Orville Wright

Orville Wright



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Orville Wright, the son of a United Brethren Church bishop and the brother of Wilbur Wright, was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1871. When Orville was seven and Wilbur was eleven, their father gave them a model monoplane that had been designed by Alphonse Pénaud. They were fascinated by the toy and told themselves that one day they would make an aeroplane that would fly.

In 1888 Orville started a printing business. Wilbur joined him and together they designed and built a new printing press. Four years later the brothers sold their printing business and opened a bicycle shop to sell and repair bicycles in Dayton, Ohio. The shop was a great success as both brothers were talented engineers.

In August, 1896, the brothers read about the death of Otto Lilienthal in a flying accident. Lilienthal, a German engineer, had for many years been building flying machines. Wilbur Wright later wrote: "The brief notice which appeared in the telegraphic news at the time aroused a passive interest which had existed from my childhood." Soon afterwards the Wright brothers acquired a copy of Lilienthal's Bird Flight as a Basis for Aviation.

They also read Etienne-Jules Marey's book, The Flight of Birds. Orville Wright commented: "Learning the secret of flight from a bird was a good deal like learning the secret of magic from a magician". According to Wilbur Wright "we soon passed from the reading to the thinking stage, and finally to the working stage."

Percy Pilcher, another figure trying to develop a flying machine was killed on a glider flight in October 1899. This convinced the Wright brothers to concentrate on building kites controlled from the ground. These kites had controls for warping the wings to achieve control of direction and stability.

By 1901 the Wrights had developed a successful glider and broke the world record by reaching 389 feet (118 m). Not satisfied with this the following year one of their gliders went even higher and achieved 600 feet (183 m). They now decided to build an aeroplane. To help them in this they moved to Kitty Hawk, an isolated fishing village in North Carolina. At Kitty Hawk they had miles of empty sand dunes to carry out their experiments. The brothers also built a small wind tunnel so they could test various wing designs and cambers.

The Wrights also decided to develop their own engine and propeller. With the help of their wind tunnel, they were able to carry out research that enabled them to develop a propeller that converted 66 per cent of the engine's power into forward thrust. Their experiments revealled that the propeller tilted the aircraft in the direction opposite to the way it turned. Therefore the Wrights used two propellers, turning in opposite directions.

Samuel Pierpont Langleyof the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory was also busy developing a flying machine. Powered by a gasoline engine, the Aerodrome attempted to make its first flight on 7th October, 1903. The Aerodrome crashed soon after leaving the launch pad on the Potomac River. The front wing was badly damaged but this was repaired and a second attempt was made on 9th December. This time the rear wing and tail completely collapsed during the launch.

Wilbur and Orville Wright watched these developments with interest. They did not allow Samuel Pierpont Langley's failure to damper their own enthusiasm to create a flying machine. On 17th December, 1903, the brothers were ready to test out the areoplane they called Flyer I. Orville took the controls and the flight only lasted 12 seconds. However, the aircraft travelled 118 feet (36 m), 10 feet (3 m) above the sand. The brothers made a couple more flights and a few hours after Orville's first flight, Wilbur managed to clear 852 feet (260 m) in 59 seconds. After he landed a gust of wind caught the Flyer I and blew it over, damaging it so badly that it never flew again.

There might have been doubts about the truth of these test runs. However, as well as aviators, the Wright brothers were also interested in photography and had arranged for these flights to be captured on camera. Despite this evidence other aviators, especially in France, refused to believe that the Wright brothers had made the first ever powered flight. Instead they preferred to believe that Clement Adler had done this in 1897.

The Wright brothers now began negotiations with various governments around the world. Two years later they sold their designs for the Flyer I for $30,000 (about $600,000 in today's money). The Wright brothers now returned to manufacturing areoplanes. In October, 1905, the Flyer III stayed in the air for 38 minutes.

In 1908 the brothers produced the Wright Model A. This was a two-seater with an improved control system. It had a much more powerful engine and could reach a speed of 44 mph (71 kpm). However, on 17th September, the brothers had their first plane crash. Orville Wright was seriously injured and his passenger, Thomas Selfridge, was killed.

Wilbur took the machine to France and at a demonstration at the military field at Camp d'Auvours, set an endurance record of 2 hours 20 minutes 23 seconds. It also set an altitude record of 362 feet (110 m). As a result of the tests the brothers were able to sell construction licences for the Wright Model A to Britain, France and Germany.

After the death of Wilbur Wright from typhoid fever in 1912, Orville lost interest in aviation and sold the Wright Company in 1915.

Orville Wright died in 1948.

The original Wright Flyer got off the ground for 12 seconds and flew for barely 35 metres. But this was still 12 seconds and 35 metres more than an exact replica managed yesterday, during initial attempts to re-enact the Wright brothers' feat. Determined to mark the centenary of the first flight, hundreds of Americans gathered at the spot on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where the first long hop took place.

The occasion, however, quickly became a re-enactment of the setbacks that the pair of bicycle mechanics faced a hundred years ago.

One attempt to fly the replica of the Wright Flyer, in front of President Bush and some of the surviving greats of aviation history, had to be postponed due to torrential rain.

A later attempt to get off the ground failed because of a lack of headwind, and the wood and canvas contraption flopped on to the muddy fields at Kill Devil Hills, near the town of Kitty Hawk.

Enthusiasts were still trying to get the replica off the ground last night.


Orville Wright Building History

The Orville and Wilbur Wright Federal Buildings are located on squares 433 and 462 in Southwest, Washington DC. Fronting Independence Avenue across from the Smithsonian Air and Space and Hirshhorn museums, the buildings flank 7th Street, an historic thoroughfare to the DC waterfront and prime mercantile location. Although records are scarce regarding former occupants of the squares, it is known that square 433 was once home to the notorious Williams&rsquo Slave Pen.

Williams&rsquo Pen was one of the most profitable of the dozen slave pens operational in Washington DC in the early to mid-nineteenth century. A three story yellow brick house with outbuildings, the &ldquopen&rdquo was set back from the street amidst a grove of trees and considered pleasant looking. In 1846, newly elected Congressman Abraham Lincoln described Williams&rsquo Pen in a speech, stating &ldquoa peculiar species of slave trade in the District of Columbia, in connection with which in full view from the windows of the capitol, a sort of negro-livery stable, where droves of negroes were collected, temporarily kept, and finally taken to Southern markets&hellip&rdquo

In 1841, a free man of color, Solomon Northrup, was kidnapped and sold as a slave in Washington, DC. While awaiting transport to Louisiana to be resold, he was held for two weeks in Williams&rsquo Slave Pen. He described his surroundings, stating &ldquoThe building to which the yard was attached was two stories high, fronting on one of the public streets of Washington its outside presented only the appearance of a quiet private residence. A stranger looking at it would never have dreamed of its execrable uses. Strange as it may seem, within plain sight of this same house, looking down from its commanding height upon it was the Capitol.

Twelve years later, Northrup was able to reclaim his freedom. In 1853, he published an account of his life as an enslaved man in Louisiana in his book, 12 Years a Slave. This site is significant to Washington&rsquos history as it speaks to the background and setting for the DC emancipation, in 1862, and the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Although the buildings have been demolished, the site has rich archeological potential. Williams&rsquo Slave Pen is part of the DC African American Heritage Trail.


The fascinating story behind Orville Wright's final flight

Photo credit AAF: Orville Wright climbing into a C-69 Lockheed Constellation for his last flight

On April 17, 1944, Howard Hughes and TWA (Trans World Airlines) president Jack Frye flew a prototype Lockheed Constellation airliner from Burbank, California, to Washington, D.C., in 6 hours and 58 minutes, breaking the transcontinental speed record, and averaging 331mph.

On April 26, during the return trip, the aircraft stopped at Wright Field in Dayton to pick up a very special passenger: Orville Wright. More than 40 years after his historic first flight, Wright even sat at the controls of the airplane during his final 50-minute flight over Dayton, albeit for just a few brief moments.

"I guess I ran the whole plane for a minute but I let the machine take care of itself," Wright said of the experience. "I always said airplanes would fly themselves if you left them alone."

Wright also pointed out that the Constellation&rsquos 123-foot wingspan was longer than the distance of his first flight, which had traveled just 120 feet.


Hawthorn Hill is Orville Wright’s success mansion. Join the ranks of Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison as visitors to the world’s first pilot’s last home.

With its white pillars and twin porches, Hawthorn Hill has long been synonymous with Orville Wright and the Wright family. After purchasing property at the corner of Salem Avenue and Harvard Boulevard in Dayton, the Wright brothers’ younger sister, Katharine Wright, soon cajoled her world famous brothers to move construction to Oakwood’s rolling, idyllic hills. Although both Orville and Wilbur were involved in planning the home, Wilbur died of typhoid fever on May 30, 1912, at age 45.

Upon completion in 1914, Hawthorn Hill became the residence of Orville, Katharine, and their elderly father, Bishop Milton Wright. Over the next 34 years, the mansion welcomed Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and other luminaries.

When Orville died on January 30, 1948, Hawthorn Hill was purchased by National Cash Register (NCR) for use as a corporate guest house. For 58 years, the historic home was wonderfully preserved, but only open intermittently. Many regional residents long wondered what sat inside Orville’s mysterious mansion high upon an Oakwood hilltop.

But in August 2006, at the suggestion of Congressman Mike Turner, NCR gifted Hawthorn Hill to the Wright Family Foundation. Managed by the Wright brothers’ great-grandniece, Amanda Wright Lane, and great-grandnephew, Stephen Wright, the Wright Family Foundation asked Dayton History to manage and interpret the home.

In March 2009, Hawthorn Hill became part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. In June 2013, ownership was officially transferred to Dayton History. It is now open to the public, and though NCR remodeled the Colonial Revival home, they meticulously photographed Orville’s original décor. Dayton History is busy bringing the property back to its original appearance.

Private Event Rental Information

Hawthorn Hill is available for exclusive events year round! Please contact the Carillon Historical Park Facilities Rental Department at (937) 293-2841 or events@daytonhistory.org.


The Wright Brother's Print and Cycle Shop Locations

The Wright Brother's Cycle shops occupied six (1) different locations from the years 1892 through 1907. The addresses identified by previous historians, listed in order by date include 1005 West Third Street (December 1892-1893), 1015 West Third Street (1893), 1034 West Third Street (1893-October 1894), 22 South Williams Street (Spring of 1895-1897), 23 West Second Street (1895), and 1127 West Third Street (1897-1907). The Wright's printing business was also conducted at two of these addresses, 22 South Williams, and 1127 West Third Street. Prior to selling bicycles, the Wright's printing activities occurred at 15 Hawthorn Street (Sines & Wright, 1884), at 7 Hawthorn Street (Sines & Wright 1886 and Wright Bros Job Printers 1888/89), 1210 West Third Street (April 1889- October 1890), and the second floor level of the Hoover Block (October 1890- Spring of 1895). The Cycle repair business was briefly located at the second floor of the Hoover Block between the time of vacating 1034 West Third, and occupying 22 South Williams (October 1894-Spring 1895).

This author has found through the careful examination of the 1887-1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, the Williams' Dayton City Directories of the period, the Montgomery County Records and Archives, and other historical documents, that long accepted locations and details of a number of the buildings utilized by Wilbur and Orville Wright for their printing and cycle businesses have been in error due to previous historian's misinterpretations of the evidence. A number of factors responsible for the confusion will be explained as each early location is discussed.

  • The precise location of the Wright's first print shop at 1210 West Third Street historically has been incorrectly associated with a multi-tenant two-story structure that did not exist in 1889/1890 when the Wright's occupied this address.
  • The 1005 West Third Street building available to the Wrights in 1892/1893 was a small single-story structure, in lieu of the two-story tenant space, with basement, associated with the 1005 eastern section of the Gem City Ice Cream Building.
  • The location of the 1034 West Third Street Wright Cycle Exchange/Wright Cycle Company has been incorrectly identified as within a building (no longer standing) several lots east from its actual 1893/1894 location.

