Probably He is NOT my Mary's Mr. Right
Jean M. Hoffman
Who was the father of Mary, the second wife of Moses Nichols (1775-1822) of Newark, New Jersey and New Windsor, Orange County, New York? They were married about 1812 and she died in 1827. Follow the Wright label to see earlier articles on her possible father. As previously noted, online trees give her maiden name as Mary Ann Wright with exact dates of birth, marriage and death. None of them lead back to the origin of that data but I do not find other sources for her birth and marriage dates. The exact nature of the data suggests an origin like a family bible. Also the trees give her oldest son Aaron the middle name of Wright. I haven't found his middle name, but the initial is documented as W.i Naming patterns for this family are consistent with his middle name being her maiden name.
For some time I have tried to determine if David Wright of New Windsor was her father. He had a daughter named Mary who was baptized 28 May 1780 while the Mary Ann (Wright) Nichols of the online trees was born 29 January 1780. It seemed a possible relationship. No probate record for David Wright of New Windsor appears in Orange County, New York for the time period. I found no deed with a Wright as the seller transferring ownership of his land that might have shed light on his heirs.
Land Records Can Reveal Relationships
A course in land and property records at GRIPii in July put me on the right track for finding a deed selling David Wright's land. I created a table for the land transactions of the Wrights in New Windsor, focusing not on one person but on one original land purchase in 1774. The table began as filled in below where DB is Deed Book.
During the class I asked about land ownership maps for New Windsor. Different sites were suggested and at the Library of Congress website I found a map for Orange County published in 1851.iii The parcels are not drawn but owners' names are arranged on the map (below). Town records associate David and John Wright with the Washington Square and Silver Stream portions of New Windsor. I did an overlay of my plat of the Wright landiv and found only one place, just north of the Washington Square area that it seemed to fit (regardless of the relative scale that I had not taken into account.)
An owner in the area of the overlay (red lines) reads: “Heirs of T. Hyatt.” The land table above shows the portion of the land owned by John Wright was sold after his death to Thomas Hyatt in 1840 and resold by Hyatt heirs in 1850, the map still showing the heirs as owners. Below the Hyatt name is “J. Patton” in what could be the land of David Wright. That was now a name to find in the grantee index of Orange County deeds. There are many entries there for a James Patton buying land. One in the 1830s is from the sheriff. The next one is from an Isabella Wright of Newburgh.v A sheriff's deed looked very promising.
The deedvi reveals that Orange County Sheriff, Charles Niven, acted on a writ of fieri facias from the New York Supreme Court of Judicaturevii at the suit of Townsend Wright plaintiff against David Wright, David Wright son of Nathaniel Wright, Henry Wright, Eriston Wright, Robert Wright, and David Vance devisees terre-tenants, and Robert Wright tenant of David Wright, deceased, defendants.viii The deed tells no more about the identities of the parties to the suit. The lands owned by David Wright in 1828 were the object of the writ but the action came in 1836 when the sheriff held a sale in Newburgh at which James Patton had the highest bid. When the parties did not redeem the lands as was apparently possible under the law, the sheriff signed the deed in 1837 though it was not recorded until 1838. The later quit claim deed from Isabella Wright is for the same land of David Wright, but sheds no light on her identity.ix Plats of the land in these deeds are identical to those of the earlier deeds. The blank in the land table now should contain these entries:
Who Are these Parties to the Suit?
Nathaniel Wright was a resident of Warwick, another Town of Orange County.x He is purported to be a son of David Wright.xi Plaintiff Townsend Wright was possibly a son of Nathaniel and resident of Warwick.xii Two names stand out among the many defendants.
Eriston Wright is undoubtedly the Aristen Wright of a DAR application for the patriot David Wright through his son Benjamin.xiii Likely this Benjamin Wright was in New Windsor in 1810.xiv He died in Newburgh in Orange County before 14 January 1819 when his widow Jane received letters of administration.xv In 1820 she was head of a household with four children.xvi Aristen was one of them according to the application.
A descendant of Moses Vance and Mary Wright, a New Windsor couple, had by 2018 concluded that this Mary was most likely David Wright's daughter Mary.xvii The couple had a son Benjamin Vance whose death record reportedly names his parents. Only the index is online for the death record so I have not seen it yet.xviii Online trees name the oldest son as David Vance and the mother's death before 1825.xix In possible support of the Vance connection though not quite the same, the DAR application names a daughter of David Wright as Hannah, wife of David Vance. No daughter Mary was named.
What Do the Names Mean?
To learn the nature of the suit and relationships of the parties the court records at the New York State Archives need to be consulted.xx However, it seems likely that defendants “Eriston” Wright and David Vance were both grandsons of David Wright of New Windsor, sons of two of his children who predeceased him. If that is the case, unless he had two daughters named Mary, David Wright of New Windsor is NOT the father of Mary, second wife of Moses Nichols of New Windsor.
