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John H. Wildey, whose connection with mercantile interests in Highland exceeds that of any other representative of the commerce of the city, was born in Dutchess county, New York, in 1832, and is a son of Alanson and Phoebe (Pettit) Wildey. James Wildey and Henry Pettit were his grandfathers and the former was descended from English ancestry, while the latter was of French lineage. The parents of our subject were also natives of Dutchess county, New York, and the father was a farmer and merchant. In their family were nine children, four sons and five daughters. All are living excepting one son, who served in the civil war and was killed in battle in 1863; Catherine is the wife of John Sales and resides in Iowa, while the other living members of the family make their home in Binghamton, New York, and vicinity.

John H. Wildey spent the first eleven years of his life in the county of his nativity and then removed with his parents to Broome county, New York, where he pursued his education in the common schools. Later he was a student in Binghamton Academy for two and one-half years and then was a clerk in his father's store in Binghamton. Attracted by the opportunities of the west he emigrated to Iowa in 1853, spending three years there and in 1857 came to Highland, Kansas, where for forty-two years he has made his home. He is one of .the honored pioneers of the state, having witnessed the greater part of its growth and development, and in Highland he is well known as a valued and enterprising citizen whose labors have largely promoted the material development of the town. He began business here as a mason and plasterer, which trades he had learned in Iowa under the direction of John Sale, but in 1860 he put aside all personal considerations and, prompted by a spirit of patriotism, offered his services to his country. He enlisted as a member of Company C, Seventh Kansas Cavalry, under Colonel D. Anthony, and with his regiment was ordered to Missouri, where he took part in many raids and skirmishes. He entered the service as a private, but meritorious conduct won him promotion to the rank of sergeant and later to that of first lieutenant, in which capacity he served until mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in July, 1865.

Returning to Highland Mr. Wildey resumed work as a mason and plasterer and was thus engaged for several years, after which he opened a general store. His trade steadily and constantly increased until he became a leading merchant of the city. He is also regarded as a most obliging gentleman and is ever willing to accommodate his patrons, who through unfavorable circumstances find that it was impossible to pay for goods at the time purchased. He carries a large and well-selected stock of general merchandise and his liberal patronage is certainly well merited, for his business methods are ever honorable. Mr. Wildey is also the proprietor of the Wildey House, which is now and has been for many years the leading hotel of the place. During the early days, when the tide of immigration was bringing many settlers to the west, his house was often so crowded that the guests had to sleep upon the floor and in the halls, but the proprietor was always courteous and accommodating and won the respect and friendship of his many patrons. As a citizen he has ever been deeply interested in whatever was calculated to benefit the community, and he belongs to that class of representative Americans who, while promoting individual prosperity, also advance the general welfare.