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Friday, July 4, 2014

The Wright Brothers 1909 Celebration, Dayton Ohio

(Updated 11/08/18) Wright Brothers' Home Days Celebration, 1909 (published 2003, Carillon Historical Park) with photo's of Andrew S. Iddings and text by Mark Bernstein is an excellent telling of events of Dayton's recognition of Wilbur and Orville Wright's accomplishments. Page 2, Mark writes "All the photographs that follow were taken by a Dayton attorney, Andrew S. Iddings. As Iddings was working entirely on his own behest, this record of the event is not complete. (Link for Wright State University Archives Andrew S. Iddings information.)  Most of the photographs were taken at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and during the Grand Parade through town that afternoon." Day one of the Celebration, June 17, 1909, began with "all factories and others having whistles and bells to blow or ring them for a period not to exceed 10 minutes." Mark writes "At 2:30 p.m. , the Dayton fire department and units of the U.S. Army and Navy paraded down Main Street from Monument Avenue to Sixth." On page 14, a street view of the fire department parade is shown (Link for WSU core scholar archive photo)

Dayton's Sons Have Shown The Way: All Nations Bow In Acknowledgment
In anticipation of the Celebration to follow on Thursday and Friday, the Wednesday June 16th issue of the Dayton Daily News pictures how Dayton's skyline may appear in the years to come, with Wright Flyers a common sight.(5)
Dayton Daily News June 16, 1909
Wilbur and Orville's sense of humor shines through in this account printed in the Dayton Daily News June 16, 1909 issue. Pressed to give a speech in Paris, "Wilbur arose and said: "Of all the birds of the air the parrot is the best talker, but it is the poorest flyer." And he sat down. There were loud calls for Orville, and finally he, too, made a speech. He said: "I have but one criticism to offer on my brother's speech. It was too long."(5)

Photos of Bishop Milton Wright and Susan Wright, and of Orville (at age 9) and Wilbur (at age 13), from article in Wednesday June 16th, 1909 issue of The Dayton Daily News. Note the open Bible. Susan had died 20 years prior to the Dayton Wright Brother Home Celebration.(5)

Keys of City are Presented To Her Distinguished Sons
Dayton Daily News June 17th, 1909 news of Dayton Wright Brother Home Celebration. Keys of City are Presented To Her Distinguished Sons.(5)

Dayton Daily News June 18th, 1909, Nation, State and City Unite in the Bestowal of Tributes Upon Wrights.(5)
Wright Brother Dayton Home Celebration, O.B. Kneisly scrapbook.
June 18, 1909 Dayton Journal "City Goes Wild Over Deeds of Talented Sons"; from page in scrapbook assembled by O. B. Kneisly.
A reception was held at the YMCA Thursday evening, and after shaking the hands of 5000 admirers, "the instinct of self preservation compelled them to cease handshaking and respond to the greetings of their friends by bows and smiles". From Dayton Daily News, June 18th, 1909 issue.

Below, is a photograph of the fireman's parade perhaps taken from the upper floor levels of the United Brethren Publishing House. The scene is looking north on main street. The old Courthouse can be seen at the area with the two sets of four columns, center left. Furthermost north, the Soldier's Monument can be seen, just beyond which is the main street bridge crossing the Great Miami River. I believe Andrew Iddings was standing just beyond the two sets of four columns on the west side of Main Street as he took the pg 14 photo mentioned above. The photo below likely captures Iddings on the street taking the photo of page 14, and it would be fun investigative work to identify him if possible, as the resolution of this scene is quite high. The photo below is signed "Complements of Edward E. Burkhart." Burkhart served as Dayton's mayor from 1908 to 1911. Page 46 of Mark Bernstein's book, he writes "In presenting the city's medals (to Wilbur and Orville Wright), Mayor Edward Burkhart stated, 'With the perfect development of aeroplanes, wars will be only an incident of past ages.'" Ok, so Burkhart wasn't the greatest prophet.....

Signed by Edward Burkhart, mayor of Dayton in 1909
Wright Brother's Home Celebration, June 17, 1909, 2:30pm, signed Complements of Edward E. Burkhart.(4)

Photos combined by author, from west and east side of Main Street looking north, taken perhaps 30 seconds apart by two photographers in buildings on opposite sides of the street. Click on photo to enlarge image. Provides illusion of seeing buildings and decorations on both sides of street. Photo on left from postcard image, and photo on right from unpublished original in author's collection. Friday June 18th, 2:30pm 1909 parade.

