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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Were Wilbur and Orville Wright Equal Partners in the Invention of the Aeroplane?

(Revised November 28, 2015) Yes, per Milton Wright, who wrote on Dec 22, 1903- "Wilbur is 36, Orville 32, and they are inseparable as twins. For several years they have read up on aeronautics as a physician would read his books, and they have studied, discussed, and experimented together. Natural workmen, they have invented, constructed, and operated their gliders, and finally their "Wright Flyer", jointly, all at their own personal expense. About equal credit is due each."

From the article "In the Interpreter's House" American Magazine, July 1909- "They took hold of the thing together.....Probably their method of work saved them from failure at this stage of the undertaking. It was this: When one made a suggestion the other attacked it- but not without reasons, of course. The outcome was that frequently a whole day's discussion- and they often talked at home until the women folks felt like sweeping them out with a broom- would result in each one accepting the position of the other. Then the next day the whole thing would be gone over again, until they had got the truth and both were persuaded. In this manner they undoubtedly avoided 'going off on a tangent' and also attained each others determination. And for this reason everybody in the family, and everybody in Dayton, is satisfied that neither brother could have mastered the thing alone."

Wilbur Wright, 1912- "From the time we were little children my brother Orville and myself lived together. We usually owned all of our toys in the common, talked over our thoughts and aspirations so that nearly everything that was done in our lives has been the result of conversations, suggestions and discussions between us."
West Side News, July 3, 1889 issue. Wilbur and Orville were involved first in printing, then bicycles, and then aviation.

Mark Eppler in his book "The Wright Way" explains this partnership well..."The Wright Brothers are forever fixed in our minds as one personality because of the extraordinary cohesion of their partnership. It was a collaboration of minds the world has not seen since."

To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight, James Tobin, 2003- In his chapter "Truth and Error Intimately Mixed", I take exception to the author's suspicion that "Perhaps when this offbeat hobby became something much more than a hobby, Orville felt defensive about his own claim to the original idea, and his brother knew it, and wanted to ease any strain. From long experience in the Brethren battles, the Wright family had the habit of solidarity. One suspects there was an unspoken rule: It must never seem to be Wilbur versus Orville." I doubt there was an unspoken rule in the case for their inventive process, as there was no need for one. Wilbur and Orville were a team. It is just speculation from the outside looking in to say otherwise.  One without the other would not have succeeded.
In his Epilogue, James Tobin concludes "If any more proof was needed of his brother's dominant drive during their years together, it became obvious in the quiet, uneventful days of Orville's life after 1912." Perhaps another way to look at this was after the patent battles, the death of Wilbur, the Smithsonian controversy...wasn't enough enough?
As Mark Eppler wrote in his Epilogue, "..Orville was tired. With the passing of his brother, the light had gone out of his life. Orville would never be the same, overcome for the rest of his life with what his niece, Ivonette Wright Miller, called a 'spirit of loneliness'."

Aero Club of America Bulletin, July 1912, "With the death of Wilbur Wright, on May 30, 1912, at the age of forty-five, there closed the prologue of the great drama of human flight. In less than a decade after its inauguration the better known of its authors has passed away, and thus is torn asunder that remarkable dual personality, the Wright brothers, whose genius the world has treated as a unit.....The brothers, Wilbur and Orville, have ever seemed the indivisible halves of a single personality, the younger of which possessed its contemplative, and the older its actively expressive, qualities. Orville, the man of thought, was expressed by Wilbur the man of action; while the two, who always spoke of themselves as the Wright brothers, appeared in all things a unit......Further than this is seems neither useful nor delicate to go; these remarkable men chose to blend their identities, and between them share equally the glory of their astounding achievement: so let it be."

One aviation author has put forward the idea that the invention lay solely with Wilbur, and that Orville manipulated history to elevate himself above his own brother through lies and distortions, which is slanderous to Orville's name and unwarranted. This insult to Orville would have saddened his brother greatly.

