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Abigail Wyman Wright - The First Lady of Canada's Capital Area

Updated: May 19

Abigail (Wyman) Wright, composite from unknown artist, LAC

FOR regular readers of this blog, it should be obvious that much of my focus on the Capital's Curious History has been on its colonial beginnings and the major players during that time.

From a personal perspective, so much of history is equally shaped in small events and in the less visible actions of the people in the background; the supporting cast, so to speak; countless people who are only ever recognized by the people they share their lives with, only to be lost in the shadows of time.

Here is the story of one of those people, the First Lady of the Ottawa Valley.

Abigail (Wyman) Wright

ABIGAIL Wyman is recognized by historians as Philemon Wright's wife with little else written about her. "How unusual!", you may say, "The story of a remarkable woman that never made it into the history books." Yeah, unusual. Riiiiight ... !

In my journey as a chronicler of local history, the most oft-repeated remark from readers has been "Why don't you write more about the women?" and my very feeble answer has always been that there just isn't a lot of source material that sheds much light on the women. The truth is, only a few paragraphs have ever been written about Abigail over the years because just a smattering of letters and an anecdote or two from contemporaries have survived her. Yet, the story of the brave woman who follows her husband to the wilds of Canada, a real leader in her own right, is surely a story worth telling.

Having blogged about the many details of Abigail's husband, Philemon, it is time to take a stab at telling the story of the events that shaped her life.

Arrival of the Winthrop Fleet by William F. Halsall 1914

Most of Abigail's ancestors arrived in the New World in the summer of 1630, aboard one of the eleven ships of the Winthrop Fleet, led by John Winthrop. It was an expedition that carried between 700 and 1,000 Puritans from England to what would be New England, marking the first period of what is called the Great Migration.

One hundred and thirty years later, on August 20, 1760, Abigail Wyman began her life exactly two weeks before her future husband, Philemon Wright, was born. Her parents were Jonathan Wyman III and Abigail Wright, Philemon's first cousin, making Abigail and Philemon, first cousins once removed.

Winchester, Massachusetts 1883 (Winchester separated from Woburn in 1850)

Both were born British subjects in Charlestown Village (later, named Woburn) [1] in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Charlestown Village was founded in 1640 by a grant of Charles I through the signature of Town Orders by seven Selectmen chosen by the colony. Three of those Selectmen were Abigail's direct ancestors: Deacon Edward Converse, John Thompson, and Thomas Richardson.[2]

Puritans arriving in Cape Cod 1630

The original Puritan settlers valued education, both for the sake of religious study (there was a whole lot of Bible reading!) and so that citizens could participate fully in town meetings.

For their descendants raising children in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 18th century, education was considered to be a major priority. So, it would not be surprising that Abigail attended school in Woburn, learning to read and write.[3]

The Wymans are widely recognized today in Boston as one of the founding families. The list of the family's involvement in practically every pioneer project from which Boston grew is quite long: the churches, schools, government, the Middlesex Canal, the first ferry across the Mystic River. To this day, the Boston community shows its pride in the family with streets, schools, and parks that still carry the Wyman name.

Winchester (prev. Woburn) 1854 - Wyman Division

Abigail, the oldest daughter of a family of eight, grew up in a deeply religious community on her father's farm on Wyman Rd., living a privileged life. There were indentured servants working in her home - not unusual for a wealthy man like Jonathan, her father.[4] When Jonathan died in 1774, followed by Abigail's mother in 1787, it appears that the estate was divided among Abigail and her siblings.

Abigail's early years were spent at a time when tumultuous, gut-wrenching events threatened to destroy her family and her community, the events that led to the American Revolution.

As all of us will likely remember the storming of the Washington Capitol on January 6 of this year for the rest of our lives, we might not have fully understood the scope of the event until days, even weeks later. So, it may not be hard to imagine what it would be like if the event happened right in your backyard.

That was exactly what happened to young Abigail, back in 1770, when the violence was happening in the fields surrounding her home, with many members of her family caught up in the fighting.

