Monday, September 9, 2019

The Martin County Swayzes

A couple of years ago several of us (all great great grandchildren) researching Rev. Richard Wright and his descendants found that our GG grandfather had been married twice, the first time to Malinda Ann Swayze, a member of the Obediah Swayze family of Vermillion County, Indiana.

About a year ago Frank Helton, one of the Wright researchers, spotted a photo said to show the Martin Co. Indiana home of a John Swayze with some members of his family, including a daughter Dovie, dated “About 1889.” Of course we wondered if the Martin Co. Swayzes and the Vermillion Co. Swayzes were related. Another fellow Wright researcher, Pat Shade, who is always good with details has now written us:

“The date on the pic is wrong as Dovie wasn't born until 1894. So, this pic is probably c: 1900 but hard to tell how young the girls might be. Father, John Swayze, appears to have died in Martin Co, IN in 1897. If existing ancestry trees are accurate, it looks like John Swayze goes back thru a John Drake, Richard, Andrew, etc to Sussex Co., NJ. So, I suspect there is a distant match between this line and the Obediah Swayze line that went to Vermillion Co, IN.”

Now if only we could uncover Rev. Richard’s parentage. But we have found a male Wright descendant of Rev. Richard Wright from his first marriage whose DNA tests may finally provide the evidence we need.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Richard Wright - the Early Days

The approximate route for Richard’s 200-mile Canton Circuit.
The town of Virginia in Cass County, where he and his second
wife were living (with her parents) in 1850, is also shown.
Rev. Richard Wright’s parents remain unidentified. Frustrating is that the problem does have a solution. A yDNA test by an all-male-line descendant of Richard would almost certainly provide matches allowing identification of Richard’s Maryland relatives. Alas, a qualified male Wright has yet to step forward. (My line to Richard is not all male.)

Much about Richard’s early days in the Midwest are puzzling. It appears that Richard left Maryland around 1837. From the Diary of Rev. P. J. Strong:

“In the fall of 1837, Richard Wright, a young man lately from Maryland, was sent by the Conference into this region to form what was to be Canton circuit. His work embraced the following points, viz: Turners, Centreville, now called Cuba, Abingdon, Bradfords, six miles east of Knoxville, Prince’s Grove, in Peoria County, and a point on West Bureau, five miles west of Princeton, and all intermediate points, involving a travel of about two hundred miles once in three or four weeks.”

From Rev. Strong’s description, Richard Wright’s Canton Circuit route can be approximated. (One problem is that the towns of Turners and Prince’s Grove cannot be identified.)

On the map below, red dots mark the Illinois counties included in the Canton circuit that Richard Wright began riding around 1837 or 1838. Red circles mark Vermillion County, Indiana, where he married Malinda Ann Swayze in 1840, Cass County, Illinois, where he married Joanna Ruth Paschal in 1844, and Clark County, where he and Joanna spent most of their married lives.
Red dots mark the Illinois counties included in the Canton circuit that Richard Wright began riding around 1837 or 1838. Red circles mark Vermillion County, Indiana, where he married Malinda Ann Swayze in 1840, Cass County, Illinois, where he married Joanna Ruth Paschal in 1844, and Clark County, where he and Joanna spent most of their married lives.
The question is, how did Richard meet Malinda Ann, who was living in Vermillion County, Indiana, when he was a circuit rider in northwestern Illinois. And where were Malinda and Richard living when Richard Wesley their only child who lived to adulthood, was born? Might they have been living in Cass County, near the area Richard worked as an itinerant minister? Reliable records show Richard Wesley as being born in Illinois.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Grant Frederick Tapscott, Genetic Genealogy

The story of Grant Frederick Tapscott was introduced on the Tapscott Family History site. Being of interest both to Wabash Valley Tapscotts and to Wabash Valley Wrights (I happen to fit in both families), the tale continues here.

Isaiah Grant Wright
(collection of Frank Helton
In a nutshell, Mary Emma Sanders of Clark County, Illinois, appears to have had a son, Grant Frederick, born out of wedlock and fathered by a Grant Wright. When Mary Emma married Joseph R. Tapscott, an offspring of Henry the Traveler, Grant Frederick took the surname “Tapscott.” We know of only one Grant Wright in Clark County, Isaiah Grant Wright, son of Richard and Joanna Ruth (Paschal) Wright. But we need proof that the two Grant Wrights are one. yDNA might provide proof (or near-proof), but so far no patrilineal descendants (all male line) of Grant Frederick Tapscott and Richard Wright have stepped forward to take yDNA tests. So we are stuck with autosomal DNA testing.

