|Birth: ||Nov. 14, 1852|
|Death: ||Jun. 24, 1904|
New York, USA
USMA Class of 1874. Professor of Mathematics at USMA from 1898 to 1904.
Thirty-Sixth Annual Reunion Of The Association of the Graduates Of The United States Military Academy, At West Point, New York, June 13th, 1905, Seemann & Peters, Saginaw, Michigan, 1905.
Wright Prescott Edgerton
No. 2522. Class of 1874.
Died, June 24th, 1904, at West Point, New York, aged 52.
Wright Prescott Edgerton was born in Tallmadge, Ohio, November 14, 1852 and spent his early years in that quiet little little village of the Western Reserve with its New England atmosphere.
Amos Edgerton, his grandfather, was a teacher at Cazenovia, New York, early in the Nineteenth Century. He was occupied in the preparation of a series of text books on mathematics when he was stricken with blindness and shortly afterward died, leaving a large family of children, one of whom (Sidney) was the father of Wright Prescott Edgerton.
Owing to these unfortunate circumstances, his father was obliged at a very early age to begin his struggle in life. Possessed of much ability, perseverance and industry, he succeeded in obtaining an education, taught school and studied law.
While teaching in Tallmadge, he married Miss Mary Wright and made his home there, practicing his profession in Akron. He gained distinction as an ardent abolitionist and was a member of the Convention that formed the Free Soil Party and in 1858 and again in 1860, was elected to Congress.
In 1863, he was appointed Chief Justice of Idaho and with his family crossed the plains, traveling from Omaha, Nebraska to Bannock, Idaho by ox teams; a journey of nearly four months. This journey undertaken in the days of Indian Massacres, road agents and all the intense violence of the early days of western settlement, in the midst of the Civil War when the sentiment in our new West was so violent, was not only a thrilling experience, but one calculated to arouse all the qualities that tend to make a boy thoughtful, patient, self-sacrificing, enduring and tolerant.
In January 1864, Mr. Edgerton secured the division of Idaho Territory and the formation of the separate territory of Montana, of which he was elected Governor. In the then unsettled condition of society, the life of the family continued to be one of constant interest and excitement.
During the winters of 1864-1865, Wright Edgerton filled the office of page to the Council of the First Legislature of Montana.
After the assassination of President Lincoln, Governor Edgerton resigned from his office, returned to Akron, Ohio and resumed the practice of law, where he remained until his death.
Wright Prescott Edgerton attended the public schools until his admittance to west Point, July 1st, 1870.
At the Military Academy, he was beloved by all his classmates, not only for his social qualities, but for his gentleness that is always a proof of true courage of manhood. He had a keen sense of justice, duty and honor; loved and sympathized with his fellowman in all grades of life and was tolerant and charitable to the errors and faults of others. Love of humor and repartee were two of his principal characteristics. He was scholarly and refined and read widely and judiciously.
When Pinz Edgerton (as he was afterwards called by his classmates) reported at the Military Academy, he was almost undersized, but during the first year grew so rapidly that as he remarked at the time, his first overcoat became so short for him that it was absolutely immodest.
His room was the rendezvous for the brightest, cleverest and best men of his class and many hours that should have been devoted to study, were whiled away in storytelling, jokes and innocent fun. During the most trying year when mechanics demanded steady and unwearying attention, the early evening hours were devoted to enjoyment and when taps sounded, the blanket was hastily pinned over the window, the gas jets turned low and on the table beneath a very hasty preparation was made for the next dayís recitation in Philosophy.
At his graduation in June 1874, he did not have as high a standing in his class as his abilities warranted, owing to his youth, love of fun and non-appreciation of the importance of study and application. He ranked, however, 14 in a large class and was promoted to a Second Lieutenancy in the Second Artillery.
He served with his Regiment, first in Summer Camp at Unionville, South Carolina and afterwards in garrison at fort Johnson, North Carolina.
He entered the Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia, in 1876, graduating in 1878. The monotony of his school life was agreeably varied by field duty during these two years, first in the Hayes Election troubles, in South Carolina and at Washington Arsenal, D.C. and again in the railroad riots of 1877, in Pennsylvania. During the winter in Washington, he enjoyed the society of the Capitol and became very popular there.
