Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Descendants From East To West, August 6, 2019

This land is your land,
This land in my land...
This land was made
for you and me.
~Woodie Guthrie

Juanita Eeds with son Keith Eeds
and niece Cindy Shepard in Nov 2018
Happy 98th Birthday! Today is the birthday of Juanita Eeds of Bandon, Oregon! My wife Cindy and Granddaughter Preslea are in Bandon today celebrating with Cindy's Aunt Juanita. Born in Durant, Oklahoma in 1921, she lived with family in San Diego for many years until last summer. She then moved to Oregon to be with her son Keith and his wife Sally. Best wishes for a very happy 98th birthday to Juanita!

In recent posts I have written about my 6X Great Grandparents John Wright (1716-1789) and his wife Rachel Wells Wright (1720-1751) who were originally from Pennsylvania and Maryland. From their earliest days in Colonial America they were devoted Quakers who helped establish new Quaker communities wherever they went. Their life together began in Frederick, Maryland where they were married and where their first 7 children were born. In Maryland they were founding members and leaders of the Fairfax Monthly Meeting (the name for the local Quaker congregation). John and Rachel both became what the Quakers called "recorded ministers" while affiliated with the Fairfax Monthly Meeting. Who are the people through whom we trace our ancestry to 18th Century ancestors John and Rachel Wright? The following paragraphs briefly summarize them.

North Carolina. In 1749 John and Rachel took their family of 7 children from Maryland and moved to Orange County, North Carolina where they became founding members of the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting, west of Chapel Hill. At Cane Creek they had 6 more children, including Sarah Wright (1749-1789), the one from whom our particular family is descended.

Historical Marker in South Carolina
re: the Bush River Quaker Meeting
South Carolina. Rachel and John Wright then migrated from North Carolina to Newberry, South Carolina in 1764. There they once again became Charter Members of a new Quaker fellowship, this time the Bush River Monthly Meeting. After just 7 years in Bush River, 52 year old Rachel died in 1771, two days before Christmas. 52 seems like an early death by today's standards, but at that time the life expectancy was less than 40 years. After her death husband John continued on as the head of their large family and as a minister in their Quaker fellowship. He outlived Rachel by 18 years. In his later years John became a member of the first and second Provincial Congress of South Carolina. In his 50s he served in the Revolutionary War and helped bring about the United States of America.

The 8th child of John and Rachel was Sarah Wright (1749-1789). In 1767, at just 18, she married James Brooks (1749-1840) in Newberry, South Carolina and with him had 10 children, all Biblically named: Elizabeth, Joanna, Susannah, Vashti, Sarah, John, Nimrod, James, Joseph and Mary. Sarah and James Brooks raised their family and lived out their days in the Quaker Colony of Newberry County, South Carolina.

Sarah and James' fourth child was a daughter, Vashti Brooks (1776-1867), named after the beautiful Persian Queen in the Old Testament book of Esther. She married an older fellow named James Wright (1759-1806), who appears to have been her first cousin. It is likely that Vashti Brooks and her husband James Wright were both grandchildren of John Wright and Rachel Wells Wright. The marriage of first cousins is unusual today, but not so in Colonial times. A few years ago I wrote about some other 18th Century ancestors on the Gower side of our family who married first cousins.

On to Western Ohio. Sometime around the turn of the 19th Century Vashti and James Wright migrated to Western Ohio. In 1806, they appear in the records of the Miami Monthly Meeting of the Quakers in Warren County, Ohio, north east of Cincinnati. (Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. 5, Ohio Monthly Meetings, p. 144.) Vashti and John were part of that common 19th century migration of Americans from the Carolinas to Ohio and then on to Indiana. The following graphic shows the 300+ year, cross country migration of this part of our family from Frederick, Maryland to San Diego, California.

The 300+ year Migration Route of our ancestors
from Maryland to San Diego

Wright Wright. The 1850 US Census shows Vashti Brooks Wright, a 75 year old widow, living in Owen County, Indiana with her daughter Nancy Wright (1811-1882). Nancy married a man named John Lynn Wright (1808-1909), who had the same last name. It is unknown how closely they might have been related. Nancy's married name therefore became -- are you ready for this? -- Nancy Wright Wright, which was one more anomaly among these ancestral Wrights of ours.

Nancy's daughter was Malinda Elizabeth Wright (1846-1920), who married Charles Edward Davis (1849-1926), the father of James Brooks Davis (1870-1928). Named after his Great Great Grandfather James Brooks (a son-in-law of Rachel and John Wright) James Brooks Davis was the father of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). Bura, with her husband William Shepard and their children, were the first in this ancestral line to settle in San Diego in 1940. Though many of their descendants have moved elsewhere in the last 80 years (Washington, Oklahoma, Kansas, etc.) some of their descendants have lived in San Diego ever since.

This then is a very brief summary of the long journey of our Wright-Davis-Shepard ancestors from East Coast to West. It encompassed seven generations and took over 300 years to migrate from Maryland to California. It was a long journey to be sure, with innumerable memories, heartbreaking losses and great successes. It is a journey we celebrate, because it is our story, part of the ongoing story our family, a story to claim and to realize the American dream.
- - -
Steve Shepard

No comments: