J.I. Wright, one of the substantial settlers of Arion township, came to Kansas in 1870, and to Cloud county in 1871. He is one of the thrifty, progressive men of his community. He was born in Ohio, but reared principally on a farm in Ogle county, Illinois. His parents were Hiram J. and Laura Jane (Frost) Wright. His father was a New Yorker and when a boy moved with his parents to Ohio. At the age of twenty-three he settled in Illinois and in 1872 emigrated to Kansas taking up a homestead in Cloud county, Arion township. In 1899, he retired from the farm and moved to Concordia where he now lives at the age of eighty-two years. The Wrights are of English origin. Mr. Wright's mother died when he was about ten years of age, leaving three children, one son and two daughters. The eldest daughter, Minerva, died in 1892, leaving a husband and three children. The other sister, Mary Maria, is the widow of Edmond Loricky. Mr. Wright's father has been three times married. There were two children by the second marriage and two by the last.
His mother having died when he was very young, Mr. Wright was denied many advantages, his education limited and what he has was acquired in a practical way. When Mr. Wright was young, his home was broken up by his mother's death, which actuated his desires for army life and he welcomed the excitement and passion incident to war. At the youthful age of seventeen he enlisted in the service of his country. Some of the soldiers came home on a furlough and this inspired him with a desire to join the army.
He started in with General Sherman at Chattanooga and never saw a week's rest until the cessation of hostilities. His captain was Peter Walker. They were under the command of Colonel VanTassel. They participated in the battles of Buzzard's Roost, Peach Tree Creek, and Kenasaw Mountain. During this latter engagement a bullet passed in close proximity to Mr. Wright's chin, just grazing it - a narrow escape. There was no breastwork and every available tree had a man back of it. The one Mr. Wright had sought refuge behind was a very diminutive one, a sapling in reality. It was cut in two and he was left entirely without a hiding place, exposed to the enemy's fire, the bullets falling like hail around him. A comrade fell wounded and Mr. Wright succeeded this poor victim in his place behind a tree. They were fighting on the way from Chattanooga to Atlanta and did not know the condition of the enemy's breast works until within their midst; they had built them that night. Many of their regiment were killed and wounded in this attack. His company received a lot of new recruits just as the war closed. At the close of the war Mr. Wright returned to his home in Illinois and in 1866, was married to Nancy Sylvina Rice.
Her father was David Rice of Green county, Kentucky. In his early life he moved to Ohio where he was married to Mary Tilton and where Mrs. Wright was born near Simons Run, Coshocton county. She with her parents moved to Illinois where she met and married Mr. Wright. Her father was a minister of the old Bible Christian persuasion. He died in 1888, at the age of seventy-five years.
To Mr. and Mrs. Wright six children have been born. Lottie Ann Thenia, wife of J.F. Graham, a farmer of Lyon towniship. Their family of children are Edith Mabel, Emma Lucinda, Jeniss Calvin and James Alvin, twins, and George William. Leander Albert, a farmer of Arlon township. His family consists of a wife and three children. Walter Andrew, Jesse Irwin and Clowie Leota. His wife was Elizabeth E. Hogue, a daughter of A.J. Hogue who died in Iowa. She came to Kansas with her mother who died in 1898. Mary Elizabeth, wife of Frank Garst, a farmer of Arion township. They are the parents of four children; James Wilbur, Samuel Perley, Charles Alfred, and Mark Elsworth. Ernestine Adeline, wife of Walter Isaac Brooks, a farmer of Lyon, township and a son of John Brooks (see sketch). William Alexander is a stone mason by occupation. Harriet Luella, the youngest daughter was recently married to Joseph C. Driscoll, a young farmer of Arion township.
Mr. Wright came to Kansas with a team, two cows, a wife and two children and nine dollars in money. He is entirely self made, never having received a dollar from home. But upon the other hand, when he returned from the army he found his father's family in need of help and his bounty was given over to them. He bought his team on credit of an uncle who gave him assistance by not collecting the note when due. It was not paid till until about six years ago.
Mr. Wright learned the trades of plasterer and stone mason in his earlier life and there is not a house or chimney in the vicinity of his home but what he has assisted in building. He worked at Lindsay and Minneapolis, Kansas, in the early seventies, often walking to and fro. By degrees Mr. Wright has prospered. From a shanty they erected a one and one-half story residence and in 1886, built a one and one-half story addition, making a six room residence, substantially built of stone. In 1900, built a stone barn 32 by 36 feet. Until five years ago Mr. Wright kept a large herd of sheep; had at one time upwards of five hundred, besides their wool he fattened and sold, making it a profitable industry. He raises cattle and hogs quite extensively. His chief products of the farm are wheat, corn, Kaffir corn and cane.
Mr. Wright is a Populist in politics, but not an active politician. He is the justice of the peace of Arion township. They are members of the Church of God. Mr. Wright is one of the solid, self made men who has gained everything by his own exertions, his industry and his integrity. Socially he and his family are among the leading people of their community.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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