EBENEZER WRIGHT, of Normal, apprenticing agent of the New York Juvenile Asylum, is a native of Hampden County,
Mass., and was born on the 19th of September, 1830. His father, Rev. E. B. Wright, was also born in the Bay State,
was liberally educated and at the age of seventeen years graduated from Williams College. He then entered Andover
[ed, later Harvard, Divinity School] graduating from there three years later, receiving a ministerial education.
Upon attaining his majority he became pastor of a Congregational Church and remained as such for a period of thirty
years thereafter. Afterward he served as Chaplain in the State Primary School at Palmer, Mass., and departed this
life at the advanced age of seventy-six years.
The mother of our subject, Mrs. Harriet (Goodell) Wright, was a native of the same State as her husband and son, spent her whole life in New England, and died at the age of fifty-nine years. The parental family consisted of three children: Eunice, the wife of Rev. W. F. Avery, pastor of a Congregational Church at Huntingdon, Mass.; Theodore G., a physician of Plainville, Conn., and Ebenezer, the subject of this sketch, who was the second of the children.
Ebenezer Wright entered upon his primary studies in the common schools of his native town, and received his preparatory course at Easthampton, Mass. He then entered Williams College, where he attended several years, and was about to graduate when he accepted the position of Superintendent of the City Department of the New York Juvenile Asylum. He afterward attended the Columbia Law School, where he took the full course, but did not graduate on account of irregular attendance. In 1867 he accepted his present situation, and was located at Chicago until after the great fire of 1871, since which date he has resided at Normal.
The New York Juvenile Asylum was chartered in 1851. It receives truant and disobedient children, and such as are surrendered by their parents and friends, between the ages of seven and fourteen years. They are left in the Asylum about two years, during which time they attend school daily, and are afterward sent to the apprenticing agent who finds homes for them. The girls are apprenticed until eighteen years old, and the boys until twenty-one. Only about one-fourth of the children of the Asylum are brought West, and these are all distributed in the State of Illinois. The whole number brought thus to this State from the time of establishing the agency, in 1851, to Dec. 31, 1866, is 4,557, an annual average of 142. The important work of providing suitable homes for these waifs of humanity is wholly intrusted to Mr. Wright, and it is sufficient to state that he has performed it with credit to himself and the institution which he has represented for nearly twenty years. He is a gentleman in the fullest sense of the term, kind-hearted, sympathetic, and admirably adapted to the business which he has in hand.
Mr. Wright was married in November, 1860, at Amherst, Mass., to Miss Mary D. Cowles, who was born in that city in 1839, and is the daughter of L. D. Cowles, of Amherst. Of this union there were born eight children, of whom live are livingóCharles S., Frederick C., Mary D., Robert and Harry. Mr. and Mrs. Wright are worthy members of the Congregational Church, and enjoy the friendship and esteem of the best citizens of Normal.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 456. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.