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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Amos I. Root Much A Buzz About the Wright Brothers

(Update 6/10/17) You may be familiar with the famous first published account of the Wright Brothers 1904 Huffman Prairie flights by Amos Ives Root as written in his January 1st, 1905 issue of Gleanings in Bee Culture. But you may not be aware of what led up to that first historical eye witness account. What follows is the rest of the story.

Gleanings in Bee Culture and the Wright Brothers, first issue
Amos I. Root wrote of his sharing with his Sunday School class of boys about two other boys in Dayton, Ohio who actually made a machine that flew through the air. He would later witness flights first hand at Simm's Station, and eventually write about it in the 1905 January 1st and 15th issues of Gleanings in Bee Culture.
James Tobin, author of "To Conquer the Air" wrote "In 1856, at the age of 26, (Root) took up beekeeping as a hobby. His correspondence led him to start a beekeeping trade journal which he called Gleanings in Bee Culture. Gradually he shifted his business from jewelry to beekeeping equipment. By 1880 he was selling his equipment to 150,000 customers and sending Gleanings in Bee Culture to roughly 4000 subscribers...Root was eccentric and contrarian-deliberately so. He liked to be the first to try new machines....In the 1870's he became the first man in northern Ohio to own a bicycle. He powered his machinery with a windmill of his own design....In the 1870's Root became what evangelicals call a professing Christian, and he seems to have professed his faith to practically everyone he spoke to, including his employees, who were expected to attend daily prayer meetings on the job...He frequently told his readers that technology was as much a gift from God as the natural world."(1)

Amos Ives Root wrote "May God be praised that He has permitted me to live at the same time when the Wright Bros. came here to earth and still more that it was my privilege to feel at least to some extent that they are my personal friends."


Having read in the news of the December 17th 1903 flights at Kitty Hawk, Amos first contacted the Wright Brothers by writing them a letter dated February 16, 1904, asking for permission to witness their experiments.

February 16, 1904- letter from Amos to Wilber & Orrville Wright, Dayton, Ohio (Wilbur and Orville misspelled) (2)
Gentlemen:-
I hope you will excuse me, friends, for the liberty I take in addressing you. Let me say briefly that I have all my life had an idea in my head that a flying machine should be made on the principle of flying a kite, and years ago I made some experiments on a small scale in this line. Now when you make any more experiments with your machine I want to be on hand if you can manage to permit me to go along. I am not going to make any experiments of my own and I think I can assure you that I won't undertake to borrow any of your ideas, and at my age I do not care to make investments in the project. In fact, we have a good business already that uses all our capital, but I want to be in the crowd and see you work and if I can be of any assistance in any way I should be exceedingly glad. By consulting Dun or Bradstreet you can easily find out what my financial standing is. Another thing, if you have any models of your apparatus in Dayton, Ohio, I should be exceedingly glad to pay you a visit very soon to look them over; that is, if I may be permitted. I can give you any guarantee you wish in regard to my honesty and integrity. I saw your account in the Independent. I expect you are already overrun with a vast amount of correspondence, but I hope you will find time to give me some sort of an answer soon. Yours truly, A. I. Root.

The account in the Independent that Root makes mention of, was from the February 4, 1904 issue, the article "The Experiments of a Flying Man" by Wilbur Wright.....except that Wilbur didn't write the article. Amos mentions in his second letter to the Wrights (March 22nd letter which follows) that he saw the apology offered by the Independent (February 25th issue) and adds that he assumes Wilbur gave a reporter at least a foundation for their article. Wilbur had not. And this required a further apology from the Independent in the March 10th issue. For more on this, see the post "The Wright Brothers- Getting the Story Wright"

After receiving a letter from the Wrights on February 23rd, Root wrote his first account of the Brother's experiments in his company's journal, Gleanings in Bee Culture. Amos taught a Sunday School class to a group of young boys, and wrote, "Usually, before closing a lesson I give the boys a hint of what is going on in the scientific world....On this particular Sunday, I said, just before the last bell rang, "Do you know, friends that two Ohio boys, or young men, rather, have outstripped the world in demonstrating that a flying-machine can be constructed without the use of a balloon?.....Their names are Orville and Wilbur Wright, of Dayton, Ohio......"

Gleanings in Bee Culture, Our Homes by A. I. Root, March 1st, 1904, portion of article. Root's account of sharing the story of the Wright Brothers with his Sunday school class. "When they make their next trial, I am going to try to be on hand and see the experiment." From author's collection.

