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Asahel Wright (1778) and Eunice Wasson VT/NY

Replies: 9

Re: Asahel Wright (1778) and Eunice Wasson VT/NY

Posted: 1264803271000
Classification: Query
To jjahn,

The Wrights of New Marlborough, MA (particularly Caleb) who we were discussing in this thread as possible ancestors/kin to Abner and Asahel Wright were all believed to be from the Kelvedon Hatch, Co. Essex Wright family group, descended from Deacon Samuel Wright of Springfield and Northampton, MA (1606? - 1665). Thus, it is very unlikely that they were related to your ancestor if he really was from a Welsh family. Having said that, I would suggest that you don't get too tied to a Welsh origin. Ernestus being from a MA late 18th century family fits more with an English or Scottish origin rather than Welsh, but who knows. I don't currently have anything on him in my Wright database, but I will put him in my watch list. Sorry.

More to the point of your question about trade/occupation, I would have to caution that using occupational status, particularly as a carpenter, as a linkage mechanism for the WRIGHT surname is fraught with all sorts of danger. For one thing, the probability is very high that any given Wright male you pick out of the time period 1630 to 1850 would, at some time in his life, be identified with some skill in the building trades, especially as carpenter, joiner, cordwainer, etc. The English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish ancestors of these New World men were given the surname WRIGHT precisely because they had a natural inclination to become very skilled at working with wood to build things. They all possessed some common inherited traits such as superior spatial vision, excellent eye-hand coordination, stout constitutions and no allergies to wood. Passing on the trade skills of the father to their sons is probably one of the most instinctive of the higher human behaviors. So, down through the centuries, the skill sets tended to remain with the surname right along with the inherited genetic predispositions for the work. Even if a particular son was not very proficient at the wood working skills of his father, in the Medieval period, his name carried him forward into some part of the wood working trade by the expectations of his family and neighbors that he would live up to his name eventually, as it was "in his blood." More often than not even if sons strayed from the profession of their father, they would come back to it in hard times or in later years.

By example, I had reason to research a Wright family in 19th century England recently in which the father began in 1840 to teach his young son how to build houses. Apparently the son did not take to the work or his father (who knows which), but in any case ends up apprenticed to a cobbler and for almost 12 years he earns his living making boots while his wife aids in the business as a "glover", stitching leather gloves together out of pre-cut forms.

Fully mechanized boot making and glove making finally put them out of business in the late 1860's and he tried for a brief time to become a priest, earning a living by being a cantor and singing in church. Then at nearly 40 years old he got a job in a millwork factory painting window and door frames and ceiling moldings. By 1890 he just gives in and in the census lists himself as an unemployed carpenter; right back where his father left off with him 50 years before. When we get old we tend to gravitate to those activities that come to us most easily and instinctively.

Most of these men could stray from the mold a bit, but they couldn't entirely deny the innate skills for building things they held in common. If you were not something of a Jack of all Trades, you didn't make much of a dent in pioneering efforts, but the skill most pioneering men needed and used to the best of their abilities was the skill to build a cabin and furniture from native wood and stone.

It would not surprise me at all that a carpenter named Wright descending from Welsh carpenters would live in Vermont side-by-side in 1850 with another carpenter named Wright who was himself a descendant of a long line of English carpenters entirely unrelated to his Wright neighbor's Welsh family. But then again I have not studied the Welsh families of Vermont at all and therefore assume, (perhaps incorrectly) that the vast majority of the Wright families in Vermont in 1850 were descended from New England Wrights from London, East Anglia, the Midlands and Scotland. Conventional wisdom has it that their Welsh "cousins" were grouped further to the south in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and especially Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Those, however, are just glittering generalities that you can keep in the back of your mind, but don't put too much stock in them for the purposes of researching your Ernestus Wright.

Another interesting take on the Wright surname is the statistic that shows that Wright was the 13th most common surname in England by 1600. If you do a little regression statistics and project typical population growth back to when the first men were given the Wright surname in 1086 C.E., you can see that just about any man in England who could lift a hammer and saw and build anything of wood was given the name Wright or some derivation of it, like, shipwright, wainswright, wheelwright, cartwright, etc. There had to have been thousands of them created WRIGHT at the same time.

With so many men all over England suddenly given the same surname in 1086 (only because they all had the same type skills) you can bet that every male genetic line existing in the country in that year had at least a couple dozen men in it who began to go by the surname Wright. That means there were suddenly dozens of entirely unrelated men running around with the same surname of Wright, many living within only a few miles of each other even way back then. Now we imagine what happens to the proliferation of the Wright surname over the next 5 centuries and we see why every 13th guy you meet on the streets of 17th century London is named WRIGHT!

We know from our own Wright Y-DNA project results (see www.wright-dna.org) that there are over 100 entirely separate genetic lines of Wright men in the US today that we know about. My bet is there are more we don't know about because our database only contains a couple of hundred participants. All of us also know from that genetic data base that we are more closely related to men of other surnames (for me: French, Meeking, Chapman & Clark) than we are to most of the other Wright men in the database (except our closest Wright kin.)

So, to propose a connection between two men who live near each other because they share the Wright surname and an occupational skill, is a very risky posit. There has to be a lot more to link them than that before I would say you are getting your connection to safe ground.

Good luck with your Welsh Wrights. Everyone with Welsh ancestors has trouble sorting out the lineages. Welshmen came to America in no big defining waves like some of the other English ancestors. It is hard to figure out, from our end of the view of history, whether they were among the first to go to Maryland and Delaware in the early 1700s or some of the later ones who came to New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania just before and then after the Revolutionary War and there are even a bunch that went to Canada still later then ended up in the US via Ohio.

If you have gotten back to only 1850 VT with your ancestor search and lost the parental track somewhere in MA, I predict you are in for some tough going. Unfortunately, I have little in my research work that would be of any real help to you. Everything I have is about every Wright except the Welsh Wrights.

So, I can only give you some general advice. If you haven't done it already, the first thing I would do is point my research toward finding a living all-male line descenent of your oldest known Wright ancestor. I would then make contact with him and try to persuade him to participate in the Wright DNA project by submitting a cheek swab sample to Family Tree DNA (www.familytreedna.com). The DNA data you get from that analysis and with the help of the folks at FamilyTreeDNA.com and the WRIGHT-DNA.org site, you will find out what larger Wright family group he belongs to and hopefully be introduced to some "cousins" you currently do not know about who are researching the same family. They can help you more than anyone else tie your branch of the family to the right immigrant father.

Beyond that, I have no great advice except the usual: avoid speculations when there are still viable research options that have not been explored. Don't trust other people's work blindly - Check it out before you co-opt and don't forget to give them the credit. Keep good records so you know what you have looked at and what you learned and where you need still to go with the research. Along with studying census records, vital statistics records, probate records and land transaction records, study any biographies of contemporaries that exist and the history of your period and area of interest and use your imagination to formulate research strategies for difficult ancestors. Make friends among fellow researchers along the way, helping them when you can, even if they are not working on your family. Be open to critiques and challenges of your work, and never let your frustrations get the better of you.

Good luck,
Mike Wright
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