One of the few native Floridians among the 84 pioneers listed on the monument at the Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach, was Abner M. Wilder. Born 14 March 1860 in Manatee County, Florida, Ab came to the shores of Lake Worth in the summer of 1875. His widowed mother, Elizabeth, had married Charles Moore, (See his story) and Ab and his eighteen-year-old sister, Eliza, came to live with them. His stepfather’s land was about two miles south of the old inlet, on what was to become Palm Beach. The following year, Eliza married James Russell of Indian River.
Ab Wilder may have been born as early as 1857. In the Census of 1880, he gave his age as twenty-three. He was listed as a registered voter in 1876. He was supposed to have been sixteen years old when his mother married Charles Moore.
At any rate, he grew up fast on the lake. He was reported to be a crack shot and a willing worker. Ab fit right in with the other, older pioneers.
In 1881, Ab bought 50 acres of his own, north of Charlie Moore’s place. In 1887, Ab’s stepfather died, and three years later, his mother, Elizabeth, gave 12 acres of land apiece to Ab and his two sisters, Elizabeth Catherine Moseley and Eliza Jane Russell.
Ab married Selene ____ and had four sons: John A., born 1881, Medford J., born 1883, Richard H., born 1884, and Earl T., born 1888.
By 1920, Ab was in real estate in West Palm Beach. Six years later, he and Richard, both single, were living at 508 Banyan Street. Ab’s youngest son, Earl, died on 12 February 1923, and is buried in the family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. Abner died 27 November 1930, and is buried beside Earl. John A.Wilder, an engineer, married Hattie Belle. She died 26 August 1962, and John died 4 August 1968. Richard H. Wilder died, unmarried, 30 July 1957. Medford J. Wilder married Bessie Mae ____. He died 18 August 1940, Bessie on 10 May 1946. Ab had purchased eight graves in Woodlawn Cemetery when his son Earl died. The eighth grave was for Mary L. Wilder, who died 29 September 1957 and may have been a second wife of Ab or his daughter-in-law.