Dunbarton New Hampshire’s Statistician, Educator, Economist, U.S. Commissioner of Labor: Carroll Davidson Wright, A.M., Ph.D., LL.D. (1840-1909)

Carroll Davidson Wright, was born in Dunbarton NH, in 1840, the son of a Universalist minister.

Massachusetts State Senator Carroll Davidson Wright (1840-1909) from the State Library of Massachusetts

Massachusetts State Senator Carroll Davidson Wright (1840-1909) from the State Library of Massachusetts

From lowly means he began his education studying law, leaving school to enlist in the army during the Civil War.  His continuing academic education included A.M., LL.D., Tufts University, Ph.D., Dartmouth College, and LL.D., Wesleyan and Clark universities. He was an honorary professor of social economics at Catholic University of America, and Professor of statistics and social economics, school of comparative jurisprudence and diplomacy, Columbia University 1900.

He was chief of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor (the first such bureau) from 1873 to 1888. Then he served as the first United State’s commissioner of the Bureau of Labor (from 1884 to 1902), the forerunner of the U.S. Department of Labor.

He was a renowned expert of “labor statistics,” a skill which he honed during his thirty-two

Photograph from Carroll Davidson Wright, A Memorial by Horace G. Wadlin, 1911

Photograph from Carroll Davidson Wright, A Memorial by Horace G. Wadlin, 1911

years of government service (1873-1905). He wrote several books about the industrial revolution in the United States and labor issues.  He was president of Clark College [now called Clark University] in Worcester MA from 1902 until his death in 1909.  President Theodore Roosevelt delivered the commencement address for the college’s first public commencement ceremony.


Carroll Davidson Wright, A Memorial by Horace G. Wadlin, 1911

Wikipedia: Carroll Wright

-Booklet: The Slums of Baltimore, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia-

The Origin of the U.S. Department of Labor

Bibliography of the Writings of Hon. Carroll D. Wright, 1874-1908 (September 1, 1909)

The Life and Work of Carroll Davidson Wright: Fifth President of the American Statistical Association (June 1, 1909)

Address of Carroll D. Wright, President of the American Statistical Association, at its Annual Meeting in Boston, Jan. 17, 1908 (March 1, 1908)


Dea. John Wright, b. abt 1601 in Suffolk, England. He d. 21 June 1688 in Woburn, Middlesex Co MA. He married abt 1630 in England to Priscilla Byfield. She b. 1613 in Suffolk, England and d. 10 Apr 1687. He was a first settler of Woburn MA, subscribed the “Town Orders” (at Charlestown) Dec. 18, 1640; selectman of Woburn 1645-47, 1649-58, 1660-64, 1670, 1680-81; commissioner of the rate 1646, 1671; deacon of Woburn Church from Nov 10, 1664 to his death [from Sewall’s Woburn]
Children of John & Priscilla (Byfield) Wright:
1. +John Wright, b. abt 1630 in England
2. Joseph Wright, b. abt 1631; m. Elizabeth Hassell
3. Priscilla Wright, b. abt 1640
4. Ruth Wright, b. 23 Apr 1646 in Woburn, Middlesex Co MA; m. Jonathan Knight
5. Deborah Wright, b. 21 Jan 1648/49 Charlestown, Middlesex Co MA
6. Sarah Wright, b. abt 1651-1653 Woburn, Middlesex Co MA; m. Joshua Sawyer

John Wright, son of John & Priscilla (Byfield) Wright, b. 1630 in England, and d. 30 Apr
1714 in Woburn, Middlesex CO MA. He with other members of the Woburn church was presented by the grand jury of Middlesex for refusing communion with that church in 1671. He was called “Senior.” He was a selectman of Woburn MA in 1690 and thithingman of the town for “Boggy Meadow End” in 1692. His will dated May 24, 1701 proved Nov 11, 1714 names wife Abigail, sons John Jr., Joseph and Ebenezer, and daughters Ruth Butterfield, Priscilla Wright, Deborah Wright and Lydia Wright.  He married 10 May 1661 in Woburn MA to Abigail Warren, daughter of Arthur & Mary Warren. She b. 27 Oct 1640 in Weymouth, Middlesex Co MA, and d. 6 Apr 1726 in Chelmsford MA.
Children of John & Abigail (Warren) Wright:
1. +John Wright, b. 10 June 1662 in Chelmsford, Middlesex Co. MA
2. Joseph Wright, b. 14 Oct 1663 Chelmsford MA; m. Elizabeth Hassell, had issue
3. Ebenezer Wright, b. 11 Nov 1665 Chelmsford MA
4. Jacob Wright, b. 2 July 1667 Chelmsford MA; d. 22 Jan 1746-47, aged 73
5. Abigail Wright, b. 23 June 1668 Chelmsford MA
6. Ruth Wright, b. 1670 Chelmsford MA; m. Jonathan Butterfield and d. 11 Jan 1754, aged 80.
7. Priscilla Wright, b. 3 Dec 1671 Chelmsford MA; m. Samuel Damon 7 May 1707.
8. Josiah Wright, b. 10 March 1672/73 Chelmsford MA; m. Ruth Carter 17 Sep 1700, had issue.
9. Deborah Wright, b. 21 Nov 1678 Chelmsford MA
10. Samuel Wright, b. 11 May 1683 Chelmsford MA
11. Lydia Wright, b. 23 Nov 1686 Chelmsford MA; m. Giles Roberts 11 Nov 1724.

