Four Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Descendants
By: Eloise M. Roberts
Printed in 1924
This book contains a information on the Wright, Sleeth, Smith and Hacker families.
Below is the first part of the book, that deals with the Wright family history.
Please forgive any mistakes in the transcribing,
and I have attempted to leave it in it’s original form.
And I want to stress that no claim is made to the accuracy of the authors work.
So read, enjoy, research and learn
~ I think this is the first attempt to publish the scattered records of the Wright, Sleeth, Smith and Hacker families. For these records I have had to depend on family Bibles and am especially indebted to James Frank Wright of Indianapolis; Mrs. Belle Conrey of Shelbyville, Indiana; Mrs. Margaret Sleeth Allen of Indianapolis and Hensley Sleeth of Shelby County, who have preserved the family history and traditions.
The historical quotations have been taken from The Hacker Record’, a manuscript history of the Hacker and allied families, written by William Hacker of Shelbyville; from ‘Border Settlers’ by L. V. Mc Whorter; and from ~Border Warfare’ by Hacker and
Powers. The military records of Alexander Sleeth, David Smith, and Gabriel Wright are recorded under National Number 140207 of the Society of Daughters of the American Revolution at its headquarters in Washington, D. C. The military services of John Hacker, Ellis Hughes and others mentioned in this book are also a
matter of record. Beyond the Revolution I have been unable to go.
The Hacker family has been traced beyond that, and I think it probable that a further search of the history of that family will uncover Sleeth and Wright
data, for there seems to have been acquaintance if not relationship between these families before coming to Virginia.
It is my hope that this book may fall into the hands of some one who can gather the threads of history and tradition into a coherent web and send the
result to ELOISE M. ROBERTS.
ORIGIN OF THE MACGREGOR FAMILY By Wm. H. Gregg, December, 1897
“Until the Sixth century the island now known as Ireland was called by the Romans ‘Hibernia’ and the inhabitants ‘Hibernians’. Ireland received from Europe
people said to be of the Celtic race, called Scots or, Milesians. The date is unsettled. Probably came from Spain in 1300 B. C. The Scots took possession and ruled the people and the island finally took the name “Scotia” from them. there with the native Picts and Caledonians~In the year 503 A. D. King Fergus, son of Erc (Fergus Mac Erc as modernly written) and a large body of Scots invaded the country and took possession.
Scots and Picts fought and intermarried. In 848 Kenneth, son of Alpin (Kenneth Mac Alpin) who was descended from the Scottish King Fergus Mac Erc in the male line, and from the Picts’ royal line (the Alpin) in the female line, conquered the Picts and united the
people and established the Kingdom of Scotland. His descendants through either the male or female line, ruled until and including James VI who became also James I of England, and the descendants of whom, either in the male or female line, have ruled
England to the present day. Thus the line of descent from Fergus Mac Erc down through the Alpin, Bruce, and Stuart families to Queen Victoria is probably authentic.
Kenneth was called “King of the Scots” and also “King of the Picts.”
The Grig or Greg family originated in Scotland, and the name is the root from
which have sprung the Gregg, MacGregor, MacGrigor, and the Scotch family of
Gregory. Greg or Grig, was the fourth King of Scotland after Kenneth MacAlpin.
Greg was of the Alpin royal family and reigned 875 to 893 A. D. In the earliest
chronicles he is called Giric, and in later ones Giric, Gerig Girig, Cirici, Cinicum,
Gregor, Greg, Gragorius and Gregory the Great. Clans.
His home was at Donedour, in the Garioch, Aberdeenshire- is royal) was , and
Eccleogreg (Greg’s Church )is said to have been founded by and named after him.
He was of mixed Scottish and Pictish descent, as were all of the Alpin line, and the
name “Ciric” pro; bably came from the Pictish legendary account of Cruithne and
his seven sons. Cruithne, according to the legend, having been the first king and
Ciric his son. Mac mean “son” and was not used as part of the surname until the
eleventh century. Greg, son of Dongal’ who was the King next before Alpin
(the father of Kenneth MacAlpin) and from him derived his right to the throne.Dongal was the first cousin on the paternal side of Achaius (father of Alpin ) who married
a Pictish Princess, Fergusia’ daughter of Hungus, a Pictish King’ and thus
united the Scottish and Pictish thrones.
