It all started some time in the 1990s, when I got a call from my father, who was living in New Mexico. He had received a call from a collection agency, which was trying to find the whereabouts of one Stephen Wylder. My dad knew I wasn't the one the agency was looking for, as the the said Stephen Wylder had lived in New Mexico as an adult. I lived in Albuquerque from 1958, when I was six, until 1965, when I was all of 13. He wisely didn't tell the representative any information about me, because the agency probably probably would have gone after me anyway.
It was a bit unsettling to know there was somebody else out there with my name—especially somebody with a credit problem. There just aren't that many Wylders in the United States. Most are descended from Wiley Wylder, son of Moses Wilder. There are different stories about why Wiley changed the spelling of his name. One tale is that it was a dispute over some land. My wife thinks Wiley just couldn't spell. In any case, Wiley changed the spelling to “Wylder” and moved from North Carolina to Illinois. In 1861 his son, James Robert Melton Wylder, the grandson of a Virginia slaveholder, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 61st Illinois Infantry Regiment. It's possible I'm a distant relative of Douglas Wilder, the first (and so far the only) African American governor of Virginia, but that's another story.
It must have been around 2000 when I found Stephen Wylder again, thanks to the Internet. I “Googled” my name, though I suspect I used Alta Vista or Dogpile back then, and found there was a Stephen Wylder in California, who claimed to be a priest in the “Preterite (Anglican) Church” in California. While I know nothing about the Preterite Church, I am an Anglican (Episcopal Church—not one of those sects that broke away over the ordination of women and/or gays). There was also a Stephen Wylder in the San Diego area who posted on a message board for men who were in search of a dominatrix. (I kid you not.)
Given the possibilities for confusion, I began using my full name, Stephen Crews Wylder, when I wrote for publication. I also used it on for my Facebook page. The trouble is, it looks as though there should be a should be a Roman numeral and perhaps a title of nobility after it, though my wife, Kathleen Crews Wylder (I changed my middle name to her maiden name a la John Ono Lennon.) is the one who can trace her lineage to nobility. She's a descendant of John, Lord of the Isles, of Scotland.
Recently I learned that a Stephen Wylder had died in California. He was the same age as I, and whether or not he was the same Stephen Wylder who had me worried in the past I haven't seen any references to the Preterite Church or dominatrices attached to my first and last name in many years.
So I'm going back to plain Steve Wylder on Facebook, if I can figure out how to change it, but I'll stick to Stephen Crews Wylder for publication.
Meanwhile, if I'm ever in North Bay, Ontario (and the only reason I can think of going there is to ride the Polar Bear Express up to Moosonee), I can stop in at Wylder's Bar and Grill. Maybe I'll get a free drink.