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

For example, Abigail's 35 yr.-old (distant) cousin, John Adams, was a lawyer and political activist prior to the revolution who was devoted to the right to counsel and presumption of innocence. He defied anti-British sentiment and successfully defended British soldiers against murder charges arising from the Boston Massacre, which occurred March 5, 1770. It was considered one of the most significant events that turned colonial sentiment against King George III and British Parliamentary authority. John Adams wrote that the "foundation of American independence was laid" on March 5, 1770, and he would turn out to be one of the great patriots of the Revolution.

The Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770

After the fighting ceased, Adams became Ambassador to England in 1785, charged with negotiating peace.[5] Eventually, he would be elected the 1st Vice-President of the United States in 1789, and would later succeed George Washington in 1796, as the 2nd President. John Adams was also the father of the 6th President, John Quincy Adams.

Another example of the proximity of the War to Abigail was the Battles of Lexington & Concord, the battle that started the Revolution on April 19, 1775. [info]

The Battles of Lexington & Concord, April 19, 1775

The night before the battle, John Hancock [info], Samuel Adams [info], Joseph Wright (Philemon's uncle) and others met in Wright's Tavern in Concord (Owned by Philemon's cousin) to plan for the next day. It was decided that the Minutemen would muster in the morning at Wyman's Tavern in Keene, and march to Concord to await the British Regulars. (Wyman's Tavern belonged to Abigail's cousin, Col. Isaac Wyman Sr., who had been a veteran of the French and Indian War (1754-1763) and would command a division of Minutemen at the famous Battle of Bunker Hill. [info])

The battle at the Jason Russell house on April 19, 1775

That day's bloodiest fighting occurred around the Jason Russell House[6] in Arlington - just 3 km from Philemon's home. Numerous accounts of the fighting tell how the citizens of Woburn, Arlington, and Menotomy took their muskets to the fields to defend themselves from the marauding British Regulars. Abigail and Philemon were just 14 years-old. When Philemon turned 15, he would join the militia and serve for two years, leaving service as a Sargeant in 1777.[7]

The fighting continued for six more years and even after the fighting ends, there was still to be a ton of upheaval in the Thirteen Colonies, with serious inflation due to the cost of the war, another rebellion or two (eg. Whiskey Rebellion), and many people fleeing to the north. This unrest may very well be exactly what set Abigail's resolve to find a new and safer home with Philemon in Canada.

Abigail would marry Philemon on the 16th of May 1782, and celebrate the birth of their first child, Philemon Jr. in 1783, just as the war was coming to an end. Five years after the birth of Philemon Jr., Tiberius arrived in 1788, Abigail (Nabby) in 1790, Mary (Polly) in 1791, and Ruggles in 1793.

Sometime soon after, death paid a visit to her family, taking young Nabby from her parents forever. She was laid to rest in a corner of the Wright farm and had to be left behind when the family would leave the homestead in 1800.

As many mothers did in the day, Abigail would give her next daughter the name of Abigail, in honour of Nabby. Abigail IV was born in 1796, followed three years later by another son, Christopher Columbus in 1799. Christiana would be her last child, the first child to be born in their new settlement, in 1803.

From Farmer's Wife to Pioneer Woman

Massachusetts Bay Colony

DURING that time, Abigail and Philemon were living life on the Wright family farm, and in 1789, the couple acquired 45 acres of it for themselves, purchasing the land from Thomas Sr., Philemon's father. Philemon's older brother Thomas Jr. eventually owned the other 45 acres.[8]

In 1791, Abigail and Philemon purchased 30 acres that were adjoining the Wyman family farm. Curiously, that purchase was made in partnership with Abigail's sister, Margery, who would only marry in 1793. Had Abigail and Margery inherited money from their father's estate? Or, did they both sell their share of a land inheritance at some point? One way or the other, Abigail's signature on that contract beside her husband's certainly demonstrates that she was as much a business partner as she was a wife.

