Peter Wright

Peter Wright


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Peter Wright was born in Chesterfield in 1916. While at Bishop's Stortford College he met Dick White who was later to play an important role in his life. Wright worked in farming before joining the Admiralty's Research Laboratory during the Second World War.

After the war Wright was employed as a research scientist at Marconi. In 1953 he helped the CIA deal with small bugging devices that had been placed in the American embassy in Moscow.

In 1954 R. V. Jones suggested to Dick White, the head of MI5, that the organization needed a permanent scientist. Eventually it was agreed to employ Wright in this role. His work included the development of electronic surveillance that could be used against the Soviet Union. He was later to write "we bugged and burgled our way across London at the State's behest, while pompous bowler-hatted civil servants in Whitehall pretended to look the other way."

In 1959 Arthur Martin became head of D1 and became responsible for Soviet Counter Espionage. In this role he interviewed Anatoli Golitsin, the KGB officer who had defected to the CIA in December, 1961. Golitsin claimed that Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess and Kim Philby were members of a Ring of Five agents based in Britain.

Arthur Martin arranged for Kim Philby to be interviewed in Beirut by Nicholas Elliot. Comments by Philby in the interview convinced Martin that there was still a Soviet spy working at the centre of MI5. Martin eventually came to the conclusion that Director General Roger Hollis or his deputy, Graham Mitchell had been involved in Philby's spy ring.

Wright also carried out his own investigation into attempts by the KGB to penetrate MI5. Accusations had been made against Guy Liddell and Victor Rothschild. Wright became convinced that both men were innocent. However, like Martin he thought that Hollies and Mitchell could be Soviet spies.

Wright, Martin and Evelyn McBarnet now carried out an investigation into Roger Hollis and Graham Mitchell. They discovered documents that suggested Maxwell Knight had also thought that there was a Soviet mole inside MI5. In 1945 he had worked on the case of Igor Gouzenko, a Russian cipher clerk who defected to the Canadians. Gouzenko claimed that there was a spy code-named Elli inside MI5. Knight wrote: "if MI5 is penetrated I think it is most likely to be Roger Hollis or Graham Mitchell."

Wright took the view that Oleg Penkovsky was part of a deception operation that had been predicted by Anatoli Golitsin in 1961. Wright was highly suspicious of Penkovsky because he handed over a large number of original secret Soviet documents. This was extremely rare as spies normally made copies as otherwise the authorities would discover they were missing. Wright therefore decided that Penkovsky was in collusion with the KGB.

In 1964 Roger Hollis ordered the investigation into Graham Mitchell should be brought to an end. Arthur Martin protested by accusing Hollis of protecting Mitchell. Hollis was furious and took his revenge by replacing Martin with Ronald Symonds as head of DI (Investigations). Soon afterwards Martin was sacked from MI5. Wright now became convinced the real Soviet mole was Hollis. After carrying out further research into Hollis he discovered that while at university he became a close friend of Claude Cockburn, a suspected KGB agent. Although Hollis knew that MI5 had been investigating Cockburn for many years he had never revealed details of this relationship. Wright also found out that Hollis had been in contact with Agnes Smedley, another suspected Soviet agent, while he was in China.

Wright was also asked to investigate Michael Hanley in 1964. Defectors from the Soviet Union had given information about a Soviet agent who held a senior position in MI5. This included Michael Goleniewski who had defected in January 1961. These defectors claimed that this Soviet mole had been educated at Eton and Oxford University, had once worked at the Foreign Office and had been recruited while on a course at the Joint Services Language School at Cambridge. This information suggested that the agent was Hanley. However, after carrying out a thorough investigation, Wright came to the conclusion that Goleniewski was part of a disinformation campaign and Hanley was officially cleared of being a Soviet spy.

Wright also collected information about Harold Wilson. He suspected that he was not only a spy but had been involved in the death of Hugh Gaitskell in January, 1963. Wright was also concerned by several of Wilson's friends who were also under investigation by MI5.

In 1968 Wright was involved with Cecil King, the publisher of the Daily Mirror and a MI5 agent, in a plot to bring down Wilson's government and replace it with a coalition led by Lord Mountbatten.

When Harold Wilson returned to power in 1974 Wright once again became involved in a plot against the Labour government. It was suggested that MI5 files on Wilson should be leaked to the press. Eventually Victor Rothschild persuaded Wright not to take part in the conspiracy. Rothschild warned him that he was likely to get a caught and if that happened he would lose his job and pension.

Wright retired in 1976 and purchased a sheep ranch in Tasmania. He wrote his autobiography, Spycatcher, which claimed that Roger Hollis had been a Soviet double-agent and had been the fifth man in the spy ring that included Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt. Other allegations included attempts by MI6 to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser during the Suez Canal Crisis and a conspiracy by MI5 to overthrow the government of Harold Wilson between 1974 and 1976.

Margaret Thatcher attempted to suppress the publication and distribution of the book. This was unsuccessful and Spycatcher was published in 1987.

Peter Wright died in 1995.

Roger Hollis was never a popular figure in the office. He was a dour, uninspiring man with an off-putting authoritarian manner. I must confess I never liked him. But even those who were well disposed doubted his suitability for the top job. Hollis, like Cumming, had forged a close friendship with Dick White in the prewar days. For all his brilliance, Dick always had a tendency to surround himself with less able men. I often felt it was latent insecurity, perhaps wanting the contrast to throw his talents into sharper relief. But while Hollis was brighter by a good margin than Cumming, particularly in the bureaucratic arts, I doubt whether even Dick saw him as a man of vision and intellect.

Hollis believed that M15 should remain a small security support organization, collecting files, maintaining efficient vetting and protective security, without straying too far into areas like counterespionage, where active measures needed to be taken to get results, and where choices had to be confronted and mistakes could be made. I never heard Hollis express views on the broad policies he wanted MI5 to pursue, or ever consider adapting MI5 to meet the increasing tempo of the intelligence war. He was not a man to think in that kind of way. He had just one simple aim, which he doggedly pursued throughout his career. He wanted to ingratiate the Service, and himself, with Whitehall. And that meant ensuring there were no mistakes, even at the cost of having no successes.

After the ARCOS raid in London in 1928, where MI5 smashed a large part of the Russian espionage apparatus in a police raid, the Russians concluded that their legal residences, the embassies, consulates, and the like, were unsafe as centers for agent running. From then onward their agents were controlled by the "great illegals," men like Theodore Maly, Deutsch, "Otto," Richard Sorge, Alexander Rado, "Sonia," Leopold Trepper, the Piecks, the Poretskys, and Krivitsky. They were often not Russians at all, although they held Russian citizenship. They were Trotskyist Communists who believed in international Communism and the Comintern. They worked undercover, often at great personal risk, and traveled throughout the world in search of potential recruits. They were the best recruiters and controllers the Russian Intelligence Service ever had. They all knew each other, and between them they recruited and built high-grade spy rings like the "Ring of Five" in Britain, Sorge's rings in China and Japan, the Rote Drei in Switzerland, and the Rote Kapelle in German-occupied Europe - the finest espionage rings history has ever known, and which contributed enormously to Russian survival and success in World War II.

In 1938 Stalin purged all his great illegals. They were Trotskyists and non-Russians and he was convinced they were plotting against him, along with elements in the Red Army. One by one they were recalled to Moscow and murdered. Most went willingly, fully aware of the fate that awaited them, perhaps hoping that they could persuade the demented tyrant of the great services they had rendered him in the West. Some like Krivitsky, decided to defect, although even he was almost certainly eventually murdered by a Russian assassin in Washington in 1941.

Mention interrogations, and most people imagine grueling sessions under blazing lamps: men in shirt-sleeves wearing down a sleep-deprived suspect with aggressive questioning until finally he collapses sobbing on the floor, admitting the truth. The reality is much more prosaic. MI5 interrogations are orderly affairs, usually conducted between 9:30 A.M. and 5 P.M. with a break for lunch.

So why do so many spies confess? The secret is to achieve superiority over the man sitting across the table. This was the secret of Skardon's success as an interrogator. Although we mocked him years later for his willingness to clear suspects we subsequently learned to have been spies, he was genuinely feared by Blunt and other members of the Ring of Five. But his superiority in the interrogation room was not based on intellect or physique. Mainly, of course, it was the devastating briefs provided for him by Arthur Martin and Evelyn McBarnet which convinced men like Fuchs that Skardon knew them better than they knew themselves. It was not only the briefs that helped Skardon but also the skill of the eavesdroppers. In the Fuchs case, Skardon was convinced that he was innocent until they pointed out where Fuchs had lied. This information enabled Skardon to break him. But Skardon himself played an important role too. He epitomized, in his manner, the world of sensible English middle-class values - tea in the afternoon: and lace curtains - so much so that it was impossible for those he interrogated to ever see him as the embodiment of capitalist iniquity, and thus they were thrown off balance from the very start.

The MI5 technique is an imperfect system. But like trial by jury, it is the best yet devised. It has the virtue of enabling a man, if he has I nothing to hide, and has the resilience to bear the strain, to clear himself. But its disadvantage is that hidden blemishes on an innocent; man's record can often come to the surface during intensive investigation and render continued service impossible. It is a little like medieval justice: sometimes innocence can be proved only at the cost of a career.

Much has been written about Harold Wilson and MI5, some of it wildly inaccurate. But as far as I am concerned, the story started with the premature death of Hugh Gaitskell in 1963. Gaitskell was Wilson's predecessor as Leader of the Labour Party. I knew him personally and admired him greatly. I had met him and his family at the Blackwater Sailing Club, and I recall about a month before he died he told me that he was going to Russia.

After he died his doctor got in touch with MI5 and asked to see somebody from the Service. Arthur Martin, as the head of Russian Counterespionage, went to see him. The doctor explained that he was disturbed by the manner of Gaitskell's death. He said that Gaitskell had died of a disease called lupus disseminata, which attacks the body's organs. He said that it was rare in temperate climates and that there was no evidence that Gaitskell had been anywhere recently where he could have contracted the disease.

Arthur Martin suggested that I should go to Porton Down, the chemical and microbiological laboratory for the Ministry of Defense. I went to see the chief doctor in the chemical warfare laboratory. Dr. Ladell, and asked his advice. He said that nobody knew how one contracted lupus. There was some suspicion that it might be a form of fungus and he did hot have the foggiest idea how one would infect somebody with the disease. I came back and made my report in these terms.

