Monday, August 11, 2008

Mary Wright 1865-1955

Joel Martin & Susannah Wright had eleven or twelve children depending on whether you count Hiram as a son.  Their son Andrew Jackson Wright was born in 1827 in McRoberts.  He married Harriet Adams.  They had fourteen children:  William "Black Hawk", Freelove, Harriet, George, Loucinda "Sidney", Jemima, Samuel, Clarinda, Elijah, Mary, Isaac, Andrew Monroe, Booker and Nancy.

This is the story of Mary and her family.

Mary was born April 13, 1865 in Kentucky.  She was the tenth child.  She married William L. J. "Stonewall Jackson" Wright.  He was from the Solomon H and Rachel Pickering Wright family.   When Stonewall was 20 and Mary 21, they married.  On December 2, 1881 Mary and Stonewall had a son, John Quincy Wright. 

Times were hard and jobs were scarce in Kentucky.  The couple heard of good paying jobs in the coal fields of West Virginia and moved there in 1897 when John Q. was 16. 

Gambling was illegal in this West Viriginia community.  The local officials were set on breaking up a local bunch that were gambling.  Stonewall was deputized and told to go with the posse to help arrest this group of gamblers. He didn't volunteer, but you didn't say no when they put a badge on you and made you a deputy for a manhunt.  Apparently, the gamblers knew about the raid and ambushed the group on their way out of town.  Stonewall was shot and killed in the ambush.

Mary and Stonewall had only been in town for three months.  The goodness of neighbors kept them fed.  John would pick up jobs as he could sometimes working for a merchant and earning twenty-five cents or fifty cents.  He did what he could to earn money for them.

The railroad was in town.  One day when John was at the station the station agent asked him if he would like a real job for the railroad.  John was thrilled.  He became a brakeman.  One day he was caught between two cars and had his chest and shoulders crushed.  He was a long time recovering from the injuries.

After he recovered he was again at the station and the agent asked him if was about ready to get back to work.  John was ready.  He became a fireman for the engineers.  I read in the 1920 census where he was a fireman, but in 1930 he was listed as an engineer for the steam railroad.  He was with the railroad for 43 years.

John bought land and built a house where he and his mother lived.  When he was 46 years old he married Georgia Compton, daughter of Robert and Rhoda Cox Compton.  They lived with Mary while they searched for a home for themselves.  For two years they searched.  A daughter, Daisy, was born to them.  The house next door to Mary's came up for sale and John bought it. 

In one census it shows Mary, John, Georgia and little Daisy living in one home that Mary owned and next door to them Robert and Rhoda renting a home.  Daisy said that as a little girl Robert and Rhoda lived with them and Mary lived alone next door.  When Daisy got married she moved in with her grandmother.  When her grandmother died in 1955, she had been married for seven years. Her maternal grandparents had died and  she and her husband moved to the other house to take care of her parents. 

Daisy lives there alone now all the family gone.  She said she sold her grandmother' house to a good friend who lost her home when the town was flooded.  Her houses sat high upon the mountain and did not flood.  That friend is still there and promised they would grow old together.

Daisy knew her grandmother very well.  She knew that Andrew and Harriett Adams were her great grandparents.  She said that Mary told her that they were part Indian. She told her that her grandmother was Cherokee.  When Mary's grandfather, Joel Wright,  married his wife, she could speak no English.  Mary did not know her real name, but said they gave her the English name of Susannah.  She treasured the Indian doll that she received as a child and had it hanging in her home until she died.  Daisy has the doll today.

Daisy said Mary had many hardships, but a wonderful attitude.  The house that John Q. built had a porch all around it.  When Mary was older she fell off of it at least twice.  When they ran down to help her up she had no broken bones, nothing seriously wrong with her.  She said, "I'll be dagged.  That was good."  which was a saying she often used when something happened.

She kept chickens and a cow for eggs, milk and butter.  When it came time to cook a chicken she would tie its legs together and hang it on the clothes line and take her little pocket knife and cut its throat.  She said that it had to bleed for the meat to be right.  Chicken raised the old way had a lot of fat in them. If you just boiled  or fried them up they were too fatty.  Mary would fry hers on low heat and render out the fat.  Then she would make chicken and dumplings.  She rolled out the dough and cut it in long strips.  They were the slick kind not the fluffy kind.

She would take the rendered chicken fat and make a yellow cake.  She would add vanilla and throw in a handful of raisons and bake it in her bread pan.  When it was done she would cut it in squares and wrap them and put them in a coffee can.  Whenever someone visited they were treated to this yellow cake.

Another of her specialities was her apple cobbler that she made in her cast iron skillet.  Daisy said Granny Mary could take a shoestring and make it taste like the best meal, but these were three of her favorite things that Mary cooked.

She kept her house spotless.  She also kept a family Bible where she slipped in clippings about the family. 

Mary loved her family and faced many hardships.  She was a true mountain woman.

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