David Morgan Wright was born in Escanaba, Delta County, Michigan 7 July 1887 to Helen “Nellie” Pidd and John Morgan Wright. According to the 1900 US Census he was “at school” as a thirteen year old and had attended school for 10 months of the year.
I don’t have much information about David Wright‘s school years. I wonder if he is the David Wright who at the age of seventeen sailed on the S. S. Cedric out of Liverpool on 30 September 1904, arriving at the Port of New York 8 Oct 1904? The only information on the passenger manifest is his name, age, that he is able to write, and that he is a U. S. Citizen. Our David Wright would have been old enough to have graduated from high school – perhaps this was a graduation trip, though the timing would delay his entry into college.
In 1905 David M. Wright is living at 1527 Hartnett Avenue in Escanaba where his father John M. Wright is listed as “propr” (proprietor?) Stephenson House. David is listed as a student but where he is studying is not listed. His brother George is also living there ans is listed as “engr” which Ancestry.com transcribes as “engraver” but I believe it should be “engineer.” Both David and George are listed as “bds” at Stephenson House – boarders in their father’s house!
In 1907 both David and George are still listed as boarders with John M. Wright but they have moved to 1323 Ludington in Escanaba. David is still a student and George is still an “engr.” John M. Wright is now listed as a watchman.
We know that David was a graduate of the Michigan College of Mines, but I am not certain which years he attended or the year he graduated. We have some pictures from a folder labeled “Houghton & Iron County” and one has a note “before 1908” – these look like college photos. They can be seen at 1910 DMW Houghton MI. The photo of the men in the Cundy Mine, Quinnesec has one man’s face circled – could that be my grandfather?
This circled face looks a lot like my father and may be his father, David Morgan Wright.
I have not found my grandfather in the 1910 US Census. There are plenty of David Wrights but none that fit his facts. I’ve been checking his cousins and relatives all over the United States and in Canada and still haven’t found him.
My father told a story that after graduation from the Michigan College of Mines David M. Wright was offered a job with Swift & Company outside Dalonega, Georgia at a gold mine. At the same time a classmate offered him a job with his new engineering firm in New Orleans. Being a young man, David chose the job in a city with lots of social possibilities! By 4 Dec 1913 David M. Wright is living in New Orleans working for the John A. Kruse Engineering Company whose address was 916 Hibernia Bank Building. His mother wrote him a letter with that date at the engineering company and that letter is still with the family papers.
According to an obituary I found on Ancestry.com John A Kruse, the head of John A. Kruse Engineering, was born in Hancock, Michigan and became an attorney, practicing for a number of years in Norway, Michigan. “Mr. Kruse became interested in mining while at Norway and later went to Chicago, and latterly had been interested in the land reclamation project in New Orleans.” In Soard’s 1912 Directory John A. Kruse and W. P. Langworthy are listed as Consulting Engineers with an office at “917 Hibernia Bank Bldg Phone Main 1503.”
David was probably in Louisiana earlier than December 1913. Among his photos are pictures labeled “Hymelia Crevasse” – a levee breach which happened 14 May 1912 near the town of Killona.
This was a major breach and flooded a wide area of St. Charles Parish. Attempts were made to close the breach but the waters washed more and more of the levee collapsed. More information about the history of the Hymelia Crevasse can be found on the St. Charles Parish Museum and Historical Association website in their article Great 1912 “Crawfish” Crevasse. The crevasse was not closed until 3 August 1912.
Also among the photos are many of equipment driving pilings, dredging canals and what may be a pumping station. The photos from Louisiana are at 1913-1917 DMW NewOrleans LA – they are roughly sorted into categories but are otherwise in random order. Very few are identified – if you recognize any of the places, people or procedures, please contact me!
In 1915 David M. Wright is still working at the John A. Kruse Engineering Company and living at 3812 Carondelet. In 1916 he’s moved to 1328 Second Street and the engineering firm had moved from 916 to 606 in the Hibernia Bank Building.
About 1916 David made a trip home to visit his family. His sister had married William Reece in Escanaba 16 Aug 1905 and their son George William Reece had been born the next year. John Morgan Wright died 23 March 1915 in Escanaba, Michigan. George William Wright married Erma May Kyle 29 July 1915 so David was the only child left unmarried. The group of photos below were dated 1916 in the family album.
By 1917 the engineering company had moved to 730 Gravier and David was living at 2005 Milan. That address is interesting – when I looked it up on Google Street View it was the same building as in this picture in my grandfather’s collection:
25 May 1917 David M. Wright filled out his draft registration card. His address is still at 2005 Milan St., New Orleans, La. but he lists his occupation as “Student” employed by the “Citizens Training Camp” in “Fort Logan H Roots, Ark.” While his Precinct is listed as Fort Logan H Roots, Pulaski, Arkansas there is also a handwritten note of “Pct 7 Ward 12, New Orleans, La.” and a stamp “Local Board for Division No. 11, City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana, 2013 Louisiana Ave., New Orleans, La.” (Later on the Application for Headstone or Marker his enlistment date is corrected to 25 June 1917. On the reverse there is a note “Accepted comm. in ORC 25 June 17 A/D SAME DATE.” At the bottom is a note “Captain 114 Engineers/WWI.”)
I have not researched it thoroughly but prior to the US officially joining the war in Europe training camps were set up to train officers: “The Plattsburg Movement and its Legacy.” Fort Logan H Roots must have been one of the places for those camps. It is now a historic district outside of Little Rock, Arkansas: Fort Logan H. Roots Military Post Historic District. David Wright was a a lieutenant for most of his service with the 114th Engineers. so he entered the service with a commission.
I’ll write more about David Morgan Wright‘s time during World War I later. We’re lucky enough to have two first hand accounts of his service – one is an official report from the National Archives, another is an incomplete narration in his own handwriting. He also had photos from his time in France and a collection of postcards. Those can be viewed at 1918 World War I – but I will try to link the photos to David Wright‘s narrative of his experiences in a future post.