It was this unique team, and unique circumstances that led to the solution. And for those who view Wilbur has having the sharper mind, and therefore the greater share of ownership to the invention, consider the following. In Fred Kelly's "Miracle at Kitty Hawk", 1951, Kelly documents Wilbur Wright's letter to Octave Chanute, October 28, 1906-
"I am not certain that your method of estimating probabilities is a sound one. Do you not insist too strongly upon the single point of mental ability? To me it seems that a thousand other factors, each rather insignificant in itself, in the aggregate influence the event ten times more than mere mental ability or inventiveness. The world does not contain greater men than Maxim, Bell, Edison, Langley, Lilienthal & Chanute. We are not so foolish as to base our belief, (that an independent solution of the flying problem is not imminent,) upon any supposed superiority to these men and to all those who will hereafter take up the problem. If the wheels of time could be turned back six years, it is not at all probable that we would do again what we have done. The one thing that impresses me as remarkable is the shortness of time within which our work was done. It was due to peculiar combinations of circumstances which might never occur again. How do you explain the lapse of more than 50 years between Newcomen and Watt? Was the world wanting in smart men during those years? Surely not! The world was full of Watts, but a thousand and one trifles kept them from undertaking and completing the task...We look upon the present question in an impersonal way. It is not chiefly a question of relative ability, but of mathematical probabilities."
What were these circumstances? First and foremost, that Wilbur and Orville were brothers, close in their relationship in friendship, and "in their thoughts and aspirations". Secondly, that they had supporting parents, else their "curiosity might have been nipped in the bud long before it could have borne fruit" (Orville Wright to friend). Thirdly, that their bicycle business was doing financially well enough, and being seasonal in nature, they were able to devote time to their inventive interests. And countless other factors- good health, lack of serious accidents, etc.

Again from "Miracle at Kitty Hawk", Kelly documents Wilbur Wright's letter to his father, Le Mans, November 9, 1908-
"...The government had decided to confer upon me the "Legion of Honor" but on learning of it privately, I sent word that it would be impossible for me to accept an honor which Orville could not equally share.....The Aero Club of Great Britain has also voted a gold metal, the first in the history of the Club, to Orville and me......I was offered the honorary presidency of the new English Aeroplane Society, but I declined it as I have declined all formal honors in which Orville was not associated. He must come over here next year...."

From the Dayton Daily News, January 31, 1948, James M. Cox, publisher of the Dayton Daily at that time, said the following, "I have known Orville Wright for almost 50 years. Others more acquainted with the sciences than I can better speak of his genius, but my admiration for the fine qualities of his character has amounted almost to a reverence. History will give him equal rank with his brother, Wilbur. In the first days of their fame, Wilbur made stronger appeal to the eye and imagination of the publicist and at that time Miss Katharine Wright, the sister, spoke to me of the injustice of public appraisal. The two brothers, unlike in many ways, still supplemented each other in their great achievement. In their day of glory when they were probably more talked about than anyone in modern history they maintained a quiet dignity in keeping with the pattern of their lives. They never sought to be seen or heard. People placed a halo upon them, but it never unbalanced them in manner or speech."

Here is where I believe the difference of opinions arise- the measure of importance placed on different gifts. Perhaps Wilbur had the gift of initial interest and ideas. He had the gift of oral presentation and of enjoyment of written word. Orville had the gift of implementation of ideas, of going after the answers with the art of "scrapping" and experimentation. Others have described the talents and contributions of each to the invention effort, and clearly it can be seen that it was a team effort. Wilbur had his talents, and Orville his; gifts that complemented each other and enabled them as a team to accomplish the task. 

Index of Topics

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Christianity Amongst the Wright Brothers

(Updated March 9, 2019) What evidence exists that Milton and Susan Wright's sons Wilbur and Orville Wright were Christians? Only God knows their hearts, but still, as I've seen in print the question raised, I thought I would offer my comments. The following examines the influence of the Christian faith within the Wright family, and from their circle of friends.

To Conquer the Air, by James Tobin, 2003, page 3, the author writes of Wilbur, “He had put his powerful mind to work in only one cause- an obscure church controversy, also his father’s. But he did not even have his father’s faith.” This is a pretty bold statement, one with which I respectfully disagree. And on page 43 Tobin writes, “The bishop’s diaries and letters are full of references to Scripture. Affairs of the spirit were at the center of his life. Will’s surviving letters contain no such references- none. For him it was right verses wrong, but also and essentially “us” versus “them”. If he had ever looked toward a life in the ministry- his parents’ hope for him- he now turned away. It’s not clear that he even attended services regularly in his twenties, and in his thirties it’s clear he did not do so. The bitterness of church politics had shadowed his entire childhood. That may be why he could not find a home among the Brethren or in any other church. He fought in the Brethren’s battles with heart and mind. For fifteen years after the schism, he would leap back into the fray whenever Milton needed him. But this was his father’s life work, not his.” This is an excellent book (one of my favorites), but I take exception to the author's conclusions about Wilbur's faith. The struggles within the church likely did have the effect of driving Wilbur away from membership and attendance, but I believe Wilbur could discern between the faults of men, and the truth of scripture.  James Tobin's conclusions are shared by others.  Please read on.