The next development was that Golitsin told us quite independently that during the last few years of his service he had had some contacts with Department 13, which was known as the Department of Wet Affairs in the KGB. This department was responsible for organizing assassinations. He said that just before he left he knew that the KGB were planning a high-level political assassination in Europe in order to get their man into the top place. He did not know which country it was planned in but he pointed out that the chief of Department 13 was a man called General Rodin, who had been in Britain for many years and had just returned on promotion to take up the job, so he would have had good knowledge of the political scene in England.

Feelings had run high inside MI5 during 1968. There had been an effort to try to stir up trouble for Wilson then, largely because the Daily Mirror tycoon, Cecil King, who was a longtime agent of ours, made it clear that he would publish anything MI5 might care to leak in his direction. It was all part of Cecil King's "coup," which he was convinced would bring down the Labor Government and replace it with a coalition led by Lord Mountbatten.

I told F.J. (Martin Furnival Jones) in 1968 that feelings were running high, but he responded in a low-key manner.

"You can tell anyone who has ideas about leaking classified material that there will be nothing I can do to save them!"

He knew the message would get back.

But the approach in 1974 was altogether more serious. The plan was simple. In the run-up to the election which, given the level of instability in Parliament, must be due within a matter of months, MI5 would arrange for selective details of the intelligence about leading Labour Party figures, but especially Wilson, to be leaked to sympathetic pressmen. Using our contacts in the press and among union officials, word of the material contained in MI5 files and the fact that Wilson was considered a security risk would be passed around.

Soundings in the office had already been taken, and up to thirty officers had given their approval to the scheme. Facsimile copies of some files were to be made and distributed to overseas newspapers, and the matter was to be raised in Parliament for maximum effect. It was a carbon copy of the Zinoviev letter, which had done so much to destroy the first Ramsay MacDonald Government in 1928.

"We'll have him out," said one of them, "this time we'll have him out."

"But why do you need me?" I asked.

"Well, you don't like Wilson any more than we do... besides, you've got access to the latest files - the Gaitskell business, and all the rest of it."

"But they're kept in the DG's safe!"

"Yes, but you could copy them."

"I need some time to think," I pleaded. "I've got a lot to think about before I take a step like this. You'll have to give me a couple of days."

At first I was tempted. The devil makes work for idle hands, and I was playing out my time before retirement. A mad scheme like this was bound to tempt me. I felt an irresistible urge to lash out. The country seemed on the brink of catastrophe. Why not give it a little push? In any case, I carried the burden of so many secrets that lightening the load a little could only make things easier for me.

It was Victor who talked me out of it. "I don't like Wilson any more than you do," he told me, "but you'll end up getting chopped if you go in for this."

He was right. I had little more than a year to go. Why destroy everything in a moment of madness?

A few days later I told the leader of the group that I would not get the files.

"I'd like to help you," I told him, "but I can't risk it. I've only got half a pension as it is. I can't afford to lose it all."

Some of the operational people became quite aggressive. They kept saying it was the last chance to fix Wilson.

"Once you've retired," they said, "we'll never get the files!"

But my mind was made up, and even their taunts of cowardice could not shake me.


Peter Wright

Peter Wright, a major player in Chicago's popular music landscape in the '60s and '70s, has thrived with his company, Peter Wright and Associates, managing, hooking musicians up with road acts, administrating…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by Andrew Hamilton

Peter Wright, a major player in Chicago's popular music landscape in the '60s and '70s, has thrived with his company, Peter Wright and Associates, managing, hooking musicians up with road acts, administrating Edgewater Publishing, and assigning and selling rights to his vast library of masters. Wright's main gig, though, was freelance record promoting his influence got many singles on play lists, in stores, and in jukeboxes. He was a noted record producer, producing masters and then getting master deals with major labels under the umbrella of Dominic Carone's Carone Productions and Artist/Management/Booking.

The Drew-Vels, the R&B group from Evanston, IL, were early clients, hitting with "Tell Him" and waxing other singles before disbanding, with lead Patti Drew embarking on a chart-making, but brief, solo career. Wright started Quill Records and the Drew-Vels were the first group signed (after switching them from Capitol before they disbanded) Wright switched the label's concept from R&B to pop/rock by signing the New Colony Six, the Exceptions, the Night Flight, the High Schoolers (a female group), the Skunks, the Riddles, and others. Under Quill Productions, Wright handled other acts and leased their recordings to other labels. These acts include the Fabulous Flippers (Cameo), the Reasons for Being (Fontana), the Commons (Mod), the Delights (Smash), Rush Hour (Philips), and many more. Quill's final release was by the Skunks in 1967.

After dissolving Quill, Wright started a new baby, Twilight Records, which became Twinight Records after five releases. Syl Johnson was the label's star, but left in 1971 to sign with Hi Records in Memphis, TN, after scoring on Twinight with "Sock It to Me," "Am I Black Enough for You," "Dresses Too Short," "Concrete Reservation," and the Because I'm Black LP on Twinight. Twinight's impressive roster included: the Guys and Dolls, the Kaldirons, Dynamic Tints, Harrison and the Majestic Kind, Pieces of Peace, the Radiants, the Notations, Buster Benton, the Perfections, Annette Poindexter, Josephine Taylor, Johnny Williams, Renaldo Domingo, and George McGregor and the Bronzettes. Despite ample clout, the only significant hits the label produced were the Notations' "I'm Still Here" and the Syl Johnson singles the rest of Twinight's impressive output -- which can be found on Twinight's Soul Heaven 1967-1972 on Kent Records -- got only spot play here and there, never the saturated, steady rotation needed to produce a hit.

Peter Cetera, a member of the Exceptions, later joined the Chicago Transit Authority, who became Chicago. Marty Gregg, another ex-Exception, joined the Buckinghams, then formed the Fabulous Rhinestones. While not often mentioned in discussions of Chi-town's recording honchos, Peter Wright played as big a part, if not bigger, than some more-discussed luminaries of Chicago's historical music history.


Contents

Replica of the Great Seal which contained "The Thing" a Soviet bugging device, on display at the NSA's National Cryptologic Museum.

Peter Wright was born in 26 Cromwell Road, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, the son of (George) Maurice Wright, who was the Marconi Company's director of research, and one of the founders of signals intelligence during World War II. It was said that he arrived prematurely because of shock to his mother, Lous Dorothy, née Norburn, caused by a nearby Zeppelin raid. Peter was a sickly child he stammered, suffered from rickets, and wore leg braces almost into his teens.

Raised in Chelmsford, Essex, he attended Bishop's Stortford College, where he was an excellent student, until 1931 when he had to leave as his father had been laid off and could not find a new job. ΐ] He then worked for a few years as a farm labourer for Margaret Leigh in Scotland and later in Cornwall before joining the School of Rural Economy at the University of Oxford in 1938. On 16 September 1938, he married Lois Elizabeth Foster-Melliar (b. 1914/15), with whom he had two daughters and a son.

During World War II, Peter Wright worked at the Admiralty's Research Laboratory. In 1946, he began work as a Principal Scientific Officer at the Services Electronics Research Laboratory.

According to his own account, his work for the UK intelligence, initially part-time, started in the spring of 1949 when he was given a job of a Navy Scientist attached to the Marconi Company. According to Spycatcher, during his stint there, he was instrumental in resolving a difficult technical problem. The Central Intelligence Agency sought Marconi's assistance over a covert listening device (or "bug") that had been found in a replica of the Great Seal of the United States presented to the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow in 1945 by the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union. Wright determined that the bugging device, dubbed The Thing, was actually a tiny capacitive membrane (a condenser microphone) that became active only when 330 MHz microwaves were beamed to it from a remote transmitter. A remote receiver could then have been used to decode the modulated microwave signal and permit sounds picked up by the microphone to be overheard. The device was eventually attributed to Soviet inventor, Léon Theremin.


Remember Melbourne’s black history

Little is known today of the three black men who founded and were the first settlers of what would become Melbourne, starting in 1867. They set sail together on a pilgrimage to a new world once they had acquired their freedom.

The evidence is scattered throughout small references in books, periodicals, and news articles. And in honor of Black History Month, I rolled up my sleeves and began the arduous task of researching the three black men who were the founders of Crane Creek, the city that bacame Melbourne.

I was proud to be able to unscramble layers of reports and find that the area’s modern history started with the sweat and toil of black men. The three former slaves were Captain Peter Wright, Balaam Allen and Wright Brothers. Each man had unique history and would probably tell tall tales to close friends. So, as close friends, I invite you to read carefully, while I share the remarkable stories of Peter, Wright and Balaam.

At the end of the Civil War, many freed slaves left their plantations and migrated west or to Florida for the opportunity to live as free men and women.

Captain Peter Wright became the first postal carrier in this area and was known as a sailing mail merchant or mailman, because he regularly sailed from Titusville to Malabar to deliver mail to the riverside settlers. Captain Wright was also the largest landholder in the area and an excellent trader. In 1867, he settled into Crane Creek with his wife, Leah, and they built a two-story home on the river bluff, which was rumored to be a community icon.

His home is replaced by the Roy Couch house now. During the mid-1880’s steamboats and railroads became popular modes of transportation, not only for pleasure but also for mail delivery. Sail boat mail delivery went extinct. Being an entrepreneur, Captain Wright, in 1885 sold his interest in Melbourne and moved to Rockledge, where he started a business farming fruit. Perhaps he grew weary of the fruit farming business when he switched in 1905 to operate a livery stable in Cocoa.

Captain Wright managed this business for ten years until his death in 1925. Today he is buried in Cocoa. There is a historical marker tucked away at Overlook Park in Melbourne that captures Captain Wright’s excellence as a sailing mailman. The inscription reads, “TO HONOR PETER WRIGHT, EARLY SETTLER. A BLACK FREEDMAN, THE LEGENDARY SAILING MAILMAN, WHO REGULARLY SAILED FROM TITUSVILLE TO MALABAR TO DELIVER MAIL TO RIVERSIDE SETTLEMENTS”.