Next Greg mentioned in Scottish history is Kenneth MacDuff’ ninth King
after Gregory. His granddaughter’ Lady Gruoch, married MacBeth of history
and Shakespere’s drama. He was called Kenneth IV. Two MacGregors are
often mentioned, Rob Roy of Montrose, and Rhoderic Dhu in “Lady of the Lake.’,
It is an ancient chronicle that “There is none older than the Clan MacArthur
except the hills, the rivers, and the Clan Alpin.” A highland proverb says. “The hills,
the MacAlpins and the Devil came into the world at the same time.” And a Celtic
proverb says, “The mountains, the rivers, and the MacGregors are coeval.”
The Bruce family descended from the Alpin line in the female line, and the
Stewarts descended from the Bruce in the same way. “Siol Alpin” was the name
given to a number of Clans supposed to possess a common descent, from
Kenneth Mac Alpin, the ancestor of a long line of Scottish Kings.
Greg, Grant, McKinion, McQuarries, McNab, and Mac. Cauley, have at all
times claimed the distinction of being the noblest and most ancient of the Highland
Clans. “S’rioghail Mo Dreahm” (My race is royal) was the proud boast of the MacGregors.
“When the Wright family lived in Scotland the family name was “MacGregor”
(“Son of the Greek Man”) and our ancestor was Chief of the Clan MacGregor.
As history shows this was one of the wildest, and to the English Government,
one of the most to be dreaded of the Mountain Scotch.
After many efforts to subdue the Highlanders, the Government offered pardon to
all those Scotch Clans of the Highlands who would agree to abandon their Clan
names and accept the name of Campbell. The Campbells were of Italian origin, (“Campbells-War Camps”) and though in cordial sympathy with’, the English
Government were cordially hated by all the Highlanders. So much so that many
attempts were made to murder Lord Campbell.
The offer of pardon was accepted by some of the Clans which had been very
nearly destroyed by famine and guerilla warfare, but most of them refused the
terms, saying they were proud to live or die under the Clan names. Among these
were the Clans MacGregor, MacLean, MacLoren, Grant and others.
So there was nothing left for the British Government to do but to continue to
hunt them down and kill them off. (Rob Roy was one of the Clan MacGregor.)
The Clan MacGregor, like the rest of the Highland Clans, would come down
from their mountains, raid some Lowland communities, kill off a few, seize cattle,
grain, and anything else they took a fancy to (which not infrequently included
a handsome woman) and then return to their mountains for safety.
This sounds crude to us today, but it was a part of their education, and regarded
by them as perfectly legitimate. I have seen just such education and its results
among the inhabitants of * * * where I spent ten years, who resented the attempts
of the government to keep them from making whiskey out of their corn.
*A letter from Jas. F. Wright, Indianapolis.
In the course of time came the great Battle of Culloden, in 1746, in which all
the Highlands took part with the Stewarts, the Roman Catholic side, and which
resulted in disastrous defeat. The Clan MacGregor was all but destroyed and the
Chief had to flee to save his life. The English, under the command of one Lord Leet,
Leeth or Leith, made a diligent search for him. He managed to evade capture and
reached the coast, took passage on some vessel and reached Ireland.
He then took the name of “Wright (a “Master Workman”)
and not long after secured passage to America.
Lord Leeth wanted this man so bad that he induced the Government to offer
a reward for the cap~ ture of the MacGregor, dead or alive, preferably dead.
Spies came to America and hunted for him and they all but captured him.
He was found in New Jersey, still under the name of Wright. His family had
followed him, and because the writ of attainder against all of them they were
compelled to keep the name of Wright, as, if captured, all would have been
taken back to England and beheaded. Lord Leeth’s detectives were unable to
prove this to be the remnant of the Clan MacGregor, and so could not arrest
them, for the Colonies were very jealous of all rights which the British Government
contended for, and this resulted, as you know, in the War of the Revolution,
thirty years later. I doubt not that the MacGregors were once more delighted
to engage in a “scrap” with Great Britain, but there are no records that I have
ever been able to find which show service in the “Rebel Ranks.” *
*In the Auditor’s Account Book for 1785, Virginia, there appears this entry on Page 421 under date ‘ Oct. 1, 1785: ‘~Warrant to Gabriel Wright and others for Militia Services per list filed—L 31.0.0″, showing that at least one of the MacGregors fought in the Revolutionary War. The “Hacker Record” also states that Gabriel Wright fought in the “Jersey Blue “, and there is a tradition that there was a Wright in every battle of the Revolution. Under Nat’l No. 140207 the D. A. R has accepted Gabriel Wright as a Revolutionary Soldier
Finding the secret service under Lord Leeth so persistent and fearing to
remain so near the coast, where they might have been kidnapped and unlawfully
transported to England, the Wright family soon took up their residence in
Pennsylvania, as being safest for them among the Quakers. But the spies
followed them and for some years continued their efforts to secure evidence
of the true identity of the family.