From "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough, 2015, on page 17, the author writes about Bishop Wright's book collection and how his children were encouraged to read from any of the books. "Included among the ecclesiastical works on his bedroom shelves were the writings of 'The Great Agnostic', Robert Ingersoll, whom the brothers and Katharine were encouraged to read. 'Every mind should be true to itself- should think, investigate and conclude for itself', wrote Ingersoll. It was the influence of Ingersoll apparently that led the brothers to give up regular attendance at church, a change the Bishop seems to have accepted without protest." I do not know how David McCullough concluded that by the mere presence of this book in the Bishop's library, that it had influence and  "apparently" led the Brothers to give up church attendance. From upon what evidence he drew this conclusion, he does not mention. He further wrote that the Wright Brother's father rarely mentioned religion in his letters to them, and that no framed religious images or biblical quotations were part of the home decor. I found this comment rather strange, the implication seeming to be that the Bishop's faith wasn't integrated into the family environment; if so, this is far from the truth. On the first point, that Milton Wright rarely mentioned religion in his letters to them, I provide numerous examples  where he does mention his faith in letters, later in this post. On the second point, concerning lack of framed religious images or biblical quotations a part of the home, really? I share something in common with Wilbur and Orville. I too am a Protestant preacher's kid. Growing up, our home had very few "religious" items as decor. A couple of  pictures of Jesus. No biblical quotations adorned our walls. There were no icons, and no small alters or devotional corners as our Catholic friends homes may have contained. This is simply a difference of traditions between practices of Christian faith. But Milton and Susan Wright most definitely shared their faith with their children.

Benson Ford Library Wright Brother Archives- The Henry Ford
Dayton Wright Brother's Home Celebration, June 18, 1909- During the presentation of medals that Friday morning, Bishop Milton Wright provided the Invocation, with his sons Wilbur and Orville, hats removed, heads bowed, as Milton prays, " Father of spirits, we come to thee in Christ's name. We come to thee, the Fountain of all wisdom, seeking they enlightenment, thy strength and they grace...."(13) Photo courtesy of the Collections of The Henry Ford, Benson Ford Research Center Wright Brothers Collection.

As printed in the Dayton Daily News, June 19, 1909 issue.
In another excellent book, "The Wright Brothers" by Ian Mackersey, 2003, the author quotes Bishop Wright's biographer, Dr. Daryl Elliott, '...they chose to practice their Christianity in a private manner.' Milton never challenged them on their choice even though he must of been disappointed. However, 'there is no evidence to suggest that Wilbur and Orville ever became agnostics or rejected their faith.'" Consider the following:

Bishop Milton Wright Diaries 1857-1917, WSU: 1881, Friday, January 28, Milton wrote "Spent all day in writing. Wrote in Rev. S. Healey admonitory. Wrote to Henry Randall Waite on Census matters. Preached from Luke 13:24. Large congregation. Five seekers- Wilbur one. Some arose also."

Milton Wright Diaries: 1881, Wednesday, February 2 "Wrote letter to Am. Book Exchange, etc. Got broken teeth-plate mended: $1.50. Preach at 7:45 Acts 3:10. Seven forward. Two profess, Wilbur one of them, as he thinks. Large congregation. Meeting very spiritual. Lasted more than a half hour after discussion." (Acts 3 tells of the healing of the lame beggar by Peter “And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.")

Wilbur & Orville Wright, Arthur George Renstrum,  a reissue of a Chronology Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Birth of Orville Wright, Chronology pg 2- "1881, February 13, Wilbur, at age 13, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, joins United Brethren Church, Rev. Marion R. Drury, pastor."

Milton Wright letter to Mrs. Mary Wyatt, Feb 22, 1881-
"Mrs. Wright, two and half years younger than myself, is well educated, but very simple, domestic, and motherly.....The two older boys were converted when little children (Reuchlin and Lorin); Wilbur this winter. All have been very moral so far...."

Our Bishops, H. A. Thompson, 1889- Chapter on Milton Wright 22nd Bishop UB in Christ, pg 529 “Mrs. Wright was converted at fourteen, and joined the church….
Of the children of Bishop Wright five are living and two are dead. The dead are twins, who died in early infancy. Of the living, the oldest, Reuchlin, is married to Miss Lulu Billheimer, and lives in Dayton. He is the publisher of the Conservator. He stood high in his college grades, and has had high praise as a writer.
Lorin, nearly two years younger, has filled the most responsible places in large establishments, as, bookkeeper in Dayton and Kansas City, and is now deputy county treasurer of Comanche county, Kas.
Wilbur, born in 1867, has not graduated in high school on account of itinerant changes of residence, but has pursued more than a full course in Dayton high school, is well read in current events and in history, and has excellent gifts as a writer.
Orville, born in 1871, is in his second year in Dayton high school, is a neat and facile compositor, and has with Wilbur a small job office, Wilbur also being a compositor.
Catharine (Katharine), the only daughter living, born in 1874, is in her seventh year in school, and has always stood among the first in her classes.
All the children were converted in early youth. All joined the church, and so far as known still profess religion. There has never from earliest childhood been a known stain on the morality of any one of them. Family worship was always observed in this home, the husband and wife leading alternately in the devotions.”
"Our Bishops" United Brethren Church just before the separation of New Constitution and Old Constitution Brethrens.(3)

Religious Telescope, Feb 17, 1886- “Wright preached at Summit St. Church, Dayton. Among those who joined the church was a son of the bishop.”