1210 West Third- West Side News/The Evening Item/Job Printing (April 1889-October 1890)

The Wright's first rented shop location for publication of their papers and job printing services from April of 1889 through October of 1890 was within a small single story building at 1210 West Third Street. This location has been misidentified by previous historians as the same store front occupied by The Busy Bee Lunch, as shown in Carillon Park Dayton History photograph P.2005.33.1146A, dated to 1952. The confusion was partly due to building address changes that have occurred along West Third Street over time. Further confusion was due to older buildings being replaced by newer structures with the same address, and then assumed to be the same building the Wright's occupied. The address number for The Busy Bee Lunch was 1210 in 1952, but prior to 1939, this address was 1206. (2) If the building had existed in 1889/90, the Wright's would have been located in this building two doors to the west. However, this structure wasn't in place in 1889/90 as can be seen by comparing the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of 1887, 1897, 1919, and 1950 below.

The Wright's West Side News / The Evening Item Printing location at 1210 West Third Street in 1889/90 occupied a small single-story building as shown in the 1887 and 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. Prior to 1919, this single-story building had been demolished and replaced by the 1200-1210 two-story structure shown on the 1919 Sanborn map and in the 1952 photograph. This newer structure was never occupied by the Wright's printing business.

The first edition of Orville's weekly paper was printed at 7 Hawthorn Street, dated March 1, 1889. Orville reported in the April 13, 1889 issue of West Side News, "We are glad to inform the friends of the News that we have secured a neat little office on Third Street, near the corner of Third and Broadway, where our business will be conducted hereafter. Persons wishing to subscribe for the paper or to insert advertisements will find us in the new building at 1210 West Third Street."

The October 12, 1889 issue of West Side News included an ad for Pearl Steam Laundry, and indicated customers could leave their work at the West Side News Office, apparently for pick up by Pearl Steam Laundry, for convenience of those living in West Dayton. Courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives, Core Scholar.

The May 1890 issues of The Evening Item included an advertisement for J. Champion's The Sandusky Fish Market. Note the address, 1210 W. Third Street. Orville and Wilbur shared this small store front with this fish market during 1890. The Fish Market was also listed in the 1890/91 William's Dayton City Directory, as was The Evening Item, both at 1210 West Third. Wilbur did like his Oysters, often on the menu for the dinner of the Annual Club of the Ten Dayton Boys. Courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives, Core Scholar.

Here at 1210 West Third Street, the Wright's published their weekly paper, West Side News, followed by their daily paper, The Evening Item, with the last issue dated July 30, 1890. Their mother Susan Wright died July 4, 1889 after a long battle with tuberculosis. Wilbur was praised by his father concerning his son's care for his mother in her final years, with Milton saying, "His mother being a declining, rather than a suffering invalid, he devoted himself to taking all care of her, and watching and serving her with a faithfulness and tenderness that can not but shed happiness on him in life, and comfort him in his last moments. Such devotion of a son has been rarely equaled." (3) Wilbur and Orville delayed the printing of the July 3, 1889 issue of West Side News to include the eulogy for their mother, stating, "We children learned to look upon mother as almost perfection itself. No kinder mother ever lived than ours none who loved her children more none who more unselfishly sacrificed her own comforts and joys to give pleasure and happiness to those she loved. For nearly eight years, she has been afflicted with lung disease and has gradually declined in health, but in that time no one ever heard one word of murmur or complaint pass her lips. A Christian since a child, she died like a babe falling asleep, the beloved wife and almost idolized mother. Upon father, weighed down as he is by both years and cares, this loss will fall heaviest. May Heaven sustain him. In the hearts of her children, Mother will ever live as the truest Christian, the noblest woman and the dearest mother, this world has ever produced. Our mother has gone, but her spirit will ever be with us."

July 3, 1889 West Side News Vol 1, No 17, printed at 1210 West Third Street, author's copy.

The Wright's first rented print shop location, 1210 West Third Street, 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance map superimposed on modern day aerial view of West Third Street and South Broadway. The site of the 1210 1889/90 building in 2021 is an empty lot. Today, just north of this location is the reproduction facade of the Wright Aeronautical Laboratory at 15 North Broadway (the Lab originally built in 1916). Orville's 3-story commercial/residential Boyd Building, constructed in 1912, was located at the northwest corner of West Third and North Broadway.

Standing by statue of Orville Wright at 15 North Broadway looking south toward West Third Street, the yellow arrow marks the location (in the parking lot south of West Third) of the 1210 West Third Street Wright's West Side News/The Evening Item Print Shop. Photo by author, June, 2021.

Location of 1210 Wright Print Shop coincidentally is centered at location of painted arrow pointing north into lot entry from West Third Street. Photo by author, June, 2021. Sign at southwest corner of Broadway and West Third identifies the area as Wright Printers Site (1889-1890).

The interview notes and research performed in 1936 by the Henry Ford team at the time the 1127 West Third Street Wright Cycle Shop was relocated to Dearborn Michigan is not without errors. From an interview with Orville 11-11-36, discussing the West Side News, the team wrote, "The weekly was devoted to the interests of the Dayton West Side. It carried advertising. Job work was also solicited from the local merchants. Orville Wright started this alone and Wilbur never had any financial interest in it. According to Mr. Wright, Wilbur's name was put on the masthead as editor since Wilbur, who wrote very easily, produced some of the editorials. Orville wrote the early ones. He was still in school when he started the business. Dunbar, the colored poet, who was a resident of Dayton, wrote a selection for the West Side News for the "April Bust" (1889 or 1890). Ed Sines had no part in West Side News." This is in error, as Ed Sines most definitely had a part in West Side News. He was the solicitor for advertisements. Orville was likely misunderstood, intending to communicate that Ed Sines had no written editorials in West Side News. The issue for "April Bust" by Paul Laurence Dunbar was April 5, 1890.

April 5, 1890 issue of West Side News with poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives, Core Scholar.

Hoover Block 2nd Fl- Wright & Wright Job Printers (November 1890-Spring 1895)

Hoover Block, southeast corner of West Third and Williams Streets. Photo by Author, March 2012.

West Side notes in the October 21, 1890 issue of The Dayton Herald, move from 1210 West Third to Second floor of Hoover Block.

West Side notes in the November 25, 1890 issue of The Dayton Herald, "Tid Bits" printed at the second floor level of the Hoover Block.

The second rented Wright & Wright Job Printers location was at the second floor level of the Hoover Block at the southeast corner of West Third and Williams streets, October 1890- Spring of 1895. Construction of the building had just recently been completed. Just two months prior, exterior brick work was ongoing, at that time just above the first floor story, and interior plastering and painting was underway. (4) Paul Laurence Dunbar's weekly newspaper "Dayton Tattler" was printed here in December of 1890. Just three issues were published- December 13, 20, and 27.

On May 2, 1891, Wright & Wright Job Printers issued an encore West Side News. This issue has been identified in the Wright State Special Collections and Archives Core Scholar website as published May 2, 1890, in lieu of 1891. "This issue of West Side News is believed to have been published in May of 1890 rather than 1891." The archived issue has the date 1891 crossed out in pencil with 1890 written above. This is in error. This can be clearly shown as not published in May of 1890 as on the second page of the issue, the printing location is given as the Hoover Block. The issue has no identification as to Volume 2, Issue 3, which it would have if printed in 1890 following the last printed issue Volume 2, Issue 2 April 5, 1890. Further, the first page includes an announcement from J. A. Gilbert that due to loses extending credit, after the date of May 1, 1891, he would only sell on the cash system. The news of the day could also easily be verified to that of 1891 in lieu of 1890.

May 2, 1891 West Side News published by Wright & Wright Printers, Hoover Block. Courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives, Core Scholar.

Three years later, the Wright's published another weekly called "Snap Shots at Current Events" with the first issue dated October 20, 1894. The 1894 issues of the Snap Shots up to the last issue of the year December 29, listed the location printed as Cor. Third & Williams. The January 19, 1895 issue lists no specific location for either the print shop or the Wright Cycle Shop, perhaps because the businesses were in transition, preparing to move to 22 South Williams.

Snap-Shots, December 29, 1894, Vol 1, No 11, Published weekly by Wright &Wright, Printers, Cor. Third & Williams, Hoover Block, second floor, courtesy of Library of Congress Archives.

Looking out from second floor window of Hoover Block toward northwest corner of West Third and Williams. Recreation of Wright & Wright Job Printers, photo by Author, 2014.

1005/1015 West Third Street- Wright Cycle Exchange (December 1892-1893)

The first location for the Wright's bicycle business has traditionally been identified as 1005 West Third Street, occupied in December of 1892. Wright historians (including this author) have written that the 1892 Wright Cycle Exchange was located in the same building later occupied and expanded by the Gem City Ice Cream Company. This "fact" has been repeated by many Wright historians, printed in numerous Wright biographies over the past 30+ years, and accepted as indisputable truth. This author however has determined through further study, that this piece of history is indeed incorrect, as can be ascertained through examination of the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of 1887, 1897, 1919, and 1950, the Williams' Dayton City Directories of this time period, the Montgomery County Auditor GIS Document Archives, and the Montgomery County Records Center and Archives. The facts are straightforward and evident, and will be clearly stated here, as there is much in print that states otherwise.

The 1005 West Third Street building available to be occupied by the Wright Cycle Exchange in 1892 was a small single story structure as indicated on the 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shown below, not much larger than the Wright's first printing shop location at 1210 West Third. Unlikely as a candidate for a Cycle Shop due to its small size, this 1005 building was necessarily later demolished for the construction of the 1005/07 two-story building eventually occupied by the Gem City Ice Cream Company in 1901/2. (Later expansions of the Gem City Ice Cream building attached to, and maintained much of the two-story original structure, including it's addresses of 1005/1007, and adding 1009/1011.) This building was originally known as The Nicholas Block, having been financed for construction by the owner, Abraham Nicholas. Abraham did not obtain this property (lot 6308) from the owners Henry and Elizabeth Kelly until January 18th of 1894. (5) The Kellys lived at the residence of 1003 West Third on this lot 6308 from 1892 through 1894. (Prior to the Kellys, 1003 West Third was occupied by James Heffron from 1884 through 1891.) (6) Before construction of the Nicholas Block could proceed, the residence at 1003 West Third, and the small single story 1005 structure would require removal.

Comparison of the 1887, 1897, 1919, and 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps shows the original single- story 1005 structure available to be occupied by the Wright Cycle Exchange in 1892 later replaced by the 1896 two-story 1005/1007 Nicholas Block structure, later occupied and expanded by The Gem City Ice Cream Company.

The construction of the Nicholas Block began no earlier than February of 1894, and completion was no later than September of 1896. As the Nicholas Block does not appear on the 1897 Sanborn map, construction likely occurred in 1896 with completion by September, late enough that it was missed in the 1897 Sanborn publication. Laura V. Nicholas advertised the opening of her Millinery in September of 1896, at 1007 West Third. Miss Nicholas ran a Millinery in 1007 of this building from 1896 (7) through 1900, the year her business ended due to bankruptcy. (8) The east half of the building, 1005, was occupied by Frost, Tillie, and Ray Benham, in 1899, Frost a merchant tailor, with residence at the second level. In 1900 and 1901, Frank Bayless, barber, and wife Ella utilized 1005, again with residence at the second floor. (9) In 1902, The Gem City Ice Cream Company moved into 1005.