Learning more about these New York courts, finding, and understanding the court records or related data is a next step needed along with checking county circuit court records.
Referenced websites were viewed 23 August 2020.
i. For example: Orange County, New York, Letters of Guardianship B: 99, Aaron W. Nichols entry, (1829), Surrogate Court Clerk's Office, Goshen; and 1850 U.S. census, Hillsdale County, Michigan, population schedule, Jefferson Township, page 373 (stamped), 745 (penned), dwelling/family 4, Aaron W. Nichols household; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054); from NARA M432, roll 351.
iii. J. C. Sidney, Cartographer, Map of Orange County New York: from actual surveys (Philadelphia: Newell S. Brown, Publisher, 1851); digital image, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2013593254/).
iv. Jean M. Hoffman, “Researching New York at WRHS: The Case of John Wright (ca. 1753–1838) of New Windsor, New York, WRHS Genealogy Bulletin 35, no. 3 (Fall 2016): 1, see plat.
v. "United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975," FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WF-PW9P?i=247&cc=2078654&cat=168957), digital film 007157750, image 248, Orange County Grantee Index 1, I-Z, 1703-1869.
vi. "United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975," FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WF-Y6Q5?i=111&cc=2078654&cat=16895), digital film 007159915, image 112,Orange County Deeds 62: 164–65, Sheriff Charles Niven to James Patton, 1837 (land of David Wright).
vii. “New York State Supreme Court of Judicature (Geneva) Writs of Execution,” New York State Archives (https://iarchives.nysed.gov/xtf/view?docId=ead/findingaids/J0025.xml), for definitions: “Writs of fieri facias command a sheriff to levy the amount of judgment from the judgment debtor.”
viii. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 1164, “terre-tenant” meaning, in a technical sense, one who is seised of the land but not actually occupying it.
ix. "United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975," FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WF-YN1T?i=187&cc=2078654&cat=168957), digital film 007159915, images 188-189, Orange County Deeds 62: 317–19, quit claim deed, Isabella Wright to James Patton, 1838.
x. "United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975," FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WF-LJNN?i=155&cc=2078654&cat=168957) digital film 007157794, image 156, Orange County Deeds Y: 302, quit claim deed, Nathaniel Wright of Warwick to John Mains of New Windsor, 1823. And, 1855 New York state census, Orange County, population schedule, 3rd election district, town of Warwick, family 432, Nathaniel Wright household; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7181).
xi. Francis Wright and Maude E. White Cleghorn, “Wrights of Long Island,” 14-page typescript of now unknown origin, photocopy provided to the author by the late Douglas W. Cruger (author A Genealogical Dictionary of Wright Families in the Lower Hudson Valley to 1800 (Bowie, Md: Heritage Press, 1987)) in 2015. And, membership application, Mirbell Shirey Pairan, National no. 226286, on David Wright (1745–1833, New York), National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Library Record Copy Services (https://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_member/?Action=full&National_Number=226286).
xii. 1855 New Work state census, Orange County, town of Warwick, family 436, Townsend Wright, same page as note 10.
xiii. Membership application, Mirbell Shirey Pairan, National no. 226286, National Society DAR.
xiv. 1810 U.S. Census, Orange County, New York, town of New Windsor, page 286 (penned), line 27, Benjamin Wright; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613); from NARA M252, roll 29.
xv. "New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999," Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8800) > Orange > Letters of Administration, Vol E, 1815-1827 > image 132, Orange County Letters of Administration E: 116, Benjamin Wright entry, 1819.
xvi. 1820 U.S. census, Orange County, New York, population schedule, town of Newburgh, page 503 (penned), line 4, Jane Wright; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7734); from NARA M33, roll 64.
xvii. H. M. Chesi [e-address for private use] to author, e-mail, 4 July 2018, “New Windsor NY Wrights.....;” privately held by the author.
xix. Henry Vance, compiler, “Vance Family Tree,” Benjamin Harvey Vance entry with numerous sources and citing a “Per Verified Transcript from Register of Deaths, Town of New Windsor” for birth and death information; Ancestry Trees (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/25492793/person/26083084629/facts).
xx. For background and resources see: "Duely & Constantly Kept:" A History of the New York Supreme Court, 1691-1847 and An Inventory of Its Records (Albany, Utica, and Geneva Offices), 1797-1847 (Albany, NY: A Joint Publication of the New York State Court of Appeals and The New York State Archives and Records Administration, 1991); On-Line Book (http://www.nycourts.gov/history/legal-history-new-york/documents/History_Supreme-Court-Duely-Constantly-Kept.pdf). Also, John L. Wendell, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature, and in the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of Errors, of the State of New-York. 26 vols. Albany: 1829-42; digital versions, HathiTrust Digital Library(https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009722372); search of term "Wright" did not locate related case in the 26 volumes.