Philemon considered himself to be first and foremost a farmer, but he had quickly acquired a taste for investment and speculation. As a farmer, he and his brother Thomas would bring their goods as far afield as Montreal to get the best price for their produce and livestock, going there on many occasions. This left Abigail at home to raise the children and tend to the other business of the farm; it was good training for the role she would have to play in her future home in Lower Canada.

Acquisition of land in Woburn was a costly affair, and affordable land was becoming more and more scarce. So, Philemon and Abigail began to look for opportunities elsewhere. They had a growing family and they both wanted their children to benefit from a decent inheritance, just as Abigail had. Philemon was realizing that his own opportunities would be limited, so he kept his eyes open and ears peeled for anything that may come his way.

In Boston, he met a man named Johnathan Fassett, from Burlington, Vermont, who enlisted Philemon to invest in a business venture. Fassett made Philemon aware that the British Crown had issued a Proclamation that grants of land were available for a leader and his associates, as long as they surveyed the granted lands and brought settlers to improve them. Fassett had acquired a warrant of survey for several Townships in Lower Canada, including the wild Township of Hull in the Ottawa River Valley.

On Aug. 12, 1796, Wright signed a deed of sale for half of the Townships of Hull, Ripon, Grandison, and Harrington from Fassett's warrant for £600, a sum that grew before long, when Fassett asked for, and received £1400 more from Philemon.

What Philemon could not know, was that Fassett’s land grant had been revoked. When Philemon eventually discovered the swindle, he petitioned the Crown for the grant of Hull Township on April 17, 1797, and was promised the grant. The final deed of grant was not signed until January 3, 1806, for less than a quarter of Hull Township, which contained 82,429 acres altogether.

It is not known to what extent Abigail could have been enthused about her husband's plan to pack up and move to the wilds of Canada but there can be no doubt that she was aware of the extensive planning and preparation by her husband over three years, which included two scouting expeditions to the Ottawa Valley. Certainly, the prospect of such an undertaking was made easier for her, knowing that she and Philemon would be accompanied by her sisters, Margery and Lavina, and her brother-in-law Thomas.

Nonetheless, it is hard to imagine the courage that Abigail must have had to summon in order to leave her home, travel to this wild place that was 130 km from any outpost of civilization - and do all this with young children; Christopher was just a one-year-old.

Map of the journey of the Wright Expedition in 1800

The 800km trip to her new home in the Township of Hull would begin in February of 1800, with a brief stop in Montreal for provisions. They were accompanied by thirty-three axemen, 14 horses, and 8 oxen. Philemon describes the scene after leaving Montreal:[9]

"We proceeded on our route for the Township-of Hull, making generally amongst the old settlements about fifteen miles per day, for the first three days,- owing to our horses and oxen travelling abreast, and our sleighs being wider than what is usual in this country ; under these difficulties we travelled the three first days, stopping with the habitans those three nights until we got to the foot of the Long Sault, which was the end of any travelled road in that direction in Lower Canada, being then eighty miles from our destination, and no road, we found that it was impossible to proceed in Consequence of the depth of snow, and were therefore obliged to make a stand and set one part of our men to alter our teams so as to go singly, and the other part of the men to proceed forward to cut the road. After making the necessary preparations we proceeded on for the head of the Long Sault, observing before night came on, to fix upon some spot near water to encamp for the night, particularly observing that there were no dry trees to fall upon us or our cattle, and if there was to cut them down. Then we cleared away the snow, and cut down trees for fire for the whole night, the women and children sleeping in covered sleighs, and the men with blankets round the fire, and the cattle made fast to the standing trees ; in this situation about thirty of us spent the night, and I must say that I never saw men more cheerful and happy in my life, than they seemed to be, having no landlord to call upon us for our expenses, nor to complain of our extravagance, nor no dirty floors to sleep upon, but the sweet ground which belonged to our ancient Sovereign, observing to take our refreshment and prepare sufficient for the day."

