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Hon. Hamilton Mercer Wright (1852-?)
Born in New Orleans, LA. Mayor and Judge in Bay City, MI.

1905 biography. - Added Sept., 2010.

History of Bay County, Michigan - Gansser 1905.


Hamilton Mercer Wright, B. A., LL. B.. of Bay City, Michigan, whose long and honorable official career in Bay County has made his name familiar all over the State, and whose scholarly attainments have made him a conspicuous figure for years in every noted gathering of lettered men, was born in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, October 26, 1852, and is a son of Hamilton Mercer and Virginia (Huckins) Wright.

The Wright family is of Scotch-Irish extraction. They came from the North of Ireland and settled in Fishkill Plains, New York, in the first half of the 18th century. Our subject's grandfather, Isaac Wright, a descendant of the original emigrant, married a daughter of Mercer Hamilton who came to America with Thomas Addis Emmet, a brother of the noted Irish patriot, Robert Emmet. The former, unlike his famous brother, escaped to America after being apprehended and tried for treason and later became a distinguished citizen of the State of New York.

The father of Judge Wright was born in 1809 in Dutchess County, New York. When he reached manhood, he went to New Orleans, where he engaged in business and amassed a fortune as a cotton farmer, which placed him with the foremost capitalists of the State. The misfortunes incident to the outbreak and continuance of the Civil War made great inroads upon this fortune and Mr. Wright did not long survive after the close of hostilities, his death taking place in 1869. In 1850, Mr. Wright was married to Virginia Huckins, who was born in Virginia, and died in Dinan, Brittany, France, in 1897, aged 87 years. The two children of this marriage were our esteemed subject and a sister, Nina, who is the widow of the Marquis of Potestad, of France.

Immediately following the capture of New Orleans by the Federal forces, Mrs. Wright and her children left the turmoil then existing in that city and took a steamer for Europe. She established a home at Geneva, Switzerland, and in that old historic city her son laid the foundation of an education that has covered many lines. Later, he spent two years taking a collegiate course at Cheltenham, England. The death of his father, in 1869, recalled him to America, where he soon became a student at Yale. While in his junior year he married and with his bride returned to Europe. During the years passed on the Continent, he studied medicine at Heidelberg, Germany and at Pisa, Italy, and upon his second return to America he reentered Yale, where he was graduated in 1875 -- the third in rank in a class of 150 students.

The young then entered upon the study of law, earning the means by which he could follow this course by teaching modern languages, being master of seven. In 1877, when he was graduated from the law school. Chief Justice Waite took occasion, when handing him his diploma, to pay him the unusual attention of complimenting him on having passed the best examination of any student that had ever come to his knowledge. His high scholarship won for him the coveted reward of the Jewell of gold medal. Subsequently he passed the bar examination in Connecticut and in New York, and was admitted to practice in both States. When he came to Michigan, in 1877, he found that the laws of this State required another examination. After a few months spent in the office of Windsor Schofield, in order to familiarize himselt with Michigan practice, he was admitted to the bar here. He then opened an office in partnership with Carl Drake, also a Yale graduate, under the firm name of Wright & Drake, which was dissolved six months later, since which time Judge Wright has practiced alone.

Political an ardent Democrat, Judge Wright has always been noted for his sturdy American patriotism. He has been honored by his party and by his fellow-citizens on more occasions then usually come to one individual, and it is but just to say that his whole public career has justified the confidence reposed in him. In April, 1881, he was elected alderman to represent the Fifth Ward, and later was elected to a seat in the State Legislature and public approval of his course was shown by his reelection in 1885. When his term as city alderman closed, in 1887, his fellow-citizens were not willing for him to pass out of official civic life, and, without consulting him, they nominated him for the office of mayor. To this highest municipal place he was elected by a plurality of 804 votes.

