Reuniting a family with Darlington roots
By Peter Wilds-Bethea
Special to the News & Press
The Wilds family, with roots in Darlington, gathered in Arlington, Va., to celebrate their 22nd family reunion the weekend of Aug. 9-11, 2019.
The Wilds Family Reunion was hosted by Franklin and Vivian Kelly-Wilds of Washington. The Wilds host committee consisted of Marilyn Wilds Barnes-Hoyle of Charlotte, Deloise Wilds-Jones of Upper Marlboro, Md., Nicole Wilds-Simmons of Alexandria, the late Manly Wilds of Lanham, Md., Steven Wilds of Washington and Peter Wilds-Bethea of New York.
The Wilds Reunion theme was “In Commemoration of 1619 Jamestown, Va.” The reunion honored and remembered the fate of the first Africans brought to the shores of Jamestown in 1619. This past year marked the 400th anniversary of this inhuman journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Thereafter, millions of women, men and children would be kidnapped and uprooted from the motherland and shipped across the sea of “no return.”
An award was given to honor the memory, gallantry and integrity of our ancestor Homer Wilds. Homer Wilds was an enslaved African born in Darlington in 1832. He married a woman named Jane Wilds (born 1840). Homer Wilds was a laborer/cook in the Civil War and personal servant to Col. Samuel Hugh Wilds in the Confederate Army at Secessionville, near present day Charleston. Homer was a man who saw and experienced enslavement in its most brutal form. He witnessed the devastation of the Civil War. After the abolition of slavery in 1865 he became a registered voter in 1868.
At the Wilds 2019 Family Reunion, the “Homer Wilds Spirit Award” was presented to Jennifer Wilds-Jensen. Jennifer (Cathy) Wilds-Jensen is the daughter of Dr. Gene and Alice Wilds. Jennifer is the granddaughter of the late Henry and Pauline Wilds of Florence.
The Wilds’ genealogical roots are well established and documented in Darlington, dating back to 1790. A recent genealogical find was shared by Scott Wilds, a Philadelphia resident. Scott Wilds, a descendent of Col. Samuel Hugh Wilds, found an 1816 family Bible.
Col. Wilds was the original owner of the Wilds/Edwards House at Pearl Street and Edwards Avenue in Darlington. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places. This house was once part of a massive plantation where the writer of this article’s ancestors were enslaved. Another edifice that connects the Wilds family to Darlington is Macedonia Baptist Church, founded by the Wilds ancestor Dr. Isaac Peter Brockenton. The church was built in 1866 for freed slaves to worship in.