In response to the letter he received from the Wrights, Amos wrote again, March 22, 1904-
Wright Cycle Co, Dayton, O.
Gentlemen:-
Permit me to thank you, friends, for you letter of Feb. 23rd and your promise that I may have an opportunity of witnessing your experiments. I am exceedingly anxious to be on hand when you make your first trial this season, and I think I can promise you that I won't be a hindrance even if I do not do any good, and I hope to be able to help you a little in some way. I suppose you have noticed what the Independent has said in the way of an apology. The particular point to me was to know how much of the matter in the Independent was truth and how much was fiction. I suppose of course you gave some reporter at least a foundation for their article. I have made one or two references to flying machines in our journal. We send you copies of these marked with blue pencil. In consequence of these articles our readers are sending me items in regard to flying machines. I enclose one of them. You may have seen it already. Now if you could tell me about when you expect to make your first experiment if would be quite a favor because I want to arrange my business no (so) as to be away from home a week or two, or as long as I can be of any service. Resp. yours, A. I. Root.

May 21, 1896 note, A. I. Root, President of A. I. Root Company, author's collection.


Amos then wrote again May 10, 1904-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Gentlemen:- Please excuse me, friends, but I am getting quite anxious to see some experiments with that flying machine, and inasmuch as you have promised me an opportunity of seeing them I would be glad to know if you wont' get to working now pretty soon. If you are crowded with business and no time to write just tell me on the enclosed postal about when you will commence making the experiments, that is, if you know already. I have heard some talk to the effect that you are having some trouble about getting patents. Now I do not want to be inquisitive, or seem to be meddling with somebody else business, but if I can be of any assistance in any way I should be very glad to help you. I am now 64 years old and have had quite a little to do with patents and patent office business.....
From you old friend, A. I. Root.

Waiting patiently two weeks, Amos writes again May 23, 1904-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Friends:- I have no particular right to kick even if you have tested the machine without letting me know, for you did not promise to let me see your first experiment; but you did promise that I should have a chance to see the machine; indeed, I would willingly make a trip to your city or most anywhere else just to see the machine standing still, but I would make a half dozen trips gladly to see it move even if it did not go more than 30 feet. I know something about how it is to have a big crowd around when you are making experiments and have got your hands and brains full, too, for I ran an automobile from Medina to Traverse City, northern Michigan and back again. My son, who was with me, said one day, "Father if we are going to have any more repairs to make we want to go out in the country where there is not a house in sight. I cannot stand it to have a big crowd of folks asking fool questions when I am bothered with something I do not understand."(3) Now I promise to keep it all to myself, if you say so. Can I have a chance to stand off at a respectful distance when you make your next experiment. If the weather should be bad and you have to wait, why, I can wait too. Won't you tell me, please, on the enclosed postal card how soon you will make another trial. I am sorry to be importunate but I am tremendously interested. Yours truly, A. I. Root.

The day Root wrote the above letter, the experiments were to begin at Huffman Prairie. From Ian Mackersey's "The Wright Brothers", he writes, "...Wilbur sent a letter to every daily newspaper in Dayton and Cincinnati announcing they would begin flying at Huffman Prairie on Monday 23 May. With what today seems incredible naivety, he made two requests of the papers; that reports 'not be sensational', and that no photographs be taken. Around forty people turned up for the Monday morning demonstration. They included Milton and Lorin, who brought his entire family along, and a dozen rather cynical reporters......The new Flyer accelerated sluggishly, its motor firing badly. There was now very little breeze. The aeroplane struggled down the rail in a succession of explosive fits and starts and flopped off the end, crunching awkwardly on to the ground. Grumbling bitterly, most of the reporters left, never to return."(4)

Apparently not hearing from the Wrights, and watching the news carefully, Amos writes again July 6, 1904-
Wright Cycle Company, Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Sirs:- I see by the papers, friends, that you have made two tests of your apparatus during the month of June. I suppose you were too busy or did not see fit to let me know when these tests were made. I hardly need to tell you it would be a great favor if you would wire me at my expense when you next make a trial trip.......From your old friend, A. I. Root.

Root seemed to be applying a lesson from the Bible, Luke Ch 18: 1-8, the parable of the persistent widow.  His persistence paid off. The Brothers responded this time. In response to their letter, Root writes again on July 12, 1904-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Sirs:- Many thanks for your very kind promise to let me know as well as you can before another experiment. As I have relatives in Xenia I should stay two or three days without any particular inconvenience. If you should want to make a trial on short notice I would consider it a great favor if you would wire me at my expense. I would be ready to go to your place by the first train upon notification.....A. I. Root.