Rev. Richard Wright, c1865
(courtesy of Patrick Shade).
We now have autosomal test results from a descendant, “X,” of Grant Frederick Tapscott. As expected, X shows matches with descendants of Richard and Joanna (Paschal) Wright by lines not involving Grant Frederick. But X also shows matches with descendants of Sarah Ann Tapscott and Joseph Tapscott, even though Grant Frederick Tapscott is believed to not be a Tapscott genetic descendant. This is puzzling until we realize that there are non-Tapscott routes available for matches. That is one of the problems with autosomal DNA. Matches may come from many lines. The unexpected Tapscott matches are owed to Sanders connections, not Tapscott.

If we are correct in our premise, Grant Frederick Tapscott was descended from Mary Emma Sanders as well as Isaiah Grant Wright. Sarah Ann Tapscott, James Byron Tapscott, Thomas Tapscott, and Joseph R. Tapscott all married descendants of Francis and Mary H. (Mackey) Sanders (see “The Sanders Connection”). Thus, a descendant of Grant Frederick Tapscott, would be genetically related to descendants of these four Wabash Valley Tapscotts.

Red Borders show people descended from Francis and Mary H.  (Macke)
Sanders. Blue indicates a non-paternal event (NPE). Many, many, many
siblings, sons, and daughters have been omitted.

DNA testing done to date is consistent with Grant Frederick Tapscott being a descendant of Richard and Joanna (Paschal) Wright and not of Henry and Susan (Bass) Tapscott.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tear Down This Wall

So far the earliest Wright identified in the Wrights of the Wabash Valley is Rev. Richard, b 24 Mar 1816, d 13 Jul 1889, my gg grandfather. But behind Richard stands a Brick Wall. His predecessors are totally unknown. DNA has proven valuable in finding that Richard was married twice (see blog of Monday, May 15, 2017, “A New Branch on the Tree”). Perhaps it can be used to help find Richard's ancestry.

What we really need is a yDNA test for one of Richard Wright's descendants by an all-male line, a descendant bearing the Wright name. But so far no Wright has stepped up to the plate. And with the absence of yDNA testing, we are forced to rely on autosomal DNA (atDNA) or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test results, less than ideal for tracing surnames.

I have joined the FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) Wright Surname Project, with participants testing for yDNA, atDNA, and mtDNA, hoping that information at that site will shed some light on Richard Wright’s ancestry. And I am looking, on FTDNA and Ancestry, for my atDNA matches with descendants or Wrights who lived in Maryland. And I have a third cousin doing the same. But "Wright" is a common name, with many matches, and family trees posted with DNA tests are not always trustworthy.

You can help. If you are a male descendant of Rev. Richard Wright and bear the Wright name, please consider taking a yDNA test. And do contact me. In the words of a past U.S. president, “tear down this wall!”

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


And now we come to Obediah Swayze’s wife Lydia. In his book Genealogy of the Swasey Family, Benjamin Franklin Swasey gives Obediah’s wife the name “Forecloe.” He did not, however, provide her given name and “Forecloe” is a totally unknown surname. But in the Chester, New Jersey, Congregational Cemetery, Samuel Swayze’s resting place, one finds a number of people with the name “Fairclo.” Lydia’s name, it turns out, was actually “Fairclo,” a rare but known name, with derivatives “Faircloe” and “Fairclough.” Two books, Genealogy of the Lum Family by Edward H. Lum (1927) and Early Germans of New Jersey by Theodore Frelinghuysen (1895), presents information connecting the Swayze and Fairclo families. And cemetery markers provide additional history. Coupling these books, markers, and just a little research allows us to uncover Lydia’s story. Here it is with a large number of people and details omitted. We are, after all, researching Wrights, not Fairclos or Swayzes.

Elizabeth Fairclo marker.
Buried in Chester Congregational Cemetery, Chester, New Jersey, where Samuel and Penelope Swayze rest, is Thomas Fairclo and his wife Elizabeth, whose birthname may have been “Houshall” or something similar. Their stones nicely provide death dates, ages, and relationships:

Thomas Fairclo marker.

Among their children was Isaiah Fairclo, who appears to have had three wives and twenty-one children. Isaiah’s first wife was Mehitable Swayze, a daughter of Caleb Swayze and a granddaughter of Samuel Swayze. And Mehitable and Isaiah had a daughter, Lydia Fairclo, who became the wife of Obediah Swayze. Lydia and Obediah were second cousins!
Isaiah Fairclo marker, Sycamore, Illinois.

Where Obediah and Lydia met and married is uncertain. It could have been in Canada since Caleb, Mehitable’s father was a loyalist and like his nephew, Israel Swayze II, headed there during or just after the Revolutionary War. It is possible that Lydia and Obediah were there at the same time with family members.

Next time, we will finally get to the identification of the Swayze family members buried in Helt’s Prairie Cemetery (21 Oct 2017 posting).

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Swayze Family

A post (I hate the term “blog”) on this site dated 21 Oct 2017 describes a group of five cemetery markers in the Helt’s Prairie Cemetery for Swayze family members. Pat Shade, a fellow Wright family historian and my 3rd cousin, and I have made conclusions (or at least educated guesses) about the identities of those who lay under those stones. But before looking at our analysis, we need to cover some history of the Swayze family.

