OLIVER P. WRIGHT.
Honored and respected by all, there is no man who occupies a more enviable position in the business and financial
circles of Knoxville than does Oliver P. Wright. This is not due alone to the success he has achieved but to the
honorable, straightforward policy which he has followed, his course ever measuring up to the highest standards
of business integrity. Early recognizing the eternal principle that industry wins, he made industry the beacon
light of his life and it has led him at length to the goal of success and prosperity.
Born in Putnam county, Indiana, on the 17th of March, 1844, Mr. Wright is a son of Larkin and Delilah Wright, both
of whom were natives of Putnam couty. The father was a son of Benjamin J. Wright, who was born in Rowan county,
North Carolina, April 18, 1794, and he was a son of Benjamin S. Wright, whose birth occurred in Rowan county in
1752. The latter was a son of Richard Wright, who came to America during the colonial epoch in the history of this
country, since which time his descendants have belonged to that class of representative American citizens who have
upheld and promoted the stability and progress of the nation along various lines.
Larkin Wright was a farmer of Indiana and upon his removal to Knoxville in 1854 engaged in the live stock business
and also in merchandising. In 1862, in connection with J. E. Neal, he established a private bank under the firm
style of Neal & Wright, and in time the name was changed to the Marion County Bank. This later was merged into
the Knoxville National Bank, with Mr. Wright as president for a few years. Later he became president of the Marion
County National Bank and so continued until his death, which occurred in February, 1890. His business interests
were ever of a character that contributed in substantial measure to the development and upbuilding of city and
county. Moreover, he was active in politics as a stalwart supporter of the republican party, although he never
accepted office. He contributed also to the moral development of the community and held membership in the Christian
church and in the Masonic fraternity, belonging to both the blue lodge and chapter. To him and his wife were born
five children, as follows: Oliver P., of this review; Cynthia J., who gave her hand in marriage to Judge Gamble;
Francis M., deceased, who followed agricultural pursuits throughout his entire business career; Naomi, who died
at the age of four years; and Charles L., a practicing physician of South Des Moines.
Oliver P. Wright spent the first ten years of his life in his native county and then accompanied his parents to
Marion county, where for sixty years he has now made his home. Every phase of the county's development is familiar
to him and in promoting its progress he has been an important factor. He entered the mercantile and live stock
business with his father about 1857, having in the meantime acquired a public school education. He has brought
zeal and energy to everything that he has undertaken, and strong and resolute purpose has enabled him to overcome
all the difficulties and obstacles in his path.
For forty five years he has been continuously connected with financial interests, first becoming bookkeeper of
the Marion County Bank, in which he was promoted to the position of cashier in 1869. In 1871 he went to Pella,
Iowa, and assisted in starting the First National Bank, of which he became the cashier. In May, 1872, he returned
to Knoxville, where he organized the Marion County National Bank and was its cashier until 1891, when he was elected
to the presidency and as its chief officer has since shaped its policies and directed its interests. There is no
question of the stability of this institution. Safe, conservative methods have always been followed and there is
no phase of the banking business with which Mr. Wright is not familiar, his long experience enabling him to carefully
control the interests of the bank in such a way as to safeguard the depositors as well as promote the success of
the stockholders. He has also continued active as a dealer in live stock and in land for many years and is the
owner of a large number of farms, having placed much of his means in the safest of all investments, real estate.
In November, 1865, Mr. Wright was united in marriage to Miss Artie Marsh, of this county, a daughter of Osborn
and Jane Marsh, who came to Marion county in June, 1849, when this was a pioneer district upon the western frontier.
Much of the land was still in possession of the government and Mr. Marsh entered a claim and developed a farm which
is still in the possession of the family. He was a progressive citizen and was the owner of the first buggy in
the county. About 1857 he went to Indianapolis, where he purchased the vehicle for four hundred dollars in gold
and then drove home across the country in his new possession. Mr. and Mrs. Wright are the parents of five children,
namely: Carrie B., who gave her hand in marriage to E. B. Mitchell, of Lima, Ohio; Ora L.; William, who is a resident
of Knoxville, Iowa; Maude, who is the wife of Harry Armstrong, of Des Moines; and Dana, who wedded Sherley Percival,
of Des Moines.
Mr. Wright is entitled to wear the little bronze button of the Grand Army of the Republic, for in May, 1864, when
but twenty years of age, he offered his services to the government, becoming a member of Company A, Forty seventh
Iowa Infantry, with which he remained until the regiment was mustered out in the fall of the same year. He is a
prominent Mason, having attained the Knight Templar degree of the York Rite and the thirty second degree of the
Scottish Rite. He also has membership with the Knights of Pythias and his religious faith is indicated by his membership
in the Methodist church. In politics he is a republican, earnest and stalwart in support of party principles but
never an aspirant for office. He has always preferred to do his public duty as a private citizen and has given
generous support to many measures for the welfare and benefit of the community. In fact he has been a leader in
much that has brought about present day conditions and he is justly accounted one of the most valued and worthy
citizens of Knoxville.
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Marion County, IA
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