After this, the group decided to proceed on the river. It was not an uneventful trip, as they were quite unfamiliar with travel on the frozen river. So, soon after leaving the Long Sault, they met an indigenous man who was traveling on foot with his wife and child. He was amazed at what he saw, dazzled by this convoy of oxen and sleds but quickly saw their plight. Pointing to the woods, his wife disappeared into the forest, and he proceeded to lead them up the river all the way to the banks of the Gateno river, arriving on March 7, 1800. There, the men began the hard work to establish what would soon be the first permanent settlement in the Ottawa Valley.

Detail of Chaudière Falls by John Elliott Woolford 1821

The story of how the settlement grew is always described in terms of what Philemon built and as remarkable as that story is, it could not have been done without the work of Abigail. While Philemon, his sons, and the associates built, Abigail would provide the leadership to help assure the health and welfare of her fledgling community.

Minister, teacher, nurse, and businesswoman

FROM the moment they arrived in the Valley, the pioneers would call on Abigail in medical emergencies, rely on her for their children's education, and be grateful for her attention given to their spiritual sustenance.

In a pioneer settlement of this nature, accidents occurred and health issues arose but there was no doctor within 200 km. In serious health situations, the person could be transported to Montreal for care if possible, but most situations had to be dealt with in the community.

It is Peter Miner, the storekeeper/teacher who gives a glowing testimonial of Abigail's skill as a nurse: "We have no phisitian (physician) here and I believe no nead [sic] of one, for I would give more for Mrs. Wright's opinion than any doctor I ever saw."

Abigail also took charge of both the ministry of faith and the education of the young. Having no church or preacher in the settlement, Sunday school for the young and regular prayer meetings were held in her home.

From time to time, itinerant ministers would arrive at Wright's Town but due to the isolation of the settlement, they would rarely stay on. Abigail, always eager to hear the words of a preacher, would invite them to her home. The first record of such a visit happened in 1811 when Rev. Daniel Prickett arrived to work in the timber industry (It appears he had some debts to pay off. Go figure!)

In one of his kindnesses to Abigail, Rev. Prickett writes a letter for her to her husband in Quebec City. The letter demonstrates that Abigail was a woman of deep faith. In many of her letters, she expresses her abiding belief in the hand of God in all things. Here is an excerpt from her letter to Philemon in Quebec City on June 27, 1811:

Letter from Abigail Wright to her husband, Philemon Jun. 27, 1811

"Allow me to say that I feel very anxious for you and our children that are with you lest some fierce disease should be permitted to seize upon you and prevent your return. Meanwhile I look up to the Father of all mercies and with humble confidence implore his protection for you as for myself and yet I know that in Righteousness He has decreed our own Dissolution, therefore it is our highest wisdom while on earth to receive a habitation eternal in the Heavens for which I am more than ever determined to strive by all possible means to make my calling and election sure and my desire to be crucified to the World and to have it crucified to me that I may glory only in the Cross of Christ for we know that the end of all Sublunary things are at hand. I hope however that God in his kind providence will return you and the Children to me here again in health & peace and that we may spend the residue of our days together in his fear and service.

You will tell Ruggles (18) & Abigail (15) that this Mother loves them tenderly and hopes that they will behave with propriety and be returned safely to her embrace again.

Having said all perhaps that is expedient for this time, I hasten to a conclusion by

Describing myself

Your ever dutiful and Affectionate Wife

Abigail Wright"

In letters found in the Wright Papers, Abigail shows the many sides of her personality and her preoccupations. Most of her letters are addressed to her "Dear Husband" - certainly a show of her affection for Philemon.

Her letters, like many of Philemon's, were often written by others and were generally not sealed in an envelope, so it may explain the formal tone that permeated their personal communications. The letters often were about urgent affairs of business, so things of a personal nature were kept to a minimum. Nonetheless, there is genuine and mutual affection, respect, and trust. Philemon also shared her faith, especially as seen in the moments where death visited their family.