In the course of time the stern old Chieftain of the MacGregors died,
and as the spies were even at his funeral seeking evidence, he was buried under
the name of Wright.*
This because the writ of attainder ran against all his descendants who had no real
desire to return to England and be beheaded. And so they continued under the
name of Wright and forever abandoned the Clan name of MacGregor. ,,
Afterwards Lord Leeth found himself in disfavor with the English throne and he,
and his family were forced to leave and come to America in disguise. Here they
were known under the name of Sleeth, and it thus happens that these two old
warring families were united by numerous marriages,** once more showing that,
“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” Of course there came
finally separations of the family, and at least one branch came to Kentucky.
I am inclined to believe that our ancestor came first to some point not far from
Maysville, Kentucky, but this is largely a guess on my part. Later, when Ohio,
Indiana and the adjoining states had been surveyed one branch,*** Caleb Wright,
moved to a farm not far from chillicothe. From this point I have been able to
trace them with tolerable accuracy. I find first trace in the family of the breaking
away from the Catholic Church after coming to Ohio.
.**There h some vague tradition about there having been a marriage between the
Sleeth and the Wright-MacGregors before the marriage of Caleb Wright and
Mary Ann Hacker Sleeth, but this I have never been able to verify I have wondered
if such a marriage might have been a cause of the enmity between th Clans?
***Records of Ross County, Ohio, show that the parents of Caleb Wright moved to that community with their family E.M.R.
There they are found to be Baptists. But it may be that they long before had
become Protestants. The Wrights were tall, spare in frame, religious, stubborn,
never ready to admit they might be mistaken and that others might be right. . . .
Uncle Nathan lived on a farm near Quincy. When I was four or five years old I,
with my mother and three brothers, went on a visit to them. That is the only time
I ever saw Grandfather Caleb Wright and his wife. Uncle Nathan was the tallest
of the family, a very silent, thoughtful man, not given to talking much and especially
to children, which is generally a family characteristic…
Some years ago my niece, Mrs. Mary Orenbaugh,
was visiting in New York State. There she met a man named Wright*
who related the family tradition of our origin about as I knew it.”
(Signed) JAMES FRANK WRIGHT.**
According to the ‘Hacker Record,’ of which much of this book is a quotation,
Gabriel Wright fought in the Revolutionary War while living in New Jersey.***
While living in New Jersey he married Deborah Ball, a sister of Lydia Ball,
wife of David Smith. I have estimated that Gabriel Wright was born in Scotland
prior to 1747, but have no proof of this.
In the spring of 1778 Gabriel Wright and his family came to Rockingham County,
Virginia, l with his brother-in-law, David Smith. The census of 1782 shows him
living in Hampshire County with eight in his family. The census of 1784 shows
him still living in Hampshire with nine in the family.****
The list spoken in the Auditor’s Account Book which gives proof of
military service has been lost,
*This Mr. Wright knew nothing of Gabriel Wright and must have descended
from another branch of the Wright-MacGregor family There were Wrights
and Sleeths in New York State in 1766 for in that year Abram Sleeth and
Elizabeth Wright were married in New York State
**Former City Editor of the ‘Indianapolis Sentinel’
.***.See “Smith” Chapter l
+ Hacker Record
****Census of Virginia
but it is probable that one of the ‘others’ was David Smith, as they fought
side by side in New Jersey, married sisters, and came to Virginia together.
In 1792 Gabriel Wright and his family moved to Ross County, Ohio. On the 23rd
day of August, 1803, bond in the sum of $500 was issued to Jonathan Wright,
a son, as administrator of the estate of Gabriel Wright. The widow’s name was
given as Deborah. Two deeds for real estate in Concord Township, Ross County,
Ohio, near Chillicothe, were signed by all the heirs, among which was Caleb.