Milton Wright Diaries, Feb 14, 1886- “Eleven joined the Church, my son Reuchlin, one of the number”.

West Side News, July 3, 1889 issue, published by Wilbur and Orville, Obituary for Susan Wright who passed away July 4th- "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."  These words were written by Wilbur and Orville, and reflect a knowledge of what a true Christian life looks like- they witnessed it in the life and example of their mother. Of Susan, Milton wrote, "Her's was a sweet spirit. Hers was a careful life, and one of implicit faith in God."(1)
Mother will ever live as the truest Christian, her spirit will ever be with us.
Author's copy of July 3, 1889 West Side News, "Mother will ever live as the truest Christian....her spirit will ever be with us."
Wilbur writes to his friend George Spratt, April 27, 1903- 
"....It was not my intention to advocate dishonesty in argument nor a bad spirit in a controversy. No truth is without some mixture of error, and no error so false but that it possesses some elements of truth. If a man is in too big a hurry to give up an error he is liable to give up some truth with it, and in accepting the arguments of the other man he is sure to get some error with it. Honest argument is merely a process of mutually picking the beams and motes out of each others eyes so both can see clearly. Men become wise just as they become rich, more by what they save than by what they receive. After I get a hold of a truth I hate to lose it again, and I like to sift all the truth out before I give up to an error."
When writing about the process of mutually picking the beams and motes out of each others eyes, Wilbur had this scripture in mind- Luke Ch 6:42, "....first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck (mote) from your brother's eye."

August 23, 1904, Amos Root wrote to Wilbur and Orville-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friends:- "....May God be praised that He has permitted me to live at the same time when the Wright Bros. came here on earth and still more that it was my privilege to feel at least to some extent that they are my personal friends. May God give you wisdom and understanding in the great work you have undertaken. From your old friend, A. I. Root."
October 8, 1904, Amos Root wrote to Wilbur-
Wilbur Wright, Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friend Wright:- "....As ever, not only your old friend, but one who is ready and anxious to start out any minute to help you along with that wonderful gift that God has seen fit to entrust you with."
A. I. Root.
August 9, 1906, Amos Root to Wilbur and Orville-
The Wright Cycle Co, Dayton, O.
Dear Friends:- "....May God speed you in the important work you are trying to do for coming generations, at least that is the way I look at it. Yours very truly, A. I. Root"(2) 

Milton wrote to Orville and Wilbur during their visit to Paris, 1907, "I hope you will not dishonor the training I have given you on Sabbath, temperance etc. They are such as the best element of the American people approve, and it is to your interests, as well as those of the morality of America (and France) that you honor them. Religion is not a fable, though some fallible dogmas have attached to it. The Lord be with you, Father." 
Again he writes August 21, 1907, and ends the letter to his sons Orville and Wilbur with, "The Lord protect and bless you. Father"(2)
Orville wrote to his Father September 16, 1907, "We are glad to learn that you have the White River people 'done up'. I would have more faith in their repentance if it were accompanied with an open confession of their sins. I am afraid they are just trying to get back into the church so as to give them more influence in stirring up more trouble..." (2)

Milton wrote to Wilbur and Orville October 3, 1907, "The White River conference passed off without a word or act to mar its peace and harmony.....The Lord be with you. Affec,ly Milton Wright"(2)

Milton wrote to Orville October 10, 1907, "Who would have thought that I would live to be treated with respect and consideration by those that did their utmost to destroy me! Why is it?....Keiter has lost his hold on them, and is gone away....They knew all the time that I was in the right in exposing Keiter. It was politics that ailed them...The Lord be with you. Aff. Milton Wright"(2)

