Who were the neighbors of the Wright family during these years between 1871 through 1914? Which families were present while Wilbur and Orville were printing The West Side News, and The Evening Item in 1889 and 1890? Who's homes did they walk by when heading to the Wright Cycle Company at 22 South Williams each morning? When the Brothers returned home in December of 1903, who would have congratulated them for their successful flights? Who were the families that shed the tears and shoveled the mud of the 1913 flood from the basements and first floors of their homes, side by side with Milton, Orville, and Katharine? We know some of the names. Edwin Sines, Orville's childhood friend two doors to the south at 15 Hawthorn, would be associated with Orville's printing business. The Feights, neighbors to the north, remained good friends of the Wright family, and are mentioned many times in Milton's diaries. Some families would remain for decades, while others would be present for just a year or two.
One family of particular interest, the Billheimers, were recorded to have lived at 21 Hawthorn from 1878 through 1881. Jacob Kemp and Amanda Billheimer's daughter Lulu would eventually marry Reuchlin Wright. Louis Chmiel, author of Ohio, Home of the Wright Brothers, Birthplace of Aviation, had long suspected that the Billheimer home was still standing, but a bit of a mystery shielded the identity of the house, as there was no modern day address known as 21 Hawthorn. The remaining home addresses along the west side of Hawthorn are 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, and 39. Through collaboration with Louis Chmiel, the mystery has been recently solved.(3) The address numbering of these homes changed from the 1870s into the 1880's, and address 21 became address 23. The Jacob and Amanda Billheimer home of 23 Hawthorn street, though privately owned, is still standing, and can be viewed while visiting the Aviation Trail Hawthorn neighborhood. This is exciting news, as unfortunately, so many of the homes associated with the Wright family no longer stand. For more information on the Billheimer's, please read the post
Five Copper Cents- The True Account of Jacob and Amanda Billheimer- Reuchlin Wright's In-Laws
From the 1880 Census, the house numbers are not identified, but the order of the residences visited along west Hawthorn were as follows as the census taker worked northward:
- Enoch V. Drake
- Jacob K. Billheimer
- Andrew Smith
- Thomas J. Sines
- Phillip Lavasseur
- David T. Bennett
- John Feight
From the Dayton Directory listings from the 1870's and early 1880's, the addresses along Hawthorn Street were often listed simply as to general location, with no house number given. For example, a listing from 1877 reads "Drake Enoch V. res w s Hawthorn b 4th and 5th, W. S.", or in other words, Enoch V. Drake residence on west side of Hawthorn between 4th and 5th Streets, West Side of Dayton. In the 1879 Directory, Drakes address is listed for the first time as 27 Hawthorn. Enoch Drake lived at this address through 1889. (Enoch passed away June 10th, 1890, and is buried in section 102, Lot 1266 at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum.) From examining the Dayton Directories from 1871 through the mid 1880's and beyond, it can be observed that the addresses on the west side of Hawthorn initially were identified as 1, 3, 5, 13, 15, 21, and 27 for the first seven homes working south from 4th Street when a house number was listed. These address identities changed such that by 1884 they had become 1, 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, and 27.
- Historically we know that Enoch Drake lived at 27 Hawthorn from 1877 through 1889. The 1879-89 Directories identify his address as 27 Hawthorn.
- The Billheimers lived at 21 Hawthorn as identified in the 1879 through 1881 Directories. In 1878, the Directory simply indicates their address as west side of Hawthorn, between 4th and 5th streets. In 1882, Calvin and Emma Willey are shown as living at 21 Hawthorn, and Nettie Willey is shown as living at 23 Hawthorn. The 1883 through 1887 Directories list Wm Huffman at 23 Hawthorn. 21 Hawthorn was no longer indicated after 1882. 21 became 23.(3)
- Andrew Smith was listed in the 1876 and 1877 Directory at 15 Hawthorn. In 1878, Smith is listed at west side of Hawthorne between 4th and 5th. In 1879, Smith was listed at 19 Hawthorn. In 1880 and 81, he's again listed as west side of Hawthorn between 4th and 5th. In 1882, he once again is listed at 15 Hawthorn. By 1883, Smith had moved to Williams Street and the address of 15 Hawthorn would be listed for Thomas Sines thereafter. The former 15 residence of Andrew Smith became 19. 19 Hawthorn would continue to appear in the Directories with varying tenants with Margaret Stewart listed in 1888 and thereafter through 1908.
