Street Smarts: Now a street, Wrightstown once was a town

2013-11-19T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T15:33:25Z Street Smarts: Now a street, Wrightstown once was a townBy David Leighton For the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Wrightstown, now an east-side road, once was an actual town.

Its namesake, Fred Wright, was born in 1868 in Wisconsin. After some time in Minnesota working for a bank, he came to Phoenix in 1894.

In 1904, he moved to Tucson and worked as a bookkeeper at L. Zeckendorf’s dry goods store. On the job he met his future wife, Dolores Urias, who was born in 1886 in Tucson. Her family had originally come here in the 1770s and her father, Antonio, is said to have been Tucson’s first jeweler. Fred and Dolores married in 1905.

In 1906, Wright began work as a teller for Consolidated National Bank (now Chase), where he stayed until 1918.

In 1912, while working at Consolidated, he purchased a 640-acre homestead claim. When the family moved there, the nearest school was 12 miles away in town. He built a one-room adobe schoolhouse south of the ranch on what is now Harrison Road, hired a teacher, put her up at the ranch and bought the required books. About 1½ to two years later, a storm destroyed the structure, and the school moved into the living room of the ranch house. By 1914, Wright had built a brick building, with the classroom at the front. He would later donate the land on which it stood. This was the beginning of the now-closed Wrightstown Elementary School.

Wright petitioned his neighbors for a post office and — after being commissioned as postmaster — he turned a room of the ranch into the post office in 1914. With this, the area had to be incorporated, thus the name Wrightstown. He served as postmaster until 1921. He also had the cow path into the area graded and turned into a proper road, now known as Wrightstown Road.

About 1921, the family moved to Tucson. Wright was a sheriff’s deputy until he died of cancer in 1923.

At age 37, Dolores was left with five children: Ely, George, Eleanor, Lillian and Dorothy. She washed and ironed, sold tamales and worked as a department store clerk to support her family. All the while, she remained active in her Baptist church: She taught Sunday school for 28 years and at one point was a deaconess, visiting shut-ins and newcomers. She died in 1968.

In 1955, the Pima County Board of Supervisors changed Tanque Verde Road-South Branch to Wrightstown Road.

Note: The ranch house still stands at 1690 N. Harrison Road.

Sources: Special thanks to Dr. Mark Falcon of That’s the Spot Chiropractic, 7858 E. Wrightstown Road; Lynne Wright-Urias (granddaughter of Fred and Dolores Wright); Verena Bender Hekman (descendant of Fred and Dolores Wright); Cathy Currier; Lynne Wright-Holder, “Our Pioneer Family Urias-Wright,” L.W. Holder, 1992; Bureau of Land Management — Homestead Records, Wrightstown ephemera file (Arizona Historical Society); Byrd H. Granger, “Arizona Place Names,” The University of Arizona Press, 1985 (reprint), Page 286; Pioneer Families of the Presidio del San Agustín de Tucson: www.archaeologysouthwest.org/pdf/presidio_families.pdf; "24 Streets Renamed By Board," Arizona Daily Star, June 21, 1955

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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