Saturday, April 16, 2011

JACOB WRIGHT - 1774-1857

~ A DOBBINS RELATIVE ~


No photograph of Jacob Wright has ever surfaced. So today we simply need to create a mental image of a man who fits this description, taken from Perrin's Genealogy and Biography, Vol. II, page 142:
"...Jacob and Miriam (Helm) Wright, natives, respectively, of Virginia and South Carolina. Jacob came to Kentucky about 1805, and settled where Glasgow [Barren County] now stands. He was a slave holder and a soldier in the war of 1812. His father, also named Jacob, emigrated from Ireland and settled in Virginia."
Now if you are a genealogist you will know that this may or may not be accurate, and if he is your ancestor you will want some additional research to prove or disprove these facts.

The marriage of Jacob and Miriam took place in Washington County, Kentucky, on February 6, 1797. George Hellams (probably Helms) was surety. If it is true that Jacob and Miriam came to Barren County in 1805, then the first four (and possibly five) of their twelve children were born in Washington County, which is north and somewhat east of Barren County.

Jacob would have been of the right age to have served in the War of 1812, and while there was a Jacob Wright serving in the 5th Regiment (Lewis') Kentucky Volunteers, I have not been able to identify whether or not this was our Jacob.

I think one of the biggest surprises I found when I started out doing genealogy was learning how many people shared the same names, even somewhat obscure or unusual names. And with both Jacob and Wright being common names, I'd guess that if Jacob had six brothers, all six of them would have a son named "Jacob." It makes assumptions very 'iffy!

My mom's family were New Englanders and it never occurred to me that in my heritage I might have ancestors who owned slaves. But I quickly found I was wrong. And it was with Jacob where I felt the most sorrow. He died in 1857 and left a large probate file. I sent to the courthouse for copies of the papers, and in it I found the following:


Especially reading the first entry, "Baylor - not valued at anything" brought tears to my eyes. Maybe Baylor was a baby. Maybe he was old and infirm. But he wasn't worth anything as far as an asset in Jacob's inventory. Sad, sad, sad.
Jacob's will itself tells a little bit about the family. Jacob says he wants his just debts paid first and then he wants his wife Miriam to have however much of the estate she wishes to keep during her lifetime. Jacob had been generous in helping his children out as they got their start in life. In these early times, when daughters got married their fathers often deeded land to them, much in the way of a dowry. Jacob may have done this too. Jacob kept a book in which he recorded the monetary value of his gifts to each child. His will shows that son Montgomery had received the most money - $899.00. Therefore out of his estate Jacob wants each of his children to receive enough money to bring their total up to $899.00. At that point any further division of property will be equal among all the children. And finally he says when Miriam dies, whatever estate she has is to be likewise divided equally among the heirs.

There are two interesting things about Jacob's children. He wants his son Uberto to manage his daughter Polly's portion and to be her guardian. (Polly was the oldest and unmarried daughter.) He also appoints Uberto to manage his sister (Jacob's daughter) Frances Wade's portion. I don't know what her husband, Fielding Wade, had done but he surely got on the wrong side of Jacob!

Jacob wrote his will in 1845. In spite of the fact that in his will he says he "felt weak and feble of body" he lived and farmed another 12-1/2 years!


The old Wright cemetery, where Jacob and Miriam are buried, is now in Warren County, Kentucky, which abuts Barren County. A descendant has placed a chain link fence around it to prevent further deterioration, and whoever took the headstone pictures, above, tried to bring out the inscriptions with powder or chalk or some other substance. Even at that, the names are difficult to make out, but I'm very glad someone is tending the plot. Jacob is my g-g-g-grandfather.

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