John Wright, son of John & Abigail (Warren) Wright, was b. 10 June 1662 in Chelmsford, Middlesex Co MA and d. 13 Oct 1730 in Westford, Middlesex Co MA.  He m. 13 Apr 1692 in Chelmsford MA to Mary Stevens, daughter of John & Elizabeth Stevens. She b. 1672 in Chelmsford MA. He m. 2nd about 1702 in Middlesex Co. MA to Hannah Fletcher, daughter of Samuel & Margaret Fletcher. She b. 14 Sep 1666 in Chelmsford MA.
Children of John & Mary (Stevens) Wright:
1. Jacob Wright, b. 1692 Chelmsford MA
2. Ebenezer Wright, b. 17 Dec 1693 Chelmsford MA
3. Edward Wright, b. 13 May 1695 Chelmsford MA
4. +Jacob Wright, b. 21 Jan 1697/98 Chelmsford MA
5. Henry Wright, b. 10 Jan 1699/1700 Chelmsford MA
6. John Wright, b. 23 Oct 1701 Chelmsford MA
7. Mary Wright, b. 23 Oct 1701 Chelmsford MA
Children of John & Hannah (Fletcher) Wright:
8. Hannah Wright, b. 2 June 1704 in Westford MA
9. Thomas Wright, b. 27 Sep 1707 in Chelmsford MA
10. Simeon Wright, b. 1710 in Westford MA

Jacob Wright, son of John & Mary (Stevens) Wright, b. 21 Jan 1697/98 in Chelmsford,
Middlesex Co MA and d. 25 Nov 1761 in Westford MA. He married in Westford MA to Abigail Harwood. She b. in 1699, and d. 30 Nov 1761.
Children of Jacob & Abigail (Harwood) Wright:
1. Ruth Wright, b. 13 June 1721 Westford, Middlesex Co MA
2. John Wright, b. 7 Sep 1723 Westford MA
3. Ephraim Wright, b. abt 1724-1726 Westford MA
4. Mary Wright, b. 4 March 1726-27 in Westford MA
5. Sarah Wright, b. 3 Apr 1730 in Westford MA
6. +Jacob Wright, b. 20 Sep 1732 in Westford MA
7. Pelatiah Wright, b. 8 Sep 1734 in Westford MA
8. Joseph Wright, b. 25 Sep 1736 in Westford MA
9. Benjamin Wright, b. 31 Oct 1738 in Westford MA

Jacob Wright, son of Jacob & Abigail (Harwood) Wright, was b. 20 Sep 1732 in Westford, Middlesex Co MA and d. 22 Aug 1771 in Westford MA. He m. 11 Sep 1755 in Westford MA to Lucy “Luce” Butterfield, daughter of William & Bathsheba (Shepard) Butterfield. She b. 22 Aug 1731 in Westford MA.
Children of Jacob & Lucy (Butterfield) Wright:
1. Lucy “Luce” Wright, b. 7 Nov 1756 in Westford, Middlesex Co MA
2. +Col. Jacob Wright, b. 9 Dec 1758 in Westford MA
3. Abraham Butterfield Wright, b. 6 Dec 1760 Westford MA
4. Olive Wright, b. 9 Nov 1762 Westford MA
5. Lavisa Wright, b. 12 July 1764 Westford MA
6. Naomi “Naomy” Wright, b. 15 May 1766 Westford MA
7. Ziba Wright, b. 22 July 1770 in New Boston NH
8. William Wright, b. 25 Oct 1771 in Westford MA [born after his father’s death]

