John B. Wright House, Circa 1799, Johnson County

Located in the Buckeye community of Johnson County is one of the oldest houses in South Georgia. John  B. Wright was a wealthy landowner, noted as the fifth largest slaveholder in the state, and also a legislator. He’s best remembered as the namesake of Wrightsville, as he gave $1000 toward the founding of a new town which would become the seat of Johnson County, established in 1866.  The house is vernacular in style, and the somewhat unusual second floor with its shuttered windows was used for storage. The house has apparently never been painted, either. In his seminal Architecture of Middle Georgia: The Oconee Area, John Linley noted in 1972: “Evidently, Mr. Wright never forsook his modest way of living: the house is still simple and sturdy, and far from pretentious.” Linley also noted that slave dwellings were still scattered on the property in 1972.

Wright also introduced legislation allowing women the right to inherit land as individuals as opposed to relinquishing their land to husbands, as was the practice of the day. This was due to the fact that Mr. Wright had three daughters and no sons and wanted his vast landholdings to remain within his family.

The John D. Phillips family occupied the house from 1912 onward. I’m grateful for permission to photograph it.




44 thoughts on “John B. Wright House, Circa 1799, Johnson County

  1. Michael Mahler

    Hi, I have an 1869 order to pay from John B. Wright to cotton factors L.J. Guilmartin of Savannah, headed “Buck-Eye Ga,” signed by him, for $800 to Dr. H. Fisher. Guilmartin & Co. affixed and cancelled a 2c tax stamp as required by law. Happy to send a scan if you provide an address. Cotton factors fronted funds to land-rich but cash-poor planters to enable them to bring in their crops, in return for a lien on the crops when harvested. Many of these orders came from out-of-the-way places like “Buck-Eye,” then rode out the decades in the Guilmartin archives, before finally reaching collectors’ hands. I am delighted to find the info here to “bring this document to life”!

  2. Lakeela Hicks

    Do you have any information on the slaves that was on this property? I am researching my family tree and I believe my 5th great grandfather George wright was a slave on this property. I have not been able to find his parents. He was born around 1828.

    1. Keri

      I’m also interested in this information. I am researching one of the founders of the Melbourne, Florida city – who was a black freedman from Georgia. His name was Peter Wright and he had a brother named Dick Wright. Through my research I’ve seen that there are men who are about the ages that I would expect for each of these men to have been at the time of the 1870 census for this county (on different pages, but there were MANY Wrights listed). Is it known when/how Wright’s slaves became free (Did most leave after the Civil War? Did some stay on as slaves? Did they stay to work?)? Any information would be helpful. Thank you!

    2. Catherine Reese

      I will try to find some info for you. John B Wright was my GGGrandfather. I have family records that I’ll try to explore once out of storage.

      1. Sandra Dixon

        My great grandfather, Andrew Miller Wright was a son of John B. Wright by one of his enslaved girls. If possible I would like to see his records. It’s my understanding that Miller(Andrew) grew up in this house because John’s sons by his wife Mourning lost their lives at young ages.

  3. Frances W Neal

    I just saw where Beverly Kennedy was your grandfather. He was a pallbearer at Frances Kennedy Farrell’s funeral. So Robert T, Kennedy (Frances’ father) must be related to y’all?

  4. Rachel L Green

    Does anybody know who John B. Wright’s wife was? And if they have any more information regarding his family (or anything in general) that would greatly appreciated.

    1. Chris Alexander

      Rachel, he had two wives. His First was Mourning Smith from Washington County. After she passed away he married Beann Snell who was from Emanuel County. He was elderly at that point and passed away soon after his second marriage. He had 3 documented male heirs that all passed away early in life. He had several daughters who all married and had offspring. I descend from his second daughter. Chris Alexander

      1. Chris Alexander

        I am sure that there are Wright Family pictures in the possession of living decedents. Regarding slave records, I am not aware of any. I have found the slave census’s from 1850 and 1860. They are available on line.

      2. Catherine Reese

        I’ll need to check out my history information. I have tons of family documents and deeds, etc. john B Wright was my great great grandfather. I knew about his wife Mourning, but not a second wife. My grandmother was Nannie Lee Martin (married George Bryant Dunlap) Their children were Dorothy Dunlap (Sandifer), George Dunlap and Nanelle Dunlap (Frost). Stay tuned.

    1. wordzenpix

      I have extensive photos of the interior as well as the woman who was still living there when we visited in the 2000s. I’ll dig them up and post them online if they allow links to be added to this site. We’re related but I’ll need to dig up the family tree, said to be my great-great. My grandmother was Nanelle Dunlap, Wrightsville GA. Bill Sandifer, Raleigh NC

  5. Michelle

    John B Wright is my great-great-great grandfather. My dad is John B Kennedy of Wrightsville and he has many stories of John B Wright and some items that belonged to him that were passed down through his family over all the years. He would love to visit this property if at all possible.

      1. Frances W Neal

        Michelle, were your Kennedy relatives related to Robert T. Kennedy (1872-1908)? He was my grandmother’s first husband. They had a daughter, Frances Kennedy Farrell (1902-1946). Both Robert T. and Frances are buried at Westview Cemetery.

  6. Jason Brister

    Great old home, thanks for sharing. I recently discovered Linley’s book and can’t wait to read my new copy. I cheated, though, and went straight to the entry on the Alfred Cuthbert home in Jasper co.

  7. Chris Alexander

    I can verify that John B. had an Uncle William. I question the story of the Land grant he supposedly received from the King of England in Laurens Co. Ga considering Laurens was formed in 1807, about 30 years after the Revolutionary War and it was named for a Colonial Colonel from SC.

    I am also not aware of John B. having any siblings. Any verification would be appreciated.

    Chris Alexander

    1. Stephanie Watkins

      To Chris Alexander,

      There is a Laurens County in South Carolina where he and/or his ancestors may have come from and well as Wrights in Maryland.

      1. Chris Alexander

        Before they move to Georgia they were in North Carolina. I guess it is possible they may have stopped in SC along the way and may have received a grant from the Crown pre revolution.

  8. Thelma Wright Brown

    I would like to find out more about John B. Wright. Where did he come to Georgia from? Did he come alone or did he have brothers that came also!
    My Great Grandfather was William Wright who came to Georgia and had a grant from King George for a sizeable amount of Land. He settled in Laurens County. A portion of the land is still in the Wright Family. If anyone has this info I would love to know.

    1. Jean

      John B. Wright is in my Wright lines. His father was John M. Wright of Bulloch County, Ga. His brother was my great grandfather James Washington Wright. Looking for information on my Wrights.

      1. Frances

        John B. Wright was my Great-Great Grandfather. I am also interested in learning more about my Wright lines.

    2. Brian Brown Post author

      I wish I knew more about him, too, Thelma. I wouldn’t be surprised if your ancestors weren’t related, especially with such a large land grant!

    3. Chris Wright

      I would love to get in touch and see if our Wright lines somehow intersect… Where in Laurens is this property you speak of? My Wright line hails from Toombsboro, Ga just north of Laurens county just inside Wilkinson County, where we’re still holding a piece of land from the 1850’s… the farmhouse was built in 1860 and is still standing… i’m running into a brick wall at my great grandfather and cannot seem to break thru… thanks!


    This indeed is a very important structure. The Linley book of achitecture of the middle Oconee is a treasure and I have enjoyed it since buying it at Rich’s in Atlanta in the early ’70s.


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