Biography - George Wright

CAPT. GEORGE WRIGHT. Conspicuous among those of foreign birth who periled their lives and fortunes to help save the Union during the Civil War Capt. George Wright is not the least worthy of mention. Since the close of the Rebellion he has shown the value of his citizenship in a far different field as a farmer of this county who for several years has interested himself in the introduction of fine horses into this part of the State, having a well-equipped stock farm in Pickaway Township, where he and his son are quite extensively engaged in breeding horses, and have several valuable thoroughbreds of the best strains, besides some imported stock of the purest blood.

Capt. Wright was born in Hutton, Yorkshire, England, October 13, 1825. His father, Robert Wright, was a native of the same shire, as was the grandfather of our subject who spent his whole life among the Yorkshire wolds. The father of our subject was reared to agricultural pursuits and always carried on his occupation in his native shire. He married Eleanor Bradley, who also passed her entire life in Yorkshire. She was the mother of six children, only two of whom came to this country, our subject and his sister Frances. The latter married Robert Dobson, and lives in Shelbyville.

At the early age of seven years the Captain commenced to earn his own living, as his parents were in poor circumstances, and he worked out by the year in different English shires until 1847, when he obtained employment in the chemical works at South Shields, where he remained two years. Ambitious to see something of the world and to make more of life than was possible in the land of his birth, in the pride and vigor of early manhood, he set sail from Liverpool in the month of May in the vessel "De Witt Clinton," bound for these shores, and landed at New York after a three weeks' voyage. He went directly to Massillon, Ohio, where he obtained work as a farm hand, and he resided there until 1858. In that year he made a new departure, and coming to this county, began his independent career as a farmer by purchasing two hundred and forty acres of wild prairie, paying $9 an acre for one hundred and sixty acres of it, and $12.50 for the remaining eighty acres. He was a single man at that time, but he had the help and encouragement of his sister, with whom he resided until 1861.

In that year the war broke out, and our subject responded quickly to the call for troops first given, with all the loyalty to the Government under which he had come to build up a new home, and with all the patriotism of a native-born citizen. So rapidly did volunteers come forward in this county that the quota was filled before our subject was mustered in, and he had to wait until the 25th of May before his name was enrolled as a member of Company B, Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, under Col. John M. Palmer, July 25, 1861, his regiment crossed from Quincy to Missouri, and was stationed in that State until the ensuing winter, being at different times quartered at Rolla, Macon City, Sturgeon, Jefferson City, Lipton, Springfield, Sedalia and Otterville, or wherever their services were most needed, being at the latter place the greater part of the season of 1861 and till the 1st of February, 1862. When Gen. Lyon fought his famous battle at Wilson's Creek, and when Mulligan was engaged at Lexington, our subject and his comrades were sent to re-enforce them but arrived too late both times to be of much use. While at Jefferson City our subject received his promotion to be Second Lieutenant of his company September 28, 1861.

When his regiment left its winter quarters it was dispatched across the Mississippi River to Ft. Donelson, and much to the disappointment of the brave men it arrived too late for the battle. They were, however, in good season for the engagement at Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, April 6, 1862, and did some desperate fighting in that dreadful battle, as is shown by the fact that two hundred out of their five hundred were left on the field at the end of the encounter. On that occasion, while faithfully performing his duty, and cheering his men on to the conflict, Capt. Wright, received a bullet wound in the left arm.

October 25, 1872, marked another important event in the brave officer's military career, and it was on that date that he received his commission as First Lieutenant, to date September 13, 862, and reading "Promoted for meritorious service at Pittsburg Landing." When the attack was made on Corinth, the Fourteenth Illinois distinguished itself for conspicuous gallantry in the fore-front of the battle. Its next move was to Grand Junction and La Grange, and June 17, 1862, found it at Holly Springs, Miss. The following October it was in the heat of battle at Metamora, sometimes called the battle of Hatchie. Our subject and his comrades spent the winter of 1862-63 at Lafayette, Tenn., and the following spring and summer were in active service in the famous siege of Vicksburg. Here again our subject was honored by promotion to the position of Captain, receiving his commission, which was dated May 8, 1863, June 30, 1863. After Vicksburg had fallen he led his men in the battle of Jackson, Miss., and afterward camped at Natchez. He was subsequently detailed with his company to escort Adj.-Gen. Thomas to New Orleans. He rejoined his regiment near Vicksburg, and in the opening month of 1864 he and a number of his fellows veterans returned to Illinois, where he obtained furloughs for his men at Springfield. For a month after that he was on detached duty recruiting troops in this county. In the spring he returned to his regiment, which was then stationed at Memphis, but he shortly returned to Illinois with Col. Hall, the commander of his regiment to assist him in obtaining recruits. Having replenished the regiment to the required number, they returned to the seat of war, arriving at Cairo May 13, 1864, and were soon at the front.

The term of enlistment of the Fourteenth Illinois expired while at Huntsville, Ala., and soon returned to Springfield, Ill., where Capt. Wright was mustered out of the service, having served long and faithfully and he returned to this county with his honors thick upon him.

The Captain took up the work that he had laid down to do battle for his adopted country, and was engaged in farming in Todd's Point Township for a time, his own land being leased. In 1870 he took up his residence once more on his farm in Pickaway Township, and has since occupied a leading place among the most intelligent and progressive farmers of this section. He has always dearly loved a fine horse, which he rightly considers one of the noblest of animals, and a few years ago he turned his attention to raising horses in company with his son, and they have met with signal success in their enterprise. They now have five costly, valuable stallions, four of them imported, as follows: "Thornton Echo" was foaled in La Fylde, Lancastershire, England; "Royal Oak" was bred in Cambridgeshire, "Rampton" was bred in Lincolnshire, "Arthur" is a fine roadster, half Hambletonian and half Cleveland Bay; and one of the handsomest and most promising of the stallions is "Castleraugh," an English hackney, bred in Effingham, Yorkshire, England, imported to this country in 1890. Messrs. Wright also have three imported English shire mares: "Lady Cannock." No. 2350, bred in Leicestershire; "Queen Sarah," No. 2352, bred in Lincolnshire; "Queen Henrietta," No. 2351, bred in Lincolnshire. These horses constitute one of the best selected and most valuable studs in this part of the country, and in their purchase the Captain laid the foundation of a business that is increasing each year, and he has already become known as a horseman of superior judgment, of marked capability and far-reaching enterprise, who seems to know the good points of a horse intuitively, and is never deceived in the worth of an animal. In his son, a young man of much force of character, he has an able coadjutor.

December 29, 1864, Capt. Wright contracted a marriage with Miss Jennie Turner that has added greatly to his well-being. Its happiness has been enchanced by the five children born unto them, namely, John Sherman, Florence Agnes, Frances Helena, Annie Jane and Alice Maud. Mrs. Wright is also of English birth and antecedents, born in Lancastershire, and a daughter of John Turner. She came to America in 1862.

Before the war our subject was a Democrat, and was a devoted follower of the famous Stephen A. Douglas. The war seems to have changed his political views decidedly, as since he left the army he has been a strong Republican, and the party has no more ardent advocate in this section than he.

Extracted 09 Apr 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 501-503.

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