From Matt Yanney collection- Wright Brother's Home Celebration, Dayton Ohio.
Crowds on the sidewalks and seated in the windows during June 17th parade and drill by the Dayton Fire Department.(6)

From Matt Yanney collection
Crowds on the rooftops and in window balconies, June 18th. Can you imagine allowing this today? I am not aware of any report of anyone falling during either day of the celebration.(6)

From Matt Yanney collection
June 17th fireman's parade heading south on Main Street. I don't know the identity of the people in the carriages. I assume Fire chiefs, or people of importance in Dayton. Anyone with more information, please comment, and I'll add to this post.(6)

From Matt Yanney collection.
June 18th parade, the third division,  heading north on Main Street. The first sixteen floats depicted the development of transportation in the U.S. Seen here lower right is the float with the Wright Flyer circling a globe. Leading this float is a group of costumed people representing people of the World's nations. Further north is the float that carries the Festival queen Helen B. Fishter. Further north is the float with a model of an airship, and leading is the float with a small hot air balloon.(6)
Milton Wright made this entry in his diary June 18th, 1909-
"It was a lovely day. Went at 10:30 to Fairground. Children sing. 'Star Spangled Banner' made the invocation. Lieut. Allen spoke and presented the Congressional Medals. Gov. Harmon the Ohio Medal, Mayor Burkhart, presented the City medal. Return home. Attended the parade in afternoon. Also auto-mobile parade at night. Grand stand, 1st & Monument Ave."(7)

I took the following photographs of Main Street in Dayton, from the upper level of the Centre City Building in November of 2011. Centre City Building was originally known as the United Brethren Publishing House, the location of the Wright Brothers Exhibition office in 1910 and 1911, and the location for the publication of the Religious Telescope. Comparing the two photographs of 1909 and 2011, two points of reference common to each are the Old Court House, and Soldiers Monument.(The Court House construction was completed in 1850; in 1859 Abraham Lincoln stood at those front stone steps during his presidential campaign.)

Photo by Matt Yanney
2011, looking north from upper level of Centre City Building, known as the United Brethren Publishing House in 1909.(1)

Photo by Matt Yanney 2011
Close up of Old Court House, 2011, location of "Court of Honor" during 1909 Wright Brother Home Celebration.(1)

From Matt Yanney collection, Edward Burkhart signed photo
Close up of Old Court House, and "Court of Honor", 1909.

Photo by Matt Yanney
August 2018 view of "Court House Square", photo by author.

The postcard views below are interesting in that they show the contrast from the joyous 1909 parade to deadly 1913 flood waters passing by the historical Court House structure. See my post "The 1913 Dayton Flood, and the Wright Family". 

Dayton Ohio Main Street from Court House looking North.
Post card at left shows view from steps of Court House looking north down Main Street, March 26, 1913, during the Dayton Flood. Postcard to right shows same street section during 1909 Wright Brother Home Celebration. Click photos to enlarge.(3)

From the Centre City (United Brethren Publishing House) Building, looking south on Main Street,  among the path of the 1909 Celebration parade, now stands a sculpture commemorating the first flight of December 17th, 1903.

Photo by Matt Yanney 2011
2011, looking south down Main Street from upper level of Centre City Building, view of "Flyover" Sculpture.(1)

Photo 2011 by Matt Yanney
"Flyover", unveiled in 1996, commemorates Orville Wright's December 17, 1903 12 second flight, actual arc of flight(1)

Dayton, Ohio, photo August 2018 by Matt Yanney
Northern view of Centre City Building, August 2018, photo by author.

