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WILLIAM WILEY WRIGHT
(September 27, 1894 ~ February 5, 1918)
(World War 1 ~ Fallen Hero from Wright City, OK)
PVT William Wiley Wright was born September 27, 1894 in Jenson, Sebastian County, Arkansas, the son of James Marion "Jim" Wright and Louiza Jane (Blackwood) Wright. William was reared in the Jenson and Gillham, Arkansas areas.
His father was a school teacher and a Justice of the Peace. In 1915, when young William was twenty (20) years old, the Wright Family moved from Arkansas to Bismark, McCurtain County, Oklahoma. William took a job at Dierks Lumber Mill which was established about 1910. With the beginning of the Dierks Lumber Mill, the town was also established and named Bismark by the Dierks Brothers. They named it after Bismark, North Dakota, where they had operated a mill before the turn of the century.
William Wiley Wright was drafted and joined the U.S. Army in 1917. An early enlistee, Wright was trained and ready to go with the first troops of the American Expeditionary Force to Europe to join the "Big War."
He was aboard the British Steamship, Tuscania, enroute to France, in February of 1918, when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sunk off the coast of Ireland. The steamship was serving as a transport for American Troops. When the ship was sunk, there were 2,179 U.S. Troops aboard; 1,912 survived and 260 men were lost.
Thus, PVT William Wiley Wright, age 23, a former Bismark, OK resident, became the first U.S. soldier from McCurtain County to die as a result of enemy action in World War 1.
In the meantime, pressure had increased from the Bismark, OK townspeople to give the mill town a new name. They wanted to get rid of the name "Bismark" to avoid any association with Germany. The Dierks Brothers agreed to change the town's name to "Wright, OK" honoring the town's first war fallen hero, PVT William Wiley Wright. On September 13, 1918, the U.S. Post Office Dept. issued a new charter, changing the name to "Wright, OK." There were soon complaints that the Post Office dept. was confusing the new Wright with other Oklahoma communities named "Wright" and "Wrightsville."
So on May 18, 1920 another postal directive changed the town's name from Wright, OK to "Wright City, Oklahoma," by which name it remains today.
PVT William Wiley Wright's Paternal grandparents were Wylie J. Wright and Martha Ann (Jordan) Wright, and his Maternal grandparents were John M. Blackwood and Eliza I. (Stinnett) Blackwood.
PVT William Wiley Wright's siblings were Lona Mae (Wright) Thomas, Adeline Wright, Laura Alameda Wright, Lea Essie Wright, Joseph Herman Wright, Florence Abigail Wright, Nova Ola Pearl Wright and Loach Mark Wright.
The town of "Wright City, McCurtain County, OK" still exists today, with Fallen Hero, William Wiley Wright's namesake.
Dear Mr. Amburgy.
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We suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and before 1959 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138-1002. Veterans and their next of kin also may use eVetRecs to request records. See eVetRecs Help for instructions. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.
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Thank you so much for your information. The American Legion in Wright City, Oklahoma reached out to me to find this information and I reached out to you. Your information is sufficient to complete their project. Thank you!!