocate.  After the close of the war he remained awhile in North Carolina, in the practice of his profession, where he met with success.

     In February, 1867, he came to Kansas City, where he as since resided.  Soon after his arrival, he purchased this paper and became its editor.  From that time to this his history and labors have been part of the history and labor of this growing city, and are will known to those who read these lines.  The case and rapidity with which he adapted himself to all the varied and trying emergencies of his new occupation, the courteousness and thoughtful consideration which marked all his writings, even on the most heated contests, the strength and pithiness with which he could write, when vigorous writing was called for, without overlooking the proprieties of editorial debate, the prudence with which he guarded the columns of his paper from needless animosities, which at all times and in all emergencies, he spoke the clear and unmistakable words for the daily demands of an advancing civilization, all these things have been in our daily view and made a very prominent part in the daily life of this community during the three years that have elapsed since he took editorial charge of his paper.  In the private intercourse of social life he has steadily increased the circle of his personal friends by his genial and intelligent companionship .  In the columns of the best magazines of today he has from time to time contributed the fruits of his imagination and experience in articles of high merits which have won generous commendation. 

     Ever ready in all ways to aid the various young institutions of our city, he held the position of Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and delivered the opening address at the inauguration of that enterprise.  With larger possibilities and promises, he has been suddenly cut off in his early manhood, and the work he stood ready to do for us now seeks other hands.  The friends of these, his later years, with an appreciation of their own loss, and that of our growing city, are touched to-day with a tenderer sympathy for the mother and sister, whose son and brother has this day been so swiftly taken from them; a sympathy everyway active among those who recall to-day the profound affection and esteem he held for his mother, whose more than willing support he was and who thus appreciate the sadness of the desolation that has fallen there.

 

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