- Thomas Sines was listed at 13 Hawthorn in the 1873 Directory, and maintains that number when a number was listed, until 1882. The 1883 Directory listed Sines at 15 Hawthorn and continued to do so through 1906. 13 became 15.
- Phillip Lavasseur was listed at 5 Hawthorn in the 1877, 1879, and 1880 Directories. After 1880, address 5 no longer appeared. Address 11 was first listed in 1884, and then thereafter. 5 became 11.(5)
- The Wright home address historically has been known as 7 Hawthorn Street. However, in the first decade of the home's existence, it's address was twice listed as 3 Hawthorn.The 1874, 75, 76 Dayton Directories listed the address as w s Hawthorn 2nd door s of 4th. W.S. (west side of Hawthorn, 2nd door south of 4th street, West Side of Dayton). The 1877 Directory listed the address as Wright Rev. Milton, res 3 Hawthorn near 4th, W.S.. The 1880 Directory listed the address as 3 Hawthorn with a border Cyrus Hoffman, a carriage painter. The 1880 Census appears to indicate the David Bennett family rented the Wright home. (Perhaps the Bennet family moved out mid 1880 after the census, and the Hoffman family moved in, and then recorded in the 1880-81 Dayton Directory). The 1882 Directory and thereafter listed the address as 7 Hawthorn. 7 Hawthorn was listed for the Marquis family through 1885 until the lease ended and the Wrights moved back in October of 1885. 3 became 7.
- The Feights were listed at 1 Hawthorn in 1875, and this number appeared now and then, and eventually became constant from 1884 on. 1 remained 1. Another note- The Sanborn Insurance Map of 1897-98 lists this address as 5 Hawthorn, with the rest of the addresses listed per their modern numbers as 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, 31, 35, 39 (31 and 35 no longer stand). However, the number 5 was never used for this address in the Dayton Directories.
|Addresses 2016 Hawthorn neighborhood, courtesy of Montgomery County GIS. Click on photo to enlarge.|
Hawthorn Street Neighbors in 1890 (9)
- 1 Hawthorn John (John G. F. & Son) & Anna Feight, Alfred Feight (John G. F. & Son), John E Feight (clerk), George Feight (grain buyer)
- 7 Hawthorn Rev. Milton Wright (publisher), Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright (Wilbur & Orville Wright, editors and Publishers The Evening Item, 1210 W. 3rd St), Lorin Wright (bookkeeper), Katharine Wright
- 11 Hawthorn William (clerk, The Stoddard Manufacturing Co) & Eleanor Wagner
- 15 Hawthorn Thomas (carpenter) & Isabelle Sines, Edwin Sines (printer)
- 19 Hawthorn Mrs. Margaret Stewart
- 23 Hawthorn Gideon Harter (watchman)
- 27 Hawthorn Katie Thomas (housekeeper) (10)
- 39 Hawthorn E. W. Shain (clothing renovator), William Shain (grinder), Gertrude Shain, Maude Shain
- 4 Hawthorn Charles Whitfield (traveling salesman), Bert Pexton (boarder), David Naismith (boarder)
- 6 Hawthorn Charles Murphy (carpenter)
- 10 Hawthorn Perry Pease (painter)
For more detail on Jacob and Amanda Billheimer, their daughter Lulu, and son-in-law Reuchlin Wright, please read the post:
Five Copper Cents- The True Account of Jacob and Amanda Billheimer- Reuchlin Wright's In-Laws
|Lot of 7 Hawthorn, previous location of Wright home, photo by author, 2012.|
|From left to right, 23 Hawthorn, 19 Hawthorn, 15 Hawthorn, & 11 Hawthorn, looking north toward 4th street, photo by author, 2016.|
|4 Hawthorn and 6 Hawthorn, photo by author, 2016. 4 Hawthorn is a reproduction of the Wright home, constructed in 2003. 6 Hawthorn was originally less than half its current size. The home was enlarged in 1901.|
|10 Hawthorn, home of Ira and Mary Fisher from 1900 through 1912. Ira was a market vender. Photo courtesy of Mont Co GIS.|
