In chapter 2 we saw that Canright was born on a farm in Kinderhook, Branch Co., Mich. Long years afterward, he used to talk about his boyhood days in that place. His son, writing to me on July 16, 1962, said: "My father told us lots of stories about the farm where he grew up." In an article printed in the Review and Herald on March 28, 1882, Canright referred to his life in Kinderhook. Since we know that he did not live there after he had reached maturity, we must conclude that he referred to the early years of boyhood.
A nephew of Canright’s (Jess T. Canright) informs me that Dudley "was of a mind to get an education, and did so, evidently contrary to the wishes of his father. He went to town, got employment, and worked his way through school." His niece, Mrs. Jennings, also of Portland, Ore., remembers her mother, Dudley’s sister Mary, telling how Dudley walked several miles barefooted, carrying his shoes (to save them) in order, presumably at the beginning of the week, to catch the train for school. The school referred to is the High School of Coldwater, 10 miles north of Kinderhook. When I sought to get his record from that institution, the Superintendent of the School District of the City of Coldwater, Mr. Carlo W. Heikkinen, wrote me on June 6, 1962, that "a fire in the school building, back in the early years of its history," had destroyed them.
It is very likely that it was while attending High School in Coldwater that Dudley’s spiritual awakening took place. He says, "I was converted among the Methodists under the labors of Rev. Mr. Hazzard, and baptized by him in 1858"—two years after having first come under religious instruction (SDAR, p. 37).
From Coldwater High School young Canright went to the Academy in Albion, Orleans Co., N.Y. This town was near to his Uncle Joel’s residence in Carlton Township. It was while Dudley was a student at Albion Academy that he became an Adventist (see chapter 5). Although he presently quit school to devote himself to winning others to his new-found faith, yet (so Elder G.I. Butler tells us) before he actually began to preach, he labored for several years "to acquire some necessary education."7 Apparently, he returned to the Academy which he had left, for the accounts of his education mention only the high school in Coldwater and the institution in Albion, N.Y.
It was probably after this concluding period in Albion Academy that Dudley lived for a while with James and Ellen White, founders of Seventh-day Adventism. His son, writing me on Oct. 4, 1962, says: "My father lived with the Whites for some time...believe he was acting as secretary for them."
We shall see in our fifth chapter how, after being licensed to preach in 1864, and ordained in the following year, Canright labored in the state of Maine. But now it is appropriate to state the facts concerning his first marriage. In the spring of 1867, about a month before the General Conference, which was held on May 14, he returned to Battle Creek for the wedding on April eleventh. The bride was Lucretia Cranson, perhaps the child of Elder Cranson who was also in the Adventist ministry. The ceremony took place in the home of George W. Amadon of Battle Creek, a man engaged in the printing department of Adventism. The officiating minister was Elder J.N. Loughborough, one of the pioneers of the movement. We have already seen that Dudley was then 26 years of age. Lucretia was 19. Presently they were working together in Maine. His diary for 1867 records details.
The next year the Canrights moved to Massachusetts. It was there, at South Lancaster (where S.N. Haskell lived) that their first child, Nettie L., was born on Nov. 29, 1868. She lived only four months, and died on April 2, 1869, at Manchester, N.H. Three years later (April 13, 1872), in Monroe, Iowa, another daughter, Genevieve, was born. A third child, Fred, was born to Dudley and Lucretia in Oakland, Calif. On May 21, 1875.
While Dudley was with the Whites in Colorado in August of 1878, he was called home to Battle Creek because of his wife’s illness. The next spring, when Genevieve was seven and Fred four, Mrs. Canright passed away. Her husband has left a record that Lucretia died on the Sabbath, March 29, 1879, at 5:30 p.m. This is the date inscribed on her tombstone (lot no. 410, in Oak Hill cemetery, Battle Creek). The next two years must have been years of much concern for the widowed father.
It was toward the end of 1880 that Canright met Miss Lucy Hadden of Otsego, Mich. According to her nephew, Howard Pierce, she had been a school teacher, and had had musical training. The following spring, on April 24, 1881, they were married by James White. We have previously seen that the groom was then 40 years old. The bride was 25. Canright was still a resident of Battle Creek. In Lucy, Genevieve and Fred found a mother’s heart, and from her they received a mother’s care.
Dudley and Lucy had four children. The first of these was George H. who was born on Dec. 23, 1884, but lived only 16 months, dying of Feb. 24, 1886. The other three children were not born until after Canright had left Adventism, and so will be introduced later on.
This is an appropriate place to mention Canright’s transactions in real estate during this period of his life. The History and Directory of Colhoun Co., for the city of Battle Creek in 1868-9 lists "Rev. D.M. Canright, clergyman," as owning the house at 115 West Main. On March 17, 1879, "D.M. Canright of Battle Creek" purchased Lot 38 of Manchester’s addition in the same city from John P. Kellogg for $900. This Kellogg was also an Adventist, having accepted the seventh-day Sabbath as early as 1852. He was the father of Dr. John H. Kellogg, who was for many years Superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, and of W.K. Kellogg, founder of the Corn Flake industry. It was about two years and a half later (Oct. 17, 1881) that Canright sold this lot for $1,000. In the spring of that year, shortly before his marriage to Lucy Hadden, "D.M. Canright, of Battle Creek" purchased, on April 12th, about three acres of land in Otsego from his prospected father-in-law, George Hadden, for which he paid $1,000. This land connected with a house in town. It was resold to the grantor for $1,200 on Jan. 9, 1892, after the Canrights had become residents of Grand Rapids. Moreover, 40 acres of farm land were bought by "D.M. Canright of Otsego" in 1882 -- 20 acres on May 19th and another 20 on July 27th – for a total of $2,100. This was resold for $2,200 on June 26, 1885, to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clapp.
It will be observed that Canright was, evidently, a good manager, and knew how to take care of business matters, for in the three transactions wherein prices of purchase and sale are recorded, he always sold at a profit. We shall see in chapter 12 that he continued to show good business sense to the end of his life.
7 Review and Herald, p. 2, col. 3; cf. Dr. Van Osdel’s article in the Grand Rapids Herald on June 1, 1919, which is quoted towards the close of chapter 12.