The Montgomery County Auditor GIS website incorrectly lists the Nicholas Block as being constructed in 1890. Listing an incorrect construction date is not unusual for buildings of this period, the construction dates apparently often approximated. For example, the Montgomery County Auditor GIS website lists the Midget Theater at 1019 West Third as constructed in 1900, but it is well known historically that this building was constructed in 1912/13. The Montgomery County GIS Auditor website lists the Hoover Block at West Third and Williams streets as constructed in 1900, but it is well known historically that this building was constructed in 1890. The National Park Services July 2014 West Third Street Historic District Cultural Landscapes Inventory, incorrectly indicates 1886 as the construction date for The Nicholas Block, later to become the Gem City Ice Cream Building. The Nicholas Block was not in existence in 1886, nor was it in existence in 1892/3 and therefore had nothing to do with the first Wright Cycle Exchange building, except to displace a small single-story building at that location and to take it's address of 1005.

Examination of the Williams Dayton City Directories indicate no evidence of the 1005/1007 addresses of the Nicholas Block prior to 1896. Further, this author has found no listing in the William's Dayton City Directories for any business occupying the small single-story 1005 structure that existed for an unknown number of years between 1886 and 1895.

Some have suggested the 1005 West Third store proved to be too small, so the Wright's relocated to 1015 West Third. This would only make sense if 1005 was indeed a smaller single story building, and not the larger space in the Nicholas Block (which the archives clearly show did not exist in 1892/3). Or, perhaps in lieu of relocating, both 1005 and 1015 were occupied, with 1005 the repair shop, and 1015 the sales location. However, if 1005 was the repair shop, it would seem likely any advertisements for the business would have listed both addresses, but this was not the case (more on this later) (10) . The small single story 1005 structure that existed in 1892/3 had less square footage than the 1015 structure as is evident in the Sanborn maps below. The 1896 Nicholas Block east side 1005 had greater square footage than 1015, and so the Wrights would not have moved from the Nicholas Block in 1892 (if this building existed in 1892, which it did not) over to 1015 in 1893 for more space, as 1015 did not have more space than the Nicholas Block. The Wright Cycle Exchange 1034 location is shown for size comparison.

1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, West Third Street, with Nicholas Block 1005/1007 building superimposed from the 1919 Sanborn map for size comparison. Had the first Wright Cycle Exchange been located in the Nicholas Block, the Wright's would not have relocated to 1015 as the Nicholas Block had sufficient room, including a full basement. There is no evidence the Nicholas Block existed prior to 1896.

The competition in 1892 included Bicycle Repairer William F. Haas located at 115 E. Third Street, and D. Clinton Herby, located at 43 W. Fourth Street, with Herby also selling bicycles at that location. A. W. Gump & Company Bicycle Shop was also located at 115 E. Third Street, and James Dodds Bicycle Shop was located at 11 S. Main Street. Wilbur and Orville would have been familiar with these locations, and certainty would have taken into consideration the amount of space each utilized to successfully perform their repair tasks, and space required to sufficiently stock and display their bicycles and products of the trade. With this knowledge, does it make sense that the small store front at 1005 would have been chosen to accommodate both repair and sales?

Comparison of sizes of competitor's Cycle Shop locations to the Wright Cycle Shops utilizing 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. A.W. Gump Co also sold guns, hunting coats, and typewriters, their store being the largest. Assumption is made that competitor's spaces utilize one story. More research is required to determine total square footage available at each location. 23 West Second street appears to have more square footage than 1005, but less than 1015. 23 West Second was utilized for bicycle sales only, and not repair work.

As depicted in the 1887 and 1897 Sanborn maps, 1013/1015 was a combination commercial/residential building. The Fouts family occupied 1013 from 1871 through 1904. Josiah Fouts operated a grocer/feed store here from 1871 through 1879, then switching to manufacturing yeast here from 1879 until his death in 1895. (Orville mentioned Fouts in the March 16, 1889 issue of West Side News, "The Society of Christian Endeavor of the Broadway M. E. Church held a supper at the residence of Mr. Fouts, on West Third Street. ".) His wife continued the business until 1904. (11) Prior to around 1884, the address of this structure was 1011/1013. After that date, the address changed to 1013/1015. In 1889, J. H. Casler and eventually successor William U. Shoup occupied 1015 for his natural gas and steam pipe fitting business. Both advertised in Orville's West Side News, August through December of that year. Casler retired and Shoup relocated to 1034 West Third in 1890 and remained there through 1891. After Shoup vacated 1015, Chas. Benz Shoe Store moved in, advertising in the March issues of West Side News, 1890. (12) The Wright Cycle Exchange was advertised in the Dayton Evening Press as located at 1015 West Third in March of 1893 through at least May of that year. After Wright Cycle Exchange vacated to 1034 West Third, 1015 was occupied by Fouts' The Owl Drug Company from 1895 through 1898, run by Josiah and Ellen's son William. William was born the same year as Wilbur Wright (1867), and in 1904, was one of the witnesses to the Wright's flights at Huffman Prairie. The Owl Drug Company moved to the north west side of 3rd and Williams in 1899. (13)

The 1893 1015 West Third Street location for the Wright Cycle Exchange was discovered by Fred C. Fisk, co-author of The Wright Brothers from Bicycle to Biplane, with co-author Marlin W. Todd. Fred purchased a picture frame from a friend Rice Kendall at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds antique show in 1985. Within the frame was mounted an 1893 newspaper page, and on the bottom center of the page was an ad for the Wright Cycle Exchange. Upon closer examination, the address of 1015 West Third was seen, an address which was unknown as a Wright Cycle location up to that time. Fred contacted Nancy Horlacher at the Dayton Montgomery County Library, and requested that she search for the ad in the newspaper archives for 1893. Nancy determined the ads had been printed in the Dayton Evening Press for the dates March 25, 27-31, April 1, 3-8, and 10 for a total of 14 ads. The ad was revised for printing on April 11th, and another 25 ads were placed through May 16th. (14) The finding was questioned by some as possibly a typo of the address, which is beyond unlikely, as the Wright's would certainly of become aware of the typo after so many repeated printings. In fact, there is more evidence confirming the 1015 location, due to 39 printed ads carrying the 1015 address, as opposed to confirmation of the 1005 address with no ads at all.

Wright Cycle Exchange, 1015 West Third Street Between Williams and Baxter, 1893.

Orville Wright was interviewed in 1936 when Henry Ford purchased and relocated the 1127 Wright Cycle Company and 7 Hawthorn structures to Dearborn Michigan. From notes in the Benson Ford Library Archives, the initial typed interview account exists, as do multiple revised copies with additional information noted on each copy in pencil. In the original version, Orville did not indicate specific building numbers of the Wright Cycle business, but rather, general locations. The original version reads, "Mr. Wright stated (11-20-36) that their first bicycle shop was located in the middle of the one thousand block on the north side of Third Street, that they were in this location only four or five months- November or December, 1892 to May 1893. They moved because there wasn't sufficient room. Their next location was on the south side of Third street in the same block. In the early part of 1895 they moved again, this time to Williams Street. "Orville Wright stated that the first bicycle shop was located in the middle of the one thousand block on the north side. 1005 was not in the middle, it was to the extreme far east end of the 1000 block. 1015, however, is more to the middle, as described by Orville Wright. Orville made no mention of two locations, one a repair shop and the other for sales. (15)

Milton's diary entry for December 21, 1892, ". Wilbur sick in evening Appendicitis."

At the eighth annual meeting of the Annual Club of Ten Dayton Boys (October 14, 1893), Wilbur shared "Soon after our last meeting I was taken very ill and was confined to the house for nearly a month. At length I was well enough to go about again but a few days before Christmas I had another attack much more severe than the other, from which I did not recover for for nearly two months. Indeed I am not sure that I am entirely rid of it yet. About the beginning of April I embarked in the bicycle business and though times have been very hard and prices very unsteady, I have escaped bankruptcy. I spent a few days in August attending bicycle races at Columbus and Springfield, and in September spent a month at the 'Columbian Exposition'. The rest of the year has been spent at home." It is curious he felt he hadn't really begun in the business until April 1893, during the time he clearly occupied 1015 West Third, a week after the ads began to appear in The Dayton Evening Press, with his first customers perhaps dropping by at that time (customers never to step foot in 1005 West Third). Fred Kelly wrote, "Their first interest in bicycles was racing but as their interest grew, they arranged in December, 1892, to start the Wright Cycle Co., to sell, repair, and manufacture bicycles. They opened for business in the Spring of 1893." (22)

1015 was occupied by George W. M. Bookwalter, Real Estate, from 1901-1908, and by S.E. Bookwalter Electric Company from 1912-1918. Louis F Korte Lighting Fixtures moved in late 1918 and stayed through 1932. Liberty Electric is listed at this address from 1934 through 1937. In 1937, the adjacent 1017 building was demolished and a new building constructed in its place, financed by the Gem City Ice Cream Company and leased to Liberty Electric. H.P. Morris & Co moved in to 1015 to take Liberty's place in 1937. Ed John's Appliance Shop was located in 1015 from 1940 through 1942. 1015 was listed as vacant in 1944 and 1946. The Hagar family lived at 1015 1/2 from 1944 through at least 1948. The Gem City Ice Cream Company was using 1015 as warehouse space in 1948. 1015 was demolished prior to 1951, no longer listed as an address in that year's directory, and no longer depicted on the 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. Perhaps an archeological dig at the site would yield a portion of the basement foundation preserved below grade where this building stood until 70 years ago. (21)

1034 West Third Street- Wright Cycle Exchange (1893), Wright Cycle Company (1894)

The Wright Cycle Exchange relocated to 1034 West Third Street in 1893. The correct location of 1034 can be determined by examination of the Sanborn maps of 1887, 1897, 1919, and 1950. Address changes occurring in 1939 have confused previous historians, resulting in misidentifying the Orth Building as the location for the Wright Cycle Exchange. This building carried the address of 1022/1024 originally. After 1939, the address was changed to 1030/1034. The correct location of 1034 is identified by the yellow stars in this author's compilation of the Sanborn maps below.

Compilation of Sanborn maps from 1887, 1897, 1919, and 1950 is shown here, assembled by this author. The location of 1034 West Third is identified in each with a yellow star. This marks the building where the Wright Cycle Exchange/Wright Cycle Company was located in 1893-1894. The numbering of the addresses changed in 1939, with old and new numbering depicted on the 1950 plan. 1034 was changed to 1048. Also note that 1022/1024 was changed to 1030/1034, leading previous historians to mistakenly identify this building as the location of the 1893/94 Wright Cycle Company.

The Moose Cafe, located at 1022 West Third Street, as pictured in the May 15, 1915 issue, courtesy of the Dayton Daily News.

The Orth building, 1960's photo. The Moose Cafe occupied 1022 for decades, closing in the early 1960's. The address for this building and others on West Third had changed in 1939. 1022/1024 was changed to 1030/1034. Due to the address change, this photo has mistakenly been attributed to the 1034 Wright Cycle Company location of 1893/94. The actual location of 1034 was further to the west. In 1893/4, the front commercial addition pictured here did not exist, the address was 1024, and the structure was a residence.

Current day empty lot of former location of Orth building and Moose Cafe. Note the short concrete wall along the right (west) side of the property. This wall can be seen in the 1960's picture of the Orth building previously shown. Photo by Author.

Panoramic view of present day structures along south side of West Third street showing empty lot at center of former location of Orth Building (Moose Cafe). Photos by Author, 2021. Click on image for larger view.

Panoramic view with Orth Building inserted in empty lot where it used to stand. The address prior to 1939 was 1022/24. The Orth Building address changed to 1032/34 after 1939, confusing later historians. The actual location of the Wright Brother's Wright Cycle Exchange was further to the west at the east most storefront of the Setzer Building location, just west of the Fish Market. Click on image for larger view.

2021 Photo by author of West Third Street Setzer Building and Hoover Block, with historical pre-1939 address of 1034 West Third Street, former Wright Cycle Exchange/Wright Cycle Company location 1893/94. Also shown are the adjacent businesses and addresses of 1893/94. Chas Chaffee Ice Cream was located at 1044 in the Hoover Building. Above 1046, at the second floor level of the Hoover Block, Wright & Wright Job Printers operated from 1890-1895. Also at second floor level, Cincinnati Grocery Company.

