Robert M. Wright


Robert M. Wright, a prominent resident of Dodge City, prospered as a farmer, stockman, merchant and public servant. He was a native of the South, born in Bladensburg, Prince George County, Maryland, on September 2, 1840. His father, who was born at Alexandria, Virginia, in 1800, often recounted his experience as a boy on the battlefield of Bladensburg administering to wounded American soldiers. Wright’s great-grandfather was a Presbyterian minister in Revolutionary times and raised a regiment of plowboys at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, of which he had command at the battle of the Meadows. The British had a price on his head and destroyed his property and the Tories finally killed him. His wife was shot by Hessian soldiers as she sat at a window with her baby. Elias B. Caldwell, the maternal grandfather, was clerk of the United States Supreme Court at Washington for many years, and when the capitol was destroyed by the British in the War of 1812 his library, which he had loaned to Congress, was also burned.     

Wright came West at sixteen years of age and, until 1859, lived on a farm near St. Louis. In 1859, he took an overland trip to Denver and during the following eight years, as a trader and a contractor for hauling grain and cutting hay and wood, he crossed the plains four times by wagon and twice by coach. In 1867, he became a post trader at Fort Dodge, and resided at that locality. During that period he served as postmaster, represented Dodge County in the Legislature for four terms and was been commissioner of forestry twice, in 1899-1903.

Few cities were founded by a man with the background of Dodge City's own Town President, Robert M. Wright. As mentioned before, with a family that included a clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, and a president of the Continental Congress, Wright came west at age 16 to make his mark on the world. He married Alice when he was 19. Wright rose from bullwhacker -- freight wagon driver -- to owner of the largest commercial empire in the area, making and losing a fortune on the cattle trade, starting trails and towns. 

By the time in 1872 that he owned a general store in Dodge City, Wright was making huge amounts of money from the Santa Fe Trail, buffalo hunter, and cattle trade. Historian Dr. C. Robert Hayward, in his book "The Merchant Prince of Dodge City: The Life and Times of Robert M. Wright" quotes evidence that Wright was taking in $200,000 a month during the cattle season of 1880 -- about $4,000,000 in 2009 dollars -- and that with no income tax.







 

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