He was not a scholarly man, but spoke and wrote his
vernacular correctly. I do not know what educational advantages he
enjoyed, but he was an educated man only in the sense that he was trained
to think accurately and investigate earnestly. He read much and thought
profoundly. As a preacher he was argumentative and logical, as an exhorter
he was not excelled, even in those days of splendid exhorters.
In more recent times preachers have greatly improved in
their ability to reach the heads of their audiences, but many most
successful in this direction are greatly wanting in " heart
power," and while they convince they do not always move.
Allen Wright convinced the judgment and moved the
heart. He was at the time of which I have spoken still a young man, and
quite poor, with a growing family around him. He toiled in the field
during the week, and preached on Saturday night and Sunday, at such points
as were accessible, and returned to his labor on Monday morning. He often
yielded, however, to the entreaties of the people and preached the
unsearchable riches of Christ to them while the plow stood still in the
field. He preached without salary, and for the most part in those days
without compensation. I recall one scene which deeply touched my heart,
young as I then was. He had preached for several days and was about to
take leave of us. We had followed him out to the style-blocks to bid him
good-bye. My father drew out his pocket-book and divided the scanty purse
with the dear preacher, whom we all loved devotedly. The great tears came
into the preacher's eyes. His voice was husky with emotion, as he said:
"I thank you, Brother Ben; this will be a great comfort to my dear
wife." Then, somewhat recovered, he said almost gleefully, "I
think if anybody on this earth deserves to go to heaven, it is my wife,
who remains at home and cares for the children, while I am away preaching,
and Bally (pointing to his horse) who carries me to my appointments."
He continued to preach quite extensively over Randolph,
Macon and Howard counties, making occasional visits into the counties on
the south side of the Missouri river. During these years he was remarkably
successful, baptizing many and establishing churches.
In 1841 he removed to Green county and located not far
from Springfield, on a farm, where he remained until the death of his
wife, on the 23d day of March, 1843. During, the years he resided there he
preached as he had opportunity, and planted many congregations in
southwest Missouri. After the death of his wife he spent three years as
an evangelist under the direction of the State Meeting, as it was then
By his first wife
he had three sons that reached
manhood, James N., Joseph B. and Spencer P., the eldest and youngest
of whom are still living, and actively engaged in the gospel ministry.
In 1846 he located in Georgetown, in Pettis county,
where, on December 22d, same year, he married Miss Lydia Virginia Fristoe.
In all these years he was quite successful. In Southwest Missouri he
cooperated extensively with that prince among men, Joel H. Hayden. Large congregations greeted him wherever he
went. In almost every meeting persons confessed the Savior, and
congregations were built up. While laboring in this region an incident
occurred which illustrates the character of the times and the courage of
At a meeting held perhaps in a grove, two young ladies
made themselves quite conspicuous and greatly disturbed the congregation,
in much to the annoyance of the preacher. He therefore reproved them
sharply in very plain language. The next morning he started on his way to
a neighboring town. While passing through a dense wood, a young man dashed
up behind him and announced that he was the brother of the young ladies
whom he had so severely reproved, and that he had come to punish him for
the offence, that he must get down from his horse and fight him. The
preacher remonstrated, argued, entreated and almost begged. He told him
that he was a man of peace and did not want the disgrace of a fight. The
young man was incorrigible, so the preacher alighted, tied his horse by
the wayside, removed his coat and announced himself ready. The young man
rushed upon him, was in an instant knocked sprawling on the ground. In
another instant the preacher was upon him and administered to him a severe
chastisement. At length the young man cried enough, and was released. The
preacher then said "Young man, I bear you no malice; you forced
this battle on me; you have been badly worsted. Now if you will never
tell it I will not," and he did not, till just before his death, and
then he would give no name. He always felt, he said, that he returned
good for evil, for he made a decent man out of that young fellow.
Shortly after his second marriage
he removed to
Lexington, and became the pastor of the church there. This was perhaps the
first church in the state to employ all a preacher's time. Here he
remained for more than ten years. Though the pastor of the church, he was
permitted to spend much of his time evangelizing. Here he had more time
for reading and better opportunities to secure good books than he had
before enjoyed. He had already become a fine speaker and a man of great
influence among the churches. He soon became a recognized leader, and one
of the ablest men in the state in his church.
His ministry in Lexington was much of the time under
circumstances "that tried men's souls," and under which a
weaker man would have failed utterly, but he secured the affection of his
brethren and commanded the respect of the entire community. His
influence was felt for good throughout all that region of country, having
preached for all the churches more or less, and having secured a strong
personal influence in all of them. It was here he lost his second wife,
(who died May 24th, 1857,) by whom he had two children, Allen Wright, Jr.,
and Ella V., the last named having crossed "over the dark
After the death of his second wife he again became an
evangelist. He visited his son James N., who was then devoting his whole
time to the church in Barry, Pike county, Illinois. On his return he held
a meeting in Hannibal, which resulted in forty-five accessions to the
church, including the mayor of the city and his family.
In the fall of 1858, or early in 1859, he married
Lizzie R. De Jarnett, of Pettis county. He then bought a farm in the
county and began to preach in the region round about. During the summer of
1859 his health began to fail. He, with his wife, made a visit to
Republican Church, in LaFayette county in the summer of 1860. While there
he was taken sick at the house of his old friend and brother, Anderson
Warren. He could not have fallen into kinder hands, nor among a people who
loved him better, but notwithstanding all that loving hands and skillful
physicians could do, his sickness proved to be "unto death."
He passed away on the 19th day of July, 1860, mourned by thousands who had
come into the kingdom of God through his influence. Brother
of Dover, Missouri, and the writer, were called to attend his funeral. A
large. audience was present at the old Republican Church, and all wept and
mourned him as if he had been a member of their own household. His devoted
brethren there claimed his body, as he had organized their church. They
laid it away to rest only a few feet from the pulpit where he had so
often preached the gospel. They also erected a neat monument to his
memory and there his dust sleeps.
Rest, my dear brother, the first man whom I remember as
a preacher of the gospel, and whom I shall hope to see first among the
redeemed of the Lord, if he shall count me righteous for Christ's sake,
and permit me to enter in through the gates into the city.
--Historical And Biographical Sketches Of The Early
Churches And Pioneer Preachers Of The Christian Church In Missouri, by T.P.
Haley, Christian Publishing Co. St. Louis, MO c.1888 p. 101-107 -
Reprinted Hester Publications, Henderson, TN.
Of The Grave Of Allen Wright
The city of Higginsville, Missouri lies just
east of Kansas City in the northwestern part of the state. Traveling east
on I-70 from Kansas City, go to Exit 49, Hwy. 13 and head north six miles
Higginsville. In town turn right on Hwy. 213. Go to Hwy. T (Aullville Rd.)
and turn right. Heading out of town the road will turn to the south. Just
a couple miles out of town you will pass County Rd. 209. Just past CO209
look to your right. The Old Republican Cemetery will be on your right. The
church building where Wright preached his last sermon no longer stands,
but was on the property adjacent to the cemetery. Wright's grave will be
in the cemetery.
N 39º 516' x W 93º 41 738'
In Memory Of
A Preacher Of The
Fell Asleep In Jesus
July 19, 1860
Aged 50 Ys. & 8 Ms.
Note: Special Thanks To
Bill Goring, preacher in Kansas City, Mo. For Providing Information & Picture Of
The Gravesite Of Allen Wright. Bill Was Born In Higginsville, Mo.