January 16, 2010

Robert Reaves "Little Mac" Wright

Robert was a grandson of Thomas A. and Margaret Ann Coffey Wright.  Margaret was the daughter of Austin and Mary Blalock Coffey.  Before her marriage to Austin, Mary Blalock had given birth to the infamous William McKesson "Keith" Blalock.

Margaret Ann Coffey was born on Aug. 22, 1845 in Caldwell Co., NC and died there on Dec. 4, 1931.  She married Thomas A. Wright on Feb. 22, 1865 in that county.  Thomas was born Nov. 11, 1834 in Georgia and died Apr. 5, 1906 in NC, probably also in Caldwell Co.  Both Thomas and Margaret are buried at the Boone Fork Baptist Church cemetery at Shulls Mill, Watauga Co., NC.

Thomas and Margaret's son, Robert Arthur Wright was born c1875 in NC and married Jul. 14, 1894 to Lurenie Holloway, a daughter of Reede D. and Martha Andrews Holloway.  Lurenie was born c1879 and died Dec. 9, 1959 in Clermont Co., OH.  She is buried at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Withamsville, Union Twp., Clermont Co.  Apparently, Robert died shortly after their marriage because Lurenie was married c1896 to William Wiley Church with whom she had several children.

The only known child of Robert Arthur and Lurenie was Robert Reaves "Little Mac" Wright.  He was born Jun. 18, 1895 at Foscoe in Watauga Co., and died in Caroline Co., VA on Jan. 18, 1944.  He was married to Nettie L. McAlister, a daughter of Walter L. and Betty P. Mcalister, on Jun. 17, 1917 in Washington, D.C.

In September of 1917 Robert Reaves enlisted in the 318th Infantry of the 80th Division at Bowling Green, Caroline Co. and was discharged on Jun. 5, 1919.

He was initially assigned to Co. B, 318th Regt., 80th Div., at Camp Lee, VA, and trained there from Sep. 19, 1917 to May 20, 1918.  He was promoted to Private First Class on Oct. 5, 1918.  The 80th was known as "The Blue Ridge Division" because it was made up of men mostly from VA, WVa, PA and DE.

The unit embarked from Hoboken, NJ on the ship Leviathan on May 22, 1918 and arrived at Brest, France on May 30, 1918.  From there they proceeded to Calais on Jun. 2, 1918.

Robert went into action for the first time on Aug. 10, 1918 in the Artois section and was engaged in the  St. Mihiel offensive at Meuse-Argonne.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the final offensive by the Americans and took place between Sep. 26 and Nov. 11, 1918, when the war officially ended.  Over one and a quarter million Americans took part in the battle against what would eventually total nearly 450,000 Germans.

He arrived at New Port News aboard the USS Maui on May 27, 1919 and discharged at Camp Lee on Jun. 5, 1919.  He returned to civilian life and worked as a farmer for the remainder of his life.
Robert Reaves Wright
When asked about his attitude toward military service in general, and his call to service, he responded that "when I first entered I thought it unnecessary but after I learned the state of affairs, I thought it very essential for boys to go and help their country."*  He believed that he did not suffer any poor effects, either mentally of physically due to "camp experiences" in the United States.  Neither did his military experience overseas have any affect upon his person or affect his religious beliefs.  He was appalled by seeing men around him die in battle.**

He and Nettie were the parents of at least three children:  Robert Reaves, Jr., Mack A., and Lotus Frances.
Robert Reaves and Nettie

Both are buried at the County Line Baptist Church cemetery at Ruther Glen in Caroline Co.


*Virginia War History Commission, Lynchburg, Virginia, Individual Service Records (Questionnaires), 1919-1921. Accession 33311, State government records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

**In the War History Commission report he gave date of marriage to Nettie McAlister as Jul 17, 1917 in Washington, DC and birth date of son Robert Wright, Jr. as Jun 6, 1918 at Chilesburg, VA. He was a farmer employed by W. H. Holloway in Chilisburg, Caroline Co., VA. W. H. Holloway was his uncle, brother to his mother.

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