Abigail was also quite concerned about the education in the community, most especially of her own children. In 1802, she enlisted one of the original associates, her cousin Daniel Wyman, to be the schoolmaster in her home. Unfortunately, that lasted for just three months and little else was accomplished until 1807 when the settlers subscribed to construct a schoolhouse and Abigail had Philemon petition the Governor for a schoolmaster.

In Nov. 1808, Robert Chambers, a teacher from the Royal Institute, was sent to the township and began teaching in a schoolhouse built by Philemon but Chambers remained only until 1810, replaced by another teacher in 1812. Then, Andrew Ryel arrived in 1813, taught for four months, followed finally by Peter Miner, Philemon's storekeeper, who taught for the next year. The isolation of Wright's Town presented a problem in keeping education going, just as it did in all other things.

To help with the problem, Abigail enlisted her husband Philemon to send newspapers and books home from Montreal or Quebec City, especially for the children. "I have sent you some newspapers for your amusement.", Philemon wrote "some very amusing books, some poetry but no novels." as well as a "dry but certainly useful book of arithmetic." Novels would not be acceptable literature for family reading at that time.

Notre-Dame Cathedral and Market Square, Quebec City, 1850 LAC

For some of her children, the instruction in Wright's Town would not be sufficient. In a letter to her husband dated July 27, 1813, Abigail speaks of the troubles she was having with her youngest son, Christopher Columbus, 14 at the time. She writes:

"Dear Husband and Companion,

Our son Christopher is like all boys of his age, unsettled of mind. I have given him his choice, to go into the field to work or stay in the house to have Mr. Miner instruct him, or go to Quebec. He appears not to have a mind to attend to his education and chooses to go to Quebec to you, and I wish you to pay particular attention to him and see that he does not get into bad company, as young men unexpeareanced are liable to, and conduct with him as you think proper and I shall feel easey and contented about him and I wish you to keep him with you untill you return unless you think otherways - best.

I remain your loving

and dutiful wife at your command,

Abigail Wright.

Abigail later insisted that her daughter Christiana, be educated in Quebec City as well as her grandson, Philemon III, Philemon Jr.'s son. With her choice, Philemon would proudly boast that both children were bilingual - quite progressive for a 19th-century woman in an English town, and that tradition was passed down through the family to many generations, including my own.

From 1806 on, Philemon's family became deeply involved in the timber trade. Luckily for him, he had two adult sons, Philemon Jr. and Tiberius, to assist him, and two other sons growing steadily who would pitch in later when the family firm, Philemon Wright & Sons, was formed in 1814. In the beginning, though, Philemon and his two eldest sons would frequently be taken from home to attend to business, so despite the obvious omission of her mention in the company name, it was understood by people in that era that the Mrs. was always a partner.

In her letters, Abigail can be seen as the manager and coordinator of much of the business in Wright's Town and that she takes pride in their accomplishments. When P. Wright & Sons start a brick manufactory, Abigail and other Wright women keep a brick with the PW&S mark, as an heirloom. At the height of the Wrights' trade in timber, Abigail would meet with suppliers and coordinate shipments, and communicate Philemon's instructions to whichever son or son-in-law was in town managing the businesses and farms. She also took an active role in managing the sawmills.

There were well over 500 men employed by the Wrights in the many enterprises of the family firm: the Mills, the distilleries, the hotels, shops, tanneries, not to mention the shanties and lumbermen who occupied them. Then, there were the rafts. Each one had to be stocked with supplies and men to make its way to the market in Quebec City. It was Abigail and her two eldest sons who managed it all in the earlier years, and Abigail had to do it at the same time as she managed her farm, her home, and family matters.

A hard life

TRAGEDY was never a stranger in Wright's Town and Abigail's family was not spared. In year one, Philemon's brother, Thomas, died. Only one year separated them in age, and Philemon's plan had always been to share the adventure with Thomas; they were going to build their agricultural community together but, with his death, that would never be realized. Abigail would certainly have been the comforter-in-chief to her sister-in-law, Mary, and her children, as there were no ministers and few others to step in and step up.

