WRIGHT, John - I25627

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John Wright
Wright's Mill and Shipyards

John Wright was born in Scotland and arrived in Australia in May 1860. In 1864, he married Australian born Catherine Gill. According to June Wright—the keeper of the Wright family records, whose husband, Max, is the great-grandson of the original John Wright—John always dreamed of building ships. He built at least three ships with a partner named Claude Rodger in the town of Bungwahl, in the mid north coast region of New South Wales, before selling his share and heading further north. According to June Wright; John walked to Forster, 25 miles (40 km) north of Bungwahl, to visit a friend named Wylie Breckenridge. Wylie was the first white settler in the Great Lakes area, located 190 miles (306 km) north of Sydney. During his visit, Wylie loaned John a rowboat, and he rowed out and saw the lakes, the entrance to the ocean, and the abundance of trees, he soon realized it was an ideal place to build ships. John decided to settle in the Great Lakes region just north of Forster and named it Tuncurry—an Aboriginal name for “plenty of fish.” He took out a 99-year lease

The Tuncurry II

on a waterfront property and built a timber mill, shipyard, a slipway, and other associated buildings. By the early 1880’s ship building was well underway in Tuncurry. The first boat he built was the “Stanley,” which carried timber to Sydney and returned with general cargo. John Wright and Son Shipyards went on to build many ships. John’s son, Ernest, successfully continued the shipbuilding business after his father’s death, and another son, Sidney Garden Wright (who married the Prophet Joseph Smith's granddaughter through Alexander Hale, Ina Inez Smith), managed a large sawmill known as Avalon Mill. The company continued as a successful business until 1958.[1]

Reorganized Church Arrives in Tuncurry

John Wright was a devout Presbyterian, and after settling in Tuncurry in 1875, he began holding church services in the laundry at the back of his little house. Every denomination was welcome—Baptists and Catholics and Church of England. There were no other churches in the area, and John ran the services for some considerable time. According to June, John’s first partner, Claude Rodger had a brother living in America, who had joined the “Mormon Church,” but he broke away from the “Mormons” and joined the Reorganised Church. He later came to Australia as a missionary, and before long, John was converted to that faith. In 1910, when John built a proper church house, it became the Reorganised Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.[2]

Sidney Garden Wright and Ina Inez Smith

Jonathan and Catherine Wright taken 1908

John and Catherine were blessed with ten children, including Sidney Garden Wright. The Wrights felt that their children should receive a good education, and Sidney was sent to a prestigious private school in Sydney called Newington College. Sidney excelled academically and as a sports man, winning many awards. At the conclusion of his studies, Sidney was encouraged to become a missionary for the Reorganized Church. He soon left for the United States to do just that. As a missionary, he traveled to a number of American states and participated in various church conferences, but he became homesick and disillusioned, and told his leaders that he was thinking of returning to Australia.

While visiting the home of Alexander Hale Smith, he met Ina Inez Smith, one of Alexander’s daughters. She was a beautiful redhead and they soon became smitten with each other. Sidney was still homesick for Australia and his family, but he didn't want to leave Ina. He asked for her hand in marriage and she accepted. Following their marriage in Lamoni, Iowa, he took his sweetheart to Australia in 1890. Sidney promised her parents, Alexander and Elizabeth Smith, that he would try and send Ina back every two years. However, it was actually twenty years and ten children later that Ina was able to return to Nauvoo, Illinois—the place she once called home.

According to June Wright, life was initially tough for the newlyweds as they settled in the Tuncurry area of New South Wales. Loneliness was a big problem for Ina. The closest small town was 20 miles (32 km) away, and the only friends she had during the day were their horses and the many native birds, but she settled in fantastically. Sidney and Ina had a total of ten children. In time, as Sidney’s timber business began to thrive, they hired a governess to teach the children, and were able to purchase other creature comforts for their home.


