Robert Wright

Robert Wright

Robert Wright was born in Bladensburg, Maryland, on 2nd September, 1840. He moved to Missouri in 1856 where he worked as a freighter before becoming a trader at Fort Dodge in Kansas.

Wright eventually settled in Dodge City where he became a farmer and cattleman. He eventually appointed as the city's first mayor.

Robert Wright died on 4th January, 1915.

Robert Wright's business in Dodge City in 1883.
Robert Wright's business in Dodge City in 1883.

Primary Sources

(1) Ford County Globe (12th June, 1883)

Our city trouble is about over and things in general will be conducted as of old. All parties that were run out have returned and no further effort will be made to drive them away. Gambling houses, we understand, are again to be opened, but with screen doors (probably ornate oriental type door shields designed to obscure the view from one room to another rather than fly screens) in front of their place of business. A new dance house was opened Saturday night where all the warriors met and settled their past differences and everything was made lovely and serene. All opposing factions, both saloon men and gamblers met and agreed to stand by each other for the good of their trade. Not an unlocked for result.

The mayor stood firm on his gambling proclamation, but as his most ardent supporters have gone over to his enemies, it will stand without that moral support he had calculated upon to help him in enforcing it. We have all along held that our mayor was over advised in the action he has taken and had he followed his own better judgment, and not the advice of schemers and tricksters who had selfish interests at stake, and not the best interests of this community, he would have fared much better. No one knows this now any better than himself. He has freed himself from that cropped-winged moral element and stands on the side of the business interests of Dodge.

(2 ) Jeremiah Strang, letter to John Martin (5th July, 1885)

The Texas cattle quarantine law passed last winter is quietly working out the salvation of Dodge City. The festive cowboy is already becoming conspicuous by his absence in Dodge, and ere long he will be seen & heard there, in his glory, no more forever. The cowboy gone the gamblers and prostitutes will find their occupations gone, and, from necessity, must follow. The bulk of the saloons will then die out because there will be no sufficient support left, and the temperance people can close the rest as easily as they could in any other city in Kansas.

(2) John Martin, governor of Kansas, letter to Robert Wright, mayor of Dodge City (5th November, 1885)

The fact is the condition of affairs in Dodge, instead of improving, as I had hoped, seems to be growing worse. I hear, every now and then, of robberies committed on innocent strangers, who have come to Kansas to seek homes. Visitors inform me that the saloons are increasing, not only in numbers, but in depravity; and that thieves, desperadoes, gamblers and criminals generally, are multiplying. It is also alleged that these lawless characters dominate in the city; that they have terrorized all the better elements of society; that they openly and defiantly flaunt their viciousness and depravity; and that they appear to think there is no power or authority that can reach or punish them.

(3) Robert Wright, mayor of Dodge City, letter to John Martin, governor of Kansas (9th November, 1885)

You must recollect that our situation is different from that of other towns in the Eastern part of the State, which have always enjoyed the benefits of churches, schools & other civilizing influences. We have always been a frontier Town, where the wild & reckless sons of the Plains have congregated, their influences are still felt here, but we are rapidly overcoming them, let us alone & we will work out our own salvation in due season. I flatter myself that I know how to handle the boys, they cannot be driven. Please do not borrow trouble Governor about the conduct or management of Dodge City.