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Wright, Travis George (1806–1875)

Skipper Steely Biography

Travis G. Wright, businessman, the son of Elizabeth (Travis) and Claiborne Wright, was born on October 9, 1806, near Carthage, Smith County, Tennessee. In 1816 Claiborne brought his family by keelboat up the Red River to a trading post at Pecan Point, in the northeast corner of what is now Red River County. About 1830 Travis moved south to the Jonesborough Prairie, where he was soon asked to perform legal services for family and friends. He also engaged in mercantile enterprises at Kiomatia Plantation, which was owned by his brother George W. Wright. About 1830 he opened a store at Jonesborough, and on August 11, 1834, he received an Arkansas donation grant. In the summer of 1834 Wright, his slave Hardy Wright, John Ragsdale, and Thomas McCuin headed into present western Oklahoma to search for Wright's nephew, Matthew Martin, who had been abducted by Indians after the murder of Miller County judge Gabriel N. Martin. Near present Kingston, Oklahoma, Wright met Gen. Henry Leavenworth scouting for a soldier captured by Indians the previous year. When Leavenworth fell from his horse and died of his wounds, Wright, having learned that Martin had been rescued, volunteered to take Leavenworth's body to Natchitoches, Louisiana, for shipment to New York for burial. He served briefly as Miller County judge in late fall, when citizens forced the incumbent to resign.

In January 1836 Wright was elected one of two Miller County delegates to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention. He served on the boundaries committee and helped vote Jonesborough and the territory south of Red River out of Miller County and into Texas. He later received land certificates for arriving in Texas prior to independence and located claims in Red River, Lamar, and Denton counties. Wright operated stores in Jonesborough and Clarksville, but he probably lived at Kiomatia Plantation. In 1838 he married Mary Eliza Johnston at Jonesborough. They had one son, but at various times they helped raise the children of several relatives. Wright regularly furnished supplies for the Indian campaigns in his area. In 1838 he provided Gen. Thomas J. Rusk with five pack mules and provisions, plus the services of his slave Hardy. In 1839 he acquired an interest in a Fannin County tract called Honey Grove and paid his brother George $6,000 for Kiomatia Plantation. In 1844 Travis also acquired the John Largeant tract southeast of Kiomatia. In 1843 he provided financial support for Charles DeMorse's Clarksville Northern Standard. Following the Mexican War Wright and his brothers George and Alex obtained a contract to haul supplies from Fort Towson, Indian Territory, to Fort Phantom Hill.

In 1850 Wright moved his family to Paris, county seat of Lamar County. In 1854 he and a group of northeast Texas men invested in the Memphis, El Paso and Pacific Railroad, projected to run through that region, and on May 9, 1856, he was elected president of the company. Wright also took an interest in education and in 1857 was a trustee of a male academy in Paris. At the outbreak of the Civil War Wright declined a commission as a militia brigadier general. In June 1862 he was appointed provost marshal in Red River County and later was a quartermaster agent, headquartered in Clarksville. An old-line Whig before the war, Travis switched to the Republican party. In April 1863 he closed down Kiomatia Plantation and sold the stock for $1,500. By 1870 Wright had joined several partners in opening businesses in Paris, and by 1872 he and his son had opened an office in New Orleans to market cotton. In 1873 he joined Lemuel H. Williams, S. E. Clement, W. B. Akin, and J. W. Broad in establishing the Paris Exchange Bank, the first financial institution in town. He also served as a director of the Paris street railway and invested in the Paris Gas Company. Wright died on August 30, 1875, at Kiomatia. He had been active in the Masons and Odd Fellows. He was buried in the Old Paris Cemetery and later reburied in Evergreen Cemetery in the city.

Time Periods:

  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Skipper Steely, “Wright, Travis George,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 26, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.