Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Wright Stuff

I have dabbled in genealogy in the past and have LOADS of stuff that has yet to be sifted through to figure out connections. I go through spurts of being on top of it, but then get distracted by life.

However, in true Southern tradition, I have a distant cousin who spends a lot of her time trying to nail down family connections. She does it for the love of the old stories of the people back then. Fortunately, she shares what she finds with me! I just got an e-mail from her this morning that she's back on the trail again.

One of my direct ancestors through my grandfather, Franklin George Harrison (d. 2000), is an amazing woman named Elizabeth Jane Petty (Pettey) Wright. She was the only surviving sister in a family of brothers and she wrote to them regularly as an adult, even when she was busy with her own family. At least one of those letters still exists. In it she appeals to her brother George to "Let the children go to school as much as you can for it is the best riches they can have."

From her Bible in her own hand we have that Jane Pettey (spelling went back and forth) was born Oct 7, 1826. She went by Jane and married Samuel Creed Wright December 20, 1849. They had several children, many of who did not live very long. Her last child was posthumous to Samuel Creed Wright's death and was named Samuella in his honor. In July 1867 disease swept Memphis again, and Jane lost one of her daughters (Mary Elizabeth or Ellen [known as Bettie and Ella, age 11 and 9]) before coming down with cholera or yellow fever herself. She made a will, not realizing that the second daughter (Mary Elizabeth or Ellen) had died. Jane herself died August 3, 1867. Her surviving children were Lucy Roxanna Wright, born July 28, 1852, Thomas Jackson Wright, born July 29, 1855 and Samuella Wright, born March 4, 1861.

Lucy Roxanna went by "Roxie" and married a Harrison, which is how I eventually came into the picture!

We've had written evidence of Jane's intelligence through her letter and through the inventory of her estate. She apparently took very good care of her children after Samuel died and was a wealthy woman by the standards of the day. At her death the children were placed with a guardian (although a later lawsuit reveals that the children didn't think the guardian did the best job with their money). Until recently though, we did not have a photo of this remarkable woman. The cousin I referred to above was able to get a photo of her from descendants of Samuella, who went by "Sammie".
So here she is, Elizabeth Jane Petty Wright. Her photo reveals a woman who is suffering to have the photo taken but is anxious to get back to other tasks! I am so grateful that her drive and determination got passed down through the generations!


DLABF said...

A wonderful tribute to an amazing woman! Thanks!

Quilldancer said...

What a cool bit of family history!