The year 1821 began as the most devastating of all when Abigail found out on New Year's Day that her granddaughter Louisa, daughter of Tiberius, had died the night before at 10 pm. Then no more than two weeks later, she would learn of the death of her grandson, Dalhousie, son of Ruggles. Mary (Polly), her oldest surviving daughter then died of consumption (tuberculosis) on March 21. Finally, in November, her eldest son Philemon Jr. died in a tragic accident (a broken neck). Over the years, her sons Tiberius and Ruggles would lose six more children.

We do not have letters from Abigail that mention any of these losses but there is a letter from Philemon, sent to comfort his wife and children when Polly dies. The words are touching, but only in the context of the language of two people who share a deep faith - expressed in their shared belief that happiness is to be found in the next life. The tone is one of resignation; fully understanding that this was an inevitable part of life. An unknown scribe wrote the following for Philemon, dated March 24, 1821:

Letter from Philemon to Abigail and Children 1821

Dear Wife and Children,

Mr. Brickhams (Thomas Brigham, his son-in-law) letter containing the Desolution of my Dear Daughter Mary arrived safe. Believe me I was not prepared for the stroke, but I bow my head in silent resignation at the dispensation of unering goodness. My wish my prayers have been to have reached home before (her) desolution but my wish my hopes are (naught).

Forgive blest shade the tributary tear

that sigh'd and wished to keep thee here

Forgive the wish the inward sigh

That would have stayed thy exit to its native sky

Now should we hail thy Christian flight, not stay

but trace thy journey to the realms of day.

It saves a pang the contemplation that decaying nature had all the support that Friendship or love could give.

I intend to leave this place on Tuesday or Wednesday for Montreal, which place I hope to reach the following Sunday.

There is nothing new in reference to the markets - I Remain, with Sincerity, yours etc.

Philemon Wright Senr.

The triumphs and tragedies of Abigail Wright's exceptional life all ended on Jan 23, 1829, when she died at the age of 68 years. She was laid to rest in the most prominent spot of St. James Cemetery, where her husband would be lying beside her ten years later.

From his home that he loved to call the White House, Philemon could look out the bedroom window and see where she rested at the top of the hill, just a short way down the Britannia Turnpike.

As the strong, faithful pioneer woman that she was, exemplifying the character of so many of Canada's pioneer women, Abigail Wright well-deserves to be called the First Lady of Canada's Capital Area.


[1] Charlestown Village was at first, a part of Charlestown, founded in 1629 as the first settlement of the Massachusett Bay Colony. Charlestown would eventually become Boston. Charlestown Village, founded in 1640, would split off from Charlestown in 1642 and be incorporated as Wooburn (today, it's spelled Woburn, but pronounced Wooburn).

Abigail's 5x g-grandfather, John Wyman, with his brother Francis, were two of the original 40 men and their families to have settled in Woburn. They came to America from England in 1630, first stopping in Charlestown. The Wyman brothers were successful tanners in Woburn. They were both tanners, and jointly owned a tanning house, a currying shop, a barn, and sheds. John became a wealthy man owning hundreds of acres of land and had 10 children.

[2] As a descendant of several first families in America, Abigail has family links to every President of the United States but two (Van Buren and Trump), and links to the Royal Family in the UK.

[3] Growth of Literacy in Colonial America: Longitudinal Patterns, Economic Models, and the Direction of Future Research by F. W. Grubb; Social Science History; Vol. 14, No. 4; Cambridge University Press.

The literacy rate of the Colony was 60% between 1650-1670, 85% between 1758- 1762, and 90% between 1787 - 1795, in comparison to Britain (40 percent of men) and France (29 percent of men).

By 1647 the Massachusetts General Court passed the Old Deluder Act calling for the establishment of grammar schools to thwart one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from knowledge of Scriptures. So, while we may think of literacy in the most basic terms of having the ability to read and write the English language, literacy in the American Colonies held primary importance on reading. The law mandated that every town of 50 or more families support a petty (elementary) school and every town of 100 or more families support a Latin (grammar) school where a few boys could learn Latin in preparation for college and the ministry or law.

