Wright's Ferry - Founding Father

Founding Father

John Wright was a Quaker who first came to the area in 1724 to explore the land and preach to the local Native Americans. He moved his family to a plot 100 yds from the left bank in 1726, establishing a small settlement along with Robert Barber and Samuel Blunston. In 1730, he was granted a patent to operate a ferry across the river and subsequently established the ferry with the aid of his two friends. He also built a ferry house and a tavern on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna and the town grew up around it. Now a historical building, its located north of Locust Street, on Front Street in Wright's Ferry, as the town was then known —now Columbia, Pennsylvania. The two-story log tavern, operated by John Wright, Jr. until 1834, consisted of a large room on either end connected by a passageway. When John Jr. married, he moved to York County’s western shore at Wright's Ferry West (later to be named Wrightsville), and built another ferry house and tavern.

In later years, Wright—now involved greatly in local governmental affairs— rented the ferry to others and eventually sold it.

In 1729, after Wright had petitioned William Penn’s son to create a new county, the provincial government took land from Chester County to establish Lancaster County, the fourth county in Pennsylvania. County residents - Indians and colonists alike - regularly traveled to Wright’s home to file papers and claims, seek government assistance and redress of issues, and register land deeds. During this time, the town was called “Wright’s Ferry.”

In 1738, James Wright built the Wright’s Ferry Mansion, the oldest existing house in Columbia, for his family. The structure can still be seen at Second and Cherry Streets.

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