Milton wrote to Wilbur October 15, 1907, "I am more and more convinced that 'the carnal mind is enmity against God.' All observation attest the reality of the Christian religion. But grace does not remove the prejudices and idiosyncrasies of humanity. Hence true Christians under unfavorable circumstances do some strange things. Men are only big boys. Alas, human depravity! Few have the mind which was in Christ Jesus- the mind to sacrifice and to suffer for the good of others."(2) Here, Milton is simply confirming what scripture teaches, and Wilbur would have known the scripture reference- Romans Ch 8, verses 6&7, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. But the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans Ch 3, verses 10-12, 21 states "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one....for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." And in Isaiah Ch 53, verse 6, we read "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him (Jesus), the iniquity of us all." Milton's comments simply state the basic condition of humanity as revealed in scripture; a condition both he and Wilbur witnessed in the unfortunate behavior of other church members during the "Keiter Affair".
Milton wrote to Orville May 18, 1908, "The Sunday Philadelphia Press, contains a little over a long column about you and your machine- all complimentary. It says you are 'slim, sedate and placid', 'the very antithesis of one's idea of what an airship sailor should be', 'nothing daring, nothing devilish about them', 'they look like a pair of clerks in a village hardware store, whose pleasure it is to attend the Wednesday night prayer meeting', etc. etc. How sadly they miss the devotional tendency! Yet largely you owe your training and standing to the Church." (2)
July 14, 1908 in a letter to friend George Spratt, Wilbur at this time in Le Mans, wrote,"...Many of the old friends at Kitty Hawk are still there but some are gone. Dan Tate is dead. Tom Tate is living with his Uncle Bill. Dr. Coggswill was converted and has become one of the lights of the church. He however has now removed to Manteo where he refuses to place his membership on account of the lack of real religion there, he says...."(2)
In September of 1908, Wilbur and Orville's good life long friend Edwin Sines wrote to Wilbur "Dear Fiz, Bully for you Will. When we read of your flight yesterday, in this morning's paper we were immensely pleased. But mother is worrying about you now. She said at breakfast, "You know Will is my boy, my champion", and she did hope you wouldn't get hurt. So do we all wish you wouldn't get hurt. But of course your trials are bound to be risky but we are praying for your safety..." (8)

Milton wrote to Wilbur September 2, 1909, "You know I have the greatest interest in what you do...There is no flight of importance, since you rounded the Statue of Liberty...I hope your shop is as usual on Sunday. It gives you immense advantage, whatever is forgone...Trust in God, and be true, and you will have the victory. I have tried it so much, and often...."
September 28, 1909, Milton wrote to Wilbur, "Religion is known to that man who is "born again". To others, it is a strange thought. It is real communion with God. There is nothing strange about it. It separates the world into believers and unbelievers. "The natural man"....animal, sensuous man, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for foolishness to him they are, and he can not know (them) because spiritually they are discerned." 1 Cor. 2:14. Those that are "the poor in Spirit," "that mourn", "the meek", that "hunger and thirst after righteousness", that are "merciful", that are "pure in heart", that are "peacemakers", that persecuted for righteousness, rejoice and be glad, knowing they have a home in heaven...I know how you are situated and how you are endangered & must feel. M.W.(2)

Last Will and Testament of Wilbur Wright, May 10, 1912- "I hereby give to my father Milton Wright, of Dayton, Ohio, my earnest thanks for his example of a courageous, upright life, and for his earnest sympathy with everything tending to my true welfare..."

The Wright Company- Edward Roach, 2014, pg 100, “Meanwhile, Milton…responding to letters… To a former student living in Oregon, he wrote that Wilbur “has gone to be among the angels of God.” The late company president now “soared victorious as a conqueror to his throne” and “we are left to weep”.(4)
Wilbur Wright pointing, with Charlie Taylor, October 1909

After Wilbur's death, Milton wrote to Rev J. Howe, 1912, "When the division in our church occurred our children were members at Summit Street. Wilbur and Katharine promptly notified them, that they were not members of the Liberal Church. They held themselves as members of the Radical part of Summit Church." (When the split occurred in the UB Church in 1889, Wilbur and Katharine made it clear they sided with the Radicals (Old Constitution UB) in lieu of the Liberals (New Constitution UB). The Radicals held to the original standing of the UB Constitution that members were not to join secret societies. The Liberals changed the Constitution to permit church members to join secret societies.)