When Wright Cycle Exchange occupied 1034 West Third, the building was a single story structure as indicated in the 1887 and 1897 Sanborn maps. After the Wright's vacated 1034 in 1894, George Winder's Feed Store occupied 1034 from 1896 through George Winder's death in March of 1903. John Wagner's Feed Store was located here from 1905 through 1907. Likely in 1906, 1034 was converted to a two-story building. (16) Photos from 1912, 1920, and 1921 show 1034 tight against the adjacent 1036/1038/1040 building, with similar clapboard facade. By 1925, the clapboard had been replaced with a brick facade that exists to this day. This building historically has been called The Setzer Building. From 1905 through 1914, The Setzer Brothers Bakery occupied 1036, briefly also occupying 1038 in 1906. In 1925, The Purple Delight was located in 1034, and DeWeese Hardware Company was at 1036. Photos of each appeared at separate times and are compiled below merged with modern photo of the Setzer brick facade.

The Purple Delight 1034 store front was pictured in the September 5, 1925 Dayton Herald. The DeWeese Hardware Company store front at 1036 was pictured in the April 16, 1925 Dayton Daily News.The doors in between the storefronts led to the second floor residential level.

In August of 1925, The Purple Delight opened at 1034 West Third Street. It has not been determined if the storefront of the Wright's 1893 Wright Cycle Exchange and 1894 Wright Cycle Company at this location was similar in appearance, but it was located at this exact position.

2021 photo showing east edge of front facade above historical tenant space 1034 preserved from original Setzer building with newer structure extended to the south (behind the facade). This brick facade replaced the original clapboard facade sometime between 1922 and 1925.

View of the Setzer building basement east foundation wall supporting the remnant of the original facade. This section of wall may well represent the original east basement wall of the Wright's 1034 West Third street Wright Cycle Exchange. The framed single-story 1034 building occupied by the Wright's in 1893/4 was converted to a two-story building likely in 1906. If the construction was a total replacement from basement upward, then the basement wall pictured here does not date back to the Wright's occupation. However, if the basement was maintained, then this wall may represent a remnant of the Wright's 1034 Wright Cycle Exchange/ Wright Cycle Company.

From the Benson Ford Archives, Orville Wright, when interviewed in November of 1936, the interviewer wrote, "The printing business was continued along with the bicycle shop. Mr. Wright stated (11-11-36) that the printing press, which was made mostly of wood, had a metal bed and steel cylinders and that it was such a freak thing that people came to see it. He said that it was stored in a cellar at 1034 Third Street where they had located in 1894-95 (actually 1893-94) and just left there." It is curious that this printer would be stored in the basement of the 1034 West Third Street Wright Cycle Company, as printing at that time was being performed at the Hoover Block next door. This 1936 account is in conflict with the 1909 account of Edwin Sines. From the June 15, 1909 issue of The Dayton Herald, Disagreement of Boys is Cause of Success, the following account was provided, "The Wright boys invented a printing press of their own, made of wood, which did an excellent work, and which caused considerable comment, and drew a great deal of attention from publishers and pressmen in all parts of the country. not the least of these being. E. C. James. Sines describes one of his visits to the print shop of the Wright Brothers as follows. 'E. C. James, I think he was agent for a Chicago house at the time, came to the printing shop almost every time he visited the city. One day he walked into the front office and asked if 'that Wright press is running today'. When we told him it was running at the time he said he would like to see it. Well, he went back into the press room, stood by the machine, looked at it, then sat down beside it and finally crawled underneath it. After he had been under the machine some little time he got up and said, 'well, it works, but I certainly can't see how it does the work', and he was like many others', continued Sines, who admitted that hardly anyone but the Wrights could figure out the machine. When the Wrights quit the printing business, the machine was taken apart, the bed sold to a man who used it for an entirely different purpose than a printing press, and the balance of the machine remained in the cellar under the workshop for a long time. This type of machine was never duplicated by any other inventor, although its existence and its work had been heralded to practically all printing press offices in this part of the country." From this account, the location Sines describes for the final resting place of the printer is 1127 West Third, not 1034 West Third. He mentioned the press wasn't dismantled until the Wright's quit the printing business, and the balance of the machine was stored in the cellar under the workshop. This didn't occur until 1899, when the Wrights occupied 1127 West Third.

Stationary letterhead for 1034 West Third Street Wright Cycle Company, letter from Wilbur to father Milton, courtesy of the Library of Congress Archives.

Wilbur wrote to his father Milton Wright on October 2, 1894, and shared, "We will give up our bicycle store in about a week and will probably move our repair shop up stairs in the printing office. There is hardly enough business to justify us in keeping so expensive a room any longer." Assuming this plan was implemented, the 1034 West Third location was abandoned, and the bicycle repair business was temporarily moved to the second floor of the Hoover Block, joined with Wright & Wright Job Printers.

23 West Second Street- Wright Cycle Company (1895)

Announcements under the heading of "The Bicycle Industry" in the February 13, 1895 issue of The Dayton Evening Herald, stated, " Probably no branch of business in Dayton will be so brisk this year as the bicycle industry. Dayton is the center of activity here-abouts in the bicycling trade. With a manufactory and about a dozen stores, some of them branch offices, and among the largest in the country, Dayton will go ahead with a boom, the coming season. A list of the dealers, and the wheels they will handle follows: The Indiana Bicycle Company, of Indianapolis, has established a branch here for the sale of their wheel, the Waverly. Walter E. Haas & Co. will handle Tribunes and Eagles for high grade wheels, and Crescents for a medium priced machine. The Dayton Cycle Company, Frank Rudy, manager, will continue to sell E.C. Stearns & Co.'s output, the Yellow Fellows, the coming season. They will also handle the Munger, a high grade wheel, and the Outing and Cornell for cheaper grade bicycles. A.W. Gump & Co. will sell the Rambler bicycle, strictly high grade. They will also handle the U.S. wheel, a bicycle made especially for them. They have besides the agency for the Crescent and Admiral. William Hall has the Columbia agency, and will sell Columbias and Hartfords exclusively. Mr. T. M. Harley will work up the interests of the Eclipse, the Ide and the Elmore. The Wright Cycle Company will continue to handle the Halliday-Temple Scorcher, and have beside the Wright special, New Reading and the Featherstone wheels.

G. W. Shroyer & Co., are on hand with the Victor wheels. They have opened a new store and will sell Victors, Falcons, Shroyer's Special and the Featherstone line of machines. A number of the bicycle dealers who were in the business last year will not handle wheels the coming season."

Indiana Bicycle was located at 12 West Second street. William Hall sold the Hartford's and Columbia's at 14 West Second. The Dayton Cycle Company was located at 20 West Second Street, manager Frank S. Rudy. On April 12th of 1895, an ad appeared in The Dayton Evening Herald, announcing a New Bicycle Store, located across the street from Dayton Cycle, "Frank S. Rudy, 23 W. Second St.", dealer of Barnes Bicycles, "Highest Grade and listed at $100.00- sells for $85.00 on account of our late opening." The ads continued through that week. Rudy "severed his relationship with the Dayton Cycle Company, and is now in business for himself." (17) However, by May of 1895, the store front at 23 W. Second St was vacated, and Frank S. Rudy had left the Dayton area for Syracuse NY to work for the Stearns Manufacturing Company. (18) In short order, 23 W. Second St was occupied by yet another Bicycle dealer, The Wright Cycle Company. The Dayton Cycle Company would advertise by June of 1895 that they were distributors of Barnes bicycles.

Milton Wright records in his diary entry of May 24, 1895, "At home writing. In afternoon called at Best's & got my watch, $3.00 charges at Young's 15 minutes and at Wilbur's bicycle store, 23 W. Second Street." Interesting that Milton refers to the location as Wilbur's perhaps Orville ran the 22 South Williams store.

The July 10, 1895 "Cycle Notes" printed in the Evening Herald shared, "The Wright Cycle Co. has removed from the West Side to 2nd St., a few doors west of Main." Misleading, in that Wright Cycle did not leave the West Side, but rather, opened a location in downtown Dayton, while maintaining their new shop location at 22 South Williams Street. The Wright's would operate the 23 West Second street location for less than a year. (19)

Advertisement for Wright Cycle Company, two locations, 23 West Second, and 22 South Williams. Ads appeared in The Dayton Herald, month of July 1895.

25/23 West 2nd Street during the March 1913 flood. 25/23 West 2nd is the building with the 2nd floor railing, sandwiched between The Inn to the left, and Rike-Kumler to the right. Frank Beh "Artistic Picture Frame Maker and Gilder" was located at 25 West 2nd.

Panoramic formed by author by joining two postcard views, West 2nd Street looking east toward Main street. These buildings no longer stand, now location of the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. Click on image for larger view.

The February 13, 1895 article quoted earlier made mention the Wright Cycle Company was engaged in production of "The Wright Special" in February of 1895, or at least planning for production before the opening of the 23 West Second location in May of 1895. This is one year earlier than has been noted by other sources. Orville wrote to his father on October 8th of 1895, saying, "Our bicycle business is beginning to be a little slack, though we sell a wheel now and then. Repairing is pretty good. We expect to build our wheels for next year. I think it will pay us, and give us employment during the winter." (20) Perhaps a number of Wright Specials were produced and sold during the 1895 season, showing promise for beginning the production of other Wright brands in 1896. In the March 28th, 1902 issue of The Dayton Herald, an article likely written by the Wrights promoting The Wright Cycle Company indicated, "The Wright Cycle Company began business on West Third street in 1893, and is now the oldest bicycle firm in Dayton. For several years it acted as agent for several well known English and American factories, but in 1896, after some experimenting, it began the manufacture of bicycles in its own shop. Van Cleve bicycles have now been on the market for six years. " It is possible the "some experimenting" mentioned here, had occurred during the 1895 season at the 22 South Williams location, with sales of these experimental bicycles offered at 23 West Second.

22 South Williams Street- Wright Cycle Company/Wright & Wright Printers (1895-1897)

The Wright's moved both the printing and bicycle businesses to 22 South Williams Street in early 1895. They would remain at this location into 1897. The Benson Ford Library Archives include information shared by Orville Wright in November 30, 1936, "In the early part of 1895 they moved again, this time to Williams Street where they began building the Van Cleve bicycle in 1896, making about fifteen the first year. In addition to this they continued to sell other makes of bicycles which bore the trade name 'Redding'. After starting the manufacture of the Van Cleve bicycle. A couple years later they started the manufacture of the St. Clair, a medium priced bicycle and then added the Wright Special which sold at $18.00 each. This was of seamless tubing and was equipped with Morgan & Wright tires. The Wright Special was made to meet competition and they did not make so many of them."

Restored 22 South Williams Wright Cycle Company. Photo by author, 2020.

On May 16, 1896, Milton Wright wrote in his diary, ". .The boys got the first 'Wright Special' bicycle ready for sale, and a ladies' wheel about so- both their own manufacture."

The Oberlin Review reported in the September 30th issue that "Miss Wright went home after summer school to nurse her brother through typhoid fever."

Milton wrote his daughter Katharine on August 31, 1896, "I am sorry that Orville is sick, and sorry that I am away when he is sick. While I hope it may prove but a mild attack, I have grave apprehensions that it may prove a severe siege. Inform me by mail, and by telegraph, if the latter is necessary. Put him in the best room for air and comfort. Sponge him off gently & quickly with the least exposure & follow with mild friction. Let no one use the well water at the store henceforth. Boil the water you all drink, and set it in ice water to cool. Use the best economy about rest. Be temperate in articles eaten. Be regular." Milton and Katharine assumed the source of Orville's typhoid was the well water at 22 South Williams.

