Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.
view all

Profiles

  • Thomas “Wheelwright” Smith, Sr. (c.1648 - 1718)
    Thomas "wheelwright" Smith Born 1648 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Died 1718 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Son of George Smith and Mary (French) Smith Not the same as Thomas S...
  • Thomas “Wheelwright” Smith, Jr. (1677 - 1729)
    Thomas Smith Born about 1677 - Ipswich, Essex Co., MA Died 29 August 1729 - Ipswich, Essex Co., MA , age at death: possibly 52 years old Family From Careful: site mixes up children Pare...
  • Benjamin Mendenhall, Sr. (1662 - 1740)
    To see a picture of the Concord Friends Meeting House c. 1728, browse the newsletter here: Benjamin (Thomas III, Thomas II, Thomas I, John, John), was one of the original Mendenhall emigrants from En...
  • Clemens Manemann (1813 - 1894)
    Clements Manemann* was born on November 1, 1813**, son of Bernard Heinrich and Margaretha Aleid (Haring) Manemann. Clements Manemann married Mary Anna Stockel on July 4, 1843***, in their native villag...
  • Pvt. (USA), Charles C. Slygh (1832 - 1906)
    Charles C. Slygh served in the Union Army during the American Civil War in the . He first served in Company H, 57th Illinois Infantry Regiment. He entered service on 15 Oct 1861 in Rochester, Illinois ...

WHEELWRIGHT / WRIGHT - maker or repairer of wagon wheels

"Not long after the invention of a round disc that could be rolled while upright, which we now call a ‘wheel,’ a new craft was started: wheelwright. He was a guy who could make a rounder wheel than other people. He was so good at it that other people paid him to make wheels for them. Skip forward to 17th Century England and there were still wrights making wheels for other people. The wheels were made of wood, mostly, and were no longer solid, but had spokes between the rim and the hub. Of course a few wheelwrights were among the first settlers in the American colonies. The life people hoped to build after they migrated could not have been built without wheels. Wheels significantly reduced the labor needed to transport cargo and people."

"NOTE—It is likely the first use of a wheel to reduce labor was a wheelbarrow. It had a single wheel underneath a storage platform or box. Then came the cart, with two wheels, and then the wagon, with four wheels. Colonial wheelwrights made wheels for all three."

"It is doubtful the first wheelwrights in Jamestown and Plymouth had a shop, even if only a small one. Too much labor would have been required to cut down trees, dig a sawpit and erect a cutting trestle, and have two men cut out planks. The wrights surely worked in the open air and were subject to wind and rain. Eventually, though, the work was moved indoors, which made it easier and likely sped up production."

"The wooden wheels made by colonial wrights had to be strong and durable. The roads on which their products were used were no more than dirt lanes with uneven ground, ruts, mounds, rocks, and weak joints and constructions would have soon failed. Wheels were also put on carts and wagons that were pushed or pulled across farm fields, or to market."

"In the 17th Century, most wheelwrights were also blacksmiths. Both crafts (and repairs, a side income) were worked in the same village shop. As time went on and populations grew, more wheels were needed than the blacksmith could produce. This led to bigger shops and prosperity for some men, particularly in towns. It also led to specialization. Whereas some wheelwrights made wheelbarrows, carts, and wagons, and put their own wheels on them, other men made only wheels or only one type of wagon and the wheels for it."

"Wheelwrights were not an early success story in the American colonies. It was not something poor men took up and became rich after years of hard work. It cost too much money to get into, perhaps as much as £200 ($6,000) for the tools, alone (more than three years’ wages for a laborer). The tools and equipment were inherited by a son or bought on credit by an apprentice taking over a business. There was no other way. However, it was a good business to own, if a workman was good at his craft. There were few slow times with nothing to do, it paid well because of the volume, it allowed a man to hire employees (which upped his social status), and it was regarded as honest work. A wheelwright was unlikely to be as highly thought of as a minister or town mayor, but he was shown respect."

Links