Wright family.

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Samuel Gardiner Wright, a Philadelphia merchant and ironmaster, was born on November 18, 1781, the great-great-grandson of Joshua Wright, one of three brothers who emigrated to the Burlington, New Jersey, area in 1677-79. Samuel's father Caleb was a storekeeper in Juliustown. A brother Joseph migrated to Plymouth Township in the Wyoming Valley.

In 1810, Wright built a farmhouse near Wrightsville, New Jersey. Its name, Merino Hill, commemorated his role in the importation of Merino sheep in concert with the du Ponts of Delaware and other gentleman farmers. Between 1815 and 1818, Wright acted as middleman supplying cordwood from the nearby Pine Barrens to the New York area. A large part of the output was sold to the operators of newly-established steamboat lines. Soon afterward, Wright established sea-salt works near Tuckerton, New Jersey, and Lewes, Delaware, in connection with David Thacker.

Wright operated as a merchant with a store in Philadelphia from 1817 to 1837. This was apparently a very general operation, selling New Jersey's products of farm and forest in the city and shipping Philadelphia area goods on consignment to correspondents up and down the coast and down the length of the Ohio-Mississippi River system. From 1820 to 1822 he conducted a trade with David Brearley, then Indian agent at Dardanelle, Arkansas Territory, exchanging eastern manufactures for furs.

Beginning in 1820, Wright began to deal heavily in iron ore and iron products and moved decisively into the business of ironmaking. In that year he took a short-term lease of David C. Wood's Millville Furnace. Soon after he secured an interest in the Delaware Furnace at Millsboro, De., from Col. William D. Waples. Between 1823 and 1826 he assembled a tract of 26,000 acres centered around present-day Lakehurst, N. J., containing the derelict Federal Furnace and Phoenix Forge. Wright reopened the Federal Works as Dover Furnace in 1825-26 but eventually lost Phoenix Forge in a title dispute. He also worked bog iron ore deposits connected with both his Delaware and New Jersey furnaces and contracted the right to make charcoal on the Greenwood Forest Tract adjoining his own properties. As bog ore deposits became exhausted, Wright help found the Mount Hope Mining Company in Morris County, N. J. Wright remained an important ironmaster for seven years. He manufactured pig iron, stoves, wagon wheel boxes, sash weights and large quantities of pipe for the new urban gas and water systems throughout the Northeast. He apparently tried to manufacture rails and castings for some of the country's earliest railroads. Wright had a close relationship with architect John Haviland, providing iron decorative elements, doors and grilles for several of Haviland's famous prisons and other commissions.

Wright was also heavily involved in land speculation, owning city lots in Philadelphia and New York, along with tracts in Otsego County, N. Y. and in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. In the 1830s he began to make large purchases of land in the Midwest, particularly in Illinois and Missouri.

In 1830, Wright was elected to a term in the Legislative Council, precursor of the New Jersey State Senate. At this time he began to withdraw from active business. He turned the operation of the Delaware Furnace over to his son Gardiner H. Wright in 1830. The Dover Furnace property was sold to another ironmaster, Benjamin B. Howell, in 1833 and mortgaged back to Wright to secure payment of the purchase money in installments. Howell and his two sons resold the tract to the Monmouth Purchase Company, a group of New York land speculators, in 1836. The Panic of 1837 and its aftermath delayed a final settlement with Wright until 1840. The Delaware Furnace was also abandoned around 1837.

Wright thereafter lived as a gentleman farmer at Merino Hill. In 1844, he was elected to the House of Representatives, but he died on July 30, 1845, before he could take his seat.

Wright's career provides an excellent example of the American businessman just before the transition from "merchant capitalism" to "industrial capitalism." While they were important in their own day, none of his enterprises left direct successors, and the trades and techniques they represented were rendered obsolete soon after his death. While not ranked among the "great" Philadelphia merchants, Wright was part of that much larger second tier whose activities produced the first stages of industrialization in the United States.

