Biography of Thomas Wright

Thomas Wright of Clark County, Kentucky, has been described in Genealogies and Sketches of Some Old Families, by Benjamin F. VanMeter, 1901, pp. 34-35. This and some other material may be found in the family file in the Clark County Library. I am taking the liberty of copying some of that material (in quotes) and adding other information that I have found.

“Thomas Wright removed from Virginia to Clark County about the year 1780, and settled on Prettyrun Creek, on a part of the remaining one half of the Gist land–a part of the military survey of which Thomas Lewis purchased one half from Gist. And on this farm, about one mile from the residence of Thornton Lewis, he lived and died. He was descended from a very worthy English ancestry, who were among the very earliest emigrants to America.”

VanMeter indicated that Thomas Wright was a Captain in the Revolutionary War, but that is quite unlikely, since he was born on September 29, 1765, according to his gravestone in the Winchester Cemetery. We believe him to be the son of Thomas Wright, Sr. and Ann Morgan, who were married in Culpeper County, Virginia, on January 19, 1752. That line of the Wright family has been traced in Wright Families of Virginia, by A. Alvin Wayne.

Thomas Wright, Jr., who settled in Clark County, “married first Elizabeth Graves on September 5, 1788, and from this marriage raised five children, viz: Jefferson, Morgan, Dr. Connor, Elizabeth and Polly. After the death of this wife he married, second, Mary Rice, and from this marriage raised four children, viz: Elizabeth, Pamelia, Emma, and Harrison.” As seen below, other children are identified in his will and in the marriage bonds.

Thomas Wright was a “prominent and highly respected man, and a very influential member of the Old Baptist Church for a number of years.” He wrote his will on March 20, 1852, and it was probated in the September Court of that same year. His gravestone indicates he died on September 16, 1852. The will mentioned his wife, though not by name, and the following heirs: heirs of Nancy M. Thomas; Morgan Wright; Waller Wright’s heirs; Polly Bainbridge; Matilda Gipson; Fanny Janes, wife of John Janes; Thomas J. Wright; Elizabeth J. Green; Eliza Smith’s heirs; Permelia Wilson; William H.H. Wright; and Emma Lewis. Executors were Thornton Lewis and Morgan Wright. Witnesses were James R. Wornall and William A. Clinkenbeard. (Will, Inventory and Settlement Book 13, p. 238 and Will and Settlement Book 18, p. 241.

Here, then are the children of Thomas Wright, Jr., by his two wives. First, here are the children believed to be from the first marriage, though not necessarily in the correct order:

  1. Nancy M. Wright married a Thomas. She was deceased before her father.
  2. Waller Wright predeceased his father.
  3. Matilda “Tildy” Wright married John Cofer in Clark County on April 2, 1809. Thomas Wright gave consent, Thomas N. Graves was witness, and Thomas Cofer posted the surety.
  4. Polly Wright married Darius Bainbridge on November 27, 1815, in Clark County. Thomas Wright posted the surety.
  5. Frances “Fanny” Wright married John Jeans on December 9, 1816, in Clark County. Thomas Wright posted the surety.
  6. Morgan Wright married Nancy S. Duncan on December 10, 1816, in Clark County. She was listed as the daughter of James Duncan, who gave consent. Willis Collins was witness, and surety was posted by Cary K. Duncan. Morgan settled in Missouri.
  7. Conner Wright married Mary Hall, according to VanMeter. “Dr. Connor…was a very prominent physician; left no children.”
  8. Thomas Jefferson Wright became a Baptist minister and settled in Missouri. The book, Primitive or Old School Baptist Ministers, p. 302, contains this brief biographical sketch: “Wright, Elder Thos. J. (1803-1867), of Troy, Mo., was born in Clark County, Ky., moved to Missouri in 1820 and settled in Lincoln County. For a quarter of a century, he served the churches faithfully and was highly esteemed, and it is with regret that information regarding his life and labors from which to prepare a suitable sketch could not be obtained.” The Missouri Republican of St. Louis ran this obituary on September 11, 1867: “Elder Thomas J. Wright 2 Sep. in his 65th year, at his home 4 miles south of Troy. Born in Clark Co. Ky., to Lincoln Co., Mo. 1828, Regular Baptist Minister since 1838. Left wife and numerous offspring.”
  9. Elizabeth J. Wright married Richard D. Green on May 4, 1827, in Clark County. Thomas Wright posted the surety. They had twelve children: Amelia, LaFayette, Dr. M., Susan, Nanny, Edward, Emma, Dr. Beel, Thomas, Rush, Elizabeth and Alvius.

The following children were probably of the second marriage:

  1. Eliza Wright married Robert W. Smith in Clark County on May 22, 1826. Thomas Wright posted the surety. They “raised two children, viz: Mary and Eliza.” She predeceased her father.
  2. Permelia Wright married Harvey Wilson on December 31, 1836, in Clark County. It was noted that she was the daughter of Thomas Wright, who gave consent. Surety was posted by William H. Wright. (She was called Permelia in the will, and Amelia in the marriage bond) VanMeter said that Harvey was from Montgomery County. They finally moved to Winchester “and died there, leaving six children, viz: William, Clay, Thomas, Frelinghuysen, Mary, and Emma.”
  3. William Henry Harrison Wright married Sarah Ann Halley on November 28, 1836, in Clark County. Surety was posted by James Halley. Their children included “Lewis, Mary, William and maybe others.” Later he married Mary Ridgway. The 1860 census listed him as 48 years of age, meaning he was born about 1812.
  4. Emma Wright married Thornton Lewis on March 26, 1832. Stephen D. Lewis posted the surety. They raised five children to be grown, viz: Thomas Wright Lewis, born January 11, 1833; Amelia Clay, born May 26, 1836; Frances (Fanny), born March 26, 1841; Mary S., born May 16, 1848; Sidney Allen, born April 17, 1851. Thornton Lewis was about forty years of age when he married.


Compiled by Jim G. Faulconer, 1998.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top