September 4, 1896, Milton wrote, ". Found Orville very sick with typhoid fever. The temperature at one time, days ago, ran to 105.5 degrees. Temperature is now about 102 or 103 degrees." Over the next several weeks, Orville slowly recovered.

Stationary letterhead for 22 South Williams Street Wright Cycle Company, letter from Wilbur to father Milton, courtesy of the Library of Congress Archives.

1127 West Third Street- Wright Cycle Company (1897-07), Wright & Wright Printers (1897-99)

The Wright Brothers Cycle Shop previously located at 1127 West Third Street in Dayton Ohio is currently preserved at the Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan, purchased by Henry Ford in 1936, relocated there in 1937, and opened to the public in 1938 with the blessing of Orville Wright. This location is of major significance as this was where their aviation experiments took place where they performed their wind tunnel experiments, where Charlie Taylor constructed the engine, where the gliders and flyers were constructed.
Prior to 1896, this structure was a residence. The owner, Charles W. Webbert, remodeled the home during the winter of 1896/97, constructing the addition to the front for conversion of the residential structure to a commercial building. When the remodeling was completed, the Wright Brothers moved the Wright Cycle Company, and their printing business Wright & Wright from 22 South Williams to the west half of this building (1127) in the Spring of 1897. Brandenburg Interior Screen Company had moved in to 22 South Williams by May 8th, so the Wrights had vacated at least by that date. Fetters & Shank Undertakers had moved in to 1125 at the newly modified Webbert building by May 29th, the Wright's new neighbors once they occupied 1127.

May 29, 1897 The Dayton Herald, 1125 West Third, Fetters & Shank Undertakers- neighboring business to the Wright Cycle Company at 1127 West Third.

Wright Cycle Company and Wright & Wright at 1127 West Third, in 1897. Shop is inserted into modern day panoramic view of north side of 1100 block of West Third Street, Dayton, Ohio. Adjacent businesses of 1897 are labeled. Photos by author, 2016. Click on image for expanded view.

Business neighbors of Wright Cycle Company north side of 1100 block West Third Street in 1897-

1101- Richard Barrett, China, Glass, Queensware

1103- Hoffman & Kelly Grocery

NW corner West Third and Williams- Fouts' The Owl and Drug Company (1899-)

1105- Frank Hamburger Hardware (1899)

1107- Kepler Brothers Sundries, Second Hand Bicycles (1898)

1105/07- Frank Hamburger Hardware (1899-1936)

1105/07- Hamburger Hardware (1937-)

1109- William Tompert Daily Market

1111- Bruno Williams Boot and Shoe Maker

1117- James T. Wallace Confectioners, Window Springs

1121- Charles Webbert Gas Fitters & Fixtures, Well Drivers

1123- Vacated by Fetters & Shank when 1125 became available

1125- Fetters & Shank Undertakers

1127- Wright Cycle Company / Wright & Wright Printers

1129- Z. T. Hoover residence (1897) Hoover/Hale residence (1899)

1133- Benjamin F. Arnold Carpenter & Builder, Washing Machines

1133- Edmund B. Emery China, Glass, Queensware, News Depot

1139- Perry E. Meredith Tailor, Merchant

1139 1/2- Charles F. Johnson Cigars, Wholesale Dealer, Confectioners

Wright Cycle Company news clips and ads from neighboring businesses as printed in The Dayton Herald.

And 1100 block south side of West Third Street across from Wright Cycle Shop in 1897-

1114- Frank Stutebeak Clothing Renovator (1897)

1114- William Weckerly Bicycles (1898/9)

1116- Domestic West Side Laundry

1118- Frank J. Bayless Barber

1124- Frank Hamburger Hardware & Cutlery, Stoves (1897/8)

1126- Eliza Rapp Dress Maker

1128- Gottlab Gaessler Boots & Shoe Maker

1130- Irwin & Haeselar Dry Goods

1134- Gem City Buggy Works

1140- Clark E. Sealey Boots & Shoes Maker

1142- Henry C. Truel Dry Goods

1144- Welthie M. Crow Dress Maker

Van Cleve and Wright Special Bicycles manufactured at Wright Cycle Company, May 1897. Stationary letterhead for 1127 West Third Street Wright Cycle Company, letter from Wilbur to father Milton, courtesy of the Library of Congress Archives.

May 4, 1898 The Dayton Herald "West Side". In addition to the Van Cleve and St. Clair, the "Wright Specials" were a brand name of bicycles manufactured by Wilbur and Orville, first mentioned in the February 13, 1895 Dayton Evening Herald. None of the "Wright Special's" are known to exist today.

Stationary letterhead for 1127 West Third Street Wright Cycle Company, letter from Orville to father Milton, courtesy of the Library of Congress Archives.

From the Benson Ford Library Archives interview with Orville Wright in 1936, "1897-99- Printing plant located in the Webbert Building at 1123 1/2-25-27 Third Street. It was in the southeast corner room up on the second floor. After 1899 this room was used by the Wrights for a drafting room. In it they laid out the drawings for their engines and airplane inventions. Orville Wright let Ed Sines use the printing plant. In 1910, the Wright Brothers gave up the lower floor and took three rooms upstairs for their personal offices which they occupied until 1916 when the 15 North Broadway Building was erected."

1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps indicating the Wright's printing and bicycle shop locations by year. Click on the image for expanded view. 23 West Second Street location not shown.

The original pitched roof of the residence is visible on the west side as seen in the photo below. The vertical brick line bisecting the west (left) face of the building provides reference of the extent of the addition to the front of the original home.

1127/1125 West Third Street, around 1910, courtesy of the Collections of The Henry Ford, Benson Ford Research Center Wright Brothers Collection. The original pitched roof of the residence dating to before 1896 is visible at the west (left) side of the building.

March 2, 1902 Dayton Daily News.

For the full account of the 1127 West Third Street Wright Cycle Company location, please see the post-

Copyright 2021-Getting the Story Wright (Revisions 6/26/21)

The Other Career of Wilbur and Orville- Wright & Wright Printers by Charlotte K. and August E. Brunsman, 1989.

The Wright Brothers from Bicycle to Biplane by Fred C. Fisk and Marlin W. Todd, 1990/2000.

A Field Guide To Flight, On The Aviation Trail in Dayton, Ohio, by Mary Ann Johnson, 1986.

1. Seven locations if count the temporary move to the second floor of the Hoover Block in 1894 after leaving 1034 West Third, and prior to occupying 22 South Williams. Further, if either 1005 or 1015 is discounted, then the total would be back to six locations.

2.Address changes are shown on the 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, both older and newer addresses listed. To determine exact year of change, I followed a number of known businesses through the years in the Williams Dayton City Directories from 1919 forward until address changes were noted in the year 1939.

3. The Dayton Herald, June 16, 1909, "Bishop Wright tells of the Early Work of Celebrated Sons, Their Ambitions".

4.The Dayton Herald, August 4, Brick work above 1st story, August 30, painters and plasterers working, October 9, Barber Shop to east room of Hoover Block next week. Issues from 1890.

5. Montgomery County Auditor GIS Documents & Montgomery County Records Center & Archives, Abstract Books by City- Dayton 25, Plot 6308. Grantor A.R. Nicholas / Elizabeth Kelly Grantee, Mortgage, Book 167, page 560 & Grantor Elizabeth Kelly / A.R. Nicholas Grantee, Deed, Book 196, page 41. Abraham Nicholas did not own this property until January of 1894.

6. Williams Dayton City Directories years 1884-1894.

7. The Dayton Herald, September 26, 1896, West Side Millinery Opening. "Miss L. V. Nicholas will have her fall millinery opening . No. 1007 West Third St."

8. The Dayton Daily News, June 11, 1900, Order of Injunction From United States Court Served On Squire Markey. "...cases that have been brought against Laura V. Nicholas, formerly a West-Side milliner. The proceeding was brought about by the involuntary bankruptcy case of Abraham R. Nicolas against Laura V. Nicholas. There is a suit pending in Squire Markey's court brought by May Rowland to attach the millinery stock of Miss Nicholas. The constable closed the store several weeks ago. "

9. Williams Dayton City Directories 1899/1900, 1900/01, 1901/02.

10. The suggestion that Wilbur selected 1005 West Third in December of 1892, and determined it was too small prior to the busy Spring season, and decided to move to 1015 West Third for several months is problematic. How could Wilbur have so misjudged the needed space in which to operate a bicycle business? Would he not have observed his several competitor cycle shops in Dayton at the time, to determine the space he would require? Orville Wright indicated the first cycle shop was located in the middle of the north side of the 1000 block on West Third. This corresponds with 1015 West Third, not 1005. The 1015 address is supported by 39 printed advertisements in the months of March, April, and May of 1893. The evidence and logic points to 1015 as being the correct historical address of the first Wright Cycle Exchange. This author believes if the trail can be followed back, it could be found that the 1005 address was mistakenly given in lieu of the 1015 address, and then innocently repeated by Fred Kelly and others until it became indisputable fact. And so the research continues.

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Initial typed version of interview of 11/20/1936 with Orville Wright concerning Cycle Shop locations, with marks and revisions leading to final version including specific address numbers. This author suggests that Orville provided the initial information of first draft and later drafts included information as researched by the Henry Ford team. Otherwise, a specific date of the interview would not have been provided, if in fact the interview extended over days, or weeks, or a longer period of time as these revisions were made. Orville was interviewed on many subjects of his and Wilbur's history by the Dearborn team, with a specific date of interview given, and each has many revisions as these records were prepared. The direct contradiction of the first bicycle shop located in the middle of the thousand block vs. #1005 which is located at the far east end of the 1000 block is evident. Courtesy of the Benson Ford Library Wright Brother Archives, Dearborn, Michigan.

These initial interview notes revised and revised again were prepared by The Edison Institute. Their publication of the "Dedication of The Wright Brothers Home and Shop in Greenfield Village, Dearborn Michigan April Sixteen Nineteen Hundred Thirty-Eight includes an abbreviated portion of the Wright Cycle shop history. The first chapter, "The Wright Home and Shop" include page 11 reading, "Wilbur and Orville opened their bicycle shop at 1005 West Third Street in 1892 after securing the agencies for several different makes of bicycles. When that shop became too small they moved to 1034 West Third Street. In 1895 they moved again, this time to 22 South Williams Street where they began building bicycles of their own. " The reference of the first cycle shop being located in the middle of the 1000 block as expressed by Orville Wright was lost in the final version.

In Fred Kelly's book, "The Wright Brothers", 1943, Kelly wrote, "Their first sales room was at 1005 West Third Street. They rented it in December, 1892, to be ready for business when the bicycle season began in the early spring of 1893. For a while Orville divided his time between the bicycle shop and the printing business across the street in which Ed Sines was still employed. The brothers soon had to move their bicycle business to larger quarters, at 1034 West Third Street." It seems likely Kelly's source for this information was from the earlier 1936-1938 Henry Ford research on this subject, which appears to be the primary source. Kelly did have access to Orville Wright and to his secretary Mabel Beck while writing the book, but it makes sense he would gather previously published information for inclusion.

In John McMahon's book "The Wright Brothers Fathers of Flight", 1930, he wrote, "The job printers branched out in 1892 with the addition of a bicycle repair shop to their line. No doubt they saw profit and were also lured by the idea of playing with a new machine, the ball-bearing 'safety' with compressed air within rubber tires. 'Wright Cycle Co.' was the legend put above the modest shop in a two-story brick building at Number 1127 West Third Street. Despite the two enterprises they found leisure in the fall of 1892 to repair and improve the homestead on Hawthorn Street. " McMahon was apparently unaware that the Wrights Cycle business was not located at 1127 West Third Street until 1897. Clearly, McMahon had been completely unaware that the Brothers cycle business occupied a number of other locations other than just 1127 West Third.