|1029 West Fourth Street, 1901 to 1914 photo taken from front yard of 7 Hawthorn, photo courtesy of Library of Congress. This photo likely dates to 1899 to 1901, and likely was taken same year as photo below.(11)|
Hawthorn Street Neighbors in 1903
- 1 Hawthorn John (carpenter) & Anna Feight, George Feight (clerk)
- 7 Hawthorn Rev. Milton Wright (bishop United Brethren Old Constitution), Wilbur Wright (Wright Cycle Co), Orville Wright (Wright Cycle Co), Katharine Wright (teacher)
- 11 Hawthorn Rachael Wagner, William (clerk, The Stoddard Manufacturing Co) & Eleanor Wagner
- 15 Hawthorn Thomas (carpenter) & Isabelle Sines, Edwin Sines (The Barney & Smith Car Co)
- 19 Hawthorn Margaret Stewart (widow), Frank Penland (painter), Elizabeth Northup (widow), Bernice Northup (milliner)
- 23 Hawthorn John Emerick (salesman), Ethel Wellbaum (border)
- 27 Hawthorn Daniel (helper) & Sarah Whipp, Mabel Whipp
- 39 Hawthorn Otto (conductor) & Edna Smith
- 4 Hawthorn Frank Harbison (salesman), Henry Harbison (conductor), William Harbison (pharmacist), Minnie Harbison
- 6 Hawthorn Frank Rairdon (pressman), Ida Rairdon (nurse), Ruth Rairdon, Sarah Rairdon (widow)
- 10 Hawthorn Ira (huskster) & Mary Fisher
Milton wrote to Wilbur June 17, 1911, and stated, "We have changed neighbors a little since you left home. The house opposite to ours, has on the north side, Shoemaker Shaffer's widowed daughter and her four girls and one boy: and Mother Shaffer lives with them. In the place of Rhoads north of us (1 Hawthorn) is a man and wife and little three year old boy. It seems a good exchange, though Rhoads still keeps a room. Roy Heywood who lived in Mrs. Wagner's house, has moved away. Like a clean chip in a mush pot."
From Milton's notes at end of 1913 diary entries, Tues. 25, March, 1913 "About 8:00 forenoon the waters burst onto our Street. I put on my overcoat, ready to go. A canoe came for Mrs E. Wagner, and the boys said I could get in too. It glided across to Williams St. to William Harzell's, next north of the Baptist Church.....A swift river flowed down Williams Street, and, toward Hawthorn Street, many sheds floated and were wrecked Tuesday...It seemed as if a widow and an old man had been Providentially provided for. We knew not what our near neighbors were doing, except Snyder's north of us....The flood was second to Noah's."
March 27, 1913, "At least two-thirds of the City was submerged. A considerable part, there was water in the second story of the buildings. The water came up 5 feet and five inches in our lower rooms. A few houses were washed away. Three or more fires broke out One burned just west of Orville's office...Orville's automobile was submerged.....Orville lost a pianola costing 500 dollars, and other furniture....."
Hawthorn Street Neighbors in 1913
- 1 Hawthorn Charles (engineer) & Josephine Crume, Benjamin Hill (fireman), John Rhoads (trav supervisor)(12)
- 7 Hawthorn Rev. Milton Wright, Orville Wright (pres The Wright Co), Katharine Wright
- 11 Hawthorn Rachael Wagner (student), Eleanor Wagner (widow)
- 15 Hawthorn
- 19 Hawthorn
- 23 Hawthorn William (salesman) & Jennie Haines, Cyrus Haines (clk cigar stand Hotel Beckel),
- 27 Hawthorn John (police) & Catherine Perry, Catherine Conley (widow)
- 39 Hawthorn Horace (engineer) & Jennie Reichard
- 4 Hawthorn Newton (police) & Loretta (nurse) Haywood, Ralph Haywood (painter)
- 6 Hawthorn Howard (molder) & Bertha Arnold
- 8 Hawthorn William (painter) & Edith Prentice
- 10 Hawthorn Kifer (fireman) & Anna Kline
|Eleanor and Billy Prentiss of 8 Hawthorn and Enyeart Crume of 1 Hawthorn. Photo taken from front yard of 7 Hawthorn, likely 1912 or 1913. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.(7)|
I will add other information to this post over time, so if this subject is of interest, please check back for updates.