Gabriel Wright and Deborah (Ball) Wright had the following children:
Sarah—married Nathan Cory.
John—married Miss Cook.
David—married Polly Cook.
Rhoda—married Stephen Cory.
Caleb—probably born in Virginia (or Kentucky?) about 1790. Died May or June, 1860. Married July 16, 1809,* to Mary Ann Hacker Sleeth. There may have been another son, for James Frank Wright remembers hearing his father announce that he was the seventh son of a seventh son. Gabriel Wright died 1801. His widow, Deborah (Ball) Wright died in 1817, and was buried by the side of her husband. Two of their sons came into Green County, Ohio. Caleb Wright and family moved to near Quincy, Ohio. Before that he had served as scout in the War of 1812. The Mss.. War Rolls of Ohio in the Adjutant General’s office gives his war record as follows: “Pvt. in Lieut. DeVault’ Detached Reg., Ohio Militia. Term of service Jan. 31, 1815, to April 10, 1815.”
This is also given in Andrew’s History of Washington County.
This service has been accepted by the ‘Society of Daughters of 1812.’
Tradition says Caleb Wright served as scout under his cousin, Commodore
Oliver Hazard Perry, covering the territory from Detroit to Fort Wayne,
* Date given by Sarah Sleeth Robbins.
one occasion he was shot in the thigh by an Indian and rode on horseback
seventy miles before he could obtain help. This wound lamed him for the
remainder of his life. He was a stern old man, a strict disciplinarian.
In the camp and on the trail he had seen the results of disobedience and it
strengthened his own tendency to enforce obedience. Caleb Wright is said to
have been the seventh son, but only six sons are given in the records to which
I have access. Children of Caleb Wright and Mary Ann Hacker (Sleeth) Wright:
I. Abner. Married. Son, William, perhaps more.
II. Mary,* married Carl Sleeth, her cousin.
Children of Mary (Wright) Sleeth and Carl
Sleeth: Matthais, Grace, Bruce, Alice.
III. James, married Letitia Brown: children,
Mary, Emily J., Lafayette.
| IV. Soloman.
V. Alexander—Baptist Preacher in South Carolina
VI. Susan, married James Pine. Issue: Ethan.
VII. Matthias—born Oct. 22, 1818, died March 22, 1896.
Married Amanda Young, born Sept. 25, 1822, died Nov. 12, 1900.
Children: John G., 1847-1848.
William J., 184~1850.
Mary E., 1850-1862.
David A., Oct. 15, 1854, b. March 26, 1896.
George M., June 6, 1857, April 29, 1898.
Leo N., 1852-1862.
VIII. Cyrus born Feb. 16, 1814, in Ross County, Ohio. Died Oct. 18, 1875.
Married Elizabeth C. Glenn, daughter of John and Mary Glenn.
Elizabeth C. Glenn was born Aug. 24, 1821, Shelby County, Ind. Died June 7th, 1859.
*Tradition calls Mary Wright and Carl Sleeth ”double cousins” and refers to
an earlier marriage of the Sleeths and Wrights Sarah Sleeth Robbins
had the tradition that Gabriel Wright had married Sleeth, or that the
Sleeth emigrant had married a Wright.
Cyrus and Mathias Wright moved to Lebanon, Boone County, Ind., about 1835,
where both taught school. Both then studied law, and became well known lawyers of Shelbyville, Ind. Up to the Civil War both were Democrats. Both then became Republicans.
Children of Cyrus and Elizabeth (Glenn) Wright:
1. Martha—born April 23, 1842. Died April 24, 1842.
2. William G.—born April 25, 1844, died April 20, 1845.
3. George M.—born May 12, 1846. Married Dec. 19, 1872, to Elizabeth D. Corden,
who was born Oct. 24, 1850. Two children: Mary A. and Cora E.
Mary A.—born Oct. 28, 1874. Married Mar. 21, 1907, to Oscar Orenbaugh.
One daughter, Elizabeth J. Orenbaugh, born to Mary A. and Oscar Orenbaugh,
Jan. 12, 1909.
Cora E.—born Nov. 29, 1876. Married Jan. 22, 1908, to Chas. H. Tindall.
4. John A.—born June 15, 1848. Died Sept. 23, 1918. Married Gertrude Stewart.
Son Harry married Edith Brock.
