The Wright Family

From “The Houma Daily Courier” in 1972:

“The earliest record of the Wright family in this area dates back to 1829 – a conveyance record. Holden Wright purchased property in the Schriever area. This is a Lafourche Interior record. Terrebonne Parish was not created until 1832.

Although many Wright members knew the names of Holden Wright and his wife, Nancy Griffen, not one of us had been able to locate their marriage record. This was located in early 1971 by Mrs. Mercedes Ray Pertuit. Holden Wright (age 31) and Nancy Griffen (age 15) were married Sept. 22, 1822, in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. The certificate does not mention the parents’ names of either of the contracting parties. However, when Nancy Griffen Wright’s mother, Ms. Elizabeth Hampton Orrel Griffen (Mrs. Abraham Griffen), died in October 1847, her will was recorded in Lafourche Parish. In this document, all of her children are named – including ‘Nancy, wife of Holden Wright of Terrebonne Parish.’

Holden Wright and Nancy Griffen were the parents of eleven children:

Elisha Wright, born Dec. 23, 1824, died March 25, 1871, unmarried.

John Wright, born Jan. 29, 1827, died Oct. 3, 1844, married Florence America Watkins.

Maria Elizabeth Wright, born Jan. 28, 1829, died April 15, 1858, married James Blahurst.

Abraham Wright, born Feb. 3, 1831, died April 16, 1903, married Mary Ann Callahan.

Martha Wright, born Nov. 3, 1832, died Feb. 10, 1845, unmarried.

Holden Wright II, born Nov. 22, 1834, died Sept. 12, 1861, unmarried.

Thomas Wright, born Nov. 12, 1836, died Aug. 1861, unmarried.

William Wright, born Aug. 22, 1839, died Dec. 22, 1904, married Sarah Elizabeth Field.

Mary Jane Wright, born Nov. 17, 1842, died March 22, 1857, unmarried.

George Wright, born June 24, 1845, died Dec. 24, 1845.

Laura Johanna Wright, born June 28, 1849, died Feb. 5, 1923, married James H. Davis.

The Holden Wright family Bible remained in the possession of Mrs. William Wright Sr. until her death. Then it became the property of her eldest child, Mary Juanita Wright, who married Charles Edgar Thomas. (Juanita was named at the request of her father for the Juanita River in Pennsylvania). When Mrs. Thomas died in 1956, her daughter Vivian (Mrs. Van A. Williams) of Lafayette had it as a cherished family heirloom. In 1971, she very generously gave it to Mrs. Marion LaRose Dupont, eldest grandchild of William Wright Sr.’s youngest son, Thomas Elward Wright I.

At present, two of the Holden-Wright grandchildren survive: Mrs. Elia Wright Barrios, over 90 years of age, of New Orleans, La. (daughter of Abraham Wright), and Miss Xenia Olga Davis, 87 years young of Bayou Dularge (daughter of Mrs. Laura Johanna Wright Davis).

Holden Wright bought Concord Plantation on Bayou Black and resided there until his death on Aug. 14, 1868. His wife died there Oct. 14, 1852. Both were buried on the plantation as were the children who preceded them in death. In the 1930s, five bodies in metallic caskets were reinterred in the cemetery at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church on Bayou Black. In late 1970, Mr. Mardis Breaux was kind enough to meet Miss Xenia Davis, Mrs. F. G. LaRose Sr. and Mrs. T. Baker Smith Sr. (granddaughters of Holden Wright) at the cemetery and point out the family tomb.

Mr. J.K. Wright remembers the old Wright home at Concord but only as a deserted place. J. K. Wright also owns an original tintype of Holden Wright on his horse, Boston. He has kindly allowed family members to copy this picture.

According to information given by older family members, we know that Holden Wright came from Pennsylvania to Natchez, Miss., on horseback. From there he came by raft to Terrebonne with a Mr. Shaffer and a Mr. Grinage. Another family story tells that Holden Wright was a relative of Governor Silas Wright of New York (This information is included in William Wright Sr.’s obituary notice). It has not yet been proven, although John Wright (Holden’s son) did name a son Silas Wright.

According to the 1840 census, Holden Wright was born in New Jersey and his wife Nancy Griffen was born in North Carolina. Holden Wright’s children and grandchildren remembered that he spoke with a ‘Dutch’ accent. Since Louisiana did not have a Bureau of Vital Statistics until 1910, the only way we had of checking Holden Wright’s place of birth was by applying for a copy of Laura Johanna Wright Davis’ death record. On this record, the mother Nancy Griffen’s place of birth is given as Corinth, Miss., and the father Holden Wright’s place of birth is given as Norway.

Five of Holden Wright’s sons fought in the Civil War: Elisha; Abraham; Holden Jr.; Thomas and William. All were far from home in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Holden Jr. died in the Yankee prison at Yorktown and is buried there. Tom was also a prisoner at Yorktown but was released because of poor health and died a few weeks after he returned home.

Holden Wright’s great grandson, Thomas Elward Wright II, was mayor of Houma for eighteen years. He and his brother Connelly Elisha Joseph Wright reside in the family home which is only a block away from the site of the Wright Livery Stable.

The family members in Terrebonne bearing the surname Wright are all descendants of William Wright Sr. There are also a large number of descendants of Laura Wright Davis (she was the mother of eleven children, as was her mother). There are also descendants of Abraham Wright and John Wright in Terrebonne Parish.

The article which follows was taken from an old newspaper clipping found in Holden Wright’s Bible:

The following letter, written to a gentleman of this town, is sad, sad indeed! The writer was for a long time a resident of this parish, and his many friends here will be pained to hear of his sad misfortunes.

New River

Nov 2., 1878

Dear Friend,

Yours of the 20th of October received this day, and I take the opportunity – 3 a.m. – at night off watch over the dead and dying to answer your kind inquiries about me. I am still in the land of the living – but for how long I know not. Since the 28th of September I have passed through one of the most trying ordeal that man can live through: I have been down with the Plague myself and all of the family – eight sick and dying in one house at the same time, not one able to give the other a drink of water. A few noble young men and girls stood to us until they were stricken down with the fever themselves. I had to see four of my children – John, Abe, Ida and Otis – dying without human help and buried in the same manner. I have just returned home from burying the poor woman that closed Ida’s eyes last evening – Mrs. Dusin Lusk.

I have but two hired hands – one man and a boy – the man digging graves night and day, the boy hauling the dead with cart and mule. My crop all in the field and no prospects to save it that I see.

Your miserable friend,

A. Wright”

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