From another early book from this time period, in Mitchell Charnley's "Boys' Life of the Wright Brothers", 1928, Charnley wrote, "The business started in 1893 as a simple bicycle-repair shop. " As he continues providing details of the business, no mention of multiple shop locations is made, and no specific addresses are indicated.

11. Williams Dayton City Directories 1871 through 1904/05. Also, The Dayton Herald, August 14, 1895, Deaths, Josiah Fouts, "Funeral from his late residence, No. 1015 West Third street..."

12. The Wright's West Side News and The Evening Item printed ads for businesses located at 1015 West Third Street. Their papers never listed an ad for any business at 1005 West Third Street. This author has been unable, to date, to find any business listed in the William's Dayton City Directories located at 1005 West Third Street between the years 1883 and 1897. Prior to 1883, a residence existed at 1005 West Third, with occupants known for the years 1871, 1880, 1881, and 1882.

13. Williams Dayton City Directories 1894-1899.

14. The Wright Brothers from Bicycle to Biplane, by Fred C. Fisk and Marlin W. Todd, 1990/2000.

15. Orville Wright was interviewed in 1936 when Henry Ford purchased and relocated the 1127 Wright Cycle Company and 7 Hawthorn structures to Dearborn Michigan. From notes in the Benson Ford Library Archives, the initial typed interview account exists, as do multiple revised copies with additional information noted on each copy in pencil. In the original version, Orville did not indicate specific building numbers, but rather, general locations. The original version reads, "Mr. Wright stated (11-20-36) that their first bicycle shop was located in the middle of the one thousand block on the north side of Third Street, that they were in this location only four or five months- November or December, 1892 to May 1893. They moved because there wasn't sufficient room. Their next location was on the south side of Third Street in the same block. In the early part of 1895 they moved again, this time to Williams Street where they began building the Van Cleve bicycle in 1896, making about fifteen the first year. In addition to this they continued to sell other makes of bicycles which bore the trade name 'Redding'. Mr. Wright said that a letter appeared in one of the Dayton papers recently stating that their Williams Street address was the original shop and that we may receive letters from time to time from folks who will claim that some one of their other shops was the original. After starting the manufacture of the Van Cleve bicycle, which sold at the top price of the period, $75.00 to $90.00. A couple years later they started the manufacture of the St. Clair, a medium priced bicycle and then added the Wright Special which sold at $18.00 each. This was of seamless tubing and was equipped with Morgan & Wright tires. The Wright Special was made to meet competition and they did not make so many of them. As they got more involved in the airplane business, they left the bicycle business taper off. In 1904 and 1905 they still made enough out of the bicycle business to pay expenses of airplane experimenting. The most they sold in any one year of their own make was about one hundred. Finally, about 1905 or 1906, they sold out the balance of their stock to a Mr. Myers." In the final version, the specific building addresses are given, plus much more detail and revisions to models of bicycles, prices, and dates are provided. It is unlikely Orville was questioned further for the later revisions as a specific date was given of the time of the interview. Henry Ford's team expanded the account based on further research, perhaps through Orville's secretary Mabel Beck. Fred Kelly repeated the 1005 address in "The Wright Brothers", but his accounts read similar to the Benson Ford Archive final revised reading, likely his source for this specific information.

16. John F. Wagner owned a Feed Store located at 1034 West Third in 1905. In 1906, he had relocated to 1524 West Third. By October of 1906, he had returned to 1034 West Third. This temporary relocation hints at 1906 as being the year the single story 1034 building was rebuilt or modified with a second story.

17. April 27, 1895 The Dayton Evening Herald, "Bicycling", Some of the Latest Gossip Relative to the Exhilarating Exercise- The Bloomers a-Bloomin'.

18. May 31, 1949 Dayton Daily News, "Frank S. Rudy Rites Thursday". Frank would return to Dayton and by 1905 operate a Dairy stand at the Arcade Market.

19. The 1895/96 Williams Dayton City Directory lists The Wright Cycle Shop at 22 South Williams and 23 West Second. The 1896/97 Dayton Directory lists The Wright Cycle Shop at only 22 South Williams.

20. Library of Congress Wright Brother Archives.

21. William's Dayton City Directories 1900-1951, and numerous newspaper articles. The Dayton Herald, March 25, 1937, "Bids Accepted", "Bids are being received now for the erection of a new store building at 1017 West Third street for the Gem City Ice Cream company. 28' on Third street and extending to a depth of 70'. When completed, the building will be occupied by the Liberty Electric company. " The Dayton Herald, April 17, 1937, "Award Contract on New Building", "The Shartzer company will begin razing the structure on the grounds, Monday and the new building will be completed in about six weeks. "

22. Orville Wright How We Invented The Airplane, An Illustrated History, Edited, with an Introduction and Commentary , by Fred C. Kelly. Additional Text by Alan Weissman, 1953, 1988.


Orville Wright - History

Orville Wright, along with his brother Wilbur, launched into both history books and legend with the first ever manned powered flight.

This feat was accomplished through a lifetime's work and commitment.

The historic flight was the fruit of their unending devotion the pursuit of their goals.

Orville Wright was born on August 19, 1871 on 7 Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio. He was the fourth child of Bishop Milton Wright and Susan Catharine Wright.

Orville grew up in an atmosphere that was loving, and that nurtured all types of expression. Orville wrote of his childhood: "We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests to investigate whatever aroused curiosity(ref)." The two libraries in the Wright house were especially encouraging of academic pursuits.

Orville was the more mischievous of the two brothers, had a healthy childhood, and wasn't inclined to excessive study. He was also " a champion bicyclist and so the brothers went into the bicycle business, which gave full vent to their mechanical aptitude (ref)."


Orville's Class of 1890 photograph, and a closeup of Orville as a high school student.

His adventurous nature and drive to succeed combined with his brother Wilbur's research skills to achieve what is considered by many to be the greatest, most influential accomplishment of the 20th century. Their feat changed the way we live our lives, the way we see the world and "revolutionized both peace and war(ref)."

The entry from Orville's journal on that historic day follows:

Following Wilbur's death in 1912, Orville carried their legacy alone towards an exciting future. However, the hot new arena of aviation business proved volatile, and Orville sold the Wright company in 1916 (ref) .

He built himself an aeronautics laboratory, and returned to what had made he and his brother so famous: inventing.

He also stayed active in the public eye, promoting aeronautics, inventing, and the historic first flight that he made.



Above is a photograph of founding members of NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) at Committee meeting in 1929. Dr. Orville Wright served on NACA for 28 years. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Agency) was created from the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics in 1958.

April 8, 1930: Orville Wright receives the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal. The Daniel Guggenheim Medal, awarded for "great achievements in aeronautics," was established in 1928 by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics. It is now administered jointly by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the American Society of Engineers, and the United Engineering Trustees, Inc

April 29, 1936: Orville Wright was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.



Orville Wright, along with others, visiting the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio, now known as John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, on dedication day.


The place Orville called home from 1914 until his death: Hawthorn Hill in Oakwood, Ohio. He and Wilbur planned the design of the house together, but Wilbur passed away before its completion.

January 30 1948: Orville Wright died in Dayton, Ohio, at the age of 76, thus ending his 28 years as a member of the NACA. NASA was created from NACA 10 years after Orville's death. In his lifetime, the speed of the airplane had been increased from 0 mph to almost 1,000 mph.


Orville's Home at Hawthorn Hill still stands as a tourist attraction today.


8 things you didn’t know about Orville Wright

That’s how Orville Wright described the first glider tested by him and his older brother Wilbur at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but in a way, the words encapsulate our innate quest to fly. Humans had stared enviously at birds for centuries, and it would take the Wright Brother another three years to successfully fly and land the first engine-powered airplane in 1903.

That first flight crossed just 120 feet and had only five witnesses outside of the brothers, but those brief 12 seconds spawned the age of the airplane. An age where kids gape at clouds from inside giant 747s and people cross oceans in hours.

Yesterday was the 144th birthday of Orville Wright (and National Aviation Day.) Today we take a deeper look at his personal life, as provided by the historian David McCullough and his 2015 biography of America’s aviation heroes, The Wright Brothers.

Orville Wright at 4. Courtesy of David McCullough/The Wright Brothers/Simon & Schuster

1. Orville was a thrifty hipster

In modern-day Portland or Brooklyn, New York, Orville Wright would have fit right in. Aside from the bushy mustache, a 1909 photograph portrayed Orville as a sharp but simple dresser who wore “snappy argyle socks” with wingtips, at a time when the latter were replacing boots as the popular fashion. His suits were well-tailored, often outmatching his brother’s style.

Orville brewed homemade candy. He also played the mandolin, so much so that he often drove his younger sister Katherine to say, “He sits around and picks that thing until I can hardly stay in the house the point of madness.”

The Wrights had a humble childhood in Dayton, Ohio. Their small wooden house was sparsely furnished. It lacked electricity and running water. But what they lacked in wealth, they made up for in reading, thanks to their father Bishop Milton Wright and his passion for books.

“Their father insisted that his kids have a good liberal arts education, even though Wilbur and Orville never went to college. They never even finished high school, but that’s no way to judge those who are informed and full of curiosity,” McCullough said.

Their thrifty childhood paid off when Orville and Wilbur branched out from owning a bicycle shop into tinkering with aviation. Over the three years that they tested their first glider and built a motorized plane, the Wrights only spent $1,000 on the project, which included parts and travel from Ohio to North Carolina. In comparison, a competing project by inventor Samuel Langley called the “The Great Aerodrome” cost $70,000, but failed to fly without crashing when tested in 1903.

2. Some say Orville was on the autism spectrum

Both brothers possessed a singular determination and focus when it came to their pursuits, but neither enjoyed celebrity after becoming internationally famous. Both were reluctant to speak in public, but Orville had always been especially shy outside of the home. Wilbur was often the public face of the Wright enterprise. He was an exceptional orator and wrote much of their correspondence to fellow inventors and scientists to learn about aviation.

Also when overstressed, Orville went through “peculiar spells”, as described by his family, where he could be moody, irritable and withdrawn. After spending years studying Orville and Wilbur’s past, novelist Tara Staley said she believed both brothers had autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome.

McCullough says this conclusion would be misleading. Orville’s shyness was a handicap to the degree that he didn’t like being interviewed by the press, but he was talkative and witty with his family, especially with his little sister Katharine.

And as psychiatrist, Scientific American contributor and savant expert Darold Treffert wrote: “It is difficult enough to make accurate diagnoses of autism or Asperger’s disorder in real life, with face-to-face interviews and comprehensive testing, let alone trying to apply post-mortem diagnoses, sight unseen. Retrospective medical diagnoses are always problematical and suspect.”

Wilbur (left) and Orville flying their 1901 glider as a kite. Courtesy of David McCullough/The Wright Brothers/Simon & Schuster

3. Orville and Wilbur didn’t care for dating

Katharine Wright, born three years to the day after Orville, was essentially the only female figure in Orville and Wilbur’s adult lives. Orville constantly exchanged letters and telegrams with Katharine whenever he left to spend time at Kitty Hawk. They were confidants.

Their mother died when they were teenagers, leaving Katharine as the “woman of the house,” McCullough said. The two oldest Wright brothers — Reuchlin and Lorin — had already departed the nest, and their father frequently traveled for religious missions.

However, the extra responsibilities didn’t impede her intellectual pursuits, which were on par with Wilbur’s and Orville’s, McCullough said.

“She was very bright, about 5𔃻 in height, and the only one of the family who had a degree from college,” McCullough said. “She had a terrific sense of humor and was more sociable than the brothers.”

And her social skills came in handy when the family became world famous. She was very savvy at talking to the press and navigating the family’s fame. “The brothers had no interest in the limelight,” McCullough said.

Neither brother was interested in marriage. Orville responded to questions on the topic by saying that Wilber should marry first as the older brother. Whereas Wilbur famously told reporters that he didn’t have time for both a wife and an airplane.

