Thursday, April 5, 2018

Beider Wellington Wilde (1854-1936)

 Portrait from the Hazleton Plain Speaker, Feb. 24, 1936. 

   A distinguished merchant and Republican leader in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Beider Wellington Wilde was for over five decades a leading figure in the business and political life of Luzerne County. An active Republican for many years, Wilde sat on the Hazleton borough council, was a delegate to the 1882 Pennsylvania Republican Convention and from 1890-93 served as U.S. Postmaster of Hazleton. Wilde earns placement here on the site not only for his service as postmaster but also for his service as a delegate to the 1888 Republican National Convention and his being a Republican presidential elector in 1896.
  The story of this lifelong Pennsylvania native begins with his birth in New Castle township on December 22, 1854, being one of eight children born to Joseph and Elizabeth (Beck) Wilde. Wilde's early life saw him attend public school and during his youth worked both the family farm and in a local brickyard. At age fifteen he left the confines of home to seek a new life for himself in Hazleton, taking work as a machinist in the employ of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. For the better part of twenty years Wilde continued work as a machinist with that railroad, and by 1887 had not only been given "full charge of the works", but also made his first foray in local politics, being a member of the Hazleton borough council and a delegate to the 1882 Republican state nominating convention.
  Beider Wilde married in September 1882 to Isabel McDonald (1857-1946), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple's union would see the births of three children, Isabel Florence (1884-1966) John Walter (1886-1955) and Beider Wellington Jr. (1895-1965).
   In 1888 Beider W. Wilde served as part of the Pennsylvania delegation to that year's Republican National Convention, which saw Indiana's Benjamin Harrison garner the nomination for president. Following Harrison's victory in November 1888, he appointed Wilde as U.S. Postmaster of Hazleton, a post he would hold from April 1890 until his resignation three years later. During his tenure, Wilde was tasked by then Postmaster General John Wanamaker to visit all post offices located in Lower Luzerne County and report back on their condition and expedience.
   Following his resignation as postmaster in 1893 Wilde resided in Milnesville, Pennsylvania, being employed as a purchasing agent for the Augustus S. Van Wickle Coal Company, which controlled a number of collieries in the state. In 1896 Wilde returned to political service when he served as a Republican presidential elector for Pennsylvania, and at the assembling of the electoral college
"Was elected messenger to deliver the returns to the United States District Court."
  Two years after his service as a presidential elector Wilde added another feather to his business cap when he joined his brother Charles in the firm Wilde & Co., a manufacturer of knit products. By 1901 Wilde had removed back to Hazleton, and in that year became manager of the A. Pardee and Co. stores located in Hazleton, Coleraine, and Cranberry. He continued in that role until 1915 and afterward was connected with various real estate interests in the Hazleton area.
  A leading booster for the Hazleton Y.M.C.A, Wilde was a member of that organization of over fifty years and also maintained prominence in the local Presbyterian church, serving at various times as church treasurer and Sunday School superintendent. Remarked as having possessed an "encyclopedic knowledge of the political, mining, commercial, religious and genealogical history of the region", Wilde was a frequent contributor to articles relating to the history of Hazleton area, which later became a valuable addition to the Sugarloaf Historical Society.
  After many years of distinction in the Pennsylvania coal region, Beider Wellington Wilde died of a heart attack at his Hazleton home on February 23, 1936, at age 81. He was survived by his wife and children and was later interred at the Vine Street Cemetery in his native Hazleton.

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