Colonel Jacob Wright, a son of Jacob & Lucy (Butterfield) Wright. He was born 9 Dec 1758 in Westford, Middlesex Co MA. The History of Washington, Sullivan Co NH indicated he was “a native of Westford MA in 1758.” He died 10 July 1844 in Washington NH. At the age of sixteen he entered the Revolutionary army as a substitute for the man for whom he was employed. After his term of service expired, he re-enlisted and, including his first term of service, was engaged five years fighting the battles of his country. In 1783 he removed to Washington NH, having resided a short time previously at Hancock NH. He settled on the high land in Washington NH south of Ashuelot Pond. He resided in Washington NH until he died in 1844. He was the father of four children. Many of his descendants fill position of eminence and responsibility. He married 10 March 1785 in Washington NH to Patty Reed. She b. 1756 and d. 22 April 1830 age 74. He married 1830 to Elizabeth Howard. She b. 1761 in Marlborough MA, and d. 2 March 1848 age 87 yrs. He married 2nd, Nov 1830 in Washington NH to Elizabeth Howard Davis. She b. in Fitzwilliam NH and d. 2 March 1848 in Washington NH. SEE listing of Washington NH graves in the “old cemetery.”
Children of Jacob & Patty (Reed) Wright:
1. +Dr. Nathan Wright, b. 18 Feb 1786; became a physician and practiced many years in Washington NH but finally removed to Cambridgeport MA where he died in 1853.
2. Jacob Wright, b. 16 March 1788 in NH, and d. 15 Apr 1873 age 85. He married Mary –. She b. 1783 and d. 15 Feb 1867 age 84. Both buried in Washington NH.
3. ?Peter Wright [father of Charles]
4. ?Reuben Wright

Dr. Nathan Wright, son of Col. Jacob & Patty (Reed) Wright, b. 18 Feb 1786; d. 17 July 1853 Cambridgeport MA; physician; he married 1806 to Betsey Lowell, ?dau of Simon & Betsey Lowell of Washington NH. She b. 1782 and d. 11 Oct 1863, age 81. Both buried in Old Cemetery, Washington NH.  They are both buried in the “Old Cemetery” in Washington NH.
Children of Nathan & Betsey (Lowell) Wright[may be more ch]:
1. Betsey Wright, b. Oct 1808 Washington, Sullivan Co NH; m. Hiram Chaffee
2. +Nathan Reed Wright, b. 1810 NH.
3. Martha Reed Wright, b. abt 1817 NH; living with her parents in Washington NH in 1850.

Rev. Nathan Reed Wright, son of Dr. Nathan & Betsey (Lowell) Wright, was born abt 1810 in NH and d.  1 March 1893 at Lynn, Essex Co. MA. He was a Universalist Minister. He preached in Dunbarton NH and Hooksett NH four years, and in 1843 became pastor of the Universalist Church at Washington NH where he remained some years. Although advanced in age he engaged in pastoral work at Lynn MA, being pastor of a parish containing four hundred and fifty families. He married by 1837 to Eliza Clark, daughter of Jonathan & Betsey (Davidson) Clark. She was b  1809 in Washington NH and d. May 2, 1881 in Lynn MA; buried with her husband in Pine Grove Cemetery, Lynn MA.
1850 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Sullivan > Washington
Nathan R. Wright 40 M Universalist Clergyman 1200 NH
Elisa C. Wright 41 F NH
Lucius B. Wright 13 M NH
Carroll D. Wright 9 M NH
Charlotte L. Wright 8 F NH
Wm. K. Wright 5 M NH
Wallace W. Wright 3 M NH
U.S. Census > 1860 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Cheshire > Swanzey
Nathan R. Wright 50 M Univ Clergyman 2000/600 NH
Eliza Wright 57 F NH
Carroll Wright 19 M NH
Charlotte Wright 18 F NH
William Wright 16 M NH
Wallace Wright 13 M NH
Children of Nathan R. & Eliza (Clark) Wright:
1. Lucius B. Wright, b. 25 November 1936 in Washington NH, died 30 Sep 1913 at Everett, MA; buried Wildwood Cemetery in Winchester MA; he married 18 Apr 1861 in Walpole, Cheshire Co. NH to Mary A. Watkins, daughter of William & Susan (Royce) Watkins.
2. +Carroll D. Wright, b. 25 July 1840 NH
3. Charlotte L. Wright, b. abt 1843 in Hooksett, NH and died 11 Apr 1904 in Woburn, Middlesex, Co. MA; she married 31 Oct 1877  in Woburn MA to Richard S. White, son of Richard & Sarah B. Wright, who survived her; buried 13 April 1904 at North Hampton NH.
4. William K. Wright, b abt 1845 NH
5. Wallace W. Wright, b. abt 1848 Washington NH; d. 18 January 1884, recorded at Lynn MA. He married 25 November 1873 at Chatham MA to Catherine D. Hall daughter of Hiram and Sally Hall.  She was born abt 1853 in Dennis MA. They both died during the ocean disaster to Steamer City of Columbia off Gay Head, MA.  The body of Wallace’s wife Catherine (Hall) Wright was not recovered.
6. Ella E. Wright, b. 30 Sep 1850; d. 11 June 1858, age 7 yr 3m 11 d.; buried Old Cemetery, Washington NH