Wright Brothers, like Captain Peter Wright, sailed to Crane Creek to live as a free man. He and his wife Mary Silas Brothers grew citrus on the 7.5 acres of land that they owned. In 1882 Mary Brothers gave birth to their son William Rufus Brothers who was the first black child born in Melbourne. Little William attended school at the little red schoolhouse, the first school in Melbourne on South Riverview Drive.

The school, dating to 1883, taught white children in the morning and taught black children in the late afternoon. The little red school house dated back to 1883. In 1909 a one-room school for black students was built on the corner of Line and Lipscomb streets today’s current location for the Church of God in Christ. In 1921, Melbourne Vocational School was built when the number of black students outgrew the one-room school. In 1953, Melbourne Vocational School burned down.

In 1986, through the dedicated work of city officials, Brothers Park was constructed in the same location where Melbourne Vocational School had stood, as an honor to Wright Brothers, one of the Melbourne’s founding fathers. Brothers Park is located at the Church and Race streets.

Because the three gentlemen voyaged to Melbourne together, their families bonded and became good friends.

It was on one evening when Balaam Allen and his wife and Carrie and Robert Lipscomb were in the home of Wright and Mary Brothers that the decision was made to establish the Allen Chapel AME Church. The first structure was built on the north end of Lipscomb Street in 1885. In 1964 they built a new church at 2416 S. Lipscomb Street. The church bell is made of solid brass and weighs about 1,000 pounds.

All racial ethnicities have contributed to the core that makes America. The rich stories of black history in Brevard County and Melbourne should be shared with all and should be included in textbooks purchased for students.


From Historical Collection of the State of New York, [p. 462] by John W. Barber and Henry Howe, published 1842. is somewhat of a Gazateer, and somewhat of historical oddities. Part of the Oyster Bay record is given below.
"Oyster Bay [township] embraces a larger extent of territory than any other town in the county, and includes Lloyds Neck or Queens village, and Hog Island. Pop. 5.864. In 1640, an attempt was made by some persons from Lynn, Mass., to form a settlement upon the present site of the village of OysterBay but meeting with opposition from the Dutch, the settlement was abandoned. The first permanent settlement was made in 1653, by the English, on the site of this village, Oyster Bay village, on the south side of the harbor, is 28 miles NE. from New york and contains about 350 inhabitants." .

"In the year 1660, Mary Wright, a very poor and ignorant woman of Oyster Bay was suspected of of having a secret correspondence with the autor of evil. She was arrested, but as there existed no tribunal here which the people considered competent to try ther case, she was sent to Massachusetts, to stand her trial for witchcraft. She was acquitted of this crime, but nevertheless was convicted of being a Quaker, and sentenced to be banished out the the jurisdiction."


Peter Wright - History

Home > Legal Articles > The History of Special Education Law by Pete Wright, Esq.

In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. - Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

To understand the battles being fought today for children with disabilities, it is important to understand the history and traditions associated with public schools and special education. In this chapter, you will learn about the evolution of public education and special education, the impact of several landmark discrimination cases, and the circumstances that led Congress to enact Public Law 94-142 in 1975.

Common Schools Teach Common Values

Waves of poor, non-English speaking, Catholic and Jewish immigrants poured into the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Citizens were afraid that these new immigrants would bring class hatreds, religious intolerance, crime, and violence to America. Social and political leaders searched for ways to &ldquoreach down into the lower portions of the population and teach children to share the values, ideals and controls held by the rest of society.&rdquo

An educational reformer named Horace Mann proposed a solution to these social problems. He recommended that communities establish common schools funded by tax dollars. He believed that when children from different social, religious and economic backgrounds were educated together, they would learn to accept and respect each other. Common schools taught common values that included self-discipline and tolerance for others. These common schools would socialize children, improve interpersonal relationships, and improve social conditions.

For public schools to succeed in the mission of socializing children, all children had to attend school. Poor children attended school sporadically, quit early, or didn&rsquot enter school at all. Public school authorities lobbied their legislatures for compulsory school attendance laws. Compulsory attendance laws gave school officials the power to prosecute parents legally if they failed to send their children to school.

Early Special Education Programs

The first special education programs were delinquency prevention programs for &ldquoat risk&rdquo children who lived in urban slums. Urban school districts designed manual training classes as a supplement to their general education programs. By 1890, hundreds of thousands of children were learning carpentry, metal work, sewing, cooking and drawing in manual classes. Children were also taught social values in these classes. Early special education programs also focused on the &ldquomoral training&rdquo of African-American children.

Special schools and special classes for children with disabilities, especially deafness, blindness, and mental retardation did exist in 19th century America and gradually increased during the 20th century.


Advertisement for the Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb,
The Connecticut Courant, September 8, 1829

Programs for children with specific learning disabilities (called &ldquobrain injury,&rdquo &ldquominimal brain dysfunction,&rdquo and otherterms) became more common in the 1940's.

However, most early special education programs were private and/or residential. The quality and availability of programs varied between and within states. Good special education programs were rare and difficult to access. For most children with disabilities, special education programs were simply not available.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

In 1954, the U. S. Supreme Court issued a landmark civil rights decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

In Brown, school children from four states argued that segregated public schools were inherently unequal and deprived them of equal protection of the laws. The Supreme Court found that African-American children had the right to equal educational opportunities and that segregated schools &ldquohave no place in the field of public education.&rdquo The Court wrote:

Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today, it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right that must be made available to all on equal terms.

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other &ldquotangible&rdquo factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.

In Brown, the Supreme Court described the emotional impact that segregation has on children, especially when segregation &ldquohas the sanction of the law:&rdquo

To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The effect of this separation on their educational opportunities was well stated by a finding in the Kansas case by a court that nevertheless felt compelled to rule against the Negro plaintiffs:

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system.

After the decision in Brown, parents of children with disabilities began to bring lawsuits against their school districts for excluding and segregating children with disabilities. The parents argued that, by excluding these children, schools were discriminating against the children because of their disabilities.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)

Congress enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965 to address the inequality of educational opportunity for underprivileged children. This landmark legislation provided resources to help ensure that disadvantaged students had access to quality education.

In 1966, Congress amended the ESEA to establish a grant program to help states in the &ldquoinitiation, expansion, and improvement of programs and projects . . . for the education of handicapped children.&rdquo In 1970, Congress enacted the Education of the Handicapped Act (P.L. 91-230) in an effort to encourage states to develop educational programs for individuals with disabilities. According to the National Council on Disability:

Congress first addressed the education of students with disabilities in 1966 when it amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a grant program to assist states in the &ldquoinitiation, expansion, and improvement of programs and projects . . . for the education of handicapped children.&rdquo In 1970, that program was replaced by the Education of the Handicapped Act (P.L. 91-230) that, like its predecessor, established a grant program aimed at stimulating the States to develop educational programs and resources for individuals with disabilities. Neither program included any specific mandates on the use of the funds provided by the grants nor could either program be shown to have significantly improved the education of children with disabilities.

PARC and Mills

During the early 1970s, two cases were catalysts for change: Pennsylvania Assn. for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PARC) and Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia.

PARC dealt with the exclusion of children with mental retardation from public schools. In the subsequent settlement, it was agreed that educational placement decisions must include a process of parental participation and a means to resolve disputes.

Mills involved the practice of suspending, expelling and excluding children with disabilities from the District of Columbia public schools. The school district&rsquos primary defense in Mills was the high cost of educating children with disabilities. Judge Waddy wrote:

The genesis of this case is found (1) in the failure of the District of Columbia to provide publicly supported education and training to plaintiffs and other &ldquoexceptional&rdquo children, members of their class, and (2) the excluding, suspending, expelling, reassigning and transferring of &ldquoexceptional&rdquo children from regular public school classes without affording them due process of law.

The inadequacies of the District of Columbia Public School System whether occasioned by insufficient funding or administrative inefficiency, certainly cannot be permitted to bear more heavily on the "exceptional" or handicapped child than on the normal child.


Congressional Investigation (1972)

After PARC and Mills, Congress launched an investigation into the status of children with disabilities and found that millions of children were not receiving an appropriate education:

Yet, the most recent statistics provided by the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped estimated that of the more than 8 million children . . . with handicapping conditions requiring special education and related services, only 3.9 million such children are receiving an appropriate education. 1.75 million handicapped children are receiving no educational services at all, and 2.5 million handicapped children are receiving an inappropriate education.

The investigation so moved members of Congress that they wrote:

The long-range implications of these statistics are that public agencies and taxpayers will spend billions of dollars over the lifetimes of these individuals to maintain such persons as dependents and in a minimally acceptable lifestyle. With proper education services, many would be able to become productive citizens, contributing to society instead of being forced to remain burdens. Others, through such services, would increase their independence, thus reducing their dependence on society.

There is no pride in being forced to receive economic assistance. Not only does this have negative effects upon the handicapped person, but it has far-reaching effects for such person&rsquos family.

Providing educational services will ensure against persons needlessly being forced into institutional settings. One need only look at public residential institutions to find thousands of persons whose families are no longer able to care for them and who themselves have received no educational services. Billions of dollars are expended each year to maintain persons in these subhuman conditions . . .

Parents of handicapped children all too frequently are not able to advocate the rights of their children because they have been erroneously led to believe that their children will not be able to lead meaningful lives . . . . It should not . . . be necessary for parents throughout the country to continue utilizing the courts to assure themselves a remedy . . . .

In 1972, legislation was introduced in Congress after several &ldquolandmark court cases establishing in law the right to education for all handicapped children.&rdquo

Public Law 94-142: The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975

On November 19, 1975, Congress enacted Public Law 94-142 in 1975, also known as The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975. Congress intended that all children with disabilities would &ldquohave a right to education, and to establish a process by which State and local educational agencies may be held accountable for providing educational services for all handicapped children.&rdquo

Initially, the law focused on ensuring that children with disabilities had access to an education and due process of law. Congress included an elaborate system of legal checks and balances called &ldquoprocedural safeguards&rdquo that are designed to protect the rights of children and their parents. The law has been reauthorized several times, most recently in 2004.

Did Your State Pass the IDEA Compliance Test? (The Special Ed Advocate, October 11, 1999)

On October 11, 1999, we published an issue of The Special Ed Advocate that included several articles, including #3: "Did Your State Pass the IDEA Compliance Test?"

We explained that your state Department of Education has many responsibilities under IDEA.

"The state Department of Education is responsible for supervising local school districts.