Again, to Rev. J. Howe, Milton wrote May 5, 1912, "Wilbur was not at general conference, and not a candidate for any office, but was jealously urged to not be a member of church, lest he should be elected!......My daughter has kept her membership with mine, for many years. Orville left his at Summit Street- a zealous Radical- till at last he ceased to be a member. Neither he nor Wilbur are members anywhere. They close shop Sundays, mostly stay at home, have no engagements for Sundays, never, unless some subordinate has bargained to have a machine out on Sunday, and then do not more than fill the contract....They believe business should stop one day in seven. They are pure in speech, they tell only the truth, they are much lied about, they never boast what they are going to do..." 
In a post script to another 1912 letter written by Milton, he wrote, "P.S. Neither Wilbur, nor any one of the family, wished the funeral a Radical United Brethren funeral. He said nothing about it. He loved the Church and fought effectively for it long after he was ousted from it by jealousy...."
And in a letter to Rev. J. Howe, June 19, 1912, Milton wrote, "Wilbur, though from thirteen to near thirty years of age, a member of the church, was cast out of the Church, by about twenty Radical members of Summit Street Church.......A few years at most, and I shall joint Wilbur on the other shore....." 
Wilbur and Orville held themselves as members of the Radical part of Summit Church. Unfortunately, division occurred among the Radicals over the "Keiter Affair". Milton and Wilbur discovered M. F. Keiter had channeled church funds to his own pocket, and made this known. The Radicals took sides, eventually casting Wilbur out. Likely Orville left soon after. Milton was eventually vindicated, and Keiter removed from the position. Wilbur and Orville didn't leave Summit Church over lack of faith, they left over differences with other members!
Summit Street UB Church, Wright Cycle Shop, Wright home
1908 Dayton map (north is up)- yellow arrow shows location of Summit Street UB Church. 1127 West Third Wright Cycle Shop is to the east, and the Wright home at 7 Hawthorn is shown just south of Fourth Street. The Church was within walking distance of the Wright home on Hawthorn Street. Summit Street has since been renamed Paul Laurence Dunbar Street. (11)
The Bishop Boys, Tom Crouch, 1989- Crouch wrote -Most of the world would come to regard the invention of the airplane as Wilbur's finest moment. Milton thought otherwise: "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 cannot but shed happiness on him in life, and comfort him in his last moments. Such devotion of a son has rarely been equaled, and the mother and son were fully able to appreciate each other. Her life was probably lengthened, at least two years, by his skill and assiduity."(5) 

Milton wrote to Mrs. Mary A. Wyatt, September 6, 1914-
My Dear Friend: 
I am in the sunset of life, and it is a great pleasure, at this stage, to receive a kind letter from one whom I have known so long, and esteemed so much........
My son Wilbur died at 45, but he lived twice that long, if we reckon how he used life. He died without a struggle or a groan. He realized the promise to those who honor their parents. Never did a Mother have such a son as his Mother had....
The 4th of July last, it is 25 years since "the sweetest spirit earth ever knew" took her flight to that Savior in whom she always had confided. She left with me a daughter not quite 15, to whom I had to be father and mother.....

When Milton wrote that Wilbur "realized the promise to those who honor their parents", he had in mind the scripture Ephesians 6:1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." Milton believed Wilbur lived a long life in the sense that "he lived twice that long, if we reckon how he used his life", accomplishing more than many who've lived twice that life span.

Wilbur's funeral was held at the First Presbyterian Church in Dayton, and the pastor Dr. M. E. Wilson spoke these words, "As Christian men and women, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. The grave cannot hold the rich treasure of such manhood as Wilbur Wright. He is a son of the Eternal God, and has entered upon an infinitely larger life than he could possibly live here. As he here learned to soar upon the wings of the wind, and to make the clouds his chariot, so yonder will he rise to ever increasing heights, and discover for his ambitious soul ever widening spheres of conquest. The God of all glory who endowed this man with his magnificent powers, has received him to Himself, has given to him His seal of approval of a life well and nobly spent, and has already begun to fulfill His promise to those who are faithful in a few things, 'I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of thy Lord'."(7)

Wilbur received Christ at the age of 13. At the age of 20-22, he fully devoted his care to his mother, "the truest Christian", and observed her example day by day as he cared for her, until her dying day. Wilbur and Orville wrote of their Mother, "A Christian since a child....the beloved wife and almost idolized mother...Upon father...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.... has gone, but her spirit will ever be with us." Wilbur's Father wrote of the time Wilbur cared for his Mother, "that cannot but shed happiness on him in life, and comfort him in his last moments." Wilbur knew he was losing the battle with typhoid. He had time to be comforted by these thoughts of his mother in his last moments. Milton wrote, "Never did a son excel him in skill and attention to his Mother and he died in the same room where she died twenty three years ago, July 4th." Wilbur stated that "once I get a hold of a truth, I hate to lose it again..." He found this truth at 13, and witnessed this truth in the life of his Mother. Christ does not lose those who receive him. Eternal life given, is an eternal gift. Attendance at a church or lack of is not proof of one's salvation. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 reads, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." As Christians, we remain new creations. Hardships of life, and controversies within the church may turn a person away for a period of time, but God does not turn away. Personally, I look forward to shaking Wilbur's hand one day.....