In practice, virtually all New England towns made an effort to provide some schooling for their children. Both boys and girls attended elementary schools, and there they learned to read, write, cipher, and they also learned religion. (For a short video on the subject, click here and for more info, you can also click here)

[4] Information derived from: JONATHAN WYMAN - Document of indenture Servant named Jannet Ware; Selectmen of the town of Woburn.

In the eighteenth century, servitude in colonial America fell into three broad- categories: apprenticeship, indentured service, and slavery. These forms, based partially on custom and partially on colonial legislation, were found to a greater or lesser extent in all of the colonies, and a servant-class comprised of native and foreign-born men, women, and children (white, Indian end Negro) formed a sizable portion of the population.

The apprenticeship system in the colonies provided a supply of skilled labor and was essentially an educational institution. A minor, usually a boy, was bound out to serve a master for a number of years to learn, a trade. The apprenticeship system was also an institution utilized by the community for the care of poor children, orphans, and illegitimate offspring. These children were known as the "poor apprentices" and differed from the regular apprentices in that they were bound out by town officials or the church vestry under the supervision of the courts.

A second form of bound labor in the colonies was indentured servitude, - a system which arose out of the circumstances of immigration. Those immigrants who could not afford to pay passage to the New World did one of two things: they either sold themselves to a shipmaster (or other person) for a term of years in return for their passage or, without selling themselves to the shipmaster, engaged passage and upon arrival sold themselves into servitude to pay their way. Passengers in the first group were sold by the shipmaster to the highest bidder| in this way he was reimbursed for the passage. The latter group were known as redemptioners, who, if they were unable, to sell themselves within a thirty-day period, were sold at the disposition of the shipmaster. Both were indentured servants and signed an indenture, the first group before leaving Europe, and the second after arrival in the colonies. Redemptioners nearly always came in families while the others came as single individuals. (Servitude in Massachusetts as Revealed in Two Boston Newspapers, 1751-1763 (1960). Margaret Celeste Cook; Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. W&M ScholarWorks. Paper no. 1539624519.)

[5] When Adams was appointed the first American ambassador to Great Britain, a counterpart assumed that Adams had family in England, Adams replied, "Neither my father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, great grandfather or great grandmother, nor any other relation that I know of, or care a farthing for, has been in England these one hundred and fifty years; so that you see I have not one drop of blood in my veins but what is American."

[6] Account of the fighting around the Jason Russell House, Arlington, MA: The fighting grew more intense as Percy's forces crossed from Lexington into Menotomy. Fresh militia poured gunfire into the British ranks from a distance, and individual homeowners began to fight from their own property. Some homes were also used as sniper positions, turning the situation into a soldier's nightmare: house-to-house fighting. Jason Russell pleaded for his friends to fight alongside him to defend his house by saying, "An Englishman's home is his castle." He stayed and was killed in his doorway. His friends, depending on which account is to be believed, either hid in the cellar or died in the house from bullets and bayonets after shooting at the soldiers who followed them in. The Jason Russell House still stands and contains bullet holes from this fight. A militia unit that attempted an ambush from Russell's orchard was caught by flankers, and eleven men were killed, some allegedly after they had surrendered. (for more info, Wikipedia page)

[8] The Wright farm in Woburn, Mass. was cleared in 1648 by Philemon's g-g-grandfather, John Wright. Philemon and his brother Thomas each purchased half of the original 90 acres from their father, Thomas Sr. in 1789. Before leaving for good in 1800, Philemon sold his farm to Asa Locke. Today the farm is called the Wright-Locke Farm. (for more info, click here)

[9] From An account of the first settlement of the Township of Hull, on the Ottawa River, Lower Canada, by Philemon Wright, Appendix to the XXXIII rd Volume of the Journals of the House of assembly of the Province of Lower-Canada, Fourth Session of the Eleventh Provincial Parliament, 1824.

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