Five Copper Cents- The True Account of Jacob and Amanda Billheimer
The 1913 Dayton Flood and the Wright Family
Index of Topics
Related Links- (added 5/21/17)
On the Aviation Trail in the Wright Brother's West Side Neighborhood in Dayton, Ohio
(updates 7/2/18) Added MW 1911 letter to Wilbur, neighbors at 1 and 6 Hawthorn.
(updates 7/21/18) Added 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance map.
(update 10/12/18) Added quote by Eugene K. Haywood
- Photo imperfections have been removed by author.
- The Montgomery County GIS website lists dates of construction for the Hawthorn homes, but the dates are approximate. An example- Enoch Drake lived at 27 Hawthorn beginning in 1873, yet the date of construction for this address is listed as 1895 which is incorrect by 22 years. Similarly, 23 Hawthorn is listed with date of construction of 1895, but dates to the 1870's. 19 Hawthorn is listed as constructed in 1905, but dates to at least 1874. The Sines lived at 15 Hawthorn beginning in 1873, yet the construction date is listed as 1900. Per the Montgomery County GIS website, the remaining homes that date to the years during which the Wright family lived at 7 Hawthorn are numbered 6, 10, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, and 39. A reproduction of the Wright 7 Hawthorn home was constructed in 2003 on the empty lot where the original 4 Hawthorn home stood. 14 Hawthorn is indicated with a construction date of 1945. 26 Hawthorn is listed with a construction date of 2005.
- Louis Chmiel, author of Ohio Home of the Wright Brothers Birthplace of Aviation, 2013, had documented the 21 Hawthorn address for the Billheimers, and had identified the anomalies in the Dayton City Directories with the numbering of homes changing from the 1870's into the 1880's. For the Billheimer residence location, the question to answer was if the 21 Hawthorn listing referred to the modern day address of 23 Hawthorn, or 19 Hawthorn. In collaboration with Louis Chmiel, additional study of the Directories, using manual searches, and utilizing text search methods available through Ancestry.com, a listing of occupants at each address from the early 1870's through the 1900's was compiled, and the pattern of address changes emerged. The 1880 Census was a helpful key to provide confidence in the analysis and final conclusions.
- Jacob and Amanda Billheimer would move to 10 South Williams in 1882, and then to 37 South Williams from 1883 through 1886. 37 South Williams no longer stands.
- The address of 11 Hawthorn appears in the 1875 Directory under the name of William Thomas, but the fonts for the two 1's differ, suggesting that this is a typo as it is the only time 11 appears until 1884.
- The 1900 Census lists 6 Hawthorn. The 1901 Dayton Directory does not list 6 Hawthorn. The 1902 Directory lists 6 & 8 Hawthorn, and thereafter. Remodel appears then to have been during 1901 with no occupancy during construction.
- Photo is identified by Library of Congress as taken between 1901 and 1928. Likely date is 1912 or 1913. The Crume family lived at 1 Hawthorn from 1911 through 1913. The Prentice family lived at 8 Hawthorn in 1913, and at 102 S Williams in 1912 (directly behind the Wright home). The 1910 Census shows William and Edith living with Edith's father at 316 Edgewater Street. At that time, their daughter Eleanor was 2, and their son Billy was 1 month old. So, in this photo, is Billy 2 or 3 years old?
- Library of Congress lists this photo as taken between 1897 and 1901. However, the Henderson's didn't move to 4 Hawthorn until 1899. Their name doesn't appear in the Dayton Directories of 1898 or 1897. Therefore, more likely date of this photo is 1899 to 1901, and Daniel would be 4-6 years old.
- Names as listed in the 1890-91 Dayton Directory. Spouses and children typically not listed in this directory unless employed.
- Enoch Drake had passed away June 11, 1890; he and his wife living at this address since 1873.
- The tree in the front yard of the home across 4th street from 4 Hawthorn has the exact same branch configuration in both photos suggesting the two photos were likely taken the same day, or at least the same year. The 1029 West 4th Street photo offers another tree comparison. Compare the tree on Hawthorn adjacent to 4 Hawthorn home, to the same tree in the photo of Katharine and friends. The tree in the Katharine photo has a sizable branch to the left that has been trimmed off in the 1029 West 4th Street photo, placing the 1029 West 4th Street photo at a later time.
- Quote from Dayton Daily News, January 31, 1948 issue, "Tributes Paid to Memory of Orville Wright." Eugene K. Haywood, Dayton accountant and longtime friend of the Wright brothers.