Acknowledgement of sympathy card sent out by the Wright family at time of Wilbur Wright's death, May 30th, 1912.(3)

September 14, 1915, Amos Root writing to friend Orville Wright-
"Friend Wright:- When you have time you may be interested in the clipping enclosed.....I suppose your good father is still alive as I have heard nothing to the contrary and I trust your bright and able sister is still living to see the success of her brother's work......May God be with you and guide, direct and strengthen you in the work you are doing, and may the Flying Machine finally be an emblem of peace and good will to the world rather than an engine of warefare (warfare). Give my regards to your father and sister and any others that may be interested in Your old friend, A. I. Root." (2)

April 30, 1923, Earnest R. Root, son of Amos Root, to Orville Wright-
"Dear Mr. Wright: My father, A. I. Root, passed away early today. The end came peacefully and triumphantly, his last words being an expression of faith and thanks to God. Father had a very warm place in his heart for you, and I am sure he would be glad to have me express to you for him a final word of friendship......Yours sincerely, Earnest R. Root (2)
Orville was "Christian in all of his practices, attitudes, and relationships except that of formal worship and support" per Orville's dentist, Dr. Theodore E. Lilly. From Wright Reminiscences, complied by Ivonette Wright Miller, 1978, Dr. Lilly wrote "One time he saw an item in the paper about my participating in a religious event and he commented about it. I was glad of the opportunity to talk with him about Religion, rather to listen to him. Of course, he had been reared in a very religious home, but evidently he had had church experiences that made him think that he didn't need to attend services to satisfy his needs. He was Christian in all of his practices, attitudes, and relationships except that of formal worship and support. I suggested that he would be a great influence and he said he'd go to church some times if he could just slip into a back pew, an example of his unostentatious  nature. On another occasion, he told me that there were only two real preachers in Dayton, both of whom were of my Baptist denomination, one was colored, the other white and the minister of my own church. I have often wondered if he might have slipped in and out of services in those churches."

March 29, 1939, Orville sent an Easter postcard to his friend Earl Findley, the card depicting a church and Easter Lilly's, with the printed caption "A Happy Easter- I wish you all the happiness which heaven can provide, a goodly share of joy and bliss, and a Happy Eastertide. 

January 7, 1942, Rev. H. Randel Lookabill wrote to Orville- "I feel I must tell you how highly honored I felt when I received the Christmas greeting from you......May this be a happy and successful year for you, and may the Lord bless you richly."(3) Rev. Lookabill and Orville shared such messages for decades. Rev. Lookabill lived in Dayton,  but later moved to Indiana.

Jesse B. Gilbert said of his lifelong friend, Orville Wright, "God's providence made him the instrument of one of the world's forward surges."(9) Jesse went to high school with Orville and ran a Coal business on West Third street a block from the Wright's Cycle Shop.

Ezra M. Kuhns stated, "Orville loved everything good and beautiful, and in his enthusiasm for the best in life, maintained a personal, moral, spiritual and intellectual approach with naught to mar or jar." (9) Ezra Kuhns was the lawyer that witnessed Wilbur Wright's last will and testament at Wilbur's bedside. Kuhns was Vice-Mayor of Dayton at the time of the 1909 Wright Brother Home Celebration, and Kuhns was secretary of the commission for the development of the Wright Brothers Memorial Park near Huffman Prairie.

Bernard L. Whelan is quoted, "Those who were privileged to know him will equally mourn a great loss to the Christian world. Seldom do we encounter so modest and sublime a character as that exemplified in Orville Wright." (10) Whelan learned to fly at the Wright Flying School at Huffman Prairie, in 1913. He also worked as a test pilot for the Dayton-Wright Company through 1924.

During an interview with the Dayton Daily News on his 75th Birthday, 1946, Orville stated the following, "The United States is a democracy. We never will have Communism here unless the people want it. Russia cannot force it upon us. The most she can do is preach it to us as we preach Christianity throughout the world."(6)

The Brothers having returned to Kitty Hawk for an attempt at powered flight, after persevering through storms and chill, their machine was ready November 5th, 1903. The propeller shafts however were damaged that day requiring return of the shafts to Dayton for repair. The repaired shafts were received and installed November 20th, only to be found cracked again Saturday, November 28th. Orville left for Dayton Monday morning for new shafts, and Wilbur in a letter to his brother, wrote, "As predicted by 'the only genuine champion' weather prophet, Monday & Tuesday have been almost ideal days for a trial of the machine, the weather being mild & clear, and the wind from 5 to 9 meters from the west around to northeast." (12) The perfect flying day would have to pass, as Wilbur waited for Orville to return from Dayton with the new shafts. Orville returned, Friday December 11th. Saturday, once the new spring steel shafts were installed, there was not enough wind for starting from flat ground, and not sufficient time to haul the flyer up to the hill for a trial run. With the year nearing an end, the Brothers were running out of time. But then came Sunday, and Orville recorded in his diary, "with a wind of 6 to 8 meters blowing from west and later from north. Air warm. Spent most of the day reading...." A 6 to 8 meter wind (equivalent to 13-18 mph) would have provided for a rather suitable day for flying. Of days like these, Orville would write, "The sunsets here are the prettiest I have ever seen. The clouds light up in all colors in the background, with deep blue clouds of various shapes fringed with gold before. The moon rises in much the same style, and lights up this pile of sand almost like day. I read my watch at all hours of the night on moonless nights without the aid of any other light than that of the stars shining on the canvas of the tent."(14)(15)
The first powered manned flight in a heavier than air machine could have finally occurred December 13th 1903, a Sunday. But it did not. For this was the Sabbath, and the Wright Brothers would not fly on the Sabbath, not even for such an event as first flight.(16)  