  1. Marian Mayfield Wright, born in Macquarie, NSW, Australia about 1864; married about 1878 in Taree, NSW, Australia to Claude Lapsley McLaren (son of Thomas McLarend (1840 - 1887) and Catherine Lapslay (1837 - 1900). Marian⧼NAME⧽ died 4 Mar 1865 in Port Stephens, NSW, Australia and Claude died 15 Apr 1943 in Taree.
  2. Sidney Garden Wright, born in 26 Jul 1869 at Boolambatyte, NSW, Australia; married Ina Inez Smith (daughter of Alexander Hale Smith and Elizabeth Agnes Kendall) in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois on 22 Nov 1866. They had 10 children listed below. Sidney died 8 Aug 1936 in Nabia, NSW, Australia and Ina died Chatswood, NSW, Australia
  3. Alice Wright born about 1871 in Macquarie, NSW, Australia and died 1877 in Macquarie.
  4. John Wright born about 1872 in Macquarie, NSW, Australia and also died in 1877 in Macquarie.
  5. Edwin Ernest Wright born 9 Oct 1874 in NSW, Australia (local unknown); married to Alicia Elizabeth Edwards date and location of marriage is unknow. Alicia's birth is unknown, she died 27 Oct 1962 and location unknown. Edwin died 4 Apr 1964, location unknown.
  6. Josephine Wright born about 1877 in Macquarie, NSW, Australia marriage unknown. She died in 1966 location unknown.
  7. Cloudesley Wright born about 1880 in Macquarie, NSW, Australia marriage unknown. He died 1950 location unknown.
  8. Henry Wright born about 1882 in Macquarie, NSW, Australia marriage unknown. He died 1948 location unknown.
  9. Stanley Wright born about 1885 in Macquarie, NSW, Australia, marriage unknown. He died 1955 location unknown.
  10. Annie Wright born about 1886 in Macquarie, NSW, Australia, marriage unknown. She died 1959 location unknown.

Sidney and Ina's Descendants

Sidney Garden Wright
Ina Inez Smith Wright

As a result of this union, as of June 2006, Sidney and Ina’s descendants numbered over 300. Although most of them still live in the Great Lakes area of New South Wales, various family members have spread to almost every state in Australia, and account for one third of all the direct descendants of the Prophet Joseph Smith.[3]

Sid and Ina Wright

Sidney, who was born on July 26, 1869, passed away on August 8, 1936, and was buried in Tuncurry General Cemetery. Ina Enez Smith Wright, who was born November 22, 1866 passed away nine years later, on August 19, 1945, and was laid to rest next to her husband.[4] Although Sidney and Ina raised their children as members of the Reorganized Church, nowadays very few of their descendants are active in that church. Like their cousins in the United States, most of them have since joined other religious denominations.


