It’s hard to believe that it has taken me several years to carve out the time to update our family site, but here I am with a new found desire to continue the journey of the Wilders and some stolen time from my other job.
Most recently the West Coast Wilders held our annual family reunion in Corning, California. This is the branch of Wilders who left Missouri right after the Civil War to settle in California, Oregon and Washington. Two brothers, James Hill Wilder and John Crowninshield Wilder, settled in the valley north of Sacramento. Their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have gathered for an annual family picnic for almost 80 years. Early reunions started around 1939. These reunions were held in Chico, California. The family didn’t get together during WWII, but once the war was over, we resumed our get-togethers, later moving them to Dead Mule Springs campground in the Mendocino National Forest. Because of the long drive to Dead Mule Springs, we decided to move our gathering to Woodson Bridget Park in Corning sometime in the 80’s and we have been meeting there ever since. It’s a nice place along the Sacramento River with a large picnic area, bathrooms and large shade trees. This is where we gathered last Saturday the third Saturday in June, as we have for many years now.
If you are familiar with Corning/Redding/Red Bluff area, then you know that Corning can get very hot in the summer. I remember one reunion where it was at 112 degrees in the shade, another reunion when it hailed, and one where it felt like the whole world was on fire. This year we got lucky; Although the temp at Woodson Bridge Park was projected to get to 100 degrees, it only got to 92 which felt more like 80 degrees, since we had a lovely cool breeze coming from the north. As with every year, family brought their coolers packed with ice and drinks, lawn chairs, and something to share at our group potluck lunch. Extra special thanks to Melody Chittenden for the delicious peach cobbler!
My husband and I drive 3+ hours from the San Francisco Bay Area to Corning for the reunion. Often we decide to spent the night so we can drive up to see the cabin the following day. This year we decided to return home the same day making our visit shorter than most years.
If it wasn’t for these reunions, I would not see many cousins. Time and life has set us on different paths, some living far afield. I truly cherish the 6 hours of time I spend at our reunions catching up, chatting, learning more about each cousin, sharing stories, and sharing yummy pot luck salads "Wilder style"... bring on the mayo. This year we had a a new treat.. kale salad and an annual favorite watermelon/tomato salad (thank you Dennis). There are few family members that still carry the Wilder name, but we all feel Wilder in our hearts. My mother was a Wilder, my cousins mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, were Wilders. So at our reunions you will meet Wilders, but you will also meet our extended families: Shires, Diest, Campbell Hodgson, Williams, Simmons, Chittenden, Darrahs, and so many others. You will also meet and make many a new friend.
These reunions wouldn’t happen if it were not for our dear cousin Faye Wilder-Williams and the dedication of her daughters, Teri and Tami, and their husbands and friends. It was Faye’s father who helped her grandfather build the Wilder Cabin mentioned elsewhere on this site. For so many years Faye has done the good work of sending out invitations, securing the picnic site, hauling the tables, utensils and other items that make the reunion such a joy. I know I am not alone in saying “thank you Cousin Faye!!!” for being the glue that has held our family reunions together. Cousin Faye is now 94 and many of our dear cousins are in their golden years. I treasure every memory of our visits together and look forward each year to seeing you again and learning more about each of you and our Wilder family.
If you were at this year's Wilder family reunion, post a comment and or memory of the visit. We would love to hear about it.