Utica – A foreword

Wow, it’s been awhile! My research these past couple years has been mostly focused on a few specific roadblocks – the whole Eggleston/Watson Y-DNA thing, Jackson Wright’s lineage, Nancy Thompson’s lineage, and everything about the Thews family from somewhere in Prussia. There have been no breakthroughs on any of them as yet – slow progress for some, still a big goose-egg for others. But I decided to take on a side project of sorts. In honor of 100 posts here, I am planning a series about the whens and whys of my mom’s Wright ancestors’ move from Madison County, Iowa, to Utica, Montana.

Yes, I’m thinking series. There are so many Wrights, so many stories, and so many oddball coincidences that I think that’s the right call. But I wanted to do a little piece first to set the scene. (And to reacquaint myself with how WordPress works. Yikes – so much has changed!) Mostly I wanted to get the introduction to this book out of the way.

This book, THE book, hereinafter referred to as Utica, was a game-changer. Utica is a compilation of stories of various pioneer families from the area around Utica, Montana – originally in Fergus County, now in Judith Basin County. The flags (which I ran out of) mark references to my Wright family, Aunt Myrtle, Aunt Kate and her Meacham family, and one or two of the other families responsible for our being there.

I’ve bought and downloaded lots of town and county history books over the years – this one is the new gold standard. Not a lot of those pesky facts and details that invariably get proven wrong a generation or two down the road. This is primarily first-hand recollection about a specific place and time – and it’s researcher gold.

Put together by a committee of history-minded locals in 1968, it runs 250 pages and includes a credit to the typist. Yes, 250 typed pages – no word processing programs here. I bought the book in April 2022 from a reseller near Spokane. Paid too much for it – but it’s not like it was ever going to show up in the Barnes & Noble bargain bin. I’m so glad I did.

And no blog post of mine would be complete without a small-world story. One of the locals tasked with compiling these stories was Mildred Taurman, who experts (myself and my cousin Marla) believe was my cousin Jana’s husband’s grandmother.

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