"Your state education department should have a comprehensive system of personnel development that is designed to ensure that there is an adequate supply of properly trained teachers.

"Your state should have policies and procedures that ensure that all children with disabilities receive a free appropriate education.

"Your state is responsible for implementing a comprehensive Child Find Program where all children with disabilities (including children who attend private schools) are identified, located and evaluated."

We asked, "Did your state pass the IDEA Compliance Test?"

According to information previously released by the National Council on Disability, "Most states failed."

"Based on the U.S. Department of Education's monitoring of state compliance with IDEA from 1994 to 1998, 90 percent of states and territories fail to adequately supervise local education agencies’ education of students with disabilities."

"Eighty-eight percent do not comply with requirements to provide services to assist a student's transition from school to post-education activities."

On November 23, 1999, we reported that the IDEA Compliance Report Was Delayed

The parents, teachers and advocacy groups that have been eagerly awaiting the National Council on Disability's full report on state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will have to wait a couple more months. The report, which was first scheduled for release in mid-October, then pushed back to mid-November, is now expected to be available the last week of January or early February, NCD spokesman Mark Quigley said Thursday. The report details the ways in which all 50 states and the U.S. territories fail to meet the law's key requirements for providing free, appropriate public education for students with disabilities."

IDEA Compliance Report: Back to School on Civil Rights - "States Ignore Special Ed Law"

On January 25, 2000, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released the long awaited report of the federal data: enforcement and compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, Part B (IDEA), concluding that "Federal efforts to enforce the law over several administrations have been inconsistent, ineffective and lacking any real teeth . . ."

"Many children with disabilities are getting substandard schooling because states are not complying with federal rules on special education . . ."

"In too many cases, children with disabilities are taught in separate classrooms and schools are not following other regulations meant to protect these students from discrimination."

"Because the U. S. Department of Education doesn’t require states to comply with the law, 'parents often must sue to enforce the law . . .'"

"Nearly 6 million American children receive special education instruction and services at a cost of almost $40 billion, about $5.7 billion of which is federal money."

  1. "36 states failed to ensure that children with disabilities are not segregated from regular classrooms."
  2. "44 states failed to follow rules requiring schools to help students find jobs or continue their education."
  3. "45 states failed to ensure that local school authorities adhered to nondiscrimination laws."

The Council on Disability concluded that special education would not fulfill its mission until states are required to comply with the law.

The Associated Press reported that, "The Council made dozens of recommendations to strengthen federal enforcement. They include giving the Justice Department independent authority to investigate cases and take states to court providing more money for enforcement and handling of complaints and creating a process for handling complaints at the federal level."

We spent days formatting the IDEA Compliance Report into html, creating hundreds of internal links, and uploading the Report onto Wrightslaw.com.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004

Congress has amended and renamed the special education law several times since 1975. On December 3, 2004, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was amended again. The reauthorized statute is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 and is known as IDEA 2004. The statute is in Volume 20 of the United States Code (U. S. C.), beginning at Section 1400. The special education regulations are published in Volume 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) beginning at Section 300.

In reauthorizing the IDEA, Congress increased the focus on accountability and improved outcomes by emphasizing reading, early intervention, and research-based instruction by requiring that special education teachers be highly qualified.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 has two primary purposes. The first purpose is to provide an education that meets a child's unique needs and prepares the child for further education, employment, and independent living.

The second purpose is to protect the rights of both children with disabilities and their parents.

Finding: Overrepresentation of Minority Children

In 1975, Congress found that poor African-American children were over-represented in special education. These problems have persisted.

In the Findings of IDEA 2004, Congress described ongoing problems with the over-identification of minority children, including mislabeling and high dropout rates:

(A) Greater efforts are needed to prevent the intensification of problems connected with mislabeling and high dropout rates among minority children with disabilities.

(B) More minority children continue to be served in special education than would be expected from the percentage of minority students in the general school population.

(C) African-American children are identified as having mental retardation and emotional disturbance at rates greater than their White counterparts.

(D) In the 1998-1999 school year, African-American children represented just 14.8 percent of the population aged 6 through 21, but comprised 20.2 percent of all children with disabilities.

(E) Studies have found that schools with predominately White students and teachers have placed disproportionately high numbers of their minority students into special education.

Aligning IDEA and NCLB

When Congress reauthorized the IDEA in 2004, they emphasized the need to align the IDEA with other school improvement efforts, specifically &ldquoimprovement efforts under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.&rdquo

. . . the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by . . . having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom . . . to meet developmental goals and . . . the challenging expectations that have been established for all children . . . .

The purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was &ldquoto ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.&rdquo

Special education teachers who taught core academic subjects had to meet the highly qualified teacher requirements in NCLB by demonstrating competence in the subjects they teach. These requirements for highly qualified special education teachers attempted to bring IDEA into conformity with the No Child Left Behind Act.

IDEA required states to establish goals for the performance of children with disabilities that are consistent with the goals and standards for nondisabled children. States were also required to improve graduation rates and dropout rates and to report the progress of children with disabilities on state and district assessments.

In Findings of IDEA 2004, Congress described a critical need for adequately trained personnel and that &ldquohigh quality, comprehensive professional development programs were essential to ensure that the persons responsible for the education or transition of children with disabilities possess the knowledge and skills necessary to address the educational and related needs of those children.&rdquo

No Child Left Behind Out, Every Student Succeeds Act In

In 2015, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as the No Child Left Behind Act. In response to complaints from states and school districts, Congress removed many portions of the law about accountability -- including requirements for highly qualified teachers. The new education statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.


Most states fail education obligations to special needs students:
So, what else is new? USA Today (August 8, 2020)

Legal references and citations for this article can be found in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, Chapter 3.


Peter Wright M. D. (1740?-1819)

Miniature portrait of Peter Wright, by an unknown artist. Reproduced courtesy of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Peter Wright was admitted to the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in 1766, and was its President five times between 1771 and 1806. He was a friend of Professor John Anderson, and named by him in Anderson’s proposal for a new university in Glasgow. He was a subscriber to Raspe’s A Descriptive Catalogue of A General Collection of Ancient and Modern Engraved Gems, 1791.

Wright also contributed to our knowledge of David Allan and some of the art collectors, based in and around Glasgow. In October 1804, a query regarding the late David Allan, “the Scottish Hogarth”, was published in The Scots Magazine. The Edinburgh-based correspondent asked if any of the journal’s correspondents could “furnish any memoir” about the artist as they did “not believe that any account of him was ever published”.

In December 1804, The Scots Magazine published information provided by Dr. Peter Wright, and it contains some fascinating details. In addition to referring to what had been published about Allan in the Edinburgh newspapers, following his death in 1796, Wright refers to what he owned himself, and bound up with a copy of Allan Ramsay’s The Gentle Shepherd, with a proof impression of the plates, which David Allan had presented to Wright.

The doctor also referred to works owned by John Mair of Plantation.

© 2021 Glasgow’s Cultural History - Designed and Developed by Soapbox Digital Media


An 1830s Columbia Tavern: Peter Wright, Proprietor

Columbia in 1830 had only 59 families and 453 total citizens&mdash324 whites, 128 slaves, and one free black. But it seems there were three taverns. Captain Samuel Wall, Edward Camplin and Elisha McClelland all had taverns in Columbia about this time (Boone County Record Book C, p. 25). McClelland&rsquos stand was taken over by the popular Richard Gentry in May of 1834 (Record Book. C, p. 223). Gentry is generally credited with having the first tavern at the original site of Smithton as early as 1819 though Welford Stephens was granted the first tavern license at the new town site of Columbia in August 1821. Walls&rsquo tavern, as Gentry&rsquos before him, occasionally hosted meetings of the County Court.

Taverns were the frontier equivalent of an early hotel. Wall&rsquos tavern was likely located on the northwest corner of Broadway and Seventh Streets, Lot #213 in Columbia&rsquos original plat. The building was substantial, made of brick and likely two stories high.

Peter Wright (1787-1847) was in the area by 1818, and soon after purchased 352 acres on Two-mile Prairie and erected a small dwelling house on it. He and his wife, Jane &ldquoJenny&rdquo Edminson Wright, raised a family and were active in community affairs. Wright literally helped to &ldquocreate&rdquo Boone County as the county&rsquos first surveyor. He worked with his Howard County counterpart to locate the line between the two counties. He laid out Columbia town. He was also one of the first County Court judges, and one of Boone County&rsquos first legislators, elected in 1822 to the legislature that convened in St. Charles.

In late 1834 the Wrights took over the Wall tavern and operated it for the next two years. Peter announced in the [Columbia] Missouri Intelligencer newspaper on 11 July 1835 under the heading of the UNION HOTEL that he had &ldquotaken, for a term of years, the elegant Brick building formerly occupied by Capt. Wall, which has undergone considerable repairs . . . .&rdquo

We are fortunate to still have the original register from the Wright tavern. It is available at the Center for Missouri Studies in Columbia, Collection #1807. It is a treasure trove for those interested in local history and Missouri taverns as well as for genealogists. The register provides proof of the guests&rsquo &ldquoresidence&rdquo at an early date and provides hard-to-find original signatures for those who signed.

The register has five columns of information&ndashdate, name, residence, destination and remarks. Entries range from 12 December 1834 to 24 October 1836. It appears that Peter Wright quit the tavern business at the end of 1836 because the register ends at that time and there is no record that he renewed his license.

Over twenty two months, about 225 people signed in at Wright&rsquos tavern, not counting the &ldquoregistrations&rdquo of his own boys. That equals to a paying guest only about once every three days, though there were two extended periods in the record where no guests were recorded in this book. Every registrant in the book appears to have been a male though there must have been at least an occasional female among the guests as Wright advertised his place as suitable for families. Signers often recorded strong opinions, with politics a frequent topic. &ldquoClay forever,&rdquo &ldquoClay & Webster,&rdquo &ldquoEqual rights & priviledges (sic),&rdquo &ldquoHuzza for Jackson,&rdquo and &ldquoFree suffrage for all&rdquo were some of the sentiments expressed by arriving travelers. One wanted &ldquoVan Burin (sic) for next president of the U. States.&rdquo Most political comments were positive but one frustrated man simply declared &ldquoDown with political Demagogues.&rdquo

Wright&rsquos patrons were a well-traveled lot. Besides Missouri, they hailed from Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. One local area mentioned several times was Coal Hill in Boone County. Coal Hill was a settlement in Section 13, Township 49, Range 12, about two miles southeast of Brown&rsquos Station. The Wright family owned land there and Peter Wright is buried in that area.

