James W. Wright
James W. Wright was born February 8, 1840, at Little Crab, Fentress County, Tennessee,
and died April 30, 1900, at his home in Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee. He was the
oldest son of Mathias Austin Wright and Elizabeth Jane
(Wright) Wright. His paternal grandparents were Matthew W. Wright and Margaret Am
(Ritchie) Wright. His maternal grandparents were John Wright and Elizabeth (Lindley)
Wright. Matthew and John were brothers. So, Mathias and Elizabeth Jane were first cousins.
During the Civil War, James W. joined the U.S. Army, September 25, 1863, at Jamestown,
Fentress County, Tennessee, as a private in Co. D. First Tennessee Mounted Infantry. And,
on March 24, 1864, he was appointed Sergeant Major (Master Sergeant) of his regiment. He
was mustered out, April 14, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.
In November 1865, he married Sarah (called "Sally") Hunt, at Carthage, Smith
County, Tennessee. She was born in 1845; and died July 22, 1912, at age 67. I don't have
any information on her ancestors. They had one daughter, Lizzie J. Wright, who, obviously,
was named after her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Jane Wright. Lizzie J. was born August
12, 1866; and died February 1, 1887; at 20 years of age. She never married.
After the war, James W. studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1870. He practiced law
and dealt in real estate a while in Livingston, Overton County, Tennessee. Later on, he
moved to Cookeville, Tennessee, to help organize the Bank of Cookeville, of which he was
made cashier. And, at Cookeville, he got into polities. From April to November, 1873,he
was Attorney General of the 16th Judicial Circuit. From 1876 to 1881, he was Chairman of
County Court, Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court. And, from 1885 to 1887, he served in
the Senate of the 44th Tennessee General Assembly, representing the following counties:
Clay, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Fentress and Pickett. He was a Republican, just as most in
our Wright line have been down through the years; including my father, myself, and most of
my contemporary Wright relatives.
Back about 1981, when I learned that my great-uncle James W. Wright, his wife and daughter
are buried in the Cookeville Cemetery, I wanted to go down and visit their graves. In
October 1984, I got a chance to do so. I was enjoying a a-day visit in the Fentress County
area. So, early one day, Tuesday or Wednesday, I think, I drove from Jamestown, via
Highway 52, to Livingston; then on down to Cookeville on Highway 42. I spent about 3 hours
in the cemetery (which is a large one) searching for their graves. I looked all over the
cemetery 2 or 3 times, and was very disappointed when I failed to locate them. I found 14
other Wright graves, but not the ones that I sought. I started out to find other
cemeteries to search, but I changed my mind, as I am not familiar with Cookeville, which
is a fair sized little city, and I didn't have a map.
Then, on Friday, I went over to Overton County to spend 2 days with my second cousin Anna
Lee Smith and her husband Wilbur. On Saturday afternoon, they were to attend the wedding
of one of his great-nieces in Cookeville, and asked if I wanted to go along. I decided to
do so and search the cemetery again for the graves while they attended the wedding. So, I
went along and they let me out at the north end of the cemetery. During my first visit
there, I had looked for the care-taker woman, but failed to find her. On my second visit,
I located her, and she told me that there wasn't any James W. Wright buried in the
cemetery. But I didn't believe her, and I continued my search. For she had talked with me
through a fastened screen door, and she hadn't checked her cemetery records. Besides, two
of my cousins - Thomas Mackey, in Delaware, and Wilma Pinekley, in Jamestown -- had told
me that James, Sarah and Lizzie were buried there. I think that the woman just told me
that they weren't to get rid of me.
About an hour before sunset, I still hadn't found the graves, and had about given up hope
of doing so. But I thought that it was about time for Wilbur and Anna to be back, so, I
headed back to the north end of the cemetery to wait for them -- still searching as I
went. About four-fifths of the way back, I stopped and looked all around me, in a circle.
About 40 feet back, on an angle, and a little Lower than I was, I saw a rock with
"Wright" on it and went hack for a closer look. It was the double (granite) rock
of John E. Wright and his wife Virginia (Coe) Wright. He was a first cousin to James W.
and my grandfather. Their son was buried on one side of them, and their daughter on the
other. I didn't know that they were buried down there. I wrote down the inscriptions, took
pictures of the grave rocks, and went on back. At about the same time where I had been
before, I stopped and looked all around me again. This time, I saw a tall rock with
"Wright" on it, close by, near a big white oak tree, and almost in line with the
John E. Wright rock. I walked over and examined it, and lo! and behold! and eureka! -- I
had found it! -- the grave rock of James W. Wright, his wife Sarah, and their daughter
Lizzie J. Wright. Imagine my joy, my delight, and my excitement! My persistence had
finally paid off.
About ten minutes later, before I had finished copying the inscriptions, Wilbur and Anna
came cruising through the cemetery, turned onto the cross drive beyond me and stopped,
"Did you find it?" one of them asked. I said, "Yeah!"
"Where?," he or she asked, as they looked all around. "Right there!,"
I replied, as I pointed to it. The names on the rock were not very conspicuous. That is
why it had been so hard for me to find it. I finished copying the inscriptions, took a
picture of the rock, and had Wilbur to take one with me standing beside it. By then it was
only about 20 minutes till sunset.
Lizzie J. is buried straight in front of the rock, with a parent on each side of her. Her
inscription is on the back of the rock, while those of her parents are on the sides. Each
of the 3 has a 1-line verse. James W.'s and Lizzie's each has a line that is phrased
wrong. Here is what was intended to be expressed. James W.'s: "To those who for thy
Loss are grieved, This consolation's given; Thou art from a world of woe relieved, And
dwelling safe in heaven." Sarah's: "Thou best Left us many tokens, Of they
perfect trust in God. And we feel that thou art Living, Though they form lies 'neath the
sod." Lizzie J.'s: "List! father, mother, list! A harp to me is given. Although
I touch its softest strains, 'Tis heard all over heaven."
James W.'s brothers and sisters were as follows: Joseph Harrison Wright, Sept. 9, 1842 -
Nov. 19, 1865; Margaret Ann Wright, born in 1844; Nancy Wright, Feb. 7, 1847 Jan. 17,
1881; John Taylor Wright, my grandfather, Mar. 13, 1849-Jan. 22, 1917; Jacob R. Wright,
born in 1851, died Oct. 27, 1924; A still-born male infant, May 13, 1854; Samuel Winfield
Wright, born July 16, 1856, died in 1903; and David Millican Wright, Dec. 2, 1858- Mar.
14, 1920. Joseph never married; Margaret married Isham Hinds; Nancy married Joel Lucy
Reagan; John married Elizabeth Ann King; Jacob married Jane Smith and Sarah Jones; Samuel
married Naomi Choate; and David married Celesta Bowden, Samantha Bowden, and Flora
by Roscoe Hollis Wright