OERGE FRANKLIN WRIGHT, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was born in Warren, Washington County, Vermont, December 5, 1833, and was the eldest son of a family of four children, he alone surviving, of the late Franklin Asher Wright, born in Hanover, New Hampshire, September 17, 1801, died in Council Bluffs, October 5, 1876,---he was of English descent,---and of Caroline Susannah Wright, nee Tillotson, born in Berlin, Vermont, November 3, 1807. She was of Scotch and English parentage. They were married in Berlin, Vermont, February 27, 1833. Franklin A. Wright was the son of Asher Wright, of English descent, and of Irene Wright, nee Curtis, of English descent. Caroline S. Wright was a daughter of Samuel Tillotson, of English descent, and of Betsey Tillotson, nee Wallace, of Scotch descent.
George F. Wright was reared and spent his boyhood on a farm in his native town, and in early life, when a mere boy, was by his father, whose large business interests required his continued absence from home, held largely responsible fore the successful carrying on and working of his farms, the labor of which was performed exclusively by hired help. This training, and the responsibility incident thereto, became in after years of great service to him when he became engrossed in the active operation of his own business career. At the age of seventeen he commenced his academic education at West Randolph, Vermont, under the tutorage of the late Hon. Austin Adams, of Dubuque, Iowa, who was twice Chief Justice of the State. During his academic training, teaching district school winters, as was customary with many New England boys, he completed his preparatory studies for, and one year of, his college course. He did not enter college, however; but the spring following his majority, in 1855, he came to Iowa and settled in Keosauqua, Van Buren County, when he at once commenced the study of the last with the law firm of Wright, Knapp & Caldwell, composed of ex-United States Senator George G. Wright, of Des Moines, the late Hon. Joseph C. Knapp, of Keosauqua, who was hi uncle, and his honor, Judge Henry C. Caldwell, of Little Rock Arkansas, now Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit of the United States. His law studies were pursued under the tutorage of Senator Wright, and as a member of a large class of law student then under his charge his advancement was such that he was admitted to the Van Buren County bar in 1857, Judge H. B. Hendershott then presiding judge of the District Court of said county. The same year, Senator Wright going upon the Supreme Bench of Iowa, George F., as he was familiarly known, was admitted to partnership with his uncle, Judge Knapp, and Judge Caldwell, under the firm name of Knapp, Caldwell & Wright, and so continued until Judge Caldwell was called to the bench at Little Rock. His education, founded in the old-fashioned New England schools, and in the old-fashioned New England ways, was rounded out under the training received from these eminent lawyers and jurists Aided by their ripe business experience, by his extensive acquaintance with business affairs, and with men of affairs, he became a good lawyer, as well as an active, presevering and successful business man. It was in this practical way that he acquired the educational elements which insured his success much more effectually than could have been attained by a university or college course or both combined.
Early in 1861 he enlisted in response to President Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers, and in connection with Captain, afterward General, J. M. Tuttle, raised a company of volunteers in Van Buren County, of which he was elected the First Lieutenant, receiving his commission from the hands of Governor Kirkwood at Davenport, Iowa. His company rendezvoused at Keokuk, and after being some time in camp, the first call being full, the company was accepted in the second call for volunteers and became a part of the Second Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. Immediately before this occurred, Judge Caldwell having enlisted and having been elected Major of the Third Iowa Cavalry, the business of their firm demanded his return to Keosauqua. Immediately on his return he raised a company of State militia, was elected Captain thereof, and tendered the same to Governor Kirkwood for the protection of the Iowa border in Van Buren County. His company was accepted, was equipped with Springfield rifles and furnished with the necessary munitions of war. This organization was kept intact, being frequently called to the border and into the State of Missouri, until the rebels were driven out of that State, when most of his company enlisted in and became a part of the Fifteenth Regiment of Iowa Volunteers.
On October 26, 1863, he was married in the city of Chicago, to Ellen E. Wright, nee Brooks, of Northfield, Vermont, born in Hancock, Vermont, September 21, 1830. She was the daughter of the late Josiah Prentice Brooks, born April 5, 1797, in Alstead, New Hampshire, died in Northfield, January 10, 1883, of English descent, and the late Betsey Parker Brooks, nee Robbins, born August 16, 1979, in Hancock, Vermont, died in Northfield, Vermont, November 4, 1885, and was of English descent.
During their residence in Keosauqua there were born to them three sons, the oldest dying in infancy, and after their removal therefrom, two daughters, all now living, viz.: Franklin Prentice Wright, born March 2, 1866; George Spencer Wright, born January 21, 1868; Eliza Caroline Wright, born June 1, 1870; and Ellen Elizabeth Wright, born December 7, 1872.
In the spring of 1868 he moved with his family to Council Bluffs and formed a law partnership with the late Judge Caleb Baldwin, and the law firm of Baldwin & Wright at once became one of the leading law firms of the State. The firm at once too high rank among the profession as practicing attorneys, and as the several railway companies representing the trunk lines made their termini in Council Bluffs, this firm became their local attorneys, and has ever since retained that relation toward them. This law connection continued up to the time when Judge Baldwin was appointed by President Grant as one of the Judges of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama claims, requiring his residence in the city of Washington, when the firm was dissolved.