Life&rsquos tribulations were often mentioned. H.T. Wright, obviously a relative, was also a complainer: &ldquoMy Horse threw me down and dirted [sic] my coat&rdquo on one occasion and &ldquoThe dam mule needs spurs. Roads as bad as they [?] be well&rdquo on another trip. On one occasion, H.T. Wright was satisfied and had nothing to complain about, writing &ldquo[I] feel very good[.] joust had some thing to drink[.] I don&rsquot know what they cald it but damme if it warnt good Sure.&rdquo Weather, of course, caught it&rsquos share of complaints, especially very wet or very dry weather. You have to feel for poor John Jones of Ft. Leavenworth who wrote: &ldquoCold[.] Elbows out of the coat and nothing to drink and no appearance of any.&rdquo Shelby Teeter was on a mission &ldquoin search of a horse and wants plenty whiskey.&rdquo

All in all, the records that Peter Wright maintained during his brief foray into the tavern business provide an unusual glimpse into Columbia&rsquos earliest hotels and the people who frequented them.

The full list of patrons at the Wright tavern can be seen at Boone County Historical Society.


Peter Wright of Pre-Municipal Covington, Virginia

Peter Wright, born ca. 1712, was the son of Adam Jr. (Yeoman). He came to the colonial Augusta County, Virginia (now Alleghany County) from Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York in the spring of 1746. He came in the company of his brother, Thomas, and, Joseph Carpenter, and associate and neighbor in New York.

Peter settled in what is now the principal part of Covington. Joseph Carpenter settled just in the city limits on the opposite side of Jackson River at the mouth of Potts Creek and Thomas on the Cowpasture. Both Thomas and Joseph Carpenter´s surveys joined Peter´s lands. Peter built his small log cabin very soon after his arrival. The terrain was a rugged wilderness and the Jackson River bottom land seemed to be the only practical location to settle.

The pioneer that braved the exploration into this new frontier had to be as rugged as the mountains that he crossed. He had to be of the hardiest stock of settler. A settler that was fearless in the face of danger from the wild animals, harsh winters, and Indians. Peter came from a line of ancestors that were just such people. It seems only natural that he would brave the elements to forge into unknown territory.

Once Peter had built his cabin, it was time to take care of other necessities. There were plenty of game in the mountains around his homestead and he was a good woodsman and hunger. In fact, he loved to hunt, especially on what is now called Peters Mountain. But the game would not be enough. He immediately cleared and planted his fields. As his crops grew he set out to build a grist mill to grind his corn and wheat. It is not known the exact location of Wright´s Mill but it is very likely that it was at the waters edge near Covington High School´s Casey Field. We find record of this mill from Dr. Lyman Chalkley as follows: November 28, 1751 – Adam Dickenson, David Davis, Peter Wright, and Joseph Carpenter to lay off a road from Wrights mill to the Cowpasture near Hughart or Knox. (Chalkley´s Abstracts, Volume 1, page 48.)

In 1748, Peter married Jane Hughart, the daughter of James and Agnes (Jordan) Hughart of the Cowpasture. The Hugharts of Bath County, Virginia may have come from the Oyster Bay Colony. It is also possible that Peter was responsible for their move to Virginia. His cousin Gideon Wright Jr., the son of Gideon and Elizabeth (Townsend) Wright married Margaret Urquehart or Urghartt (Hughart) in 1701. She was the daughter of John. Thomas Hughart believed to be an uncle of James owned land in 1760 on the southeast side of Jackson River near the holdings of Peter.

Two Moravian missionaries give an account of the pioneer family life in their journal of 1749. After they crossed Dunlap Creek, at the end of the day they came to a house. They stayed the night and slept on bearskins like the rest of the family. The journal of these missionaries did not give the name of their host, but it was most likely the home of Peter and Jane Wright, who would have been the only settlers just across Dunlap Creek. Although Peter, and later his wife and two children, had lived on the Jackson River land had built his cabin and gristmill he did not have his patent recorded until November 1753. Peter actually lived on this land and improved it for about seven years before it became his.

Mrs. Scott McClinitic, in 1936, gave a glimpse of Peter Wright when she related the stories her father-in-law had told before his death. “Peter Wright was a great hunter. He made paths and trails all over Monroe, Bath, Alleghany, and further west. He was the first to make a path over Peter´s Mountain and the name came about thus: One hunter would say to another, “Going hunting?´´ “How are you going over the mountain?´´ “I´m going by Peter´s path.´´ Later, they started to say, “I´m goin over Peter´s Mountain.´´ (W.P.A. Historical Inventory, No. 131, Fort Young, By Mary S. Venable.

Another source gives this: “Near the home of John Lewis, there is on the roadside a large shelving rock called Peter´s Rock where, says tradition, he (Peter Wright) sought shelter in a snow storm. Here he lay for several days, until the snow was four feet deep.´ John Lewis lived near what is now known as Big Ridge. The shelving rock is said to be on the right side of State Route 311, just past the entrance road to Alleghany Cemetery. (Howes Virginia Collections)

Oren F. Morton adds to this story: “The rock is by the side of the road, a mile below Alleghany Station. Wright nearly starved and had begun to chew his moccasins to extract some sustenance from them. But fortunately a deer came struggling through the snow, was promptly shot and the hunter then went to chewing raw venison.´´ (The Centennial History of Alleghany County, Virginia)

“Peter´s Mountain was named for Peter Wright, an old backwoodsman who about 1776, explored and hunted along the valleys at its base.´´ Prior to the year 1776, one Peter Wright, and old hunter, had traveled this valley. (Where the city of Bluefield. West Virginia is now located) know, since his day, as Wright´s Valley, which no doubt led him into the present territory of Tazewell County.´´ (History of Middle New River By David E. Johnston.)

“Perhaps he could be called a “long hunter. Abt 1776 he visited what is now Monroe County, West Virginia and gave name to Peters Mountain and Peters Creek as well as to Wrights Valley, the location of Bluefield, West Virginia. Peter was a soldier in Captain William Christian’s company of regulars and saw service under Colonel William Byrd in 1760. For this service he received a grant of fifty acres of land.” (John M. Caudle – history located in the files at Bath County Historical Society, Warm Springs, Virginia)

Morton continues the legend by saying “Peter Wright hid some money on Peter´s Mountain in so secure a manner that it wasn´t found until comparatively recent days.´´ (The Centennial history of Alleghany County, Virginia)

One tale that seems to really cause a stir was one that was printed in the (Centennial History of Alleghany County, Virginia, page 74. It reads: “The name (Covington, Virginia) is said the have been in honor of Peter Covington. He was the oldest citizen, and was a descendant of Peter Wright.´´ Oren F. Monton, the author of many history books, wrote this in 1923. He stayed at the home of the Hugh McAllisters in Rosedale while doing his research. McAllister was considered a leading historian of this area at the time. In a portion of a letter dated 1985, that appeared in the Covington Virginian, March 18, 1986, Harry A. Walton Jr., a noted Alleghany County historian of today stated: “Morton received his information from Mr. Hugh McAllister, as the McAllister family did not emigrate to this area until 1849, there is no way his family could have had any direct knowledge of any Peter Covington. Mr. McAllister, who was a good friend of mine, told me the story of Peter Covington was hearsay and that Morton had stated it more strongly than he (McAllister) had intended.”

In the same article, written by Leonard Jamison of Akron, Ohio, it states: “Mr. Walton told me (Jamison) that Gay Arritt “hunted for some scrap of information on Peter Covington. . . and she never found a thing more than what Morton repeated.” From 1923 to 1967 this statement was either accepted or just over looked by the historians of Covington. Even Gay Arritt, the historian from 1951 to 1976 for the local newspaper, included the “Peter Covington Story” in her articles.

Then in the fall of 1986, the Covington Virginian published a different story. It gave a detailed explanation of the impossibility of the statement. Harriet Nuchols the daughter of Harry A. Walton Jr. gave a six page report on the name Peter Covington for the Alleghany Historical Society. She read from a report compiled by her father and Jamison, who had researched the early documents at Alleghany County Courthouse and found no record of this Peter Covington. Mr. Walton concluded that the name was probably adopted from the legendary General Leonard Covington, as many other towns across the United States were named for military heroes.

In several weeks that followed the public announcement of the incorrect history, Leonard Jamison wrote a biographical sketch of General Leonard Covington in a 17 part series in his newspaper column “Another View.” This wasn’t enough to satisfy the founding fathers, and in 1987 the city council voted to change history! They decided from then on to use the history that Mr. Walton felt was more accurate.

Form the list of children of Peter and Jane (Hughart) Wright we can see that Peter Wright did not have a descendant named Peter Covington in 1818, much less, have a child whose daughter had married a man named Covington. Certainly, none of the daughters of Peter had married a man by that name. The statement could not be correct.

Peter and Jane (Hughart) Wright had the following issue:
1. Thomas born ca. 1750, Augusta County, Virginia and married Sarah Henderson
2. James born ca. 1751, Augusta County and married 19 Feb 1776 in Bourbon County, Kentucky, Martha Hamilton. He died on 13 Jun 1825 in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
3. Rachel born ca. 1755, Augusta County and married (1) James Estill in 1772 in Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia and then married (2) Nicholas Proctor in 1782. She died between 1815 and 1819 probably in Kentucky.
4. Sarah born 1753, Augusta County and married (1) Paulzer Kimberlin and then (2) a Smith. She died between 1820 and 1830 probably in Virginia.
5. William born in Augusta County and married Rachel Sawyers on the 13 February 1785.
6. Mary born on 9 Jun 1760 in Augusta County and married William Smith on 10 August 1780. She died on 6 October 1858 in Alleghany County, Virginia.
7. Jane “Jennie” born ca. 1762, Augusta County and married Wallace Estill on 11 Dec 1778. She died 4 July 1829 in Franklin County, Tennessee.
8. Agnes “Nancy” born about 1764, Augusta County and married Dr. Christopher Clark on 9 November 1789. She died between 1846 and 1849 in Madison County, Kentucky.
9. John born about 1765, Augusta and married Catherine Persinger in October 1785. He died 3 Mar 1858 probably in Mercer County, (West) Virginia.
10. Rebecca born in Augusta County and married Robert Kincaid on the 13 Jun 1786. She died about 1830.
11. Peter born in Botetourt County and married (1) Nancy Cook on 16 May 1797 and then married (2) Sarah Persinger 17 Dec 1812. He died 1825 in Boone County, Missouri.
12. Martha born ca. 1770 in Virginia and married William Estill on 7 May 1789 and then (2) Reuben Mardis on 11 Sep 1798.
13. Elizabeth born in Botetourt County and married John Alexander Sprowl on 18 Mar 1793.

