Saturday, July 2, 2011

UBERTO WRIGHT - 1813-1889


No family pictures exist of Uberto Wright or his second wife Susannah Jane Smith Wright, from whom I descend. His first wife, Sarah Allen, died young, leaving two small daughters (Miriam and America.) Uberto and Susan had six children: Frances Narcissa, called Fannie, James, John, Jacob, Minerva and Lily. Fannie was my great-grandmother on my dad's side.

You would think a diligent researcher would find some kind of explanation as to where such an usual name as Uberto came from. But no, in 27 years of researching I have not found an earlier source. I have found descendants with that name, along with themes and variations: Ulberto, Uberdo, Alberto, Alberta, Huberto and so on. I've decided people want to understand the name by making it be something else. But it is, plain and simple: Uberto.

Uberto was born in Barren County, Kentucky in January of 1813 and was reared principally in Warren County, which borders Barren on the west. He was a farmer and did surveying. He also became a minister in the Christian Church (aka Church or Christ or Campbellite) and in the 1880s he was employed by the State Board of the Christian Church as an evangelist. He also served as Justice of the Peace several times. He was called on to become a candidate for the Legislature but he refused, not being interested in things political. He had a plantation of some 255 acres on Peter's Creek in Barren County. He was a slaveholder prior to the Civil War.

The 1870 Federal Census for Barren County, KY is quite interesting as it pertains to our Wright family. Take a look at it. The slaves have been emancipated. The first column counts houses and the second number counts family. So you see first Uberto and Susan's household and then you see Felix and America Wright's family.

In the Uberto & Susan Wright family we find James, Jacob, John, Lilly and Polly, Uberto's sister. The three oldest daughters, Mary Ann, America and Narcissa are already married and living on their own. I do not know who Sallie Vaughn is, but there are also three black Wrights: Malinda, a maid; Rufus a farm hand,and Fannie, a child. In the house next door we find another family of Wrights - Felix and America, with children Samuel, Uberto, Luther, Sera?, and Zack.

You can see the names "America" "Fannie" and Uberto appear in both famlies. And my great-grandma Fannie Wright McConnell named one of her sons "Luther."

Narcissa (the oldest child of Uberto and Susannah) was my father's grandma. She and her husband left Kentucky about 1880 and went to Texas and then to Colorado. My father and his sister (my Aunt Dorothy), who were born and raised in Colorado, knew their grandma, who was called "Bonnie." When I started into genealogy my questions spurred Aunt Dorothy to write a Family History of what she remembered about her family. Here is one sentence in her story that pertains to the Uberto & Susannah Wright family:

The family (Narcissa and husband) moved to Waco, Texas in 1880, living on a small farm. Mama said one of the former slaves from the Wright plantation came with them. Many stayed on after the war ended and were treated as members of the family.
The picture of the family as shown in the 1870 census gives a hint that Aunt Dorothy's recollection just may be right.

All my reading about Uberto leads me to believe he was a kind Christian man. I would guess (and hope) that he treated his slaves well and was first in line to give them their freedom when the time came. I also would suspect that my Aunt Dorothy was right in what she remembered and the now-freed slaves chose to remain close to Uberto and Susan.

Another plus for Uberto is that he gave his wife "power and authority at his demise to make sales of land and deed by general warranty, the same to the purchaser or purchasers to have the full force of a deed from myself and her jointly, and any other small matter than I might or may owe that my wife pay the same as in her judgment may be deemed proper." I was pleased that he gave his wife credit for having some brains!

And finally, his last words in his will were these: "May God bless my family." A will rattling around with family skeletons is fun to read, but how much better to read one that contains a blessing!

Uberto died in 1889 and Susannah Smith Wright in 1903. They are buried in the Smith Cemetery (near Etoile) in Barren County. With them are their children, John C. Wright and Minerva Wright, as well as Susan's father and mother, James D and Rebecca D. Higdon Smith.

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