  1. Claud Kendall Wright born 22 Nov 1866 in Tuncurry, NSW, Australia; married Margaret Selina Lillian Holstein (daughter of George Holstein (1861 - 1949) and Elizabeth Hardy (1861 - 1940) on 10 Jul 1923 in Nabiac, NSW, Australia. They had two sons. Margaret was born 5 Sep 1899 in Gloucestershire, NSW, Australia. Claud died in Bellingen, NSW, Australia on 6 Oct 1972 and Margaret on 25 Jan 1986 in Nambucca, New South Wales, Australia.
  2. Vida Grace Wright, born 22 Apr 1893 in Avalon, NSW, Australia; married Dennis Joseph Fethers 2 Aug 1924 in Sydney, NSW, Australia (son of Dennis Fethers Sr. (1860 - ) and Bridget Sexton (1861 - ). They had one son and one daughter. Dennis was born 1 Dec 1882 in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Vida died 11 Jul 1970 in Sydney, NSW, Australia and Dennis on 6 Aug 1933 in Mayfield, NSW, Australia.
  3. Leland Eric Wright born 30 Dec 1895 in Avalon, NSW, Australia; married Annie Violet Alma Owen in Teralba, NSW, Australia on 31 Jul 1929. They had 7 children, 5 sons and 2 daughters. Annie was born 22 Aug 1906 in Toronto, NSW, Australia. Le, as he was known, died 11 Nov 1977 in Taree, NSW, Australia and Anniedied 22 Oct 1970 in Taree, NSW, Australia.
  4. Mavis Myra Wright born 30 Dec 1897 in Avalon, NSW, Australia; married Thomas James Gleeson (son of David Gleeson (1859 - 1910) and Mary Mulqueeny (1871 - )in Newcastle, NSW, Australia on 27 Apr 1917. They had 2 sons. Thomas was born 29 Jul 1897 at Islington, NSW, Australia. Mavis died 15 Aug 1960 in Tarro, NSW, Australia and Thomas on 20 Oct 1971 also in Tarro.
  5. Warren Alford Wright, born 28 Mary 1899 in Avalon, NSW, Australia; married Annie Gwendoline Temple (daughter of William Temple (1864 - 1931) and Elizabeth Ross (1875 - 1957) in Nabiac, NSW, Australia on 30 Dec 1925. They had one son and one daughter. Annie was born on 30 Dec 1902 at Nyngan, NSW, Australia. Warren died 26 Feb 1980 in Taree, NSW, Australia and Annie on 19 Aug 1990 also in Taree.
  6. Edgar Milton Wright, born 1 May 1901 in Dyers Crossing, NSW, Australia; married Jean McLachlan Lackie (daughter of Joseph Lackie (1880 - ) and Jean McClaughlan (1881 - ) in Gloucestershire, NSW, Australia on 26 Sep 1921. They had 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters. Jean was born on 13 Jan 1902 at Broxburn, Lothian, Scotland. Edgar died 2 May 1961 in Taree, NSW, Australia and Jean died on 20 Sep 1970 also in Taree.
  7. Glory Carmen Wright, born 14 Aug 1903 in Avalon, NSW, Australia; married Frederick Holland Glasscock in Sydney, NSW, Australia. They had one son and one daughter. Frederick was born 11 Aug 1902 at Sydney, NSW, Australia. Frederick died 27 Feb 1982 in NSW, Australia and Glory died 4 Nov 1968 in Sydney.
  8. Byron Granville Wright, born 19 Feb 1906 in Tuncurry, NSW, Australia; married in 1935 Chatswood, NSW, Australia to Annie Nee Lackie. They had 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. Annie was born on 19 Jun 1906 at Broxburn, Glascow, Scotland. Byron died 3 Nov 1974 in Nabiac, NSW, Australia and Annie died 11 Sep 1990 in Sydney.
  9. Marian Inez Wright, born 17 Nov 1907 in Avalon, NSW, Australia; married Leonard Cyril Ballard (son of Amos Wiseman Ballard (1845 - 1950) and Eva Gill (1880 - 1904) on 17 Apr 1929 in Nabiac, NSW, Australia. They had one son and one daughter. Leonard was born on 28 Feb 1904 at Argents Hill, NSW, Australia. Marian died 28 Jul 1987 in Willoughby, NSW, Australia and Leonard died 24 Jun 1977 in Bowraville, NSW, Australia.
  10. Gwen Hero Wright, born 23 Oct 1909 in Avalon, NSW, Australia; married Harry Wilfred Fieldsend (son of John William Langley Fieldsend (1885 - ) and Florence Alice (1886 - ). They had one son. Harry was born on 29 Aug 1905 at Eccleswell, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. Gwen died 28 Jul 1987 in Willoughby, NSW, Australia and Harry died 20 Aug 1985 in Sydney.

Visitors to Tuncurry

It is known that Ina’s father, Alexander, an apostle in the Reorganised Church, traveled the world and also visited Australia. According to Michael Kennedy, we know from his records that he named his youngest daughter Coral, because of his experiences in Australia,[5] presumably because of the coral that he saw off the east coast of Australia. Another notable visitor to Tuncurry was George Albert Smith, a distant cousin and an apostle, who later became the president The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a note that he wrote to Ina from his hotel in Brisbane before his visit, he addressed her as cousin and told her that he hoped to see her “next Tuesday March 29, 1938” on his way to Sydney.

 Source:  John Grinceri


  1. Great Lakes Historical and Maritime Museum: "Tuncurry's Working Waterfront – Wright's mill and shipyard"
  2. ABC Radio broadcast, Sunday 19 October 2008, Blood of Tuncurry, Presented by David Rutledge
  3. Faith from Down Under, p 23 Joseph Smith’s Posterity in Australia, Related by June Write to Reg and Shirley Hardman, July 2006.
  4. Findagrave.com
  5. 200th anniversary Joseph Smith Jr. Family Celebration held in Sydney Australia 2-4 Sept 2005