But, could the “Peter Covington” tale be partially correct? Lets look at more facts. In English history we find that, at the time of the migration to America it was illegal for any person to have a middle name except in the case of persons of royalty or nobility. You will see no middle names in the first ship lists or colonial records (1620) of the English men and women who landed in the New World. When the colonist reached America they started adopting a tradition of giving middle names. Even though the English government still had control of the colonies tray did not enforce many of the less important laws. The colonists started to Baptize their children with a name that was a combination of two names into one long name. Then, by the 18th century they actually had middle names, two separate names and the inherited surname. Middle names of the sons were usually the last names of ancestor, ie. the maiden names of the mother, grandmother, etc.

Peter Wright’s ancestors had come from England to Massachusetts and then settled Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. They were there long enough to prefer and adopt the new traditions rather than the old English laws. After all, this law was made through the governing church of England and Peter’s ancestors were very much opposed to the medieval discursiveness as can be seen in much of the Wright family’s early history. We have no record of Peter Wright’s mother Only a mere mention of her in his father’s will that was probated November 28, 1749, which states: “I have not mentioned my three elder sons viz: Peter Wright, Thomas Wright, and James Wright in my will, let it be understood I have give each of them a gun heretofore, which is all I can give them and my youngest daughter Abigail Wright, which is with my wife and by her agreement she is to take care and provide for her . . . .”

Could Adam Wright’s wife’s maiden name have been “Covington?” Was the maiden name of Peter Wright’s mother “Covington?” or could the Covington name have been in the line farther back? The statement had to come from somewhere. Most traditions and legends have some basis to them, even though they may get distorted in the telling over the years. Recently I received a query from a descendant of Peter Wright who had no idea that the “Covington” name had been in dispute. He sent family group sheets of his Wright family line that made me question the possibility of Covington, Virginia being named for General Leonard Covington and not Peter Wright or his descendants.

The following is copied from the History of Howard County and Chariton County 1883, Page 1121-1122:
William C. Wright, farmer and raiser of thoroughbred and high grade cattle among the prominent men of Chariton County who have conquered success in life, and made their way to the farm in agriculture and public affairs of the county by their own exertions and personal work, stands the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. Born in Howard County on the 17th day of March in 1830, where he was reared and received the substantial part of an education, at the age of nineteen he exhibited the spirit and enterprise to cast his fortunes with the hardy and daring adventurers bound for the Pacific Coast, in 1849. He made two trips to California and back between that year and 1854, but finally settled down permanently in Chariton County to which his father and family moved in 1850 immediately on his return from the land of the argonauts, in 1854. In March of that year he married to Miss Amanda, an amiable and attractive daughter of George Addis, of this county. Going on to a place then to themselves, he and his worthy young wife went to work to raise themselves by their own exertions and merit to a position in life they were determined to attain. The result has not disappointed their expectations. In the social life of the community in which they live, none were more highly esteemed. In public life Mr. Wright has occupied the most responsible and honorable positions in the gift of the county — the offices of collector and assessor. In material interest his success has been equally marked. He owns one of the best and finest improved farms in Salisbury township, and has it stocked with the purest and best blood of cattle, etc. He takes special pride in his high-grade, fine stock. Mr. and Mrs. Wright have been favored with six children, three of whom, Alas! have been taken away by death. The living children are Nicholas R., Columbus C., and William Luther. Three are dead: George A., Laura E., and James Walter. Mr. Wright’s parents, William C. Sr. and Mary (Burgher) Wright, were born natives of and were married in Madison County, Kentucky from which they migrated to Howard County, Missouri in 1820, and from there to Chariton as stated above. In 1850, where the father died five years afterwards. They reared a family of twelve children all of whom themselves became parents of families.” (Copied from Historical Pictorial and Biographical records of Chariton County, Missouri and published by Salisbury Pictorial and Biographical Publishing Company 1896, Page 212-213)

“William Covington Wright, the subject of this sketch is one among the oldest, most influential, highly respected and best know citizens of Salisbury Township. He was born in Howard County, March 17, 1830 and was the son of William C. and Mary (Burgher) Wright, who were natives of Madison County, Kentucky and were there married. (Marriage of William Covington Wright and Mary “Polly” Burgher recorded in Estill County, Kentucky on April 10, 1812.) They came to Howard County, Missouri where they remained until 1855 and then, when the cold finger of death pointed out the husband and claimed his as it’s own. The mother died August 19, 1876.

“Our subject was the ninth of a family of twelve children, five of whom are now living. He was educated in a log school house in Howard County, where they used split logs hewn smooth for seats, and was reared on a farm where he remained till the gold fever broke out in California in 1849, when he wended his way across the broad western plains between Missouri and his destination, with a caravan made up of citizens from this section of the county. He remained there until 1851 when he started on his homeward journey to Chariton County. In 1852 he returned to California and remained until 1853. He then came back to this county and on March 8, 1854 was married to Miss Amanda J. Addis, daughter of George and Susan Addis, of Chariton County. Our subject was elected township collector in 1874 and to the office of Assessor, where he took the census. In 1892 he was re-elected to the office of Assessor, which he now holds. He is a true-blue Democrats and has been a member of the Baptist church since 1855. Our subject has lived long and prosperous, and not withstanding the many obstacles in the life of a pioneer settler he still enjoys excellent health.

Obituary – Copied from “Salisbury Press-Spectator”
April 24, 1908
Page 1, Column 1 and 3

WRIGHT
In the death of Wm. C. Wright, April 16, 1908, Chariton County loses one of her oldest, most influential and highly respected citizens. Mr. Wright ad been suffering for some weeks with dropsy and the complications due to old age, and passed peacefully away Thursday at the home of his son C.C. Wright at the ripe and honored age of 78 years.

Funeral services were conducted from the house, Friday, by Rev. H.A. Belton. A great crowd of neighbors and friends gathering to pay the last remark of respect to one so greatly beloved and he was laid to rest by the side of his wife in the Wright Family burying-ground. His favorite grand-daughters, Mrs. Floyd Woodruff and husband of Moberly and Miss Sallie Padget of Brunswick attended the Funeral.”

We are reasonably sure that William Covington Wright is the descendant of John, the son of Peter and Jane Hughart Wright. The record of John Wright married in Botetourt County, VA, 12 October 1785 to Catherine Persinger, removed to Kentucky and thence migrated westerly. In the 1790 Tax List from Kentucky only 9 Wright men are listed in the Entire state. There is a John Wright listed in Bourbon County, Kentucky. By the 1800 census there were now 62 Wright men listed throughout the entire state. But, of these 62 men, there is only one that was in Madison County and that was John Wright. Since William C. Wright was born in 1793, he would have to show up in the 1-10 years of age column, which he does. So, it appears that Bourbon County was the first county John lived in and Madison County was the second. The 1810 census of Kentucky shows John Wright had moved from Madison County to Estill County. A male is listed in the proper category that allows for a seventeen year old male, William C. Wright’s age in 1810. (Larry E. Wright of Atchison, Kansas provided the above research on John and William Covington Wright.)

Dr. John Merry purchased the land that was once Peter Wright’s. It was surveyed into lots by 1919 and in 1819, Covington was designated a town. Remember, William Covington was born in 1793, prior to the date of the town. So, the name Covington has been in the Wright family prior to the name of Covington, Virginia.

General Leonard Covington was a soldier and legislator from 1792 until his death in 1813. But was he, in 1793, famous enough to be recognized as a Hero? Now, here is where speculation comes in, Could Peter Wright have actually been Peter Covington Wright and his descendants carried that middle name down from generation to generation? Could Covington, Va. have actually been named for Peter Covington Wright? We can only guess, but one day we may find exactly who can take the credit for the name!

Another statement was written in the Centennial History of Alleghany County, Virginia by Oren F. Morton. It reads on page 125 “The Wrights of this county are a newer family than the Wrights who once lived on the site of Covington.” most readers of this statement take it to mean that the Wright family of Potts Creek area are not related to the Peter Wright of early Pre-Municipal Covington, Virginia but came later.

From Bible records of Phoebe (Terry) Wright who married Moses Wright after the death of her first husband, John Arritt:

John Lewis Arritt was born 2nd day of December 1862
Sophrona P. Wright was born the 13th day of November 1818
Sarah Wright was born 3rd of December 1820
Moses G. Wright was born the 7th of November 1822
Nancy Wright was born the 13 of September 1824
Eliza J. Wright was born the 17th of December 1827
Wm Wright was born the 17th of December 1827
Elizabeth Wright was born the 30th of December 1829
Francis II Wright was born the 28th of January 1833
Catherine Wright departed this life the 29th of March 1838
John Wright died the 3rd of March 1858 in Mercer County
Phebe Wright died November 18, 1915
Andrew Taylor Wright died February 20 1936
Moses G. Wright died March 18, 1898
Henry Bascom Wright was born the 1st day of April 1867, died Dec. 16, 1872
Perry Francis Wright was born the 17th of March 1869
Joseph Osborn Wright was born the 6th of August 1872
Sally C. Wright was born the 5th of June 1875, Died 10 August 1925
M.G. Wright died March 18, 1893
Mary E. Wolfe died June 7, 1851
Mary Elizabeth Terry died July 11, 1855
Joannah Arritt departed this life the 19th of July 1864, age 3 years
Henry E. Wright died the 16th of December 1872, age 5 years
Moses Arritt died December 8, 1945
Perry Francis Wright died August 19, 1960
Copied from files of Phoebe Terry Wright.

