Putnam County

WRIGHT, Hiram C.

Hiram C. WRIGHT, a pioneer of Marshall and Putnam counties, Illinois, is now living a retired life in Henry, where his familiar figure, white hair and beard are known by every man, woman and child for miles around. He is a native of Canada, born at Morris Hollow, about fourteen miles north of Toronto, May 4, 1819, and is a son of William and Sophia (CLEVELAND) WRIGHT, both of whom were natives of New York, from which state they emigrated to Canada and were there married. When Hiram was but eight years of age they determined to emigrate to Illinois, and, with their family of three children, located in Tazewell county. William WRIGHT was a tanner and currier by trade, and followed that occupation in his native state and in Canada, but on coming to Illinois engaged in farming. He remained in Tazewell county but one year and then removed to Peoria county, three miles west of the present village of Chillicothe, locating on La Salle prairie, which was his permanent home during the remainder of his life. He died at the age of fifty-six years. He was a man of limited means and made the journey by team from Canada, accompanied by the family of his wife’s father, who also located near him in Peoria county. His wife survived him some years, dying when about seventy years old. Of their four children, two are now li8ving, our subject and his sister, Harriet, who also resides in Henry. One daughter died in Indiana, while en route to Illinois. One son, William, grew to manhood in Peoria county, where he engaged in framing, but has since died.

The subject of this sketch remained under the parental roof until nineteen years of age, and in common with all farmer boys, attended school during the winter months and assisted in farm work other seasons of the year. The lead mines in the vicinity of Galena, and which extended across the line into Wisconsin, in early days afforded about the only place where employment could be secured and wages paid in cash. Thousands of men in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri from 1832 until well in the 40s annually made pilgrimages to the mines that they might secure money for taxes and for such things as could not be had by barter. Young Hiram, at the age mentioned, thought it was time for him to handle a little of the “filthy lucre” there to be had by those industriously inclined, and so went to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, and for several years engaged in mining and in farm work. Returning to Illinois, he made a claim on Senachwine lake, in Putnam county, about six miles west of Hennepin. This claim consisted of three hundred acres of good land, on which he removed in 1844, and at once commenced its improvement. His capital being limited he could not at once improve the entire claim, but did so as rapidly as his means would permit. The management of a farm, without the aid of a “gude wife” has ever been found to be difficult work, and our subject realized this in due time; accordingly we find that on the 27th of October, 1847, he was united in marriage with Miss Sophia HUNTER, a native of Cortland county, New York, born October 25, 1828, and a daughter of Andrew and Huldah HUNTER. Soon after this event occurred he removed to Boyd’s Grove, Bureau county, near the home of his wife’s father, where he purchased an improved farm of one hundred and sixty acres and there remained six years. He then returned to his original farm on the Senachwine, and actively engaged in general farming until his removal to Henry, shortly before the commencement of the civil war. For some years after his removal to the village he retained possession of the farm, but finally sold. He yet, however, still owns the Boyd Grove farm, which he leases. In addition to his farming interests he has made some investments in the west, but at present has only such interests as will prevent his rusting out.

After a happy married life of forty-six years, Mrs. WRIGHT departed this life February 23, 1893. She was a quite, unassuming woman, caring but little for the vanities of this world. For some years she was a member of the Christian church, but on removal to Henry she united with the Presbyterian body, there being no church of her choice in the village. Tow daughters came to bless their union, one dying in childhood. The other, Clarissa, is now the wife of Dr. F. A. POWELL, a druggist of Henry. They also adopted a boy, Walter SMITH, who died after being an inmate of their home for three years and a half.

On the 25th of June, 1894, Mr. WRIGHT married Miss Ruth McKINNEY, of Henry, a native of Putnam county, Illinois. Her father, Joel McKINNEY, was a native of Indiana, and there married Miss Emeline JACKSON, a native of Oxford county, Maine, who removed with her parents to Indiana when but fifteen years of age. From Warsaw, Dearborn county, Indiana, Joel, McKINNEY moved to Putnam county, Illinois, in 1842. He died in Tennessee in 1880, and his widow now makes her home with Mrs. WRIGHT, who is her only child, now living in Marshall county. Of her five children, three sons and two daughters, all are scattered, living in various places, from Illinois to Oregon. For some years prior to her marriage, Mrs. WRIGHT was an active business woman in Henry, and is well known and universally esteemed. She is a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. WRIGHT is not a member of any church, but usually attends and contributes to the Presbyterian church. In politics he is a thorough, out and out republican.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 71.

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