Eliza Jane Wilder – Biography
Eliza Jane was born in 1850, possibly the first or third of the year, to James and Angeline Wilder. Eliza Jane was likely named after the wife of her father’s brother, Eliza Jane Smith.
Eliza Jane became a school teacher in Malone, New York. When the Wilder’s moved west from Malone to Spring Valley, Minnesota Eliza Jane followed and taught in the Spring Valley school during 1877 and 1878.
In 1879 Eliza Jane accompanied her brothers Royal and Almanzo to De Smet, South Dakota where they all took claims. While tending her claim, Eliza Jane taught the school term which Laura writes about in Little Town on the Prairie.
Later, she relocated to Washington D.C. where she became a “Government Girl” working for the Department of the Interior.
At the age of 42, Eliza Jane married Thomas Jefferson Thayer, a twice-married Spring Valley merchant with six children. In June of 1894, Walcott Thayer was born, named after the father of Thomas, whom was nicknamed Wilder. In 1899, Thomas died, with his estate being left to Etta, his daughter from a previous marriage.
It was at this time when Rose stayed with Eliza Jane to continue school in Crowley, Louisiana. In 1904, Eliza Jane married Maxwell Gordon, whom she later separated from. Eliza Jane died on June 1, 1930 in Lafayette, Louisiana, and is buried there.
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