It is obvious that some of the entries were not written by Phoebe Terry Arritt Wright. Nevertheless, this record is a valuable resource for relations of Moses and Phoebe. It also tells us that Moses Wright was the descendant of John Wright, the son of Peter. Thus, at least some of the Wright families of Potts Creek are the same Wrights of early covington, Virginia.

It is said that Peter Wright is not buried in Alleghany County and perhaps he is not. He deeded land in now Alleghany County to two of his sons and these deeds are recorded in Botetourt County Court House, Fincastle, Virginia. We do know that his son John who married Catherine Persinger as well as his other so William, James, Peter, and Thomas did leave Alleghany County. It is more likely that Peter died and is buried in Alleghany County and recorded history picks up his son Peter, who in 1821, was appointed sheriff of Botetourt County and “Later in life he was one of three Justices who organized Boone County, Missouri.

The will of Peter was written in 1793 in Botetourt County, Virginia, as well as probated there. It was recorded in will book A, Page 365 as follows:

In the name of God Amen.
I Peter Wright of Botetourt County being sick of body but of sound mind and memory do make this my last will and testament.
First after my deceased I order my body to be decently buried and all my funeral expenses paid with all my just debts by my executors whom I have here constituted and when the things are done I do give and bequeath and divide the remainder of my worldly estate among my wife and children as followth, viz:

First to my son Peter Wright I do give and bequeath the whole of the land of the plantation which I now own and the still and still vessels. Also three head of horse creatures two greys and one other horse they call Jolley:

Also I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth Sprowle one negro slave named kery to be her property during the time of her natural life and in case that she should die without issue of her body begotten then to return to my daughter Mary Smyth and the heirs of her body begotten.

Also I give and bequeathe unto my daughter Rebecca Kinkead one female negro slave named Milly the daughter of my slave Karter to her and the heirs of her body begotten as her property forever.

Also I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Jane the one third part of my plantation and the room of the dwelling house that the stone chimney stands at on the north end of the house during the remainder of her natural life and at her decease to descend to my son Peter Wright as signify ed above.

Also to my wife Jane I bequeath one female slave named Eve to be at her command and for her use during her natural life time and my wifes deceased I allow and devise the said slave and her offspring or children that may be born after this date to be publickly sold and the money be distributed in general among all the other heirs in this will.

Also I give and bequeath unto my wife the horse creatures viz: One black mare that goes by her name and her choice of among the chows as many as tow in number to be her property and to dispose of at pleasures as she thinks fit –Also I give to my wife as her property forever one feather bed and the usual bed furniture to dispose of at her pleasure. Also I give unto Jane Wright of Greenbrier that is my son Thomas Wrights daughter named Jane Wright one female slave named Mattye the daughter of my slave named Eve to her and her heirs forever and in case of her decease without issue to decend to her next younger sister and heirs forever.

Also I bequeath to James Wright in Greenbrier that is to my son Thomas Wright son James one make slave named Nelson the son of my female slave named Eve to him and his heirs forever and in case of his death without issue to descend to his next younger brother and his heirs forever.

Also I give and bequeath unto my son Peter Wright one female slave named Hester with the children which after this date may be born of her to him and his heirs forever to dispose of at his pleasure.

Also I bequeath unto my son Peter Wright the male slave named Harry to stay on the plantation to raise bread and work for my wife so long as she may chuse to live with my son Peter Wright. And at my wifes decease to be sold with Eve and the money to be given as the former slave Eve among the other heirs.

Also I give and bequeath unto my son Peter the waggon now a making and six head of the cattle as letting him have his choice out of the flock and the remaining horses not before mentioned to be his property forever.

Also I give and bequeath the remaining part of all my goods furniture and hogs and sheet except five of the sheep which is to be given to Nancey (Nickname for Agness) to be given to my son Peter and his mother for their use as they thin fit to devide left in their hands for their uses while they live together.

And I constitute and appoint Jacob Persinger and my son Peter Wright Executors of this my last will & testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this the twelfth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety three.

Signed and sealed in
the presence of
Christopher Clark
William Wright
Agnes (her Mark) Clark
Wallis Estell

At December Botetourt Court 1793
This instrument of writing was exhibited in court and proved by the oath of William and Wallace Estill two of the witnesses thereto subscribed and ordered to be recorded — the same Wallis Estill having first relinquished his legacy therein contained —

A copy teste
Henry Bowyer C.B.C.

In 1791 Peter deeded to William Smyth, the husband of Mary (Wright) Smith 176 acres on Jackson River. William was a large landowner of Mount pleasant who had come to Alleghany County from Richmond County, Virginia. He served in the Revolutionary War as an Indian Spy. So, we can be assured that that part of Botetourt County mentioned in the will above was what is know as Alleghany County today. In 1792 one year prior to his death, Peter divided land between his sons John and William. In 1793 the present area of Covington where Peter lived would have been in Botetourt County. Jane died in Bourbon County, Kentucky and her will is recorded there as well as in Alleghany County. It reads as follows:

In the Name of God! Amen! —
I Jane Wright being in my proper mind but somewhat indisposed in body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, it is therefore my Last Will and Testament: For the first place I recommend my soul to God that gave it and my body to the earth and concerning what worldly good God has blest me with I direct to be disposed of in the following manner, Viz: After a Christina burial, it is my desire and will that my negro named Eve be immancipated, which thing I trust my children will be careful to do. And in the next place, I will and bequeath to my daughter Rachel Proctor my feather bed, and in the next place, I will and bequeath unto Elizabeth Sprowl, my daughter all and singular the balance of my moveable property in this state and what actual cash I may have at my death I will and bequeath it to be equally divided amongst my five daughters. viz: Rachel Proctor, Agness Clarke, Jane Estill, Elizabeth Sprowl, and Martha Madis and in the next place I will and bequeath all singular that part of my estate that is due of me or may hereafter become sue in this sate of Virginia Botetourt County and for which Moses Mann is my attorney in to my other three daughters. vis: –Sarah Kimberland, Mary Smith and Rebecca Kincaid to be equally divided amongst said daughters, and I do nominate and appoint Christopher Clark and Moses Mann to be my whole and sole executors of this my Last Will and Testament. As witness my hand and seal this twenty fourth day of October one thousand eight hundred
and seven.

Teste
William Kincaid
John Estill
Sampson —–

Bourbon County Court, July tern 1823. This Last Will and Testament of Jame Wright deceased was produced in corr and it appearing that all that subscribing witness are either deceased or non residents and proof being made of the hand writing of the witness and testator and of her sanity the same is ordered to be recorded.
Att. Tho. O. Smith
By
A. P. MCli ——

Will Book 1, Page 39 — Alleghany County

From Jane’s will written in 1807 we have reason to believe that she moved from Alleghany County before her death in 1823 to Bourbon County, Kentucky. We know that Peter died in November or December of 1793 and Jane’s will was written fourteen years after Peter’s death. She left her moveable property to her daughter Elizabeth Sprowl, who probably took care of her in her old age. It is very likely that Peter died in Alleghany County and was buried in the old graveyard at Fort Young in a grave marked only with fieldstones and Jane went to live with her daughter in Kentucky.

The Fort Young graveyard location is not known, but was probably built over as the Industrial Revolution made its way through Covington and the Fort Young site was made into and industrial site in 1894 by the Low Moor Iron Furnace Company. Progress seems to have had little room for sentiment, epically when lining the pockets of the Industrialists. There is no record of when the cemetery was completely lost, but it didn’t take long. A little more than 100 years ago the Alleghany Tribune, Friday July 16, 1880 gave reference to Fort Young Cemetery, “The son of the Reaper is now heard there, to be sure, but in days past the red man and the white have met in the plain to the north, and the mountains, now echoing the reapers song. the echoed the report of the pioneer’s rifle and the war-whoop of the red man, who claimed the land all around as the land of his inheritance, to recover which he came with bended bow and belt and quiver full of barbed arrows. The stone hatchet and the gun, too, were his constant and shocking companions. Often have they spoken. “Trumpet-tongued to the men, women, and children who fled to Fort Young for protection, and whose remains are in the valley below and in site of (Cedar Hill Cemetery). The article goes o to name several graveyards in Alleghany County, one of which was at Fort Young.

As most able bodied men in Alleghany County, Peter served in the Militia. The Indians were few, and the white men seemed to be many. Since the Indians did not till the ground and plant their crops for food, the white men felt that the Indian should have no claim to the land. The pioneer had, by this time cleared the land, planted their fields, and built their homes, barns, and mills. They had little respect for the land that they settled. Resources were plentiful and waste was not looked on an eventual problem. The Indians grew in number. They wanted their hunting grounds back and grew resentful of the white man’s disrespect for the land. The Indians were ready to take their sacred places by hostilities. The Indian raids, with the killing, looting, and burning increased and the settlers needed protection. This protection would have to come from forces trained in the Indian warfare, Forts were established. They were the only places of safety for the pioneer women and children. Fort Young, a log fort, was built on Peter Wright’s homestead. It was built by Capt. Peter Hogg according to specifications of Col. George Washington, in 1756. The site where once stood this famous fort was in the Sunnymeade area. In an article that appeared in the Clifton Forge Review at the time the site of Fort Young was being prepared for the building of Low Moore Iron Furnace in 1894 giving the name of the owner of the furnace as Mr. Lyman, states: “The location of Fort Young is on the southeastern part of Covington on Jackson River.”

Not only did Peter provide a site on his land for Fort Young, he also served in Dickenson’s Rangers 1759-1763 (French and Indian War). Augusta County Courthouse records reveal that he was at the fort in an official capacity when he was given a warrant by Joseph Carpenter that had been sent from John Dickenson to apprehend two deserters at Fort Young, John Humphrey and Joseph Garrit. He handed the warrant to Thomas Fitzpatrick to read. Fitzpatrick read part of the warrant out loud, Peter took it out of his hand and put it up. Joseph Carpenter felt that Peter may have had the warrant read aloud to give the deserters, thought to have been close enough to heat, notice. (Chalkley’s Abstracts, Vol. 1, Page 499.)

Another reference to his military service was recorded when Peter applied for a revolutionary pension, February 10, 1780, “Peter Wright’s claim as a soldier in Capt. Christian’s company of Regulars in the year 1760 commanded by Col. Byrd, is ordered to be certified.” (annals of Southwest Virginia, Lewis Preston Summers, 1929.)

