The Cemetery Series No. 12 – Barren County, Kentucky and Uberto Wright
By Terry Gardner
Thanksgiving 2011 was a spectacularly beautiful day in south central Kentucky. I found myself visiting my wife’s relatives near Tompkinsville, Kentucky and not far from where one of Ligon’s men was reputed buried near the mostly long lost hamlet of Dry Fork, Kentucky. Having no sense of direction myself, I secured the services of my nephew, Jason Thompson, whose sense of direction would make even Daniel Boone green with envy.
In a very short time Jason had directed me to Kentucky 249 and we were headed north into Barren County in the direction of Glasgow. We drove out of Monroe County and three or four miles into Barren County. Before long we came to a lovely country lane labeled Dover Church Road and turned right heading east. After about 3.8 miles we came to C. Proffitt Road but remained on Dover Church Road for one more tenth of a mile when on the right side of the road appeared a small metal sign proclaiming “Smith’s Cemetery,” and found an arrow encouraging me to turn left into what looked like someone’s long driveway. I followed the sign’s direction and went about a tenth of mile down the drive when my nephew pointed to the distance and indicated he’d seen tomb stones in the distance. I think my nephew has a gift for tomb hunting!
After parking we walked about an eighth of mile across someone’s field (someone that I hoped did not own dogs or guns). Soon we came to The Smith Cemetery (I suppose this is the only Smith Cemetery in this County where those who played ball for THE Ohio State University may be buried …). It should be pointed out that there is another Smith Cemetery (where his nephew Jimmie D. Smith is buried) within about five miles of this Smith Cemetery so it does get confusing. Well, The Smith Cemetery is a lovely little country cemetery about as much in the middle of nowhere as any I’ve seen. It was surrounded by barbed wire, had lovely trees growing in its midst and lots of old head stones with the words “gone but not forgotten” carved into the cold stone. Of course most of folks buried here are now mostly long gone and long forgotten.
The largest and nicest stone belonged to Uberto Wright and his wife Susan J. Wright. The inscriptions on the stone for Uberto were, “Eld Uberto Wright; Born Jan. 2, 1813; Died Dec. 3 1889.” Then in fine type and almost unreadable was, “God gave – He took – He will restore. He doeth all things well. He is not dead but sleepeth.” In very bottom of the right hand corner of the stone it said, “J. W. Dearing, Glasgow.” I am assuming Dearing carved the stone. On the back of the stone it read, “Susan J.; Wife of Uberto Wright; Born Oct 9, 1823; Died Mar 12, 1903.
This journey started about a month ago when I met Uberto’s great, great, great grand-daughter over the internet, Bobby Dobbins. One of the Stone-Campbell Listers pointed me to Bobby’s blog, appropriately titled “Immortal Nobodies.” Bobby had blogged about her ancestor but had no picture of him. I pointed her to Hans Rollman’s web site where sat some of my work on Ligon’s including a photograph of Uberto Wright (though his last name appeared as “Right”). I long looked for information on Mr. Right when I should have been looking for the Wright stuff.
Well now that I had the right information I have found out a little bit about Uberto Wright: He wrote relatively frequently for the Gospel Advocate starting in at least 1868. He signed his articles “U. Wright.” In 1880 Wright took on Dr. T. W. Brents on the Foreknowledge of God. He was also the uncle to Jimmie D. Smith (also a Ligon’s man but buried in the “other” Smith Cemetery in Barren County). Jimmie D. Smith left us these memories of his Uncle:
Elder U. Wright, of Dry Fork, Ky., was born Jan. 3rd, 1813, and departed this life Dec. 31st, 1889.
Very few of his countrymen—even his neighbors—heard of his sickness until it was announced that he was dead, so the shock was very sudden and painful, and it could scarcely be realized by those most remote, since his life constituted a very important factor in the history of Barren (mis-printed in original as Bowen — TG) and two or three adjoining counties, having been a citizen of this community for forty years or more. A Thrill was caused to thrust every heart for miles around when the intelligence came that U. Wright was no more. He was held in high esteem by almost all that knew him, being a man of very positive character—firm in his convictions, resolute in his determinations, indomitable in energy, unswerving in his fidelity to truth, patriotic and philanthropic, aggressive in dealing with what he considered to be error. He was a man of great depth of thought, but few words. His judgment was generally well grounded, and then his counsel was anxiously sought in various departments. He filled some very responsible and honored positions in life.
He was for many years elder of the Dry Fork congregation, and a minister of the gospel for more than thirty-five years.
He ever labored to be true to himself, his family, his countrymen and his God, and was always ready to extend a helping hand to those in need, and condolence to the bereaved.
