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Lydia S. Wilds family papers


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The items in this collection pertain to members of the Wilds family, who lived in Delaware during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Many of the letters were sent to Virginia "Jennie" Wilds. Around 1856-1857, Jennie Wilds, daughter of John Wilds and Mary Jane Spruance, attended the Deer Park Seminary for young women, located at the Deer Park Hotel in Newark, Delaware. Wilds, who was born on January 3, 1843 and died December 23, 1922, later married William Hutchison; together they had six children and lived in Kenton, Kent County, Delaware. Several of the items in this collection were created by Lydia S. Wilds, Jennie Wilds Hutchison's younger sister, including an autograph album, letters, and a copied ballad. After working as a seamstress in Philadelphia, Lydia came to live with the Hutchison family and helped raise the children. She was born on August 3, 1844 and died December 28, 1922, five days after her sister. After the death of Mr. Hutchison in 1900, the two sisters maintained a household in Clayton, Delaware.

William and Jennie Hutchison's son, William, married Mary Elizabeth Streets, whose daughter Mary Streets Hutchison Brown donated this small collection to the Library.

Information derived from the collection.

This small collection of family letters, photographs, and an autograph album was created by the Wilds family of Delaware between 1860 and 1922.

The correspondence includes three letters from Josiah Pancoast to his cousin Mary Jane Wilds, written between 1860 and 1863. While the first two letters primarily inquire after the health of various family members, Pancoast described his time in the Union Army in the letter dated May 3, 1863. Pancoast noted that he had been injured in the Battle of Fredericksburg and was currently at Lincoln General Hospital in Washington, D.C., but that he had recovered and was doing his "duty in the clerks office of the above Hospital." Pancoast also noted that his brother Samuel had received a slight injury from a Minié ball during the same battle.

Most of the letters in this collection were addressed to Jennie Wilds Hutchison of Kenton, Delaware. These letters primarily conveyed news from family in friends, including recent marriages, the birth of children, illnesses, and deaths. Letters sent to Hutchison in late 1872 and early 1873 included condolences on the loss of her child. A friend named Ella recounted a recent incident in which one of her servants set fire to the bed in her spare room and destroyed the carpet and several of her best dresses. There are three letters written by Lydia S. Wilds to her sister while she resided in Philadelphia. In addition to sharing news of family and friends, Wilds informed her sister of the latest styles in bonnets and dresses. The only letter written by Jennie Wilds Hutchison was sent to Mrs. Dr. T.H. Streets in 1922 and discussed her grandchildren.

Included with the letters is a small booklet with marbled covers that Lydia S. Wilds used as an autograph album while at school in Moorestown, New Jersey. The book consists of brief remembrances from numerous female friends, many accompanied by a mailing address. A notation from Naomi Lawton reads "Do not forget going to Mr. Thomas' for strawberries, and seeing the Comet."

This collection also includes a tintype of Lydia S. Wilds, likely from the late 1850s or 1860s, and a business card from her time as a seamstress in Philadelphia. There are also three photographs of unidentified individuals, a recipe card created by Mary Jane Wilds, and a small booklet entitled "The Show of the Animals," published by the American Sunday-School Union. Finally, there is a handwritten copy of a ballad entitled "James Bird." The ballad tells the story of a War of 1812 naval hero who fought alongside Commander Oliver Hazzard Perry but was later executed for deserting the Brig

Niagara. The ballad was copied by Lydia S. Wilds.

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Gift of Mary Streets Hutchison Brown, August-September 2002

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, December 2017.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2017 December 11
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Letters, 1860-1922.
Box 1 Folder F1
Tintypes and other photographs.
Box 1 Folder F1
Lydia S. Wilds autograph album, approximately 1850s-1860s.
Box 1 Folder F1
Recipe card and ephemera.
Box 1 Folder F1
Ballad of James Bird.
Box 1 Folder F2

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