Chelsea and Zella Wildern Family of Charlotte, Michigan

In 1886, when Chelsea Mayo Wildern was 15, his family immigrated from Port Burwell, Ontario, Canada to Charlotte, Michigan. A few years later, he met Zella Mary Krebs who was a Charlotte native. They were married June 21, 1893 and had nine children: Frank Harold (March 20, 1894), Harper Tully (Nov 26,1895), Babe (who died before his first birthday), Gertrude Marie (Dec 28, 1898), Ruth Estella (Nov 14, 1900), Audrey May (Nov 11, 1902), Fred Elton (Aug 22, 1905), Dorothy Lucille (March 1, 1911) and Amert Eileen (Dec 5, 1914).

Many of the Wildern descendants still live in Charlotte and surrounding areas. To learn more about their lives, read the Wildern Family History below.


Charlotte, Michigan Circa 1900



Chelsea Mayo Wildern was born in Port Burwell, Ontario, Canada on April 22nd, 1871. His father, Job Wildern, was born April 16, 1842 in Misterton, Somerset, England. Job is the son of Daniel Wildern, born April 2, 1815 in Seaborough, Somerset, England and Susan Hicks, born April 11, 1813 in Lovington, Somerset, England. Daniel’s parents were Henry Wildern and Susannah Crocker, both of Crewkerne, Somerset, England. Susan's parents were Thomas Hicks, born in 1781 and Susannah Cruch, born in 1776. Both were from Somerset, England.


Daniel Wildern & Susan Hicks

To put things in perspective, when Daniel Wildern and Susan Hicks were born, James Madison was the 4th President of the United States. The steam train was just invented (1815) and the gas light (1798) had only been around a few years. The War of 1812 was fought 1812 – 1815, (although, a peace treaty was signed in 1814) between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and its colonies, including Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Bermuda. By the end of the war, 1,600 British and 2,260 American soldiers had died.

Daniel and Susan Wildern moved from England to Port Burwell, Ontario, Canada when Job was two years old. That's where Job grew up and met Amert Raymond (pronounced Am'-ert). She was born July, 3, 1851 in Port Royal Ontario, Canada to George Raymond, born December 14, 1822 and Belinda Barrett, born March 17, 1825. Job and Amert were married on January 13, 1869 at the home of Amert's parents in Port Burwell.

Canada Homestead
Family Homestead - Port Burwell, Ontario, Canada
Wildern family picture taken about 1881


[L - R] George Raymond 12/14/1822 (Amert Raymond's father), Jennie Gertrude Wildern 9/29/1875, Stanley Wildern 05/16/1872, Amert Raymond Wildern 7-3-1851, James Allen Raymond ABT 1858 (Amert Raymond's brother), George Raymond 'Ray' Wildern 7/20/1877, Belinda Barrett 3/17/1825 (Amert Raymond's mother), Ellen Lenora 'Nora' Wildern 1/25/1874, Chelsea Mayo Wildern 4/22/1871, Job Wildern 4/16/1842. Absent from this picture is Florence Marie Wildern 5/26/1893 who wasn't born until about 12 years later. 

1896 Ford Quadricycle

In 1886, when Chelsea was 15, his family moved to Charlotte, Michigan. This was before the first Ford car was built and shortly after the telephone (1876) and electric light (1879) were invented. Grover Cleveland was President during his first term.

The Ford Motor Company was founded in Michigan in 1903 after Henry Ford developed his first experimental vehicle known as the "Quadricycle" on June 4, 1896. The "Quadricycle", also know as the horseless carrage, ran on four bicycle tires and had a top speed of 20mph.

Job and Amert owned the Tea & China Shop in downtown Charlotte and were highly regarded. The front page of the Charlotte Republican Newspaper, dated Friday, November 19, 1909 read:


One of the noblest, truest and best men of the community was Mr. [Job] Wildern and Charlotte regrets most sincerely, his death. Mr. Wildern was a home-loving man, who devoted his time and energy to the welfare of his family without neglecting the interests of the wide circle of friends or shirking the exacting and varied duties of citizenship. He was one of those conscientious men that a city loves to honor: true in his friendships, loyal to duty and firm in a belief that good will ultimately triumph.


Job Wildern & Amert (Raymond) Wildern

Zella Mary Krebs was born in Charlotte, Michigan March 3, 1872. Her father, Jesse S. Krebs was also born in Charlotte, May 21, 1842 and he lived there until his death on March 21, 1929. Jesse sold pianos and organs for a living. His parents were Henry Krebs and Mary A. Henry’s parents were Mathias Krebs and Elizabeth Fast, both of Pennsylvania. Elizabeth’s grandparents immigrated to this country from Germany.