As a father, he was devoted to his children, laboring to rear them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and give them every advantage in his power, necessary to place them in the way of usefulness. He desired to benefit the world by the children with which God had blessed him, and hence his advice to them, as well as his neighbors’ children, was calculated to elevate, refine and purify rather then degrade, pollute and defile.
As a husband, he was devoted and affable, seeking the welfare and happiness of his affectionate consort.
As a neighbor, he was generous to a fault, ever ready to show his appreciation of those about him by giving his assistance in all departments characterized by neighborly deportment.
As an elder, he was grave and vigilant, ever working to and seeking for the interest and welfare of the church, and to this end he tried to fill the position by having the personal qualifications. He regarded not the right to Lord it over God’s heritage, but sought to governed by the love of God in teaching and discipline.
His counsel was seldom rejected by his associates because of his mature judgment and Bible knowledge.
As a minister, he was skilled in the word of truth, and was one of its most able defenders in all this section of the country. It was to this end the most and best of his life was devoted, having been a preacher for more than thirty-five years. He came from the Baptist church previous to entering the ministry.
He took his stand upon the Bible at a time when the cause was in its infancy in this country and much and hard work was demanded. Ever since the church called him forth, he has been ready to fly to the defense of the truth, and has fought many a hard battle, having engaged in two or three debates, in which the cause suffered no loss. He was ever ready to go where duty called him; he never faltered; he knew no defeat. His chief object in life was to honor and glorify his Creator, and benefit his fellow countrymen, and to this end he labored for many long years, suffering the many deprivations and sacrifices incident to the lives of must pioneer preachers.
He delivered his last discourse on Thursday night before he died upon, “The New Birth,” and notwithstanding his age it was a very able discourse.
He has fallen! A father in Israel is gone! The armor has been laid aside and who can take it up and bear it as nobly and worthily as he did? His life was characterized by as few faults as any man with whom we were ever acquainted.
He could claim as few enemies as any man that has filled as many positions in life, written as much for the press, and delivered many lectures and discourses. He has fought a good fight, finished his course, and left behind many relatives, friends, brethren and sisters to mourn his loss. He, though dead, will live for untold years in the hearts of his countrymen, beconing <<sic>> them onward and upward to the heights of true manhood and pure Christianity. Hundreds of hearts will beat in passive union while the gentle zephyrs chant requiems over the hillock that makes his resting place during the years yet unborn.
Children have [lost] a generous and loving father, a wife has lost a true and devoted husband. The community has lost one of its best citizens and neighbors. The world has lost a real benefactor. The church has lost one of its most noble and able ministers.
The funeral services were conducted at the residence in the presence of a large crowd of sorrowing friends on the 3rd inst., his 77th anniversary, by the writer, and the remains were interred the following day.
Well may his children, relatives and friends strive to imitate his example, that, when the storms shall have subsided, the din of battle ceased and the smoke cleared away, it may be the happy lot of all to meet him on the golden paved streets of the New Jerusalem, where, as one united band, we can swell the mighty chorus of the innumerable company that have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Then sleep on, dear uncle, and beloved brother, till the work of redemption is over, and time is declared to be no more, then do we hope to stand again with you, not in the proclamation of the gospel, but in shouting praises to our God, dwelling in the full and rich fruition of those things we so ardently desired while co-laboring here in the Master’s vineyard. Notwithstanding it seems we are left alone to fight the battles, it shall be our chief desire and effort to use the Spirit’s sword with renewed energy and zeal till called upon to lay aside the armor, bid adieu to the glad scenes of life, a long, final farewell to dear ones, cross over the river where, in fancy, dear ones are “watching and waiting to welcome us home.” – J. D. S.
All the best,
Source: Elder U. Wright, By: J. D. S. (a/k/a Jimmie D. Smith) Gospel Advocate, Vol. 32, No. 6 (February 5, 1890): 82-83.
Directions To The Grave of Uberto Wright
From Glasgow, Kentucky, head south on Hwy 249. Go 7.5 miles and turn left on Caney Fork Rd. which becomes Dover Church Rd. When the road takes a hard turn to the left, you will come to B.C. Proffitt Rd. Just past, about 1/10 mile you will see the sign on the right for Smith Cemetery. It will be pointing to your left. So, head up the private driveway, and park at the barn toward the rear of the property. Look up to your right across at the end of a hedge row and you will see Smith Cemetery up under the trees. The Wright plot will be in the cemetery.
or D.d. 36.804668, -85.886068
Photos Taken 11.24.2011
Courtesy of Scott Harp/Terry J. Gardner
Special Thanks to Terry J. Gardner for his research into the preachers represented on the Ligon Portraiture of which Uberto (Right) Wright is a member. As the article above mentions, he visited the Smith Cemetery in November, 2011. We are also thankful for locating the grave, and providing the article above.