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Daniel W. Wilder was one of the very few able men of Kansas who had little to do with politics or public office and passed most of his life in newspaper and literary pursuits. He graduated from the Boston Latin School in 1852, four years later received the degree of A. B. from Harvard and studied law in that institution at Rochester, New York, before he came west.
In 1857 Mr. Wilder came to Kansas, located at Elwood in 1858, edited the Free Press and practiced law. He was one of the founders of the republican party in Kansas in 1859; became editor and one of the publishers of the Free Democrat at St. Joseph, Missouri, in August, 1860, and in the December following Mr. Wilder and the whole office force was indicted for violating the laws of a slave state and advocating emancipation. He then returned to Kansas and became editor of the Leavenworth Conservative, an anti-slavery paper, and in 1863 was appointed surveyor-general of Kansas and Nebraska by President Lincoln. In 1865 he became editor of the Evening Express at Rochester, New York; returned to Leavenworth in 1868 and was editor of the Leavenworth Times and Conservative; was elected president of the Missouri Valley Associated Press in September of that year, and re-elected in 1870, during which year he became editor of the Fort Scott Monitor. Mr. Wilder was one of the incorporators of the Kansas Magazine in 1871, to which he was a frequent contributor; was one of the founders of the Kansas Historical Society in 1875, of which he was later the president and for many years one of the directors. His political career covers one term as state auditor, one term as executive clerk under Governor Martin and two terms as superintendent of insurance (1887 to 1891). On his retirement from office he located in Kansas City and published the Insurance Magazine. He then went to Hiawatha in 1892 and established the Hiawatha World, his home being in that city until the time of his death on July 15, 1911. He was the anthor of the “Annals of Kansas” (1875 and 1886), “Life of Shakespeare” (1893), and he was one of the compilers of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” which passed through several editions.