After a year or more of frontier duty at San Antonio, Texas and over two years in garrison at Fort McHenry, Maryland and at Washington Barracks, D.C., where he was one of the officers who guarded Guitteau, the assassin of President Garfield, he entered the Engineer School at Willetís Point, New York, for torpedo instruction. While there, he met Miss Fannie Helmuth, daughter of Dr. William Tod Helmuth, of New York City, whom he afterwards married.
In the autumn of 1882 he was appointed Instructor of Mathematics at West Point, where he remained five years, returning afterwards to his regiment with which he served at New Orleans, Louisiana and Fort Wadsworth, New York. From there, he was recalled to West Point, served at Assistant Professor of Mathematics and afterwards was appointed Associate Professor, being the first officer to fill that position created by President Grover Cleveland during the latter part of his administration. In 1898 he was made full Professor which office he held until his death.
During the War with Spain, his love and loyalty to his country were so great that he could not remain at home, so while unable to obtain a command of troops, he succeeded in being ordered to Tampa, Florida, was present with the expedition to Porto Rico as a voluntary aide de camp, worked hard during the summerís heat and sowed the seeds of the disease, from which he so soon afterwards succumbed.
The following notice is inserted in order to illustrate the regard and appreciation of his fellow officers.
The sad intelligence brought by the Journal even so far away corners of the earth of the death, more than sixty days ago, of Colonel Wright P. Edgerton, Professor at the Military Academy, fills the hearts of graduates the world over with a scene of public and personal loss.
With a type of mind that made him revere the past to a degree, yet possessed with such zeal and interest in progress of all kinds that he was never satisfied with the present, but sought constantly for improvement and with a personal charm that made it easy for him to move men in his direction with harmony, it may be truly said that Colonel Edgertonís services have been among the strongest and most virile and valuable influences at the Academy for a generation. So great was his modesty and so little did he care for or claim any sort of personal credit that many of his friends even had hardly an idea of the value or extent and character of his work. The public loss to the Academy and through it to the country, is very great.
It is more difficult to speak of the personal deprivation that so many feel and have expressed. Those who as men more nearly his age have known the singular charm of his companionship and the magnetism of his personality, have with them memories of an association, every moment of which was a delight, that will not soon pass.
An even greater number of young men who know him only as their teacher and professor will always remember with a strong feeling of tender gratitude the helpful sympathy and never failing kindness he always showed to them and which he especially extended to those who were unfortunate or downhearted.
Dying at fifty, Colonel Edgerton has left a record of constructive work of a permanent and high character that is equaled by that of few men who pass the allotted time of sixty-four years of the active list. He has left a host of tender memories in the hearts of a great many good men and good women that will be for them always a cherished possession. Lucena, Philippine Islands, August 27th, 1904.
The character of Edgerton reminds us somewhat of that of dear old Professor Kendrick and had he lived would have more and more resembled that most beloved of the older Professors. His temperament was always poetic and his taste in literature was refined, elevated and true. In his later years he cultivated a taste for art, especially landscapes, etchings and water colors, which were his great delight. All that was in him was lovable and ennobling. At the Century Association in New York City (that brilliant society of artists, scientists and literary men) he was appreciated for his quick wit and his keen, but pleasant and kindly humor and loved for his sociability, his gentle nature and his enjoyment and appreciation of pleasant company and good stories.
To his associates in the Army he was especially endeared. At every post at which he served all the members of the garrison and more especially his commanding officers, invariably became deeply attached to him. This is not to be wondered at, for he was most winning in his character, loyal, generous, tender and adorable.
His life work was but barely begun, yet such a character fulfills a high mission in the world by merely being a part of it. His love for his Alma Mater was very great and what he had accomplished there is written on her tablets and engraved in the hearts of her graduates who were associated with him or came under his influence.
Sidney Edgerton (1818 - 1900)
Mary Wright Edgerton (1827 - 1885)
Fannie Ida Helmuth Edgerton (1859 - 1938)*
Martha Amelia Edgerton Plassmann (1850 - 1936)*
Wright Prescott Edgerton (1852 - 1904)
Sidney Carter Edgerton (1858 - 1895)*
Mary Pauline Edgerton (1858 - 1931)*
Idaho Edgerton Buckingham (1864 - 1963)*
Lucy Ione Edgerton (1867 - 1906)*
United States Military Academy Post Cemetery
New York, USA
Plot: Section XXI, Row D, Site 65.
Created by: SLGMSD
Record added: Apr 02, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 127326826
|Photos may be scaled.|
Click on image for full size.