Jesse Krebs & Estella (Griest) Krebs
Estella Tamsen (Griest) Krebs & Jesse S. Krebs

george-w-griest.jpgZella’s mother was Estella Tamsen Griest. She worked as a milliner. Estella was one of six children and was born in Bedford, Ohio October 12, 1851. Her father, George Washington Griest was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania January 12, 1819. He was a farmer of English descent. Estella’s mother was Mary McConner. George’s father, Cornelius Griest was born March 20, 1790 in York County, Pennsylvania and his mother, Elizabeth Toland was born September 2, 1799. Elizabeth’s father, Isaac Toland was a Revolutionary War soldier. The Tolands were farmers and early pioneers that settled in Pennsylvania. When he was a young man, George Griest moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio looking for better opportunities. At the time, he worked hard for thirty seven cents a day, but he saved his money and bought property in Bedford Ohio, which he cleared and started farming. Before he finished, he was offered $80 above the original purchase price and he took it. He then purchased another eighty acres in Bedford County and started clearing it. At about the same time, the Cleveland and Pittsburg Railroad was being built, which opened markets for his produce.

On February 24, 1841, George married Esther McConner and they had three children. Esther died November 10, 1846. Two and a half years later, on June 23, 1849, George married Esther’s sister, Mary McConner. In 1852, George had an accident and fell from a tree, which nearly killed him. He was unable to work for over a year, so he sold his farm. Then, two years later, he purchased property in Eaton County, Michigan as Marshall was a principal market for his produce. Michigan was sparsely populated and there was no railroad, but George had success buying and clearing land, which he would erect frame buildings on and sell for a profit. George retired on one of his farms in Charlotte where he lived comfortably.


Chelsea Wildern & Zella (Krebs) Wildern
Zella Mary (Krebs) Wildern & Chelsea Mayo Wildern

Marriage Certificate

On June 21, 1893, Chelsea Mayo Wildern and Zella Mary Krebs were married at the residence on Sheldon St., Charlotte, Michigan.


Siblings of Chelsea Mayo Wildern & Zella Mary Krebs

Chelsea & Zella Siblings

Chelsea had five brothers and sisters: Stanley (May 16, 1872), Ellen Lenora 'Nora' (January 25, 1874, Jennie Gertrude (September 29, 1875), George Raymond ‘Ray’ (July 20, 1877) and Florence Marie (May 26, 1893). All were born in Canada except Florence. She was born in Charlotte, Michigan.

Zella’s siblings were Ernest A. (May 1873), Roy Emerson (December 20, 1877), Harper Henry (July 17, 1879), and Jessie E. (December 1882).

Florence Marie married Harold Sherman, September 12, 1887. George Raymond married Cassie Velsey Helm, January 16, 1877. Jennie Gertrude married John Newton Herbst, August 5, 1871. Ellen Lenora married Clyde Edwin Harmon, October 2, 1868. Stanley married Mattie Atwood on May 16, 1872. Chelsea Mayo married Zella Mary Krebs on March 16, 1872.


Lamb & Spencer Grocery Store


Lamb & Spencer

Chelsea worked at Lamb & Spencers Grocery in Charlotte. It's unclear if he was one of the partners, but we know he worked there as a storekeeper for a long time. It appears the guys liked to hang out, play cards and drink beer. Chelsea is the one on the far right in the lower picture.

Offspring of Chelsea & Zella Wildern

Click the link (Underlined Name) to View and Print their Family Tree 

Frank Harold WildernFrank Harold was born on March 20, 1894 before the first Ford car was built and long before there were radios or television. Frank and all of his siblings witnessed the first airplane, first jet plane and the devastation of an atomic bomb. During their lifetime, Sputnik was launched, Disneyland opened in California, computers were invented and man walked on the moon. Frank worked in Wheeling, West Virginia for many years in the landscaping business. That was where he met Dorothy Hills, born December 11, 1903. They were married August 20, 1926. When they retired in 1966, Frank and Dorothy moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida where they both died. They had two daughters: Jean and Dorothy Joan. Both were born in Wheeling, and both live in Florida now.

Harper TullyHarper Tully was born November 26, 1895. When he was a young man, he went to work for Chandler's Drug Store in Charlotte. This sparked his interest and he decided to attend pharmacy school at Ferris Institute, now Ferris College. After graduation, Harp returned to Chandler's, but he didn't stay long. He was a victim of the flu epidemic that reached serious proportions for the time. For health reasons, his doctors advised that he move to a warmer climate. He decided to head south to work with his two brothers, Frank and Fred, in Wheeling, West Virginia. He met and Married Ethel McCarty on March 24, 1916. They had two children, Harper Mac, born December 31, 1916 and Mayo Raymond, born July 18, 1918. Then, Ethel died in November, 1919.

Later, Harp went to North Carolina where he met Flora Ball, born April 27, 1904. Harp and Flora were married June 10, 1923. After the two of them were married, they moved to Charlotte and Harp went back to work at Chandler's, which is now Wildern's Drug Store. They had one son, George Raymond and he became a pharmacist and took over the drug store after Harp retired at the age of 90 in 1985. George married Esther Regina 'Dolly' Burger, born June 28, 1926. She was also a pharmacist. They have three sons: Jeffrey Allen, Steven George, and Kent Raymond. Jeffrey is a pharmacist, Steven a doctor and Kent is a dentist. Flora died March 31, 1975 and Harp died December 22, 1995, just after his 100th birthday. Sadly, Dolly died in February 2008. Here is an article that was a reprint from 1964 about the Wildern Drug Store which appeared in the Golden Anniversary Edition of the Weekly Charlotte Shopping Guide on December 28,1997. 

