Matthew W. Wright

Matthew W. Wright

Matthew W. Wright was born April 14, 1789, in Maryland, and died November 7, 1865, in Fentress County, Tennessee. He was married by December 1814, or earlier, to Margaret Ann Ritchie, who was born July 5, 1790, in Virginia, and died March 11, 1882, in Fentress County. He had 2 older brothers, David Wright, Sr. and John Wright. I don't know the names of their parents, nor Margaret's either. I first saw the name of Matthew W. and 2 of his sons, Mathias and Riley Matthew Wright, all listed by the name Matthew Wright, in the 1850 Fentress County census records with their families. I then learned that the middle Matthew, in age, was my great-grandfather Mathias Wright. But I thought that his parents had died back in Virginia. Then Wilma (Reagan) Pinckley, my 4th cousin, in Jamestown, Tennessee, told me that Matthew W. and Margaret Ann Wright were Mathias's parents; and that they were buried in the old George Allred Cemetery, near Manson, in Fentress County. Then, from October 1980 till the summer of 1982, I drove around, off and on, searching for their graves -- without success. Wilma told me that, sometime, she would show me the location of the old Allred farm, if I couldn't find it:

So, in July 1982, my nephew Ralph Dean and his son Harry went down to Fentress County with me. And we went to Wilma's house and she went along with us and showed us the old Allred farm. Then Ralph and I searched over perhaps 6 to 8 acres of fields and woods in the midday heat. We were hot and tired, and had found nothing that resembled a grave. So, I called off the search. Then, Wilma showed us to the King-Beatytown Cemetery, and to the farm where the old grownup Joel Beaty Cemetery is located. Then, on our way back to Jamestown, we stopped at Wright Cemetery a while. While we were there, Ralph got to inspecting an old marble headstone with part of the name "Wright" showing. He rubbed the inscription with a small piece of rock until we could read it. The inscription was "M.W. Wright", with the birth and death dates. I said, "This is the grave that we've been looking for." I was sitting between that grave and the next one, watching Ralph. Then, I reached and patted the next headstone and said, "And I'll bet that this is his wife's rock." The birth date on Matthew's rock was off only 2 years from the date that we already had for him. Then, when Ralph had rubbed the other inscription, which was Margaret's, it was off only one year from the birthdate that we already had for her. Her name is listed as just "M. Wright." And Wilma said, "Yes, I agree. These are the graves for which we've been searching." I had been there 4 times before; and each time I had walked right by Matthew's grave.

Since March 1981, I had been corresponding with Thomas Edward Mackey in Wilmington, Delaware, who was a great-greatgrandson of Matthew W.' brother David Wright, Sr. Tom and I thought that John Wright, who had lived near Moodyville, was their brother; but we were not certain. Then, in August 1982, I located John's great-granddaughter, Ada (Wright) Rains, in Pickett County, and got some information from her. And, about that same time, my second cousin, Judy Moulton at Parker City, Indiana, acquired copies of John's widow Elizabeth (Lindley) Wright's war pension application papers, which definitely proved that John and Matthew W. Wright were brothers. And various things indicate that Elizabeth Jane Wright, who married Mathias Austin Wright, the oldest son of Matthew W. Wright, was a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Lindley) Wright. So, Matthew and Margaret were my paternal great-great-grandparents, grandparents, while John and Elizabeth were my maternal great-great-grandparents. And, recently, (a few days ago), I learned that Riley Matthew Wright, (whom I have been calling Matthew K. Wright), a younger brother to Mathias, married Nancy Wright, a younger sister to Elizabeth Jane, wife of Mathias.

Both the 1850 and the 1860 Fentress County census records list Matthew W. Wright as having been born in Maryland. And the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 Fentress County census records all list Margaret Ann as having been born in Virginia. Some of the census records list John's birthplace as Maryland, some list it as Virginia. It is the sane with his wife Elizabeth. Mathias Austin Wright and Elizabeth Jane (Wright) Wright, my great-grandparents, both are listed as born in Virginia. And the pension application papers also prove that Matthew, Margaret, John and Elizabeth all 4 were living in southern Virginia in December 1814. And their children's birthplace indicate that they lived in Virginia until 1822. Then they moved into Tennessee; probably the Sullivan-Washington-Greene County area.

Yet, in spite of all these facts, some persons say that "one of the grandmothers" (Margeret, Elizabeth, or Elizabeth Jane) was a "fullblooded German" or Dutch, and that, when she got angry, they couldn't understand a word that she said. But one of the rumors "takes the cake," by stating that Matthew W. Wright was a "full-blooded German" who immigrated from Germany to North Carolina; then came from there to Fentress County. Just how absurd can people be sometimes'!

In the first place, the name "Wright" is of English origin. "Lindley" probably is too. And "Ritchie" is Scottish in origin; meaning "of Richard", "stern ruler." And, in the second place, the records indicate that the idea of Matthew having immigrated to this country from Germany is ridiculous! Some of his ancestors may have even come over from England on the Mayflower, as far as I know. Anyway, it is certain that several Wrights came to this country during the 1600s. It is possible that the mother of Margaret, Elizabeth, or John and Matthew wee German or Dutch. But I have not seen one iota of proof that any one of these 4 had as much as one drop of German or Dutch blood. If one of them spoke a foreign Language, I suspect that it was Scottish. But my grandmother Wright (Dad's mother) may have bad a great-grandmother who was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. If so, that would give me one drop of Cherokee blood out of every 32.

Six Ritchie brothers: Long John, James, Alexander, Gabriel, Isaac and Andrew, came over from England to Virginia, about 1768. It is said that they were born in Scotland. Long John and James fought through the American Revolutionary War, (on the American side), where Long John distinguished himself. James ended up in Kentucky. He was a great-great-great-grandfather of the Ritchie girls who attended Berea College with Fred Burkhard of Casey County. After the war, Long John settled at Cranes Nest, in what is now Wise County, Virginia; which probably was at one time a part of Scott County, Virginia; which probably is where my Wright ancestors lived in 1814. So, I think that Long John may have been the father of my great-great-grandmother, Margaret Ann (Ritchie) Wright. During the Civil War, James Ritchie's folks were for the Confederacy; but Long John's family sided with the Union. And all my ancestors and relatives were strongly pro-Union. And Matthew W. Wright probably was never anywhere near Germany. And he probably never set foot in North Carolina. His children were: Mathias Austin Wright, b. 1815; Jacob Wright, b. 1822; Margaret Ann Wright, b. 1824; Riley Matthew Wright, b. 1826; and William Wright, b. 1829. Riley bur. McCreary Co., Ky.

by Roscoe Hollis Wright
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This page was last updated on 09/19/98.