Bertha Crockett Wright

Bertha "Bertie" Crockett Wright

Bertha Crockett WrightBertha Crockett Wright at first telephone switchboard in Jamestown in 1915.

December 19, 1892 - March 27, 1986

Bertha Crockett Wright was born in Elgin in Scott County, Tennessee on December 19, 1892. Her parents, Robert Washington Crockett (Mar. 10, 1853- Feb. 19, 1923) and Minerva Jane Crabtree Crockett (Mar. 15, 1855 - June 13, 1930), who were originally from Fentress County, moved back with their family when "Bertie" was a small child. Bertie had four sisters, Nina (married George Brannon), Ermine (married "Teddy" Copley), Hattie (married Fount Stepp), and Christina (married Oakley Wright) and she had one brother, Stokely who married Allie Delk. Her brother, "Stoke" and two of her sisters, Ermine and Christina were residents of Fentress County as long as they lived. Her oldest sister, Nina moved to Texas and Hattie moved to Iowa.

Little history is known concerning her father's family as his parents died when he was very young and he with his sisters, Hane and Armildie were brought to Fentress County to be taken care of by relatives. His Uncle Jim Crockett raised him; Hane, who later married John Koger, was raised by Mel Davidson at Forbus; and Armildie was taken back to Kentucky. Bertie's mother was the daughter of Hiram Crabtree and Edie Delk Crabtree.

She grew up in Jamestown, Tennessee where in 1912 she began her long career with the telephone business which was almost synonymous with Bertie for some forty-six years. Her telephone office affiliation spanned from December 12, 1912 until her retirement on April 30, 1958. During this time she was out some three to four years following her marriage in 1923 to John Elmo Wright (Sept. 19, 1894 - Aug. 17, 1965) from Brush, Colorado. Although Elmo lived in Colorado, where he moved as a child with his mother, he was born in Fentress County to Louis McPherson Wright (Mar. 21, 1870 - Aug. 29, 1899) and Virginia Alice Millsaps Wright (Mar. 1873 - Dec. 5, 1946). His father, "Mack", was a brother to John Marion Wright (1862-1926) who moved to Colorado and to E.J. Wright (1864-1929) who was a life- long resident of Jamestown and served as county judge for some time. Both of Elmo's parents had deep family roots in Fentress County and from time to time, after he was grown, he and his sister, Maude returned to visit their many local relatives in this area. It was on one of these early visits that he and Bertie met and Later married.

A short time after the birth of their daughter, Maudean, who was born in Jamestown in 1925, Elmo returned to Colorado to live and he and Bertie were later divorced. Bertie and Maudean remained in Jamestown and when Maudean was nine months old, in September 1926, Bertie again became a vital part of the telephone system where she served as operator, cashier, and local office manager for the Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative Corporation and its predecessors until she retired. She saw her switchboard grow from 18-20 telephones in 1912 to more than 700 telephones on a modern dial system in 1958. Her picture above was made in 1915 at the first switchboard which served only about 30 telephones at that time.

Bertie was always a "bright spot" and had many interesting and entertaining stories to tell about her experiences in the telephone office. She often talked about the many phone calls and telegrams she received for Sgt. York when he returned home in 1919. Also, she remembered vividly the World War II years and the many problems she encountered in getting messages through to the servicemen vie the Red Cross and a laugh was always forthcoming when she recalled her experiences with the local "black-out" drills. After the war ended, many of the boys who returned told her how much it meant to them to hear her familiar voice when they called home.

Bertie served the people of Jamestown and Fentress County long and well and became somewhat of a legend in her own time. She is fondly remembered as a dedicated person who befriended many people and who provided a great service as a communicator. She willingly did what she could, whether it was trying to find a doctor for someone needing one; opening the doors of the telephone office at anytime, day or night, to people needing to make calls; relaying messages over noisy, unusable telephone lines; or sending messages to people who had no telephones via neighbors or messengers -- to name only a few of the numerous ways in which she went that extra mile to be of service.

She was a long-time member of the First Baptist Church in Jamestown and her home in Jamestown, her family, and her many local friends were very dear to her throughout her long life. After she retired she spent the winters in Clinton, Tennessee with her daughter, Maudean, son-in-law, Marvin, and grandson, Mark Shanks, but uppermost in her mind each year - all winter Long - was returning home in the Spring. With this thought in mind, it was very symbolic that her final homecoming was in the spring of 1986 where she died on March 27, 1986 and is buried in the Fentress Memory Gardens at Jamestown, Tennessee.

by Maudean Shanks
Back to main page
Posted with permission from Curtis Media Corporation
This page was last updated on 09/19/98.