My grandfather, David Morgan Wright, was born in Escanaba, Michigan, on 7 July 1887, to Helen Elizabeth Pidd and John Morgan Wright. He and his siblings, George William and Alice Mary Wright were first generation born in the United States on both sides of their family.
John Morgan Wright was born on 21 July 1852 in Gors, Upper Llanbadarn, a little community outside of Aberyswyth, Cardiganshire, Wales. His parents were Mary (formerly Morgans) and William Wright – William’s occupation is listed on the birth certificate as “carrier” – a carrier transported good for hire.
In 1861 John Morgan Wright is listed on the Wales Census along with the rest of his family in Llanfihangel. As an 8 year old he doesn’t get much notice in the listings, just his age, sex and that he was born in Parish Llanbadarn fawr.The short biography in my grandmother’s handwriting says that John “left home at about age ten or twelve and spent some years tending sheep for a farmer.”
By 1871 John Morgan Wright is not living with his family. He might be the John Wright who was living in Trefeirig, Cardiganshire, working as a lead miner. That John is a lodger in the home of Isaac Thomas with his wife Margaret Thomas and their daughter Ann. John Wright was listed as 20 and born in Llanbadarn-Fawr, Cardiganshire, Wales so his information matches very closely with our John Morgan Wright. In grandmother’s notes she says, “Then worked in slate mines in Wales.” – following his time as a shepherd.
22 April 1872 John M. Wright arrived in New York on the ship the Wyoming with his brother David Morgan. The ship departed from Liverpool, England and stopped at Queenstown, Ireland on its way. The Wyoming was a new ship, its maiden voyage had been 25 November 1870 on the same route. The Wyoming and its sister ship the Wisconsin were the earliest compound-engined steamships built for trans-Atlantic service. The family biography says that John Wright went “first to coal-mining region in Pennsylvania, then to iron mining region near Ishpenning, Mich. Then came to Escanaba; by boat from Green Bay.”
John’s brother David Morgan seems to have dropped the Wright surname upon his arrival in the US. He used David W. Morgan in 1880 when he was working as a carpenter and living with his wife Alice and their two children Mary B., 4, and Willie W., 11 months, along with his mother in law, May Lewis, in Escanaba, Michigan. His death certificate lists his name as David Wright Morgan and names his parents as Mary Morgan and William Wright, verifying that this is indeed the brother of our John Morgan Wright.
By 1880 John Morgan Wright was a teamster living as a boarder in Escanaba, Michigan. He had been naturalized in 1887 in Delta County, in his new home of Escanaba. 20 March 1882 in Negaunee, Michigan, John married Elizabeth Helen (or Nellie) Pidd, daughter of George Nicholson Pidd and Janet or Jeanett Louise Haney. More about Helen and her family later! On the marriage record John M. Wright’s occupation is listed as Hotelkeeper. The couple was married by H. E. Davis, minister and the witnesses were Anthony Brand and Susie Pidd.
Over the next few years Nellie and John Wright had four children in Escanaba, Delta County, Michigan: George William, born 11 February 1883; Alice Mary, born 2 September 1884; David Morgan, born 7 July 1887; and Jessie Louise, born 11 February 1889 who died 18 February 1889.
In 1900 John and Nellie Wright and their three oldest children are still living in Escanaba. Although John’s occupation is listed as carpenter, they have 21 boarders living in the same household. Their oldest son, George, at 17 is working as a “mill man” and Alice and David are “at school.” Nearly all of their boarders are first generation Americans or immigrants and most are men and laborers though there is one couple and a Swedish “hired girl.” Other occupations among their boarders are salesman, electrician, and cigar maker.
By 27 April 1910 (the date their block was enumerated) John and Nellie no longer have the boarding house and are living with only their son George in Escanaba. John is working as a carpenter and George is an engineer at a stationary company. David Morgan Wright was probably off at college – he graduated from the Michigan College of Mines somewhere around 1910. I have not been able to find him on the 1910 census, though.
17 Aug 1912 “Eleanor” and John M. Wright departed from Southampton and arrived in New York 25 Aug 1912 on the Philadelphia. Sixty year old John indicated that he had been naturatized in Delta County about 1877 and that home was Escanaba, Michigan. Fifty year old “Eleanor” claimed that she had been born in Negaunee, Michigan on May 8th 1862. In my post about Nellie Pidd Wright I’ll show that while the birth date is correct the birth place is probably not. I have not been able to find when Nellie and John left to travel abroad or anything about their visit. I expect they visited John’s relatives in Wales and England, maybe even to Ireland.
John died in Escanaba, Delta County, Michigan on 23 March 1915 at the age of 62. His death certificate lists his occupation as carpenter. He is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery in Escanba with his wife Helen Pidd and their daughter Jessie Louise.