Carroll Davidson Wright, son of Nathan R. & Eliza (Clark) Wright was born 25 July 1840 at Dunbarton, Hillsborough Co., NH and died 20 Feb 1909 in Worcester MA. He was the third of seven children and was educated in the local public schools.  He later studied law while working as a school teacher to pay his way.  In 1862 he left school and he enlisted as a Lieutenant 2nd Class on 15 September 1862 at the age of 22, commissioned in Company C, 14th Infantry Regiment New Hampshire on 9 October 1862. He was promoted to Full Lieutenant 1st Class on 20 September 1863 (1st Lieut & Adjutant), and promoted to Full Colonel on 06 December 1864. He received a disability discharge Company C, 14th Infantry Regiment New Hampshire on 18 March 1865. During Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley campaign, he served as the general’s adjutant. When the war ended, he returned to New Hampshire and finished his law studies. He then moved to Massachusetts, set up his law practice, and was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1872.  In 1873 he took charge of Massachusett’s Bureau of Statistics of Labor, and also headed the 1875 Massachusetts census. He was the first commissioner of the federal Bureau of Labor. He developed a bureau of economic research studying labor movements.  He was one of the members of the committee that investigated the Pullman Strike of 1894, and on a commission during the Anthracite Strike of 1902. He served as the president of the American Statistical Association. He taught and lectured at several universities including Harvard, John Hopkins, Dartmouth and Vassar. He published over 350 titles. He married 1 Jan 1867 in Reading MA to Caroline Elizabeth “Carrie” Harnden, dau of Sylvester & Mary E. (Sherman) Harnden.  She was b. 6 Nov 1841 in Reading, Middlesex Co MA. Carrie survived him.
1870 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Middlesex > Reading
Hamden, Sylvester 66 M W Cabinet Manufacturer 25000 2000 Mass
Hamden, Mary E. 58 F W Keeping House 12000 NH
Hamden, Mary F. 36 F W at home Mass
Wright, Carroll D. 29 M W Lawyer NH
Wright, Caroline E. 28 F W at home Mass
Hamden, Edward A. 13 M W at school Mass
Kelley, Hannah 30 F W Domestic Servant Ireland
U.S. Census > 1880 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Middlesex > Reading > District 373
Wright, Carroll W M 39 lawyer NH NH NH
Wright, Caroline E. W F 38 wife keeping house MA MA NH
Wright, Cornelia W F 9 daughter MA NH MA
Wright, Grace D W F 5 daughter MA NH MA
Harnden, Mary E W F 68 mother-in-law NH NH NH
Harnden, Mary F. W F 46 sister-in-law MA MA NH
Campbell, Flora W F 26 servant Nova Scotia, Scotland, Scotland
1900 United States Federal Census > District of Columbia > Washington > Washington >
District 59
Wright, Carroll D. Head W M July 1840 59 married 33 yrs NH NH NH
Wright, Caroline E wife W F Nov 1841 58 married 33 yrs 2 ch 2 living MA MA MA
Wright, Grace D. dau W F Dec 1874 25 single MA NH MA
Harnden, Mary F. sister-in-law W F Aug 1833 66 single MA MA NH
Christian, Octavia servant black F July 1872 27 single VA VA VA
Children of Carroll D. & Caroline E. (Harnden) Wright:
1. Cornelia Harnden Wright, b. 8 Dec 1870 in Reading MA; She m. 8 Sep 1897 at Marblehead MA to John Bruce McPherson, age 33 of Gettysburg PA. He was an attorney, b. in Washington DC, son of Edward & Anne D. (Crawford) McPherson. In 1910 they were living in Cambridge MA. That census shows 1 ch 1 next to her name, but no child mentioned by name. The 1910 census shows them living in Brookline MA, and includes a son, Carroll W. McPherson, age 19 single b. MA [making him born about 1891 in MA]. In 1930 Carroll was boarding in Buffalo, Erie Co PA, a newspaper editor. He is Carroll Wright McPherson b. 24 Aug 1900 in Brookline MA and d. 20 Oct 1989 in Buffalo NY.
2. Grace Duncan Wright, b. 1875 Reading MA; she married in 25 March 1908 in Worcester MA to Samuel Paul Capen, son of Elmer H. & Mary L. (Edwards) Capen.

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