The Wright property originally consisted of about 800 acres which was claimed by brothers James and Joshua Wright in about 1772. They moved with their wives and extended family to Peters Creek from what is now Rockingham County, Virginia. At the time of the Wright’s move, the area was claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. The dispute was not settled until after the American Revolution when the Mason-Dixon line was finally established in 1781.
James sold his half to Joshua and moved to Kentucky. Joshua sold that 400 acres to his brother-in-law, Daniel Townsend. When Joshua died in 1781 on a trip down the Ohio River, his land was divided among his three children.
The Wright families occupied log dwellings on the property until Enoch Wright built the Wright House in 1815/16. Enoch was the son of Joshua and his wife, Charity Sawin. The house was designed for two families with a kitchen at each end. It was originally occupied by Enoch, his wife Rachel James, and possibly his mother on one side. Enoch and Rachel’s only child, Rev. Joseph Wright, his wife, Catherine Hopkins, and their children lived on the other side of the house until about 1838. Enoch died in 1846 and Rachel died in 1860. Enoch willed the house and land to his oldest grandson, Joshua Enoch Wright, who lived there until 1861. After that the house became rental property.
Joshua Enoch inherited a prosperous 200 acre working farm. Until the 1950s, there was a large barn on the hill behind the house. The drinking water source for the house was a spring across the road. Later, wash water came via a pipe from a cistern which collected water off the barn roof. At one time there was a well in the back yard.
Bricks for the house were formed and fired on site, as was commonly done years ago. The harder bricks were used on the exterior walls; the softer ones were used to construct the inside walls. You can see a cutaway of this construction in the east parlor off the front hall. In that “time window” you can also see a little of the horsehair that was used in the plaster in that era. If you stand in the hallway upstairs and look up, you will see a framed opening in the ceiling. This is another example of the construction techniques used years ago.
When furnaces were installed, all twelve fireplaces in the house—one in each room—were covered and sealed closed to keep the precious heat from going up the chimneys. Several hearths have been re-opened since the house came into the possession of the Peters Creek Historical Society in 1976. Others will be revealed as old-time fireplace grates and fenders become available.
There are a couple of other interesting architectural details about the Wright House. There is a room containing a small fireplace over each kitchen that is not accessible from anywhere inside the House. These rooms can only be reached by enclosed stairways that lead from outside doorways that face the back yard. Because of the Wrights’ strong stand against slavery, we know that the rooms were not slave quarters, so they probably were for itinerant farm help. It has been suggested that they could also have been used to conceal runaway slaves as a station on the “Underground Railway” although there is no evidence to substantiate this.
Another interesting feature of the house is not usually shown to visitors. At the time the house was built, there was no fire-proof roofing material. With so many fireplaces in constant use, chimney fires were a common occurrence. There is a stairway in the attic that formerly provided quick access to the roof through a trap door so that any fire could be promptly doused. The trap door was eliminated when the present roof was installed many years ago.
One room upstairs is filled with a miniature coal mining display and a large collection of items that were used in area mines years ago. A wooden bird cage is included since canaries were used to alert the miners to dangerous gases. The Society accepted this collection for display because it is appropriate to the region and is such a faithful representation of room-and-pillar mining as it was done before the introduction of machinery or the drafting of safety measures. Mr. William Jenkins, a local retired coal miner, assembled the collection. It was given to the Society by his heirs in 1980. There was a working coal mine in the 1880s on the Wright property. Additional strip mining continued into the 1950s.
A display case in the upstairs hallway exhibits many Indian arrowheads that have been found in this area. There was a great deal of Indian activity in the late 1700s. In fact, both James and Joshua Wright were captains in the local militia protecting pioneer families from Indian attacks. Some of the local roads were originally Indian trails. There is also an exceptional collection of ancient mound-builder tools which were recovered from an archaeological dig of a local Indian burial mound.
Charity Wright was the youngest of Joseph and Catherine’s eleven children. She was born and lived her entire life in a nearby house, which is also on land that was originally claimed by Joshua. Her bedroom furniture and two upholstered chairs in one of the parlors are the only furniture in the house that belonged to the Wright family. Our present furnishings have either been donated or are on loan from members of the Society. One of the upstairs bedrooms has been converted into a library which now contains many old books and periodicals including some that belonged to Joseph Wright. Genealogies of many local families and old cemetery records are also stored there.
In 1976, Hannah and Kathryn Marvin, who had inherited the Wright House from Charity’s daughter, gave the Society the house and one and a third acres. Tours are available spring through fall by appointment. For tours or information on the Peters Creek Historical Society, its mission, current activities, meetings or becoming a member, call