By SALLY SEXTON
Growing up in Tucson, Ariz., and attending school in Weatherford, Erik Wright has been surrounded by the history of the western frontier.
That exposure, along with the influence of his father, who shared the interest in history, has helped shape Wright into a successful and published historian.
“From following my dad around as a kid, I picked up on his passing interest for history, and a friend of mine, who is a native of Weatherford, got me into the Tombstone, Ariz. history,” Wright said. “I remember in middle school, he and I would go around and recite lines from the ‘Latin Duel’ scenes in the hallway. It really only escalated from there.”
Wright’s fascination became public when he published his first article on Doc Holliday in True West Magazine as a sophomore in high school.
The historian moved back to Tucson to attend college. After a path to study archaeology didn’t pan out, he decided to pursue his interest in western history in Arizona and New Mexico.
Since then, his works have appeared in the Tombstone Epitaph: National Edition, Wild West History Association Journal, Wild West Magazine and local newspapers and several books.
Wright’s approach to writing is based on his ability to visualize the scenery firsthand by visiting the sites he has written about.
“I like going to these places and seeing them for myself. It gives me a good perceptive,” he said. “My latest article, which came out a few weeks ago, deals with a young Mexican boy in Arizona who was abducted by Apaches.
“To go to a place like that and know that something significant happened right there, it really drives home what I’m doing when I’m sitting at my desk writing the article.”
Wright said that some of his initial motivations came during his time in Weatherford, from influential teachers, as well as access to resources such as the Weatherford Public Library.
“I can trace certain activities back to these people, whether it’s research methods or writing methods. I owe a great deal to them,” Wright said.
As a 2003 graduate of WHS, Wright finds himself one of the younger historians, and said his youthfulness is something that can be misunderstood.
“So much of what I do, it’s a specialist field,” he said. “I get a lot of help from other people, but I get some snubs, too, because they think since I’m young that I don’t know what I’m doing.
“The fact that I can publish work on the subject on a regular basis speaks for itself.”
With a healthy résumé of published works, Wright is also a member of several historical organizations, including the Royal Australian Historical Society and the Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands Society. He is a past member of the Arizona Archaeological Council and the English Westerners’ Society.
In acknowledging the influence of Weatherford and Parker County, Wright is now looking to give back in the form of getting copies of his publications donated to the Doss Heritage and Culture Center.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think I recognized the importance and regional history that Parker County has while I was living there. It was only after that I started really getting in western history and started seeing the connections,” he said. “I’ve been working with the Doss Center as well as the Weatherford Public Library on getting some of these papers filed away. I know they don’t have a direct bearing on Weatherford history, but I recognize Weatherford as my hometown, and if it wasn’t for them, I might not be where I am today.”
As Wright moves forward with his work, he continues his goal of trying to emphasize the importance of history to current generations.
“History, no matter where you are, is all around you,” he said. “If history isn’t made important to you in school or by your parents, then you have no perspective on that period.
“Chances are not a lot of people, unless they are specialists or interested in it, will read it and it gets tucked away in a library or in archives. But I feel that I owe it to the people in the story to recreate it again. These events are so important so why shouldn’t I?”
To find out more about Wright and his work, visit www.erikwrighthistorian.yolasite.com.