He then associated with himself Hon. Amos J. Rising, now Judge of the District Court of Arapahoe County, Denver, Colorado, and John N. Baldwin, Esq., the second son of the late Judge Caleb Baldwin. After several years of successful practice Judge Rising retired from the firm, removing to Colorado, and the firm became and has since remained as Wright & Baldwin, they having lately associated with themselves the two sons of Mr. Wright.
He early identified himself with the politics of his county, the State and the nation, and has always been a stanch and active Republican, and for many years a leading worker in his party. Curing his residence in Van Buren County he was repeatedly tendered the nomination for member of the Legislature from that county, which was then equivalent to an election, but invariably declined the honor. In 1875 he was elected Senator from the Ninth Senatorial District of Iowa composed of the counties of Pottawattamie and Mills. After serving as Senator in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth General Assemblies he was again elected Senator, in 1879, in the Nineteenth Senatorial District of Iowa, comprising Pottawattamie County, his place of residence. He served as Senator of the Nineteenth District in the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth General Assemblies. During his Senatorial career, his reputation as a lawyer, and his energy and ability won for him substantial influence in that body. He was from the first a member of the Judiciary Committee, and being and earnest, industrious worker, he was enabled to prevent the enactment of many bad laws, as well as to aid the passage of good ones. He was ever vigilant and faithful to the trust imposed on him, never allowing personal feelings to swerve him from the path of duty and strict justice. He rendered the State and his constituency faithful and competent service, and in such manner as to reflect goo credit on himself and honor to his state.
Soon after taking up his residence in Council Bluffs, he began to engage in active business affairs outside of his profession, and in 1870 and immediately following, he, with his associates, organized companies and constructed and put in successful operation large plats for the manufacture and supply of coal illuminating gas in the cities of Council Bluffs, Ottumwa, Mt. Pleasant, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City, in Iowa, and in the cities of Elgin and Evanston in Illinois. He was elected President of the Council Bluffs company, which position he held for over twenty years. In 1868 he, with Judge Baldwin and associates, constructed and operated the Council Bluffs Street Railway lines, the first street railway in Council Bluffs, and was the President of said company until it passed under the control of the Union Pacific Railway Company. In 1881 he was elected Secretary and Treasurer of the Union Elevator Company, of Council Bluffs, composed of six trunk line railway companies terminating therein, and had the supervision and construction of its Union Elevator building in said city, which has the largest capacity of an grain elevator west of the city of Chicago. In 1883, as one of the originators, in connection with his associates, he organized and put in successful operation the Nebraska & Iowa Fire Insurance Company, of Omaha, and at the same time organized and became president of the Iowa & Nebraska Fire Insurance Company, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, which in 1885 removed to Sioux City, Iowa, and is now knows as the Western Home Insurance Company of that place. He is still largely interested in both of said parties.
In 1886, in connection with his associates, he organized the Omaha & Council Bluffs Railway & Bridge Company, procured from Congress a franchise for a combined railway and wagon bridge across the Missouri River between the cities of Council Bluffs and Omaha; and during the next two years the Omaha & Council Bluffs Railway & Bridge Company, of which he was elected Secretary, erected one of the finest and most expensive steel bridges over said river, and in connection therewith constructed and put in successful operation over said bridge between said cities the first Electric Street Railway line ever constructed in the States of Iowa and Nebraska.
In 1889, in connection with his associates, he organized a company and constructed and put in operation in the city of Ottawa, Illinois, the first Electric Street Railway ever constructed in said State.
As a lawyer Mr. Wright is prominent, leading and able, never seeking to deceive court or jury, but in an open, manly, earnest contest endeavoring to secure the rights of his clients. Gifted with sound judgment, endowed with great, good common sense, and being a fine analyzer of character and the motives of men, he is ever ready to meet his adversary on compromise grounds, confident in his resources and ability to secure better results for his clients by negotiation than by prolonged and expensive litigation.
As a business man, he is possessed of fine executive ability, is untiring and energetic, continually adding to the cares and burden of his life new enterprises, which by his continued activity and the vigor of his never faltering energy he pushes to successful proportions and satisfactory results.
As a citizen, he is active, progressive, public-spirited and liberal, and since he came to Council Bluffs he has ever been loyal to her best material interests, advocating all measures that the best elements therein strove to establish. Of strict and upright manhood, he constantly labors for her welfare and is always found in the line of the best citizenship.
As a friend, he is true, honest, faithful and sacrificing to all who show themselves worthy of his friendship, generous in his praises, slow in his criticisms, and happy in contributing to the wants and needs of his fellows.
As a man, he as amiable, temperate, honorable, benevolent, just and upright, with fine literary tastes and broad culture.
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