Many various postcard views associated with the two day celebration were printed, and the ones with personal invitations or eyewitness accounts of the event have special significance, and several are shared below:

Postmarked June 14, 1909, "If possible, come down Wednesday with Hazel for the Wright Bros. celebration."(3)

Postmarked July 2, 1909, "Dear Grace, I just returned from the Dayton Celebration, I saw this living flag...."(3)

Postmarked June 11, 1909, "I would like to know if you can come over for the Wright Brothers, the 17 & 18..."(3)

"Here are seven scenes which were taken during the Wright Bros. Celebration. The Court of Honor was from Third to Monument Ave. It was just beautiful especially at night."(3)

This next photo postcard is exceptionally nice, high detail, and a really nice eye witness message on the back. The statues in the photo are one of four pairs. Mark Bernstein indicates on pg 99 of Wright Brothers' Home Days Celebration, 1909- "Four pairs of 12-foot statues framed the Court of Honor, with each pair separated by an evergreen and strung with wreath and roping. The statues were the work of Joseph Adelbart Horchert, a German-born sculptor..." Mark notes that the celebration cost $30,000. The message on this card makes note that the Court of Honor cost the city $3350. Henry Kabierske was the decorator and designer of the event, and was assisted by Horchert. This scene is looking north on Main street. Steele High School can be seen at upper left (pointed high tower). Katharine Wright taught here up to a year before this event.

Joseph Adelbart Horchert statue pair, 12-foot each,  each holding a Wright Flyer model.(3)

From Matt Yanney collection
Message on rear of postcard (3)

"Wright Bros. Celebration Dayton -O- June-17-18-1909 This magnificent "Court of Honor" 3 squares long cost the city $3350 to erect. Thousands of electric lights illuminated it at night- All buildings in city decorated in flags & bunting. Notice figures of women on corner pieces holding world in one hand and air-ship in the other- There were 6 of these beautiful corner pieces- This is 3rd & Main Str- Our seats (reserved) were in front of the new court house, back of 4th lamp post in this picture- Grace"

Description of the tetrastyles "with lofty pillars...and beautiful figure of Victory" as printed in the June 17, 1909 issue of the Dayton Daily News. In addition to the four at The Court of Honor, four more tetrastyles were located at Monument Avenue. "Each of the entrances to the Court of Honor have been gaily decorated with evergreen, and placed at the very top of the tetrastyle is a gilded box of evergreen and wonderful artificial flowers." I don't know if there were a total of eight, or a total of six as mentioned on the above postcard, but in any case, the evergreen can be seen on top of the tetrastyles in the photos above.(5)

The Official Program for The Wright Brothers Home Celebration listed the events of the two day celebration. The program below was saved by O.B. Kneisly, who served with Lorin Wright on the Dayton City Commission. On this 5-member commission, Lorin served from 1920-1927. Kneisly served 1921-1925.

O. B. Kneisly's copy, served with Lorin Wright
From scrapbook assembled by O.B. Kneisly, who served with Lorin Wright on Dayton City Commission.(2)

Wilbur and Orville's father, Bishop Milton Wright delivered the Invocation during the Metal presentation ceremony.(2)

The Unofficial Program for The Wright Brothers Home Celebration included pictures of the Wright Family members, of Charlie Taylor, and of their home. Also included were the events planned for the two day celebration, Dayton attractions, and local business advertisements. Perhaps because this was not the "Official" program, the correct spelling of the Wright family members wasn't deemed necessary......

Katharine and Reuchlin's names are misspelled.

Lorin's name is misspelled.

Wright Family home at 7 Hawthorn Street (moved to Greenfield Village, Dearborn Michigan and opened to public, 1938).

One of the many attractions available throughout the two day event.

Recommended Reading on this subject-
  • Wright Brothers' Home Days Celebration, 1909, Dayton Salutes Wilbur, Orville and Itself. Photographs by Andrew S. Iddings, Text by Mark Bernstein. Carillon Historical Park, 2003. 
  • Ohio Home of the Wright Brothers, Louis Chmiel, 2013- Part 7,  Chapter 78 Welcome Home.

1. Photo by author, taken 2011 from penthouse level of Centre City Building, former United Brethren Publication Building.
2. Program from author's collection.
3. Postcard from author's collection.
4. Framed photo signed by 1909 mayor of Dayton, Edward Burkhart, and presented to the Wright family. From author's collection.
5. Newspapers from author's collection.
6. Close ups of photos from author's collection. The resolution in these period photographs is pretty amazing.
7. From Diaries 1857-1917, Biship Milton Wright, Wright State University, 1999.

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