5. Mary—born May 13, 1850, died Aug. 15, 1850.
6. Chas. Wright—born Oct. 10, 1853. Married Mattie Dagg. Issue: Francis.
7. Elizabeth H. Wright—born July 14, 1857. Married, first, Albert Stratton.
Married, second, Geo. W. Avrett.
8. Nathan Wright—born June 5, 1859. Died June 5th, 1859.
9. James Frank*, born July 22, 1851. Married Jennie E. Pugh. Children: Charles J.,
Harry F. and Florence E., who married Chas. P. Stewart.
IX. Nathan Wright—born Feb. 27, 1817. Died April, 1866, in Carroll County, Mo.
He was married Dec. 17, 1844, to Mary Lucina Mills,** by John Ryran, J. P.,
in Logan County, Ohio.
Nathan Wright and family lived on a farm in Logan County, while just over the
line in Shelby County lived Nathan’s parents, Caleb and Mary. Caleb and Mary
and a son, Nathan Jefferson, are buried there in the old cemetery.
*James Frank Wright of Indianapolis is my authority for the data
** Mary Lucina Mills was a descendant of Elder Wm Brewster Of the “Mayflower” of
Captain James Avery of Conn. of Capt. James Morgan of Conn and of Dr. Comfort Starr.
The Wrights were ever a silent family, adverse to talking of family affairs, so
I know but little of the family life. Perhaps the old tradition as to the MacGregor
Chieftain is true, and this is an heritage of silence taught by the danger from the
English foes. Caleb Wright died in 1860 and his wife in 1873. Mary became blind
in her old age and was blind for years.
Children of Nathan and Mary Lucina (Mills) Wright:
1. Willis—born Feb. 13, 1846. Unmarried.
2. Alvin—born Jan. 26, 1850. Married Belle Perry in Saline County, Mo.
Children: 1. Luther, Co. F., 15th Engineers, A. E. F. In France two years.
Married a Miss Carey. 2. Amos. 3. Anna, married Earl Foote in
Carroll County, Mo., and had five children:
Harry Raymond, Ruby Lee, Edith, Eugene Alvin and John Earl.
3. Mary Saphronia—born Dec. 29, 1847. Died July 28, 1896. Unmarried.
4. Laura Caroline- born Jan. 18, 1852. Married Nov. 26, 1874, to Gamaliel Taylor*
by Rev. Metz, in Carroll County, Mo. Children: 1. Byron Orlando, born Dec. 8, 1876,
in Carroll County, Mo. Married Nov. 11, 1900, to Carrie Eugenia Thomas, daughter
of David and (Everet) Thomas. Two children: (1) Florence Jewell, born at Dickson, Okla., March 2, 1903, married Harold Currier at Tulsa, Okla., 1919. Daughter, Bonnie Iva. (2) Raymond Cecil, born at Winfield, Kans., Feb. 8, 1907. Byron Orlando Taylor married 2d Daisy Marina Bishop, Oct. 1, 1918, at Kansas City, Mo. Married (3d) Bertha Maurer,
June, 1922, at Cleveland, Ohio.
II. Lela Odella Taylor—born Aug. 29, 1882, married Jan. 10, l90l, in Carroll County, Mo.,
to Martin Luther Lewellen. Children, all born in San Jose, Calif: Helen Eloise, born
June 23, 1907; John Lincoln, born Feb. 12, 1910; William Wallace, born April 10, 1918.
I1I. Eloise Anna May Taylor, youngest child of Laura Caroline and Gamaliel Taylor,
was born in Dewitt, Mo. Married June 18, 1906, in Woods County, Okla., to Edwin
Snelling Roberts, son of David Rittenhouse Roberts and Katherine (Ferrand)
Roberts. Edwin S. Roberts was born Oct. 24, 1866, in Hardin County, Ky.
5. Olive Josephine, born Oct. 30, 1854.
6. George Gordon Byron, born Dec. 12, 1856.
7. Nathan Jefferson, born Dec. 17, 1858, died May 1, 1860. Buried by the side of his parents in Shelby County, Ohio.
*Gamaliel Taylor was the son of Eber Taylor and Clarissa (Stout) Taylor. and a
descendant of Governor Bennett of Virginia. Captain John Utie of Vlrginia. Richard
and Penelope Stout of New Jersey Through the Stout-Codd-St. Leger line of Virginia he was a descendant of King Edward III of England.