Family Stories

Monument to Minnie Key Wilder in Cave Hill Cemetery – Jefferson County

Located in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, is a beautiful monument designed by Robert E. Launitz, ‘the father of monumental art in America’, and was erected in memory of Minnie, the Wilder’s only child, who died at the age of seven.  The child is at the top of the monument, standing on a cloud, shoulder level to her parents, with angel wings, signifying her status as a member of the heavenly fold.  The grieving mother has her hand to her head, while the father points to heaven where his child now resides.  The free hand of the husband is on his wife’s shoulder, trying to ease her sorrow.  Two angels are on a lower portion of the memorial, with their torches fallen to the ground, a life extinguished too soon.

Edward Wilder was originally from Maryland, his parents were Edward and Susan Key Egerton Wilder.  Ruth Sevier was born in Alabama, the daughter of John and Mildred Merrill Sevier.  Her great-grandfather, John Sevier, was a Revolutionary hero and the first Governor of Tennessee – Sevier County in the state is named for him (now famous for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge).  Edward and Ruth married in 1853 and Edward brought her to his home city of Louisville, Kentucky, where he was a wholesale druggist.

Their daughter, Minnie Key Wilder, was born January 28, 1854.  Tragedy struck the family in 1861 when Minnie became ill with scarlet fever, and due to an unfortunate accident died February 21st of that year.  A young Negro girl living with the family accidentally caught her clothes on fire in the room where Minnie lay sick.  Being frightened she jumped on the bed where Minnie lay.  Mrs. Wilder doused both girls with water and extinguished the flames, but the cold water enhanced Minnie’s illness and she passed away a week before her seventh birthday.

The Louisville Daily Courier, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tuesday, February 19, 1861

In memory of Minnie Key, only child of Edward and Ruth Sevier Wilder, born January 28, 1854, died February 21, 1861.  Edward Wilder born December 31, 1825, died March 25, 1890.  With pity behold our hearts, dear Lord.  Ruth Sevier, widow of Edward Wilder and C. G. Collins, born March 21, 1833 and died February 22, 1915.  Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.

In the years following this accident the couple continued their life, living at the same address at Fifth Street and Broadway, sometimes with other family members being part of the household.  Edward Wilder was a wholesale druggist and his many ads in The Courier-Journal in the mid to late 19th century give us a clue to his sales – paper dated Tuesday, March 5, 1867.

His famous ‘Stomach Bitters’ would cure dyspepsia, liver complaints, fever, ague, colic, flux, ‘a mild and delightful invigorant for delicate females’, an excellent appetizer, etc.

His Sarsaparilla and Potash cured scrofula, Syphilis or venereal disease, neuralgia, skin diseases.

The compound extract of Wild Cherry was beneficial for coughs colds and catarrhs.

And his Family Pills worked wonders for constipated and sluggish bowels.

His drugstore was at 215 Main Street (Marble Front).

The Courier Journal, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Friday, March 28, 1890

Edward Wilder died March 25, 1890.  His obituary gives no cause of death.

After Edward’s death Ruth married Charles Collins, who lived only a few years.  She lived at least an additional twenty years after the deaths of both husbands.

The Courier Journal, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tuesday, February 23, 1915

Back of monument.

Front of monument – difficult to photograph with sun in back.

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