From the description of Papers, 1785-1902 (bulk 1809-1876). (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122503422

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Wright family. Papers, 1785-1902 (bulk 1809-1876). Hagley Museum & Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith A. C. Cazenove & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Baltimore Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Batsto Furnace (Batsto, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey. corporateBody
associatedWith Boston Gas Light Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cadwalader & Oliver Evans (Firm). corporateBody
associatedWith Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Casswell & Murdock. corporateBody
associatedWith Commercial Bank of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Crawford, William Harris, 1772-1834. person
associatedWith Cumberland Furnace (Cumberland, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Delaware and Raritan Canal Company (N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Delaware Furnace (Millsboro, Del.). corporateBody
associatedWith Douglas, Edwin A., 1805-1859. person
associatedWith Dover Forge (Lacey, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Dover Furnace (Lakehurst, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Du Pont, Alfred Victor, 1798-1856. person
associatedWith Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Etna Furnace and Forge (Estell Manor, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Frelinghuysen, Frederick T. (Frederick Theodore), 1817-1885. person
associatedWith Frelinghuysen, Theodore, 1787-1862. person
associatedWith Friends' Asylum for the Insane (Philadelphia, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Fulton, Robert, 1765-1815. person
associatedWith Gouverneur, Samuel L. (Samuel Lawrence), 1799-1867. person
associatedWith Haviland, John, 1792-1852. person
associatedWith Henry, William, 1794-1878. person
associatedWith Hibernia Mine (Hibernia, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Higbee, Charles d. ca. 1843. person
associatedWith Hollenback, George M. (George Matson), 1791-1866. person
associatedWith Howell, Benjamin Betterton, 1786-1841. person
associatedWith Howell Iron Works (Howell, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Insurance Company of North America. corporateBody
associatedWith Jenks, Alfred, b. ca. 1794. person
associatedWith Joseph Jackson & Sons. corporateBody
associatedWith Josiah L. James & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Kemble, William, 1795?-1881. person
associatedWith Lake Champlain Steam Boat Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. corporateBody
associatedWith McCall, Archibald, 1767-1843. person
associatedWith Milford and Owego Turnpike Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Millville Furnace (Millville, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Monmouth Purchase Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Morris Canal and Banking Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Mount Hope Mining Company (N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Nassawango Furnace (Worcester County, Md.). corporateBody
associatedWith Newark Aqueduct Company (N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith New Brunswick Steam Boat and Canal Transportation Company. corporateBody
associatedWith New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike and Rail Road Company. corporateBody
associatedWith New Jersey Atlantick Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith New Jersey. Legislative Council. corporateBody
associatedWith Nott, Eliphalet, 1773-1866. person
associatedWith Paterson and Hudson River Rail Road Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Phoenix Forge (Manchester, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Richards, Mark, 1785?-1843. person
associatedWith Richards, Thomas S. (Thomas Smith), 1803-1839. person
associatedWith Rodgers, John, 1812-1882. person
associatedWith Ulster Iron Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Wall, Garret D. (Garret Dorset), 1783-1850. person
associatedWith Walter, Thomas Ustick, 1804-1887. person
associatedWith Waples, William D. (William Dagworthy), d. 1841. person
associatedWith West Point Foundry Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Weymouth Furnace (Weymouth, N.J.). corporateBody
associatedWith Wilson, James, fl. 1820-1845. person
associatedWith Wood, David C. (David Cooper), 1780-1859. person
associatedWith Wright, Caleb, 1754-1841. person
associatedWith Wright, Gardiner H. (Gardiner Harrison), 1806- . person
associatedWith Wright, Harrison G. (Harrison Gardiner), 1810-1885. person
associatedWith Wright, Hendrick B. (Hendrick Bradley), 1808-1881. person
associatedWith Wright, Joseph, 1785-1855. person
associatedWith Wright, Samuel G. (Samuel Gardiner), 1781-1845. person
associatedWith Wright, Samuel G. (Samuel Gardiner), 1819- . person
associatedWith Wright, Sarah, 1787-1885. person
associatedWith Wurts, John, 1792-1861. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Arkansas Territory
North America
New England
Morris County (N.J.)
Sussex County (Del.)
United States
Lakehurst (N.J.)
New Jersey
Ocean County (N.J.)
South Carolina
Millville (N.J.)
Millsboro (Del.)
New York
Salt industry and trade
Iron mines and mining
Turnpike roads
Merino sheep
Charcoal burners
Trading Posts
Hicksite Schism
Society of Friends
Coastwise shipping
Land companies
Anthracite coal
Stove industry and trade
Fur trade
Toll roads
Horse breeders
Iron industry and trade


Active 1785

Active 1902

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