Thursday, January 3, 2013

Captain Charles Wright: Revolutionary War Patriot, Part One

Charles Wright, my four times great grandfather on my father’s paternal line, was born September 7, 1739 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the son of Lieutenant John Wright and Prudence Deming. His father had earned the title “Lieutenant” in the French and Indian War, the main conflict in the colonies prior to the American Revolution. (Men in colonial times and early America tended to keep their military titles for the rest of their lives). 
Charles was the fourth of nine children, the others being Dorcas, Asaph, Jabez, John, David, Freedom, Mercy and Lucia. It appears that around 1740, the family moved from Wethersfield to Goshen, Connecticut. Charles married Ruth Smith here on November 11, 1767 when he was twenty-eight and she was seventeen. She was the daughter of John Smith, the first merchant in Goshen. John also kept a tavern, which prospered until he took to “intemperate” behaviour.

Charles and Ruth had twelve children: Tyrannus, Sarah, Lydia, Charles Jr., Stephen S., Tyrannus Augustus, Ruth, Erastus, Erastus, Chester, Nathan M., and Matthew Miles. At least two of their children died in infancy—the first Tyrannus and the first Erastus. The first two children were born when the couple was still living in Goshen, and the rest after they moved to Winsted, Connecticut in 1770. They lived and farmed there, close to Charles’s father, Lieutenant John, until after his death and their “removal” to the Black River country of upstate New York.

Around the time of his arrival in Goshen, Charles became a captain in the 26th Connecticut Militia. By 1775, he was in the Continental Army as a private in Captain Seth Smith’s Company. Charles, and his company, marched from New Hartford in April 1775 for the relief of Boston, in the “Lexington Alarm”, the first battle of the Revolutionary War. In June 1775, he was a sergeant in Captain John Sedgwick’s company in Colonel Hinman’s 4th Connecticut Continental Regiment, and went to Ticonderoga, Crown Point and other areas of conflict with them. He was accompanied in this by his brothers Freedom and David. The company suffered severely in their march through the wilderness to the point of being reduced to “roasting old shoes” to survive. It appears that David may have died in Massachusetts on this “march to the northern frontier”, or on another, of “camp distemper”, which appears to have been a violent form of dystentery. He was about twenty-nine years old and unmarried. Charles Wright may also have participated, as part of the Connecticut militia, in fighting against the British in “Tyron’s Invasion of Connecticut”, also known as “Tyron’s raid”.

Captain Charles also seems to have been very much involved in the civic and church life of Winsted. He was elected in 1781 as a town “Selectman” (one of the town’s board of officials). In this same year, he was one of the signers, along with his brothers Freedom and John, of a successful petition to reduce taxes. Also in 1781, he voted to procure soldiers for service in the Continental Army, as part of a committee to help fill the town’s deficiency of military men. In 1799, he “pitched a stake” for the building of a new church meeting house. Some of his sons were to follow in his footsteps in civic and church involvement after the move to upstate New York, such as Charles Jr. and Tyrannus Augustus.

In 1802 he sold his farm in Winsted in preparation for the move of his family, and that of his brother Freedom, to “The Black River Country” in New York State. More of this in the next installment.eHe

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