Again, Root writes on July 20th, 1904-
Wright Cyce Co., Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Sirs:- May I be permitted to bother you a little once more. I would prefer to make the trip to your place on my automobile. I expect I could get down in one day but I would a little rather make the trip in two days and this is to ask you to be so kind as to give me notice about when you make the next experiment say two or three days ahead...... Yours old friend, A. I. Root.
Feeling anxious, Root again wrote July 26th, 1904-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Sirs:- Please excuse me, friends, but I am so anxious to see that airship I can hardly sleep nights. Won't you please tell me on enclosed postal if there is any prospect that you will make a trial with it this week. If there is I want to start down there right away. May be I can run errands for you or do something with my automobile; if so, it will be entirely at your service while I am around there. Yours truly, A. I. Root.


A. I. Root letter, July 26, 1904, "..I am so anxious to see that airship I can hardly sleep nights." Courtesy of the Library of Congress Archives.

Amos finally makes an extended automobile trip (from July 28th through August 13th) including a stop in Dayton, when he likely met Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine.(5) He writes of his experiences of the trip in Gleanings in Bee Culture, but at Wilbur and Orville's request, he makes no mention of the Wright's experiments, though he does write of his 400 mile automobile trip "And by the way, we are already, at least to some extent, ignoring not only mud roads, but roads of every kind, and climbing through the air, and I do not mean by means of the gas balloon either. But I am not at liberty just now to tell all I know in regard to this matter." In his next letter to the Wrights, Amos writes, "I am very anxious to know in regard to that plan of dropping a weight from a little derrick, that is, if you decide to undertake anything of that sort." Apparently when visiting with the Brothers, they shared their plans to build a derrick to aid in the launching of the Flyer. During the same week of Root's visit, Wilbur wrote to Octave Chanute (August 8, 1904),  and mentioned "It is evident that we will have to build a starting device that will render us independent of wind, and are now designing one.")(6) During the time duration of Root's automobile trip, the Wrights made flights on Aug 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th (not successfully), and the 10th. There would have been ample opportunity for Amos to have witnessed a flight depending on the timing of his visit. Though, if he had witnessed a flight, one would think he would have mentioned it in his August 23rd letter. Yet Root was anxious to meet the Wrights, and it is likely he reached Dayton within the first two days, so he may have witnessed an engine test, or reconstruction of the Flyer on the 30th. He could have visited with his Xenia relatives, and then returned to Simms to view a short flight, the first week of August. For as anxious as he was to see a flight, he surely would have returned day after day until he was able to witness enough such that he could sleep at nights.......

August 23, 1904, Amos Root letter to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friends:- I have not laid awake nights thinking about your work quite as much since I got home as I did before, but my mind is still on it a great deal, and I am getting hungry for even a brief report as to how you are succeeding. If  you could spare the time to make a brief mention on the enclosed postal I would be exceedingly glad. I am very anxious to know in regard to that plan of dropping a weight from a little derrick, that is, if you decide to undertake anything of the sort. It may be that bright sister of yours might consent to gladden the heart of an old man by a little report if she feels so inclined. At any rate give her my regards with grateful thanks for the part she had in making my recent visit one of the bright spots of my life. If she will give me her address I will take pleasure in mailing her our journal. She may be interested in my account of my trip through Ohio on the automobile. Of course I did not say anything about the flying machine experiments. I believe this is almost the first incident in my travels where I have failed to let our readers know what is going on in the world especially in the line of new inventions and discoveries......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.
 
September 12, 1904, Amos Root letter to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Sirs:- Many thanks, dear friends, for yours of Sept. 10th and especially for your very kind invitation. I began to fear that perhaps my presence was more of a hinderance than a help, of course, I do not expect to be very much help just yet......Please give kindest regards to your good sister. We send you copy of our journal for Sept. 1st. If you do not have time to read my travels you might turn it over to your sister. From your old friend, A. I. Root.

From Ian Mackersey's The Wright Brothers, Ian writes "On 20 September their performance took another leap when he (Wilbur) stayed up for 1 minute 35 seconds, successfully flying a complete circle traveling nearly four-fifths of a mile. The flight was watched by a beekeeper, Amos Root, to whom the world is indebted for a full account of the event. Root, hearing of the Wright's experiments, had, in a remarkable feat for 1904, driven the 175 miles in his primitive motor car from his apiary at Medina in northern Ohio in the hope of seeing the Flyer in the air."(4)

September 22, 1904, Amos Root letter to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Company, Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friends:- Enclosed clipping was just mailed me from a relative in Xenia, Ohio. Now, if everybody else is putting you into the papers, what harm will it do for me to give you a little write-up that has already been submitted to your inspection?....I do not know the date of the enclosed clipping but it was evidently made since you have got up the derrick. .I am thinking about that air-ship all day long and dream about it at nights....Yours very truly, A. I. Root

Clipping from Amos Root to Wright Brothers, sent September 22, 1904, courtesy of Library of Congress Archives.
Amos then writes letter after letter to his Wright friends, pushing for permission to publish in Gleanings in Bee Culture, the account of what he witnessed on September 20th at Huffman Prairie.


