Sunday, January 6, 2013

Captain Freedom Wright and his Historic Inn


Captain Freedom Wright, my fourth great grand uncle, and brother to Captain Charles Wright, and ten years his junior, was born on July 3, 1749 in Goshen, Connecticut. His biographical details are very similar to those of Charles, as they seem to have done almost everything together. (See my last three blogposts about Charles for more detailed discussion of his life). They both moved with their father to Winsted, Connecticut in 1770, and both fought in the same battles of the Revolutionary War, as part of the Connecticut militia and as part of the Continental Army. He was initially a lieutenant in the the militia, whereas his older brother was a captain, and he was a private in the army while Charles was a sergeant. He was in the first battle of the war, Lexington, with his brother. He also went to Ticonderoga with Charles, their brother David, and their brother-in-law, Ebenezer Shepherd, who was married to their sister Mercy.

Freedom, who thereafter was a captain in the militia, married Anna Horton, on September 1, 1777 in Winchester. They had at least six children together, including Asa Douglas, Jabez, Lucy, Abigail, and two sons named Freedom who died in infancy. That year, as well as doing a tour of duty in the northern army, he became a landowner in Winsted, and kept a tavern in his house, which burned down years later, in the same neighbourhood as his father and brothers. Anna died on September 18, 1788, five days after giving birth to her son, Freedom, who died at birth. He married Phebe Turner on August 10, 1789 in Winsted, and had at least three children with her, Anna, another Freedom who died in infancy, and finally a Freedom who lived into adulthood. Freedom’s wife Phebe died in 1793. He then married Jerusha Sheldon on October 31 the same year. In History of the town of Goshen, Connecticut it is stated that he and Jerusha had a “large family” but does not give the names of the children. It says that he had two sons, Hiram and Sheldon, but that it is not clear who the mother was. I would venture to say that their mother was likely Jerusha since “Sheldon” was her maiden name. I have found two more of his children, “Jerusia” and Norman L. Wright. I have discovered a baptism record for a “Jerusia Wright” who was born “November 27, 1801” and who was baptised in 1809 in Fonda, Montgomery, New York in the Reformed Dutch Protestant Church of Caughnawaga, and whose parents were “Friedom Wright” and “Jerusia Sheldon”. Here is the link: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FDYG-YD4. Norman L. Wright was also baptised in 1809 in the same church, see https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FDYP-HWL with the same parents, having been born on June 4, 1808. Also it is stated in A standard history of Erie County, Ohio, page 488, “Norman L. Wright was a son of Freedom and Jerusha Wright, of New York State, where they lived and died as substantial farming people”.

In 1802, Freedom sold his farm in Winsted, and moved with his family, and his brother Charles and his family, to the Black River country of upstate New York, settling in the village of Denmark. Here he built the first framed house in the village, and became the first innkeeper and tavern owner there, resuming his former occupation while in Winsted. The building still stands to this day. The second part of the first town meeting was held in his house (tavern) in 1803, during which he and his brother Charles were appointed “Overseers of the poor”. A meeting was held at Freedom’s inn on January 3, 1804 to discuss the possible division of Oneida county. Then, historically, the meeting where it was decided to create Lewis and Jefferson counties was held there on November 20, 1804.

Freedom, like his brother Charles, was also involved in other civic and church matters. He, a Republican, was on the committee to elect Lewis Graves to the New York State Assembly in 1809, and was a founding trustee of the Denmark Ecclesiastical Society. He lived out the rest of his days in Denmark, and died  in 1824 or 1825 at the age of seventy-five or seventy-six. His wife, Jerusha, appears to have passed away in about 1840.

Other bloggers have written about Freedom Wright and his inn. These include the blogpost, Freedom Wright’s Wife and Her Spinning Wheel in the blog, One Hundred Acres: http://sharonwue.blogspot.ca/2011/07/freedom-wrights-wife-and-her-spinning.html, where you can see a photograph of the spinning wheel she bought at Freedom’s inn, which was an antique store at the time. I believe the wheel in question was likely that of his first wife, Anna Horton Wright or his daughter Anna. In addition, in the blogpost, New York: Freedom Wright’s Inn, Denmark, in the blog a good Beer Blog, http://beerblog.genx40.com/archive/2012/april/newyorkfreedom, there is a current picture of the inn.

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