Mathias Austin Wright
Mathias A. Wright was born in 1815 in Virginia. He died at Little Crab, Fentress County,
Tennessee in 1899. He was the son of Matthew W. Wright, who
was born April 14, 1789 and died November 7, 1865, and Margaret Ann Ritchie Wright, born
July 5, 1790, and died March 11, 1882. Both of Mathias' parents are buried in the Wright
Cemetery located near Highway 52 west of Jamestown, Tennessee.
Mathias married Elizabeth Jane (Betsy) Wright about 1839. She was born in 1820 and died in
1898, and was the daughter of John Wright (1787-1964), who
was a brother to Mathias' father, Matthew W. Betsy's mother was Elizabeth Lindley (1796 -
?); therefore, Mathias and Betsy were first cousins.
Betsy and Mathias came into the Little Crab area about 1840 as a young couple where they
built a log residence on the old Livingston-Jamestown road.
Mathias became a big land owner. He operated a sawmill near his home on Crab Creek. At
this mill, lumber was sawed and shipped by water routes to Nashville, Tennessee where it
was used in the construction of our state capitol building.
In the early 1870s, in the days before banks were established in our county, Mathias was
Trustee of the county. He would come to Jamestown, ten miles away, on certain days to pay
county bills and to receive monies due for taxes, etc. As was necessary, he kept funds at
Late one afternoon two or three robbers appeared at Mathias' home and demanded the money
in his possession. He refused to reveal where the funds were. After searching the home
diligently, the robbers found $400 which they kept. Not satisfied with this amount, the
robbers insisted on the hiding place of other monies. Mathias continued to refuse the
revelation of other funds. In anger and in haste, the robbers hanged Mathias to a cedar
tree in his yard. History does not tell us why the robbers became nervous, and mounted
their horses and rode away.
Hastily, Betsy rushed to the tree with her long-bladed butcher knife and cut Mathias down.
He suffered no ill effects from the ordeal. He told his friends that the major portion of
the funds were buried near the spring in a coffee pot. The robbers were never identified
On the third Saturday in May, 1876, Mathias and Betsy, with twelve other people, met and
organized the United Cedar Grove Baptist Church at Little Crab. Mathias was elected as a
Deacon and the church clerk. He served in these positions until ill health forced him to
retire only a few months before his death in 1899.
Mathias was appointed as the first postmaster at Little Crab, Tenn. on January 18, 1871,
and he served there until January 2, 1894, when he was succeeded by L.B. Chism. Mathias
also operated a mercantile business near his home until 1888, which he sold to the same
Mathias' and Betsy's children were all born and reared at Little Crab. They were: James W., born February 8, 1840, married Sally Hunt of Carthage,
Tenn.; Joseph H., born 1842, never married, was in the Civil War; Margaret Ann (Peggy),
born 1844, married Isham Hinds; Nancy, born 1846, married Joel Lucy Reagan; John Taylor,
born March 13, 1849, married Betz Ann King; Jacob R., born 1851, married Jane Beaty, and
then Sarah Jones; stillborn infant, born 1854; Samuel, born 1856, married Naomi Choate;
David M., born December 2, 1858, married first Celesta Bowden, second, Samantha Bowden,
and third, Abby Bilbrey.
There are many, many descendants in our country who came from these families.
Mathias and Betsy are buried in the Bailey Bowden Cemetery at Little Crab. The land for
this cemetery was given by Mathias years previous to their deaths. Recently, a nice
granite marker was placed at their graves by a great grandson, Roscoe H. Wright, of
by Wilma Reagan Pinckley