Capt. John Tennent Wright Jr. was born into a seafaring family in New York on Christmas Eve, 1826. He and his two brothers followed in their father’s footsteps sailing on the eastern seaboard until they came west in 1849. The Wright family steamship business included Capt. John T. Wright, Sr., Capt. Thomas A. Wright, Capt. George S. Wright and Capt. John T. Wright, Jr. Their business, the California Steam Navigation Company, spanned the coasts of North and South America, running from British Columbia to Peru.
John Jr. was 23 years old when he arrived in San Francisco in April of 1849. Within six months he cleared $15,000 panning on the American River and returned to San Francisco to purchase the bark Clarissa. His first voyage to Panama was a disaster. The outbound sailing had paid for the cost of the ship but it was lost on the return voyage (although most passengers were saved). John then worked in the family business.
John Jr. and his wife, Susan, lived at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in San Francisco with their son, George. Susan died there in March of 1877 and a year later John married Terilla Beck. The family moved across the bay where city directories list John Jr. as an agent for the steamship William Taber. They lived at the southeast corner of Fifth and West Streets and their son George, lived next door with his wife Emily and daughter, Catherine. John’s picture is taken from Marine History of the Pacific Northwest published in 1895. By 1900, John is simply listed as a “capitalist” in the U.S. Census, indicating that he was independently wealthy. In September of 1903 Wrights purchased the lakeside property now know as the Camron-Stanford House. After living in it for four years, they sold it to the City of Oakland in October of 1907. John T. Wright died in Oakland in 1911. He is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in the family plot with his first wife and son.