Gertrude Marie WildernGertrude Marie was born December 28, 1898. She worked for the phone company for many years as an operator. In the beginning, the operator sat a board plugging and unplugging jacks to connect calls. She married Andrew Carrigan in April, 1921. They had two boys: Andrew, born 1922. He died about age 8 on December 9, 1930 after a bad fall in the school gymnasium. Richard James 'Dick' is married to Mildred Skinner and they have four children, Daniel James, David Michael, Jeanne Marie, and Lorna.

Marie's husband, Andrew died in 1932. Her second marriage was to George Wenzel on June 24, 1932. They had two children: JoAnn Wenzel (Sprague) by George's first marriage and Kenneth Albert. In their later years together, George and Marie owned and operated a general store in Needmore, Michigan. It was a country store and had the house connected to it. Marie died August 10, 1996.

Ruth Estella WildernRuth Estella was born November 14, 1900. She worked mostly as a secretary. She even worked in a mortuary for a number of years. Her husband Earl McKinley Smith, born October 14, 1893 was a salesman and the family moved around a lot from city-to-city and state-to-state. After Earl died, Ruth worked at Michigan State University for many years as a house mother. She loved making clothes and she was very good on the piano. Ruth had one daughter, Shirley Anne Smith (Whitmore). Ruth died July 14, 1988.

Audrey May WildernAudrey May was born November 11, 1902. She was always a sports enthusiast and became a physical education teacher, but later quit her job to become a housewife and to raise a family. She married Loren Philo Nash, born September 13, 1900 on April 4, 1925. They had two girls: Marilla Jane Nash and Wildreen Ione 'Wally' Nash. Jane didn't like her first name, so she never used it and Wally didn't like her name Wildrene (which is a derivative of Wildern) either, so she usually went by Wally or Billie (her dad's nickname for her was Bill Spivins and his nickname for Jane was Osmar). Jane married Jack Perkins, born January 18, 1927 on January 17, 1948 and they had three daughters: Jill Arlene Perkins, Jan Audrey Perkins and Penni Jo Perkins. Wildreen married Henry 'Skip' Jahnke and they had eight children: Paul, Steve, Don, Scott, Sherri, Tom, Cindy and Dick. Loren died March 2, 1962 and Audrey never remarried. She lived with her daughter Jane after she and Jack were divorced. They lived together until Audrey died on December 22, 2002, just past her 100th birthday.

Fred Elton WildernFred Elton was born August 22, 1905. He worked for many years in Wheeling, West Virginia, as his brother Frank did, but most of the time they didn't work together. Fred worked in the nursery business and became the Garden Center Manager at Dieckmann's Floral & Garden Center in Wheeling. He was a Rose Expert and conducted forums on roses where he worked. Fred was also Chairman of a special committee of the West Virginia Nurserymen's Association where he was instrumental in getting state appropriations to fight the Japanese Beetle, which was so destructive to roses. Fred and Elizabeth Cecilia 'Betty' Albert, born July 17, 1911 were married on July 7, 1932. They had 4 childred, Mary Ann Wildern (Siebieda), Elizabeth Cecilia ‘Cele’ Wildern (Duvall), Emma Louise Wildern (Giffin), and Fred Elton Jr. Fred and Betty retired in St. Petersburg, Florida and he died there on December 19, 1997. Betty died five years later on April 30, 2005 in Wheeling. Most of Fred and Betty's offspring live in Virginia and West Virginia.

Dorothy Lucille WildernDorothy Lucille was born March 1, 1911. She married Edward George Lyon, born December 28, 1906 on June 6, 1931. They lived on a farm in Mason, Michigan and had two sons: Donald owen 'Don' Lyon and Teodore Allan 'Ted' Lyon. Both Don and Ted were teachers and Don was a school principal for many years. Ted was a math teacher. Ed was a truck, grader and paver operator for the Ingham County Road Commission before he became general superintendent in the late 40's. He died May 14, 1961, but Dorothy never remarried. Two years after Ed died, she went to work for the County Road Commission, where she worked as a secretary for a number of years. Dorothy turned 97 on March 1, 2008.

Amert Eileen WildernAmert Eileen was born December 5, 1914. She went to beauty school and worked for a few years in a beauty salon. She married William Lowe 'Bill' Smedley II, born February 8, 1912 on March 17, 1943 while he was still in the Navy. She went to Washington D.C. to live with him until he was discharged from the service. Bill went on to work as a water well driller and he held a patent for the Lemco Seal. Amert did a lot of beauty work at home and she helped with the business.

Amert was named after her grandmother, Amert Raymond.  She pronounced her name (Aim-ert), not (Am'-ert) as her grandmother did, who used the correct English pronunciation. Ironically, it was her grandmother who insisted on a different pronunciation. Later in her life, Amert preferred to be called Amy. She and Bill had three children: Lynda Kay Smedley (Steensma), William Lowe 'Bill' Smedley III and James Edward Smedley. Amert's husband Bill died November 30, 1987 and Amert died on October 29, 2002.

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