This history would not be complete without the ancestry of Peter Wright the Pioneer. He obviously inherited much of his nature from them. Their stories are a remarkable as Peter’s. This history came from another researcher. The author was not included nor was a reference to where it was found is available. It’s documentation seems to follow closely with other histories of Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York and may have been written by a historian there.

Peter Wright of Oyster Bay

Peter Wright (Peter Wright’s great-grandfather) and his younger brothers Anthony and Nicholas, came to America in 1635 from England. They are believed to be descendants of Thomas Wright (1422-1509) of Kilvestone Hall in Norfolk County, England. The brothers settled in Saugus, Massachusetts. In 1637 they were granted land at Sandwich on Cape Cod and remained there until 1653 when they joined a company of about a dozen families under the leadership of Rev. William Leaverich for the purpose of forming a new settlement in Long Island. They were deeded land by the Indian, Asiapum, with the agreement of payment by utensils and wampum (shells). This settlement became Oyster Bay. The original deed has been preserved at Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York.

Anno Dni one thousand six hundred and fifty th(ree). This writing witnesseth ye Asiapum alias Mohenes have sold vnto Peter Wright, Samuel Mail, William Leuerick, their heyrs executors administrators and assignees all his land lyeing & scituate upon Oyster Bay & is bound by Oyster River to ye west side with all ye woods, rivers, marshes, upland, ponds & all other appurtenances lying to ye sea ward excepting one island comonly call Hog Island and bounded neere southward by a point of trees called Canteaing. In consideration of wch bargaine & sale he is to receave as full satisfaction sixe Indian coates, sixe ketles, sixe fathom of wampam, sixe hoes, sixe hatchetts, three pr. of stocking(s), thirty auln-blades and muxes (heads for eel spears), twenty knives, three shirts, & as much peage black wampum as will amount to four pounds sterling. In witness whereof he hath set to his marke in ye presentce of William Washborne.
Asiapum or Mohenes X his mark
Anthony Wright
Robert Williams

Robert Williams was a brother of Roger Williams who was banished by the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay and founded Rhode Island and the First Baptist Church in American. The town of Oyster Bay was founded by Baptists and Quakers who were persecuted in Massachusetts.

When the Indians did not receive their promised payment they became unruly. The townspeople were levied 18 shillings and 10 pence, and the Indians were paid in beef. All of the original purchasers received six acre lots with the privilege of sharing the common meadows for grazing and the woodlands for cutting wood.

Peter is believed to have been born prior to 1600. His wife was Alice Wright from another branch of the Wrights in England. Alice was born in England about 1614. She also came to America in 1635 and the first of their eleven children was born in 1637.

The Wrights were devout Quakers. Anthony donated land in Oyster Bay for a burial ground and meeting house for the Society of Friends, and several of the daughters of Peter and Alice were outspoken in their advocacy of the right to worship God as their consciences directed them. In 1660, Mary Dyer of Rhode Island was imprisoned in Boston and hanged because of their Quaker activities. Mary Wright, daughter of Peter, went to Boston to rebuke the authorities. She was arrested and brought to trial. She was found a Quaker and banished. Her younger sister, Hannah, felt called to protest the numerous executions of Friends and in 1662 at age 16 she appeared before the court to admonish them to spill no more innocent blood. It is surprising that she escaped punishment, but one of the judges answered her remarks. “What, shall we be baffled by such a one as this? Come let us drink a dram.”

Hannah was called “The Devotee” because of her zeal for the Quaker cause. She was drowned while on a mission at age 29.

Lydia, the youngest of Peter and Alice, was also know for her support of the Quaker faith. In the summer of 1667, Margaret Brewster, a Quaker from Barbados, visited Boston to protest the recently imposed law requiring all persons coming into the colony to take an Oath of fidelity to the government. Quakers followed the scriptural direction, “Swear no at all,” and refused to take an oath. Margaret Brewster sent the Governor a letter of protest and also was publicly critical of the ruling. On Sunday, July 8, she went to Public Worship at South Church in sackcloth and ashes. She was barefooted, with her hair about her shoulders, her face blackened, ashes on her hair and sackcloth on her upper garments. She was followed by Lydia Wright and two other women and a man. The party was immediately seized by the constable and imprisoned. They were brought to court on August 4. Margaret Brewster was sentenced to be tied to a cart-tail, stripped to the waist, and drawn through the town. When sentenced, Margaret Brewster said “The will of the Lord be done. I am content.” All of the women appeared to be unconcerned about themselves with a serenity of mind in yielding to a divine calling.

Peter Wright died about 1662 and Alice married Richard Crab. Alice died on February 24, 1685.

The ninth child of Peter and Alice was Adam who was born in 1652. Adam married May Dennis and their second child was named Peter. Peter and his brother, Thomas, migrated to the Virginia Frontier in 1746. Peter was married in 1748 to Jane Hughart, daughter of James Hughart and Agnes Jordan. Peter and Jane had eight daughters and five sons. Three of the daughters married Estill brothers. Rachel married James Estill in 1772 in Augusta County, Virginia.

In Adam Wright Jr.’s Will he described himself as “Yeoman,” a farmer who cultivated his own land for a small farm and who would have belonged to a class of English freeholders. In the system of English Classes a Yeoman is just below the Gentry, who were a people of high social standing, but were not nobility.

Religion
Although Peter’s ancestors were very religious Quakers, it is not recorded that he was a particularly religious man. We have no record of any early meeting houses that he or his sons established. They seemed to be more politically and militarily minded. The Quaker faith did not flourish in Alleghany County. Maybe the memory of the persecution of his ancestors in Massachusetts was deep seeded in Peter’s mind and he found the wilderness a pleasant escape from the religious tyranny in the North. The first meeting house in Covington was built ca. 1770 and was located near the railroad underpass at the end of Main Street. It was built of log and used not only as a meeting house but as the courthouse, barricade against the Indians, school and church.

Henry Dressler’s land was to the rear of the Meeting House and his son-in-law, James Rogers, used it later for his gunsmith, hardware and plumbing business. Henry Dressler’s lot are now a bed for the C&O Railroad Tracks that divide East and West Main Street, where Locust Street in early Covington continued another block or so.

The Dresslers were Methodist-Episcopal and probably this had an influence on the type of church services that were held there. Later the meeting house was abandoned and services were held in the newly erected courthouse, which even had a bell to remind “Not so early risers” that services were being held.

The First Presbyterian Church was established in 1819 and claimed to have organized from the log Meeting House. Only three names of members can be found, Joseph Carpenter, Nancy Skeen and Campbell Karnes. Then in 1829 land was purchased from the town lots sold by Dr. James Merry by the Trustees of the Methodist Church. The Methodist also claimed the Meeting House as their church home. Those Trustees were listed as Joseph Pinnell (one of the earliest regular ministers in Alleghany County), Henry Dressler, Elisha Knox, Jr. Charles Callaghan, Anthony Brunnemer, Charles Tolbert, and Moses Persinger.

No records have been found of the members of the old log Meeting House congregation there is no record of Peter’s sons being trustees or elders of any of the established churches before they moved west, from the late 1700’s to early 1800s.

Perhaps Peter worshiped God in his own way, high on Peter’s Mountain without the benefit of a religious doctrine, underneath the blue sky with the hymns sung by the wind through the trees.

About This Sketch
This history, by no stretch of the imagination, is complete. It is only an overview of what has been found from research that I have had the opportunity to review and copy. I have tried to document the sources of the informatin so that the historians of the future can prove and add to this sketch. My hope is that all the questions about Peter Wright can be answered. That may be one wish that will never be granted. However, the information is surfacing. You hear about documents being unearthed in piles of junk in the “Rat Rooms” of courthouses across the country. One day, maybe in this generation, we will have undisputed documentation. Until then, we have to suppose. But supposing is not all that bad when it is based on solid facts.

This historical sketch is dedicated to the memory of my fifth great-grandfather. Peter Wright of Pre-Municipal Covington, Virginia.
Donna Dressler-Miller


Pendulum theory, patterns from history

The Pendulum theory of change in society has been examined by many thinkers and writers. I referred to it in a post in February 2017 and mentioned the book with that title written by Roy Williams and Michael Drew in this post.

Events on the world stage this week are sharp reminders of an earlier time. A time when personal computers, smart phones, the Internet and email were all in the distant future.

The gesturing by the comical but irrational North Korean leader with that country’s famously unreliable ballistic missiles is a reminder of the Cuban missile crisis and the Cold War. A further reminder is the strong response by the new US president. That a reminder of strong presidents standing up to aggression in the twentieth century. A welcome change from a recent president’s appeasement and vanishing red lines.

The barrage of cruise missiles directed at a Syrian air base, another change.

Is the pendulum swinging?

Do these events and responses signal a swing of the pendulum away from globalisation, political correctness and increased government control? Too early to tell, but taken with Brexit, a hardening of attitudes against uncontrolled immigration in many countries and the choice of a non-politician to the American presidency, they do show a major shift.

The rising interest in locally grown foods, organic fruit and vegetables, support for small farmers all support a move back to basics. The disruption in major industries: Retail, music, publishing, transportation and distribution is creating armies of entrepreneurs and artisans, some digital, some craftsmen / women, some independent service providers.

This is eroding the power base and revenue streams of labour unions, forcing them to concentrate on workers in the public service sector.

However it is not easy for the pendulum to swing back. Increasing control of the Internet, erosion of privacy, attempts to impose a cashless society, political correctness, plans for fleets of driver-less cars to replace individual automobile ownership, are all forces of resistance to a swing to the next period of common sense.

The pendulum certainly seems to be moving. How far it will move and how quickly are the unknowns.

Will the swing of the pendulum bring a period of adversity or opportunity? Hope or despair? Peace or conflict? Stability or more disruption?

A chance to win free books

An author who writes about the changing face of employment, surviving in the new era and many other things is James Altucher. Some of his writing makes me uncomfortable, some makes me laugh, but it always makes me think.

In his latest post, he is giving away 20 books from a selection of authors he recommends, here’s the link to his give away offer. Ultimate Book Give Away

What are your thoughts on the pendulum theory? Do you think it is swinging back? Still swinging towards the unknown? Stuck in the middle? Leave a comment.


Watch the video: 9 Peter Wright vs José de Sousa Wright Joyce 2020 World Matchplay Round 1