Two years later, before his mayoralty term had expired, he was nominated for judge of probate, and in November, 1888, he was elected to this honorable office and served in both capacities until the following April, declining at that time a renomination for the majoralty. He continued as judge of probate until 1892, when he was elected for another four years, his majorities offering the flattering figures of from 1,300 to 1,700 votes. In 1895, he was again called to the major's chair and served two years more, filling both official positions, and in 1896 he was reelected judge of probate and continued in office until January 1, 1901. He has had frequent opportunities to lay claim to still higher political positions, but has refused to be further tempted from the congenial life and large emoluments connected with his profession. In addition to an extensive practice, he has charge of his wife's large property interests and is obliged to give more or less attention to business enterprises of his own. Formerly he was largely interested in real estate development here, and has built some 50 comfortable houses which he has sold, on easy terms, to working men. It is a matter of satisfaction to him that he has never had a single law suit with a tenant, nor has he ever foreclosed a mortgage or contract.

For some time Judge Wright has been much interested in the development of Point Lookout, the only summer resort on the western shore of Saginaw Bay. He took hold of this property in 1895, as trustee, and in 1900 it came into his wife's possession. This delightful place to spend the summer was started about 1882 by Tasker & McDonald, and as the steamers of the old Saginaw, Bay City and Alpena line were running, this resort grew rapidly in favor. Upon the discontinuance of the line, its prosperity departed, on account of want of suitable transportation. This condition led Judge Wright to purchase the steamer “City of New Baltimore,” a trim, safe little vessel, which easily accommodates 400 passengers, and is chartered for regular trips during the summer season. Negotiations are in progress for the erection of a fine modern hotel here, with accommodations for a large number of guests, although an excellent hotel and numerous cottages have already been built here. It offers a quiet, healthful, delightful home for hundreds who are in search of a place for a summer home, where the breath of politics has never blown and the frivolities of fashion have not overcome peace and comfort with pretension and show.

Judge Wright was married in 1871 to Anne Dana Fitzhugh, who is a daughter of the late William D. Fitzhugh, extended mention of whom will be found in this work. They have had eight children, viz: Anne Virginia, born at Geneva, Switzerland, who married Thomas L. Kane, of Kane, McKean County, Pennsylvania, who is a nephew of the distinguished Arctic explorer, Dr. Elisha Kent Kane; Hamilton Mercer, Jr., the fourth of the name in direct line of descent, born at New Haven, Connecticut, in 1874, who is a resident of Oakland, California, an attorney-at-law, and the secretary of the California Promotion Committee; Sybil K., born at New Haven, in 1897, who married George S. McLandress, a practicing physician of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cornelia, born at Bay City, in 1879, deceased in 1896; Archibald V. R., born at Rugby, Tennessee, in June, 1866; Alida Fitzhugh born at Bay City, September 9, 1888; and William Edward, born at Bay City, February 13, 1891. The family belong to the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Judge Wright's delightful home is not only one of culture but of rare hospitality. Perhaps here he is at his best, proffering a real Southern, hearty welcome to those admitted to close friendship, taking rare pleasure in the treasures of his great library of 12,500 volumes, or in enthusiastic displaying his thousands of choice photographs, which he has himself taken. He has 2,600 negatives in his possession, some of which have never been printed, but a number of which have won prizes in exhibitions of amateur photography.

Judge Wright is associated in membership with Joppa Lodge, No. 315, F. & A. & I.; Bay Lodge, No. 104, L. O. O. F.; Bay City Lodge, No. 23, K. P.; and Lodge No 88, B. P. O. E. He is a man who is equally at home in social usages, in business, politics, medicine and law.

1885 political biography. - Added Sept., 2010.

Manual and Official Directory, State of Michigan, 1885


Representative form the First District of Bay county, was born in New Orleans, La., October 26, 1852. Educated at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., graduating in the academic course in 1875, and from the law department in 1877. He removed to Bay City in 1878, where he has since resided. Was admitted to the bar in the last named year, and has since that time continued in the practice of his profession. In politics Mr. Wright is a Democrat, and has twice filled the position of alderman of Bay City. He was elected a Representative to the Legislature of 1883-4, and re-elected to the present House, receiving 2,229 votes, to 1,907 for Daniel Campbell, People's candidate, and 102 for Samuel E. Campbell, Prohibitionist.