Pat brought to my attention a book, Genealogy of the Swasey Family by Benjamin Franklin Swasey, privately printed, Cleveland, Ohio, 1910. Much of what Benjamin has written appears to be correct and is based largely on contemporary records and documents, rather than that scourge we face today, undocumented internet trees. But as noted by Jim M. Swayze (“Natchez Talk, 2014,” Descendants of the Jersey Settlers of Adams County, Mississippi, 75th Jubilee Reunion), the book is not without error. Below is what I have found by combining the works mentioned above with a little research on my own.

We will start with Obediah's great grandfather Samuel, whose life and that of his wife Penelope is briefly documented on their grave stones in Chester Congregational Cemetery, Chester, New Jersey. Today, the stones are unreadable, but were decipherable when Benjamin was living:

Cemetery Markers for Samuel and Penelope Swayze (Find a Grave).

Here lies the body of Samuel Swayze, Esqr., who was born in Southold, Long Island, March 20, 1689; and removed from thence to Roxbury, May 17, 1737, where he continued to reside until he departed this life May 11, 1759, aged 70 years 1 month and 11 days

Here lies the body of Penelope, the wife of Samuel Swayze, who was born in Southold, Long Island, Feb. 14, 1690, and removed from thence to Roxbury, May 17, 1737, where she continued to reside until she departed this life Dec. 1, 1746, aged 55 years 9 months and 17 days.

When Samuel moved from Long Island, New York, to New Jersey, settling first in Roxbury Twp (today, Chester) and then in Oxford Twp (today, Hope), he took his family with him. One of those was his son Israel, whose story is also briefly told on his marker, in the Swayze Cemetery, Warren County, New Jersey:

Cemetery Marker for Israel Swayze I, 1941 (HABS).

In Memory of
Israel Swayze who
was born on Long island
and removed with his
father to Roxbury in
Morris County & from
thence removed to
Oxford in Sussex County
& died Aug. 27, 1774
aged 53 Years & 10 Months
My flesh shall slumber in the Ground
till the last Trumpets joyful Sound
then Burst the Chains with sweet surprize
And in my Saviours Image rise

Israel Swayze I's House, Hope, New Jersey, 1941 (HABS).

Obediah's grandfather, Israel the elder, who married Elizabeth Seward (remember that name), lived out his life in New Jersey, but that was not true of his son, also named Israel. Following the American Revolutionary War, Israel II, a Loyalist, fled with his family to the province of Ontario in Canada. He and his wife, Abagail Coleman, are buried in Lundy's Lane Cemetery, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Israel Swayze II marker (Find a Grave).
One of the younger Israel’s children was Obediah (the spelling given on his will and other documents), who was born 2 Aug 1786, after his father is believed to have moved to Canada. But censuses give Obediah’s birthplace as New Jersey. It may be that Obediah did not know where he had been born, or was carried to Canada as an infant. Eventually, however, Obediah returned to the United States, ending up in Indiana.

The next post will deal with Lydia, Obediah’s wife, Richard Wright’s mother-in-law.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Helts Prairie Cemetery

Mary Frances and I just returned from a family history research trip to Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The emphasis was on Tapscotts, but on 17 Oct 2017 we did have a chance to search for Wright-related individuals in Helts Prairie Cemetery, Vermillion County, Indiana. Thanks to Mary Frances’s acuity we found the “holy grail.” On a low hill in the northwest part of the cemetery is a row of five graves for [from left to right (north to south)] Seward W. Swayze, Malinda A. Wright, Thomas Wright, Theadore S. Swayze, and Isaiah Swyaze (lat. 39.73136901855469, long. -87.4104232788086). We did not search for graves of Obediah Swayze and his wife Lydia, who are said to be buried in that cemetery, but these five graves provide ample material for analysis and supposition.
A circle marks the five graves.
Alhough the names are quite legible, the remainders of the inscriptions are exceedingly worn and difficult to read. Mary Frances and I were able to make out what we believe are correct readings of portions of inscriptions. These are shown below with photos of the individual stones. Most photos were taken at an angle to improve readability. I hope that others will visit the cemetery to examine the markers. Sunset and sunrise are by far the best times for doing so.



June 19, 18[46?]

17 yrs a 21 d’s



Nov. 1, 1843

21[?] yrs 11 M’s.
[Rest illegible]


….. 1843
… M’s  .8 d’s
[Rest illegible]


Oct. 7, 1830
19 yrs … Ms
23 ds


… 12, 1821[?]
[Rest illegible]

Those named on these stones will be discussed in a future posting. And anyone is eligible to join in. Want copies of the twenty-six photos taken at the cemetery? Send me your email address and I'll attach them to a response (probably in several batches).