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.

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