Friday, May 20, 2011

Finding Mr. Wright?

Charles Nichols was born 3 April 1817 in New Windsor, Orange County, New York. His parents were Moses Nichols and his second wife, Mary. Moses died intestate in 1822. Estate administrators were Mary Nichols, his widow; Samuel Nichols, a brother; and Daniel Moores, a friend; all of the town of New Windsor.1 Moses and his brother Samuel were originally from Newark, New Jersey, sons of Robert and Elizabeth (Johnson) Nichols. They were the only members of the family to relocate to New Windsor, specifically to the portion called Little Britain. Widow Mary Nichols died in 1827 leaving a will. She named her oldest son, Aaron, and mentioned three more sons. The executors were: Robert Fulton, Samuel B. Moores, and Daniel Moores; witnesses: Samuel Nichols, Jabish Atwood, and Alexander McC. Nichols.2 In 1829 or at the time each of the sons reached the age of fourteen, he was appointed a guardian. Daniel Moores was appointed guardian of Aaron W. Nichols.3 Samuel Nichols was appointed for the other three: Robert J., Charles and Moses H. Nichols.4 Samuel is referred to as an uncle in the paperwork for Charles.

Robert J. Nichols and Moses Higby Nichols appear in census records with their father’s birthplace in New Jersey and their mother’s in New York.5 As their father moved to New York with his first wife, Jane, and is buried with her in New Windsor,6 it is likely that his second wife was local. There are a few suggestions for the maiden name of Mary Nichols.

  1. A genealogy of Humphrey Nichols, grandfather of Moses, says perhaps it was McDowell. Of three, not four, sons named, only one is correct leaving significant doubt as to the accuracy of its information.7
  2. Daniel Moores as an administrator of the estate of Moses Nichols, an executor of the will of Mary Nichols, and guardian to their oldest son appears to be an important person to the family, possibly a member of her family.
  3. An unsourced online family tree with some very accurate data gives her maiden name as Mary Ann Wright and her oldest son’s middle name as Wright. Many documents list him as Aaron W. Nichols, so it is possible that it is Wright.8
If Mary Nichols was born Mary Ann Wright, likely in New Windsor, who might be her father? She and Moses were married about 1812 as his first wife died in 1811 and their first son, Aaron, was born in 1813. U.S. census records for 1790 – 18109 along with New Windsor town records10 reveal two good candidates: David Wright and John Wright.
Thomas does not appear after 1790. Note this was Ulster County in 1790. Mary should appear in the free white female column in 1790, probably in her birth household.
New Windsor seems to have been enumerated under Newburgh in the 1800 census.
John Wright
A John Wright and his wife were buried in the same New Windsor cemetery as Moses Nichols.6 John died in 1838 leaving a will.11 His will names a daughter Mary who predeceased her father. She left five children of the surname Preston. No heirs were named Nichols. This eliminates John Wright as a father to Mary, wife of Moses Nichols. The will was written in 1813 witnessed by David Wright, Thomas Fulton and Daniel Moores. Only Daniel was still living when the will was presented for probate in 1838. In addition to Daniel, John’s sons and executors, John Junr. and William J. Wright, testified, as did Samuel Nichols. The presence of the same names as in the Nichols’ probates may simply reflect the makeup of a small community, but might indicate closer association.

David Wright
The DAR ancestor index contains one Wright in Orange County, New York, David of New Windsor.12 The applications are with wife Margaret Woodhull through a son Benjamin. Service was in Col. James McClaughrey’s company of Ulster County militia, 2nd regiment. David’s death is listed in 1833. A son John is documented by a descendant in Nebraska.13 There is no will or other probate record for a David Wright of New Windsor in Orange County. The 1830 census shows four heads of household by that name in Orange County.14 One lived in New Windsor and one lived in Newburgh. The latter died in 1835 and does have probate records. The county deed index appears to show his executors as his widow Temperance and son William. David of Newburgh is a different person from David of New Windsor.

With no probate records for the New Windsor David Wright, deeds are a possible source of information. The grantor and grantee indexes of deeds for Orange County were consulted for the surnames Nichols and Wright.15 Each of the sons of Moses and Mary Nichols sold land on at least two occasions. The microfilm containing deeds for Charles Nichols have been requested. Also requested is the film containing a deed with a David Wright as the sole grantor listed for the period about 1835 and for one of "John Wright Ex. etc." John Wright had an executor of John Junr., but this appears to be before he died and David reportedly also had a son John. Hopefully the Wright deeds will have heirs of David and/or the Nichols deeds will be for land inherited from both father Moses Nichols and the maternal grandfather.
1. Orange County, New York, Letters of Administration, E: 212, Moses Nichols entry, (1822), Surrogate Court Clerk's Office, Goshen.
2. Orange County, New York, Wills, H: 302-04, Mary Nichols will, (1827), Surrogate Court Clerk's Office, Goshen.
3. Orange County, New York, Letters of Guardianship, B: 99, Aaron W. Nichols entry, (1829), Surrogate Court Clerk's Office, Goshen.
4. Orange County, New York, Letters of Guardianship, B: 100, Robert J. Nichols entry, (1829); and B: 197, Charles Nichols entry, (1831); and C: 335, Moses H. Nichols entry, (1834.)
5. 1880 U.S. census, Delaware County, New York, population schedule, Town of Hancock, ED 2, sheet 212A, dwelling 86, family 92, Moses H. Nichols household; ( accessed 17 May 2010); imaged from FHL microfilm 1,254,823; also 1880 U.S. Census, Hillsdale County, Michigan, population schedule, Robert J. Nickols household, Jefferson Township, ED 87, page 170D, dwelling 301, family 322; ( accessed 22 August 2009); from roll 581; both digital images,, from National Archives microfilm T9.
6. Albert Gedney Barratt, Inscriptions on Gravestones in New Windsor Cemetery (Newburgh, NY:, 1902), digital images Internet Archive ( : accessed 29 August 2009.)
7. Frederic C. Torrey The Ancestors and Descendants of Humphrey Nichols of Newark, New Jersey, and of his Brothers and Sisters (Lakehurst, NJ: author, 1917), Google Books digital images ( : accessed 18 August 2009), 20.
8. Robert, "Soher Iversen Gammon Beal Carson Spalding Bevan" Database RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project ( : accessed 25 August 2009.
9. U.S. census search at for the surname Wright in Orange County, NY, for the years 1790, 1800, and 1810.
10. “Town of New Windsor, Historic records on line,” transcriptions by Glenn T. Marshall, Town Historian ( : accessed 29 August 2009.)
11. Orange County, New York, Wills, K: 231-33, John Wright will, (1838), Surrogate Court Clerk's Office, Goshen.
12. DAR Genealogical Research Databases, Wright of Orange County, New York Ancestor Search, database, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution ( : accessed 28 May 2010); and Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, David Wright entries, McClaughrey's Regiment of (Ulster County) Militia, digital images, ( : accessed 22 May 2010); from NARA RG 93, microfilm M246, ID 602384; and no record of pension paid to David Wright of New Windsor found at
13. Maude Egbert White Cleghorn, "Ancestry and Posterity of Abner White of Dutchess County, N. Y.," The Nebraska and Midwest Genealogical Record Vol. IV (1926): 301, transcribed online Nebraska GenWeb Project ( : accessed 22 May 2010).
14. 1830 census search for David Wright in Orange County, NY, at
15. Orange County, NY, deed indexes, 1703-1869, FHL microfilm 0,826,918, grantor K-Z, and 0,826,950, grantee I-Z.

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