Edwin M. Wight, of Somerville, New Jersey, was born in Troy, New York, October 31, 1836, son of Daniel and Sophrone (Porter) Wight. Mr. Wight was educated in the private schools of his native city, and prepared for college in the Troy Academy. In 1853, he was matriculated in Williams College, Massachusetts, from which he graduated, taking his A. B. in 1857. Among the close friends and companions of his college course were Rev. Charles A. Stoddard, of the New York Observer, class of 1854; Hon. John J. Ingalls, class of 1855, late United States senator from Kansas, now deceased; James A. Garfield, class of 1856, the martyred president, next whom at Table Mr. Wight sat for nearly two years; and Henry M. Alden, Ph.D., LL. D., for forty years editor of Harper's Magazine, a classmate.
Immediately after graduation Mr. Wight came to New York and began his student work in the law office of Hon. James R. Whiting, ex-justice of the supreme court, and continued with him until his death in 1872. Mr. Wight took a law course of two years in the law school of the University of Albany, where he received the degree of LL. B., and was admitted to practice in New York state in 1859.
On May 10, 1852, in the great fire in Troy, and old home of Mr. Wight's parents, his collection of American and Asiatic shells, of which he had made a study and had gathered in person and by exchanges during several years, a considerable collection, with everything of early association of school or college, including a large number of books and old Americana, were burned. The next year his parents removed to Bloomfield, New Jersey, In 1864 his father died in the city of New York.
During the season of 1863 Mr. Wight had with him an associate clerk in Jude Whiting's office, Frederick F. Cornell Jr., of Somerville, and through him became interested in furnishing army supplies, particularly pressed hay in bales, which extended to a considerable business and made it necessary to visit Somerville frequently, and about April 1, 1865, to remove there with his mother and sister. He then began to commute between Somerville and New York, and has continued until this writing. In 1869 Mr. Wight became interested in journalism and purchased the Somerset Messenger, which he owned for two years and sold to J. Rutsen Schenck. During his ownership the Messenger plant was moved from the Lance building to Somerset Hall building, being the first tenant of that newly erected structure in its upper part. In 1887 the Somerset Democrat was founded, and Mr. Wight became interested, and by wish of its proprietor acted as its political editor from its starting. In 1903 it had become insolvent and was foreclosed. Mr. Wight made arrangements with the bondholders and purchased the property. It is still (1910) continued by him at the old stand in the Somerset Hall building, which he owns. The present plant occupies about four times as much of the building as was occupied by the Messenger when it was published there in 1870. The Somerville Publishing Company is the name under which Mr. Wright conducts the publishing business, and the plant has fully trebled its capacity in the six years since it was taken over, while the business has more than kept pace with the growth of the plant, having customers among New York publishing houses and elsewhere, and a large jobbing trade.
In 1894 Mr. Wight was admitted as an attorney and counsellor [sic] of New Jersey, and has had a considerable clientele among New Yorkers, having legal business in New Jersey. He has been active in his profession in the state of New York since his admission to practice in that state in 1859.
Mr. Wight is of New England ancestry, descended in the seventh generation from (I) Thomas Wight, the immigrant, who was a resident of Dedham, Massachusetts, and was admitted as an inhabitant in 1637, having, with eleven other persons, subscribed the covenant in that year. On October 8, 1640, he became a freeman, and for six years, beginning in 1641, was a selectman of Dedham. (II) Ephraim, born in Dedham, in 1645; married, in 1668, Lydia Morse, of Medfield. His name appears among the Medfield proprietors in 1675; he was a subscriber to the building of the "New Brick College," of Cambridge (Harvard College). (III) Daniel, born at Medfield, November 19, 1680; married, 1721, Lydia Estey. (IV) Peter, born May 21, 1722, in Medfield; married, October 12, 1752, his remote cousin, Mary Barber, whose grandmother, Mary, was daughter of the original ancestor Thomas. Peter was a member of Captain Josiah Fuller's company, Colonel Wheelock's regiment, which marched from Medway to Providence, Rhode Island, on the alarm of December 8, 1776. By trade Peter was a blacksmith. (V) Daniel, born at Medway, October 4, 1753; married, January 11, 1781, Mary Puffer, of Wrentham, and removed with his family to South Brimfield, now Wales, in 1791, where he kept the first grist mill on Elbow Brook. (VI) Daniel, born in South Brimfield, Massachusetts, June 14, 1793, was father of the subject of this sketch.
On his mother's side Mr. Wight was descended in the seventh generation from (I) John Porter, of Hingham, Massachusetts, immigrant, born 1595, at Wraxall Abbey, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, where the Porters had been seated for many generations. John, immigrant ancestor, with Rose his wife, sailed from Europe in the ship "Anne," arriving at Dorchester May 30, 1627. In 1635 he assisted in the settlement of Windsor, Connecticut, where he had lands granted to him, and died there, in 1648. Among his thirteen children was a son (II) Samuel, born in Warwickshire, in 1626. He married Hannah Stanley, born in England, daughter of Thomas Stanley, a younger son of the early of Derby. He came from London in the ship "Planter," in 1635, and became one o the original proprietors of Hartford. Samuel removed from Windsor to Hadley in 1659, and died September 6, 1689. He had a son (III) Thomas Stanley Porter, born April 1, 1683, who married, November 13, 1707, Thankful Babcock, born in Conventry [sic?], in 1686. He was the first town clerk of Coventry, Connecticut, a captain in the Indian wars, and died August 7, 1755. They lived near the South Coventry meetinghouse. Among their twelve children was (IV) Jonathan Porter, born March 20, 1713. He married, January 20, 1734, Sarah Ladd, born in Coventry, 1714. Among their nine children were (V) Jonathan Porter, born September 17, 1737, and (V) Noah Porter, born October 4, 1742. Jonathan married Lois Richardson, of Coventry. Among their seven children was (VI) Lois Porter, born April 17, 1759. Noah married, November 29, 1764, Submit Cooke, born April 17, 1743, daughter of Deacon Jesse Cooke, of Coventry. He died July 10, 1794. Among their seven children was (VI) Ebenezer Porter, born April 7, 1780. Lois Porter (VI) married, February 21, 1780, Joseph Kingsbury, of Coventry, a descendant on paternal side of Henry Kingsbury, who came from England in ship "Talbot," to Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1636. He was a lieutenant in the army of the revolution. Among their elevent children was (VII) Eunice Backus Kingsbury, born November 14, 1784. Ebenezer Porter, of the sixth generation of Porters, married, November 21, 802, his second cousin, Eunice Backus Kingsbury, of the seventh generation. They lived in Coventry. Their eldest child, Sophrone Porter, born September 26, 1803, was mother of the subject of this sketch.