Devil John Wright of the Cumberlands

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In the heart of Appalachia, a legend looms as large as the mountains themselves. Today, we tell the story of John Wesley Wright.

Born in the Elkhorn Valley of Kentucky, John Wright’s life was a mix of adventure, violence, and survival. From his early days as a Confederate soldier making a daring escape from Union forces, Wright’s exploits during the Civil War set the stage for his legendary status. But his story doesn’t end with the war. Wright’s journey led him to the circus spotlight alongside his uncle, the famed Kentucky Giant, Martin Van Buren Bates, to the shadowy world of manhunting with the Pinkerton and Baldwin-Felts detective agencies.

As a lawman, Wright’s reputation for meting out justice was as formidable as his skills with a gun, earning him the nicknames “Bad John” and “Devil John” from those outlaws he pursued and captured.  But his life was not solely defined by bullets and bravado. Wright’s complex personal life, fathering over 30 children with multiple women, paints a portrait of a man as multifaceted as the hills he called home.

Join us as we explore John Wright’s story, from his encounters with outlaws and feudists to his final days, when he sought redemption and left his devilish nickname behind. It’s a journey through Appalachia’s past that’s as captivating as the landscape itself.  

Don’t miss this episode of Stories of Appalachia, available on Spreaker, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible, or your favorite podcast platform.  

Thanks for listening and for sharing our stories of Appalachia with your friends.

2 thoughts on “Devil John Wright of the Cumberlands”

  1. Would like to buy some books. Need your address and cost per book. . thanks Jerry

    1. We don’t have any books for sale here on our website, although if you go to the Devil John Wright story on our YouTube channel, we have a “Shop” link where you can find a book about him that you can purchase directly!

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