Additional Notes.

    1870 – Census: New Haven, Conn.

  • Wright, Hannah – age 48, b. Virginia, keeping house
  • Hamilton, age 18, b. Louisiana
  • Virginia, age 13 b. Louisiana
  • O'Brien, Margarette, age 26, b. Ireland, domestic servant

    1875 – Alumni Directory of Yale University - 1920

  • Hamilton M. Wright (B.A. 1875), 401 N. Sherman St., Bay City, Mich.

    1880 – Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Wright, Hamilton - b. 1851 Lousiana
  • Anna D., wife – b. 1850 Mich.
  • Hamilton M., son – b. 1877 Conn.
  • Sibly Kathrena, daughter – b. 1877 Conn.
  • Cornelia, daughter – b. 1879 Mich.

    1881 – Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • Wright, Hamilton M. - lawyer 13 Watson Block foot Center, res s e cor Lincoln ave and 18th.

    1896 – Michigan Deaths: Bay City.

  • Cornelia F. Wright died Sept. 14, 1896, daughter of Hamiliton and Anna D. Wright.


  • Hamilton M. Wright was serving as mayor (1895-97) of Bay City that year when the present City Hall was dedicated.

    1900 – Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Wright, Hamilton M. - b. Oct. 1851 Louisiana
  • Annie D., wife – b. Apr. 1850 Mich.
  • Sybile, daughter – b. Feb. 1878, Conn.
  • Carroll, son – b. 1866 Tenn.
  • Lyda, daughter – b. 1888 N.Y.
  • William, son – b. 1891 Mich.

    1902 – Michigan Marriages: Bay City.

  • Date: April 22, 1902.
  • Groom: George S. Mclandress – b. 1874 Ontario, son of Duncan Mclandress and Sarah Adams.
  • Bride: Sybil K. Wright – 1877 New Haven, daughter of Hamilton Wright and Annie Fitzhugh.

    1905 – History of Bay County, Mich. - 1905.

  • Hamilton M. Wright's wife, Anne Dana Fitzhugh, was daughter of William D. Fitzhugh and Anne Carroll.
  • Hamilton M. Wright, probate judge (1888-89) and was elected treasurer of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, when it was organized in 1888.

    1906 - Michigan Alumnus, Vol. 12.

  • (son) Hamilton M. Wright, '94-'95, of San Francisco, Calif., who is a member of the California Promotion Committee, started for China a few weeks ago to work in the interests of the committee of Hong Kong.
Related Pages/Notes

Hon. H.M. Wright

Related Pages:
Campbell, Daniel
People Referenced
Adams, Sarah
Campbell, Daniel
Campbell, Samuel E.
Carroll, Anne
Drake, Carl
Emmet, Robert
Emmet, Thomas A.
Hamilton, Mercer
Huckins, Virginia (mother)
Kane, Elisha K.
Kane, Thomas L.
Fitzhugh, Anne D. (wife)
Fitzhugh, Wm. D.
McLandress, Duncan
McLandress, Geo. S.
O'Brien, Margarette
Schofield, Windsor
Wright, Alida (dau)
Wright, Anne V. (dau)
Wright, Archibald (son)
Wright, Cornelia (dau)
Wright, Hamilton M. (father)
Wright, Hamilton M. (subj.)
Wright, Hamilton M. Jr. (son)
Wright, Isaac (g-father)
Wright, Nina (sis)
Wright, Sybil K. (dau)
Wright, Wm. E. (son)
Subjects Referenced
Albuquerque, NM
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Cheltenham, Eng.
Civil War
Dinan Brittany, France
Dutchess Co., NY
Geneva, Switzerland
Heidelberg, Germany
Kane, PA
McKean Co., PA
New Haven, CT
New Orleans, LA
Oakland, CA
Pisa, Italy
Point Lookout, MI
Rugby, TN
Saginaw Bay, MI
Tasker & McDonald
Yale Univ.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.