Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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December 21, 2013

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Wrights Cos. had right stuff for settlement

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — In the 1820s and 1830s the hamlet was called “Wrightsville.” The northern half was situated in the Town of Newfane and the southern half in the Town of Lockport. In fact, Solomon Wright’s house was on the Lockport side while his hotel was on the Newfane side. 

In 1826, Wright petitioned the U.S. government to establish a Post Office, offering his home as the location. In 1839, the government, for some unknown reason, changed the name of the hamlet to Wright’s Corners. Wright remained Postmaster for 45 years. 

There were other reasons that the hamlet became attractive to many early settlers. In those early days, Newfane was a “dry” town where alcohol was not sold. Lockport, on the other hand, was a “wet” town (how could it be otherwise with the canal running through it?). Wright’s Corners prospered with the addition of taverns, stores, schools and a Presbyterian church. Though it never achieved the fame of Lockport to the south or the popularity of Olcott to the north, Wright’s Corners became a crossroads of sorts for travelers from all directions.

Its largest landowner, and most prominent citizen after Solomon Wright, was Col. John Henning. A veteran of the War of 1812, Henning purchased a 270-acre farm on both sides of the Ridge Road, heading east, in 1835. He was known as the “unofficial mayor” of Wright’s Corners. The family donated the land for the Presbyterian church in 1872. 

Col. Henning died in 1870 and his sister Janette died in 1877. The property was inherited by a nephew, John Henning II, who resided there with his family until his own death in 1893. At some point prior to 1860, a road was cut through the Henning property. Originally named Henning Road, it is now the Wheeler Road. Much of the original Henning property is now occupied by the Tops plaza and McDonalds.

With the coming of the canal, the railroad and later automobiles, Wright’s Corners lost its place as a resting point for weary stagecoach travelers, although cars now stop to fill up at the local gas station that stands where Thomas Barber first built his log tavern more than 200 years ago.

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.

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