Orville cared so much for his sister Katharine that when she did marry at the age of 52, he was inconsolable. He refused to attend the wedding and didn’t speak to her for two years. It wasn’t until she became fatally ill with pneumonia that he finally visited, right before her death in spring 1929.

4. He helped to launch the career of an African-American poet

While Wilbur was the entrepreneur behind first plane, Orville was the project’s engineering maestro. Both were skilled builders, and they operated a successful bike shop that funded their aviation adventures. However, Orville had a particular skill with tinkering.

“Orville was very innovative and clever mechanically,” McCullough said.

In 1889, while still a teenager in high school, Orville built his own printing press from a “discarded tombstone, a buggy spring and scrap metal” after serving as an apprentice in a print shop, according to McCullough’s book.

With the press, Orville began publishing his own newspaper, West Side News, which covered local events in his neighborhood. One contributor was his friend, Paul Laurence Dunbar, the only African-American in their high school and the class poet. Later, Orville’s father would have the United Brethren Church publish Dunbar’s first book of poems. The writer was later discovered by the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, and he became nationally renown.

Moreover, the Wright Brothers signed up their bicycle shop mechanic Charlie Taylor to build an engine for their first plane, Flyer I, but McCullough says Orville was likely instrumental in the decision to use aluminum as a building material. The decision made the engine light enough for their makeshift flying machine.

Orville’s Dayton high school class of 1890. Orville is at the center rear. Paul Laurence Dunbar is at the left rear. Courtesy of David McCullough/The Wright Brothers/Simon & Schuster

5. Kitty Hawk turned Orville and his brother into outdoorsmen

In autumn 1900, Wilbur Wright made his first trip to Kitty Hawk and almost drowned on the way. The city’s barrier island was only accessible by boat, and his ferrymen’s boat sprung a leak while a gale storm ripped the schooner’s mainsail to tatters. After frantically bailing water and a fretful overnight at anchor, Wilbur arrived at Kitty Hawk on September 13 and set up the camp that would house their pursuits, on and off, in the coming years. Orville arrived two weeks later, and the pair soon learned that survival on the Outer Banks wasn’t easy. Though the waters teemed with fish, farms were less fertile, and cows produced little milk. They survived primarily on a diet of tomatoes, local eggs and hot biscuits made without milk. Orville once stated the only things that thrived in the Outer Banks were bed bugs, mosquitos and wood ticks, according to McCullough.

The brothers had picked Kitty Hawk because they believed its windy weather suited their experiments, but gusts would rip their tent from the ground. When they bent down to hold it, sand blew in their eyes. They returned to Kitty Hawk each year and persevered through hot summers and clouds of mosquitos that Orville described as “Misery! Misery!” However, in the end, they did appreciate Kitty Hawk for its natural beauty.

The first Wright camp at Kitty Hawk, 1900. Courtesy of David McCullough/The Wright Brothers/Simon & Schuster

Camp interior in 1902 with glider at right in foreground. Courtesy of David McCullough/The Wright Brothers/Simon & Schuster

6. Only five men watched the first flight

Wilbur won a coin toss to be the first to fly their motorized plane, but he pulled too hard on the controls and the craft crashed after only 100 feet. After two days of repairs, it was Orville’s turn on December 17, 1903. Though townspeople typically appeared by the dozen to watch the Wright brothers’ experiments, the weather was so frigid and windy that only five locals watched what would be become the first successful flight by an airplane. Later that day, Wilbur had his turn and flew over 852 feet over the course of 59 seconds.

So few witnesses attended that the Wrights struggled to convince reporters. Most folks in their hometown didn’t believe them, and the U.S. government paid little attention. It would take another two years and moving their test ground to Huffman Prairie in Ohio before they garnered enough publicity to attract overseas interest. Wilbur made the first major public demonstration at Le Mans, France on August 8, 1908.

7. Orville and Wilbur rarely flew together

After the brothers built a plane big enough for two passengers, they maintained a policy of not flying together. Early flight was dangerous, and they wanted to ensure that at least one of them could continue their work in the event of a fatal crash, such as the one that almost took Orville’s life on September 17, 1908.

During a demonstration for the U.S. Army at Fort Myer, Virginia, Orville was coasting at an altitude of 125 feet when his plane suddenly nosedived. Orville survived, but spent a month in the hospital and suffered from recurrent fractures in his hip. His passenger that day, 26-year-old Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge, suffered a severe head injury — and became the first person to ever die in plane crash.

Orville suspected the crash was caused by a faulty propeller, and he continued to fly, though his injuries forced him to retire in 1918 at the age of 46.

8. Orville witnessed the airplane revolution

The brothers teamed with a group of industrialists to establish the Wright Company in 1909, almost instantly making them wealthy. Though much of their time was devoted to patent disputes, the brothers opened a flight school and sold airplane designs and hardware.

Orville, Wilbur and Katharine visited U.S. President William Howard Taft on June 10, 1909, where the brother recieve Aero Club of America gold medals in front of a 1,000-person crowd. Courtesy of David McCullough/The Wright Brothers/Simon & Schuster

Wilbur died of typhoid fever in 1912, but Orville lived until 1948, when he died of a heart attack at age 77. Before his passing, he met Charles Lindbergh in 1927 and flew for the last time with Howard Hughes onboard the Lockheed Constellation in 1944. Orville witnessed many milestones in aviation — the creation of jet propulsion and the first rocket — but he also saw the destruction caused by bombers in World War II.

“We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the Earth. But we were wrong. We underestimated man’s capacity to hate and to corrupt good means for an evil end,” Orville said in an article with the St. Louis Post Dispatch on November 7, 1943. “No, I don’t have any regrets about my part in the invention of the airplane, though no one could deplore more than I the destruction it has caused.”

Left: The first flight photo, 10:35 a.m. December 17, 1903, showing the Wright 1903 Flyer just after lift off from the launching dolly at Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville Wright is at the controls, and Wilbur Wright watches from near the right wing tip. This is a one-half right rear view of the aeroplane. Courtesy of David McCullough/The Wright Brothers/Simon & Schuster


Hawthorn Hill is Orville Wright’s success mansion. Join the ranks of Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison as visitors to the world’s first pilot’s last home.

With its white pillars and twin porches, Hawthorn Hill has long been synonymous with Orville Wright and the Wright family. After purchasing property at the corner of Salem Avenue and Harvard Boulevard in Dayton, the Wright brothers’ younger sister, Katharine Wright, soon cajoled her world famous brothers to move construction to Oakwood’s rolling, idyllic hills. Although both Orville and Wilbur were involved in planning the home, Wilbur died of typhoid fever on May 30, 1912, at age 45.

Upon completion in 1914, Hawthorn Hill became the residence of Orville, Katharine, and their elderly father, Bishop Milton Wright. Over the next 34 years, the mansion welcomed Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and other luminaries.

When Orville died on January 30, 1948, Hawthorn Hill was purchased by National Cash Register (NCR) for use as a corporate guest house. For 58 years, the historic home was wonderfully preserved, but only open intermittently. Many regional residents long wondered what sat inside Orville’s mysterious mansion high upon an Oakwood hilltop.

But in August 2006, at the suggestion of Congressman Mike Turner, NCR gifted Hawthorn Hill to the Wright Family Foundation. Managed by the Wright brothers’ great-grandniece, Amanda Wright Lane, and great-grandnephew, Stephen Wright, the Wright Family Foundation asked Dayton History to manage and interpret the home.

In March 2009, Hawthorn Hill became part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. In June 2013, ownership was officially transferred to Dayton History. It is now open to the public, and though NCR remodeled the Colonial Revival home, they meticulously photographed Orville’s original décor. Dayton History is busy bringing the property back to its original appearance.

Private Event Rental Information

Hawthorn Hill is available for exclusive events year round! Please contact the Carillon Historical Park Facilities Rental Department at (937) 293-2841 or events@daytonhistory.org.


Milton Wright was the son of Dan Wright and Catherine Wright (Reeder), daughter of George Reeder and Margaret Van Cleve. Margaret Van Cleve was one of the earliest women of European ancestry to settle in the Miami River basin. [3]

Milton met his future wife, Susan Catharine Koerner, b. 1831, d. 4 July 1889, at Hartsville College in 1853, where he was appointed as supervisor of the preparatory department and she was a literature student. After a long courtship, Milton asked Susan to marry him and accompany him on his assignment by the church to Oregon. She declined, but agreed to marry him when he returned. [4] They married in 1859 when he was almost 31 and she was 28.

Both shared a love of learning for the sake of learning. Their home had two libraries — the first consisted of books on theology, the second was a large, varied collection. Looking back on his childhood, Orville once commented that he and his brother had

"special advantages. we were lucky enough to grow up in a home environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests to investigate whatever aroused their curiosity." [5]

Children Edit

Susan and Milton had seven children. Four sons and one daughter survived past infancy. Their first son, Reuchlin, was born in a log cabin in 1861 near Fairmount, Indiana. The second son, Lorin, was born in 1862 in Orange Township, Fayette County, Indiana. Wilbur was born 16 April 1867 near Millville, Indiana. The fourth and fifth children, twins Otis and Ida, were born 25 February 1870 at Dayton, Ohio, but died shortly thereafter, on 9 March and 14 March respectively, but were followed by the Dayton births of Orville on 19 August 1871, and Katharine, the only surviving daughter, 19 August 1874.

None of the Wright children had middle names. Instead, their father tried hard to give them distinctive first names. Wilbur was named for Wilbur Fisk and Orville for Orville Dewey, both clergymen that Milton Wright admired. They were "Will" and "Orv" to their friends, and "Ullam" and "Bubs" to each other. In Dayton, their neighbors knew them simply as the "Bishop's kids."

Because of Milton's position in the church, the Wrights moved frequently — twelve times before finally returning permanently to Dayton in 1884.

Milton joined the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in 1846 because of its stand on political and moral issues including alcohol, the abolition of slavery, and opposition to "secret societies" such as Freemasonry.

Indiana and Oregon Edit

From 1855 to 1856 he served as pastor of the Church of the United Brethren in Indianapolis. He was ordained in 1856 and was pastor in Andersonville, Indiana from 1856 to 1857. Later that year, he went to Oregon as a missionary and served as pastor at Sublimity and first president of Sublimity College, a denominational institution.

Wright returned from Sublimity in 1859 and was assigned by the church as a circuit preacher in eastern Indiana, where he served also served as presiding elder and pastor in Hartsville, Indiana. From 1868 to 1869 he was professor of theology at Hartsville College.

Ohio and Iowa Edit

In 1869, Milton became editor of the national weekly church newspaper, the Religious Telescope, and moved to the newspaper's headquarters of Dayton, Ohio with this new position, his income increased from $900 per year to $1500 per year. [6] The position gave him prominence within the church and helped him get elected as a bishop in 1877.

In 1871, he founded United Theological Seminary in Dayton.

Bishop Wright continued to advance in the church hierarchy. In 1878, he assumed responsibility for the Western conferences of the church and moved his family to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Westfield College in Illinois, gave him the degree of D.D. in 1878.

He traveled widely on church business, but always sent back many letters and often brought presents home. His gifts stimulated his children's curiosity and exposed them to a world beyond their immediate surroundings. Returning from one of his travels, he brought Wilbur and Orville a toy helicopter. The helicopter was made of bamboo, cork, paper and powered by rubber bands. When the first broke, the boys made several copies. [7] The toy helicopter is responsible for triggering the Wright brothers interest in aviation. [1]

Division in the church Edit

By 1881, the leadership of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ was becoming more liberal. Milton Wright, a staunch conservative, failed to be re-elected to his Bishop's post. The Wrights moved to Richmond, Indiana, where Milton served a circuit preacher once again. He served as presiding elder in the White River conference from 1881 to 1885. He also founded a monthly religious newspaper, The Star, for fellow conservatives in 1883.