Bishop Wright's invocation added 3/9/19

1. Bishop Milton Wright Diaries, WSU, 1999- July 4, 1906 entry. 
2. Letters quoted from Library of Congress Archives. 
3. From author's collection. 
4. Quoted from Library of Congress Milton Wright letter to Mrs. Mary A. Wyatt, June 18, 1912. 
5. From Ch 5, Times of Trial, Crouch quotes from Milton Wright interview from a newspaper clipping in the Wright Scrapbooks, 1909, Wright Papers, Library of Congress, "Wilbur Wright Born in Henry County". I found this same quote in the Wright Scrapbooks at the Dayton Montgomery Library, dated June 13, 1909, "Father Wright Tells About Wilbur and Orville as Children and as Men".
6. Printed again by The Dayton Daily News, January 31, 1948, pg 8, "Wright Gave Political Views in Interview". 
7. From June 3, 1912 News article, "Wilbur Wright Had Plans No Other Inventor Can Execute", Dayton Montgomery Co Library Wright Brother Scrapbooks.
8.  In this Library of Congress Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, September 22, 1908 letter, Ed also mentions "We all deplore Orv's terrible accident but are very thankful that he fared no worse. I believe he will come along all right..."
9. The Dayton Herald, February 7 1948, "Rotary Club Speakers Pay High Tribute to Memory of Member, Orville Wright". 
10. The Dayton Daily News, February 1, 1948, "World Mourns Wright's Passing, Messages Continue to be Received".
11. From Ward and Precinct Map of the City of Dayton, 1908, by Frederick J. Cellarius, Civil Engineer, author's copy.
12. Portion from letter of Wilbur to Orville, Kill Devil Hills, December 1, 1903, as published in "The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright", Marvin W. McFarland, Editor. 
13. From The Dayton Journal, June 19, 1909, "Bishop Wright Offers Prayer".
14. Portion from letter of Orville Wright to sister Katharine, written at Kitty Hawk, October 14, 1900, "The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright", Marvin W. McFarland, Editor.
15. The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Volume One 1899-1905, Marvin W. McFarland Editor. Orville Wright's Diary entries, Sunday Dec 13, wind of 6 to 8 meters. Monday, Dec 14, wind speed of 4-8 mph, first trial attempt by Wilbur down incline, damage to Flyer. Tuesday, Dec 15, day spent repairing front rudder and rudder frame; wind 5 to 6 meters. Wednesday, Dec 16, wind 6 to 7 meters, completed repairs by noon, got machine ready, but wind slowed to 4 to 5 meters per second. Waited for wind to increase, it didn't, machine put away. December 17, wind blowing 27 mph, and the rest is history. 
16. "The Wright Brothers", by Ian Mackersey, 2003, Ch 14, "Twelve Famous Seconds", Ian wrote, "Next day, 13 December, dawned with the most ideal weather they could ever have wished for: a perfect take-off breeze sighed across the sands. But it was Sunday. The machine did not leave the shed. Though they knew that this balmy day might be their only chance to get into the air in the precious few days before Christmas, there was no way either was prepared to break his sabbath pledge to Milton. They spent the day relaxing, reading, walking along the beach and talking to curious visitors who had begun to trek across the dunes for a glimpse of the motor-driven flying machine that was now the talk of the Outer Banks." I would take one exception to what Mackersey wrote. I believe there was no way the Brothers were going to break their sabbath pledge due to their own faith commitment, not because of some pledge to their father. Writing to a friend in 1912, Milton wrote, "It is a false story, that I requested them to close their shops on Sunday, and not exhibit their machines on Sunday, and not to take the 'social glass'. It was unnecessary! They were unmoved by adverse surroundings."

Related Posts- 
Bishop Milton Wright, Editor of Religious Telescope and Father of Wilbur and Orville Wright

Orville Wright- A Genuine Friend 

Amos I. Root Much A Buzz About the Wright Brothers

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