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                                       THOMAS WRIGHT
                                    Cook County, Illinois


Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.


Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 26-27

THOMAS WRIGHT was born at Branston, Leicestershire, England,
May 2, 1820.  He is a son of John and Elizabeth (Grudgins)
Wright.  The father succeeded his rather as gardener at
Branston Hall, but after reaching middle age resigned that
position and was placed in charge of a section of highway
lying between Leicester and Hinckley.  He continued in that
occupation until old age unfitted him for further labor, and
died at Branston at the age of ninety-three years.  Mrs.
Elizabeth Wright died at the age of eighty-nine years.  She
was born at Ratby, Leicestershire.

Of the ten children born to this worthy couple, Thomas is
the only one who came to America. From the age of seven
years he was accustomed to assist in earning his livelihood
by tending cows upon the highway.  Though he never received
more than six months' schooling, he was a bright and
ambitious lad and acquired studious habits. At the age of
fourteen he was apprenticed to a tailor at Marborough,
serving at that trade until he reached his majority.  While
employed in this manner, working sixteen hours per day at
some seasons of the year, he divided the balance of the time
between study, sleep and extra work, by the latter means
earning pocket money. He had a commendable desire to better
his condition and to become better informed. Of the first
six shillings which he earned after completing his
apprenticeship, five were spent for a copy of Walker’s
Dictionary, and he managed to become the possessor of other
books from time to time, gaining a stock of information upon
matters of public interest. The next twelve years after
becoming a journeyman were spent at his trade in Leicester
and Ratby, most of this time carrying on a shop of his own
and gaining a flattering patronage.  During this time he
took considerable interest in the labor question, and made
several futile attempts to improve the condition of his
fellow-workmen.  In 1855, through the advice and assistance
of a friend who had preceded him to Chicago, he came to this
city, ten weeks being consumed in the journey by sea and
land.  He arrived here with a sick wife and three small
children, having fifteen cents in his pocket and being
indebted to his friend to the amount of $150.  For a few
days after his arrival he was detained from labor by
illness, after which he began work for the Chicago Gas Light
and Coke Company, and has been regularly employed by that
corporation to the present time, a period of forty years.

He began as a lighter of street lamps, but after a short
time won the confidence of his employers to such an extent
that he was appointed a Collector, and continued to work in
that capacity, in connection with office work, for the next
thirty years.  He now holds the position of Recording Clerk
in the office of the company, having made his services
almost indispensable to the business by his habits of
industry, integrity and punctuality.  His first residence in
Chicago was near the corner of Washington and Jefferson
Streets, but he soon afterward removed to the corner of
Monroe and Aberdeen Streets, which was then on the extreme
outskirts of the city. As there was abundant pasturage upon
the surrounding prairies, he kept several cows after moving
to this location, finding a ready market among his neighbors
for the milk they produced, and thereby adding materially to
his income.  At that time the only sidewalk on Madison
Street, which was then, as now, the principal West Side
thoroughfare, consisted of two planks laid parallel. On July
3, 1843, at Friar Lane Church, Leicester, occurred the
marriage of Thomas Wright and Sarah Hemingway.  The latter,
who was born June 14, 1814, at Brumsgrove, Worcestershire,
was a daughter of Joseph Hemingway, who was for many years a
sailor in the British navy, and in later life a wool-comber
by occupation.   Mrs. Wright died in Chicago March 13, 1881.
She was a devout member of the Western Avenue Baptist
Church, and for nearly forty years had fulfilled in a most
exemplary manner the duties of wife and mother. Mr. and Mrs.
Wright were the parents of three children, named in order:
Emma Keturah Hemingway, now the wife of Charles Carhart;
Ernest J. H., who is Secretary of the Suburban Gas Company
of Chicago; and Margaret Ellen Hemingway.  Both the
daughters reside in Wilmette.

Since 1881 Mr. Wright has dwelt in Wilmette. While a young
man he joined the Baptist Church, but has never been
connected with any religious organization in this country.
He was also connected with the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows in England.  He is a close student of public
questions, and is independent in his opinions and actions.
Since coming to this country he has incurred no political
obligations, and is governed solely by his own judgment and
conscience in the support of candidates for public suffrage.

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