As the liberals in his church began to press for change, Milton Wright sensed there would be a showdown with the conservatives. Wanting to get back into the fray, he decided to move back to Dayton, the political center of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, in 1884. It was the last time he would move his family. Wright was once more elected bishop in 1885. He was to spend the next four years serving the Pacific Coast district.

The anticipated showdown came in 1889. The church leadership wanted to give local conferences proportional representation at the General Conference, allow laymen to serve as delegates to General Conference, and allow United Brethren members to hold membership in secret societies. The procedure for amending the Constitution made amendments all but impossible, but the leadership made the changes anyway, saying they were necessary for the good of the church.

However, a minority refused to accept the changes, claiming they weren't valid since they weren't approved by the full membership. Wright was the only bishop to side with the minority. Wright and about 10,000 to 15,000 supporters left the meeting and reconvened at a new location. Contending that those supporting the changes had effectively seceded from the denomination, they declared themselves to be the true United Brethren Church. To distinguish themselves from the majority faction, the minority called itself the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Old Constitution).

Wright became the new church's first bishop. Since they were in the minority, they had to rebuild from scratch nearly all of the congregations who sided with the minority lost their property. Wright's sons Wilbur and Orville provided publishing services for the new organization until a publishing house could be established in Huntington, Indiana. Wright also provided valuable support to Huntington College (now Huntington University, established by the Old Constitution branch in 1897.

Keiter controversy Edit

At the turn of the century, Wright was adamant about prosecuting the publishing house agent, Millard Keiter, who was accused of embezzling. Many members of the publishing board supported Keiter. Because of the controversy, Wright's home district, the White River Conference, voted to rescind his license as minister. The General Conference overruled the home conference in 1905, reinstating Wright. Keiter moved to Kentucky, where he was indicted for land fraud.


How Ida Holdgreve’s Stitches Helped the Wright Brothers Get Off the Ground

Around 1910, Ida Holdgreve, a Dayton, Ohio, seamstress, answered a local ad that read, “Plain Sewing Wanted.” But the paper got it wrong. Dayton brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright were hiring a seamstress, though the sewing they needed would be far from plain.

“Well, if it’s plain,” said Holdgreve years later, recalling her initial thoughts on the brothers’ ad, “I can certainly do that.” The quote ran in the October 6, 1975, edition of Holdgreve’s hometown newspaper, The Delphos Herald.

The Wright brothers, in fact, wanted someone to perform “plane sewing,” but in 1910, that term was as novel as airplanes themselves—a typesetter could have easily mixed up the spelling. And while Holdgreve lacked experience with “plane sewing,” so did the vast majority of the world. She got the job, and the typo turned a new page in women’s history.

“The fact that, early on, a woman was part of a team working on the world's newest technology is just amazing to me,” says Amanda Wright Lane, the Wright brothers’ great-grandniece. “I wonder if she thought the idea was crazy.”

The Wright Company factory in 1911 (Courtesy of Wright State University Libraries' Special Collections & Archives)

By the time Holdgreve answered the brothers’ ad, seven years had passed since their first 1903 flight, yet Wilbur and Orville were only recent celebrities. While the original Wright Flyer showed proof of concept, it took another two years to build a machine capable of sustained, maneuverable flight—a practical airplane—the 1905 Wright Flyer III. Finally in August 1908, after being stymied by patent and contract issues, Wilbur made the first public flights at Hunaudières racecourse near Le Mans, France then and there, the brothers became world famous. The following year, Wilbur circled the Statue of Liberty during New York’s Hudson-Fulton Celebration.

In 1910 and 1911, two odd buildings began to rise a mile-and-a-half west of the Wright brothers’ West Dayton home. Bowed parapets bookended the long one-story structures, their midsections arching like the crooks of serpents’ spines wide windows reflected the pastoral world outside. This was the Wright Company factory, the first American airplane factory, and behind the buildings’ painted brick walls, Holdgreve sewed surfaces for some of the world’s first airplanes, making her a pioneer in the aviation industry.

“As far as I know, she was the only woman who worked on the Wright Company factory floor,” says aviation writer Timothy R. Gaffney, author of The Dayton Flight Factory: The Wright Brothers & The Birth of Aviation. “And she was earning her living making airplane parts. Since I haven’t found a woman working in this capacity any earlier, as far as I know, Ida Holdgreve was the first female American aerospace worker.”

Holdgreve was born the sixth of nine children on November 14, 1881, in Delphos, Ohio. For years, she worked as a Delphos-area dressmaker before moving 85 miles south to Dayton in 1908 two years later, as a 29-year-old single woman, she began work at the Wright Company factory. Dayton was a rapidly growing city during these days, yet the brothers opted to erect their factory in a cornfield three miles west of the downtown area—the setting hearkened back to Holdgreve’s home.

“Delphos is surrounded by corn,” says Ann Closson (Holdgreve), Holdgreve’s great-grandniece, who grew up in Delphos. “It’s a small farming community.” Closson learned of Ida from her dad when she was 12 years old, but her cousin, now in her 40s, just found out about their ancestor and her role in aviation history. “The story is so inspiring,” she says. “Ida went on this journey to work in the city—at the time, that wasn’t very acceptable for a young woman.”

Mackensie Wittmer is executive director for the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, a nonprofit that manages the National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA), which spans eight Ohio counties tied to the Wright brothers’ legacy. “This is a non-clerical job, which is unique,” she says, of Holdgreve’s position. “Ida’s on the floor—she’s in the trench—working with men to build some of the world’s first airplanes.”

At the Wright Company factory, surrounded by the thrum of motors and the clamor of hand-started propellers, Holdgreve fed her machine two large spools of thread, sewing light cream-colored fabric into airplane wings, fins, rudders and stabilizers. All told, the firm manufactured approximately 120 airplanes in 13 different models, including the cardinal Wright Model B, the Model C-H Floatplane and the advanced Model L. Up to 80 people worked at the Wright Company factory, building planes for civil and military use—these employees formed the first American aerospace workforce.

Ida Holdgreve sews in the corner of the Wright Company factory in 1911. (Courtesy of Wright State University Libraries' Special Collections & Archives)

“When you think about these people, you realize they were part of a local story, but they were also part of a national story, an international story,” says Dawne Dewey, who headed Wright State University’s Special Collections & Archives for over 30 years. “These are hometown people, ordinary people. They had a job, they went to work—but they were a part of something much bigger.”

Duval La Chapelle—Wilbur’s mechanic in France—trained Holdgreve. Only two years earlier, La Chapelle had witnessed the Wrights become overnight celebrities now, the French mechanic was training Holdgreve to cut and sew cloth, to stretch it tightly over the plane frame so it wouldn’t rip in the wind.

“When there were accidents,” Holdgreve recalled in the October 6, 1975, edition of The Delphos Herald, “I would have to mend the holes.”

Earlier, she told the newspaper of her impressions and interactions with the Wright brothers. “Both boys were quiet,” she said. “Orville wasn’t quite as quiet as Wilbur. At different times I talked with Orville and got acquainted. They were both very busy, not much time to talk to the people there. But they were both nice.”

Orville was notoriously shy, so Holdgreve must have made him comfortable. And at the time, Wilbur, the duo’s mouthpiece, was engaged in the brothers’ infamous “patent wars,” so perhaps his mind was elsewhere. The constant legal battles over the Wrights’ intellectual property seemed to weaken Wilbur, and in late April 1912, only two weeks after his 45th birthday, he contracted typhoid fever. One month later, on May 30, 1912, Wilbur died at home.

“For Uncle Orv, it was a devastating blow,” says Wright Lane. “Their thinking, their hobbies, their intellect—they were always right in sync.”

After Wilbur died, Orville was left to run the Wright Company alone. Not only was he grieving his brother—his closest friend—but he also had lingering back and leg pain from his 1908 airplane crash at Fort Myer, Virginia. Orville “seemed somewhat lost” noted Wright Company manager Grover Loening, who had just graduated from Columbia University with the first-ever aeronautical engineering degree. After Wilbur died, Orville dragged his feet on business matters and stopped attending Wright Company factory board meetings.

“If Wilbur had survived, I always wondered if they would have found some other wonderfully interesting problem to solve,” says Wright Lane. “But I don't think Orville had it in him without the back and forth with his brother. They were always bouncing ideas off one another. And arguing.”

On October 15, 1915, having lost both his brother and flair for business, Orville sold the Wright Company. But neither Orville, or Holdgreve, were entirely out of the airplane business.

In 1917, Dayton industrialist Edward Deeds co-founded the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company and enlisted his good friend Orville as a consulting engineer. During World War I, Dayton-Wright produced thousands of planes, and at the company’s Moraine, Ohio, plant, a lively young woman from Delphos supervised a crew of seamstresses.

“I went to work … as a forewoman for girls sewing,” said Holdgreve. “Instead of the light material used for the Wright brothers, the material was a heavy canvas, as the planes were much stronger.”

According to Gaffney, Holdgreve was managing a crew of women sewing the fabric components for the De Havilland DH-4 airplanes being produced in Dayton. The Dayton-Wright Company, in fact, was the largest producer of the DH-4: the only American-built World War I combat aircraft. “She was Rosie the Riveter before there were airplane rivets,” says Gaffney. “She was involved in the war effort.”

A De Havilland DH-4 airplane sits inside of a Dayton-Wright Airplane Company factory in 1918. (Courtesy of Wright State University Libraries' Special Collections & Archives)

After the war, Holdgreve left the aviation industry to sew draperies at Rike-Kumler Company in downtown Dayton—the same department store where the Wright brothers purchased the muslin fabric for the world’s first airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer.

Years later, Holdgreve looked back on her experience in the aviation industry. “At the time,” she recalled, “I didn’t realize it could be so special.”

Holdgreve lived out her days in Dayton, and at age 71, retired from sewing to care for her sister. (At age 75, neighbors could see her cutting her lawn with a push mower). Holdgreve’s story was known in local circles, though not widely. Then in 1969, the 88-year-old fulfilled a lifelong dream. “I’ve wanted to go for such a long time,” Holdgreve told the Dayton Daily News in its November 20, 1969, edition. “And I’m finally getting to do it.”

While the spry woman hand-sewed some of the world’s first airplanes, she had never flown.

Wearing spectacles, black gloves, a thick winter coat and a black cossack hat, Holdgreve climbed aboard a twin-engine Aero Commander piloted by Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Aviation Council Chairman Thomas O. Matheus. “I couldn’t hear so well up there,” Holdgreve said after Matheus flew over the Wright Company factory in West Dayton. “The clouds look just like wool.”

The story was wired across the country, making Holdgreve a fleeting celebrity. “An 88-year-old seamstress,” reported The Los Angeles Times on November 23, 1969, “who 60 years ago sewed the cloth that covered the wings of the Wright brothers’ flying machines, has finally taken an airplane ride.”

“You know,” she told the Dayton Journal Herald after the flight. “I didn’t think they would make such a big thing out of it. I just wanted to fly.”

On September 28, 1977, Holdgreve died at age 95. Over the years, her story faded, only to resurface in 2014 when the National Aviation Heritage Alliance and Wright State University’s Special Collections & Archives jump-started the Wright Factory Families project.

“It grew out of an idea Tim Gaffney had,” says Dewey. “He was working for NAHA at the time, and he was really interested in exploring the Wright Company factory workers, and what their stories were. Through the project we were connected to Ted Clark, one of Holdgreve’s family members, and he gave us some old clippings on Ida.”

After more than a century, the Wright Company factory still stands. Repurposed for various uses, the building’s tale was lost with time. But in recent years, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, NAHA and other organizations have sought to preserve the famous factory. In 2019, the buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the site is currently closed to the public, the National Park Service hopes one day guests will walk the old Wright Company factory floor. Maybe then, Holdgreve, who for years diligently sewed in the building’s southwest corner, will get the credit she’s due.


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