Undated, likely September 23 or 24, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Dear Friends Wright: I inclose (enclose) herewith what I have written up just as I should like to do it--that is, just about what I should like to put in print; but, of course, it subject to your approval; but if you say so, any part of it or all of it will be withheld from the public; but it would make your old friend exceedingly glad if you would consider that, as it is already so near the public, it would do but little harm, and, better still, if you would let me give your names and place of residence. You see it has been in the papers already, even such periodicals as the Scientific American and the Independent, besides the clippings I have shown you......Perhaps there is a little pride in wanting to be the first to give the great world the real facts in the case.......

September 27, 1904, Amos Root letter to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, Ohio.
Gentlemen:- Many thanks for your kind favor of Sept. 26th, dear friends. You need not bother to make changes in the manuscript I have sent you until you are ready to have it given to the public, for I should have no use for it unless it could be given in our journal. I suppose you have decided that withholding all names and the places where the experiment occurred would not sufficiently disguise it.....

September 30, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friends:- I promised you I would not put in print anything referring to your invention without submitting to you. Therefore I submit another paper for our next issue. I beg pardon for troubling you so much, but I wish you would go over this hastily and cross out anything you would prefer not made public......

October 5, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Gentlemen:- I am sorry to trouble you, friends, but our printers are wanting copy of the last article I mailed you. I hope this will not be objectionable after you have crossed out all references to yourselves in the matter. I will however, of course, keep my promise and not say anything in print about flying machines in general if you so prefer......

October 8, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Friends Wright:- Since writing you yesterday I have been thinking over what my good friend Wilbur said in his kind letter and I infer that he would prefer I should not mention in my forthcoming article that I am in possession of some secret I am not at liberty to reveal. In other words "the best way to keep a secret is to avoid mentioning that you have a secret."........

October 8, 1904, Amos to Wilbur Wright-
Wilbur Wright, Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friend Wright:- I am sorry to have put you to the trouble of writing me so much at length. With your explanation I fully appreciate your position and I will be careful in the future not to say anything more until I have your permission. I have repeatedly already explained to my friends that I was not at liberty to mention what I witnessed and they have always take it kindly......Perhaps you do not want to make any machines for sale at present; but my impression is there are a thousand people that would buy one in the United States if they just saw what I saw. May be I better cut it down to one hundred, but it would not be long before a thousand would be wanted. Now friends don't let the grass grow under your feet or let somebody else get ahead of you by delays. That is only my opinion though. 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.

In the October 15th, 1904 issue of Gleanings in Bee Culture, Amos wrote at the close of an article on the new inventions of the age, under his section Our Homes, "We want a machine that will float as easily and safely as the bees, the butterflies, and the carrier pigeons. May the Lord be praised, this is already in sight." 
(So much for the October 8th understanding that "the best way to keep a secret is to avoid mentioning that you have a secret").

October 17, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Friends Wright:- We take the liberty of marking you for Gleanings complimentary......If you think best to let your invention rest where it is until next spring, all right; you are the boss and I am simply a spectator, but I am hoping some day the thing will get loose and astonish the world.....


October 20, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friends W:- Nothing preventing I expect to go up to our place in north Michigan....it will be quite convenient for me to call on Mr. Freeman to see how he gets along with his $10,000 flying machine.....
November 7, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Friends W:- I am home again from Michigan, but I did not call on Mr. Freeman because I learned in Traverse City his machine had never yet got off from the ground. They said he made some tests to see how much it would lift, but my impression is he could not find anybody willing to go up in it; but a machinist said, who had been working for him, that he was offering a thousand dollars for a man that would go to St. Louis and make the flight. Nobody wanted the thousand dollars and he has given up competing. Now I am to be in Columbus next week and if the weather is favorable I expect to drop in as Simms Station sometime in the afternoon. If you are not there of course- I will take the next car to Dayton......

Amos was present on November 22nd at Huffman Prairie. Wilbur wrote in his diary for that day "Made five trials (88,89,90,91,92) but owning to improper gasoline regulation did not get a single start. Flights ranged from 150-250 ft. Furnas & Root & others present."(6) Root may also have witnessed the flights of November 25th, based on his description of Orville's making of curves. Five flights were made on the 25th, ranging from 335 meters (25 1/5 sec) to 890 meters (1 min-3 sec), with Orville and Wilbur alternating flights.

November 28, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Friends:- I want to extend my congratulations to my good friend Orville for the good flight he made just as I left for my car. It was especially gratifying because the wind was in the wrong way and he once struck the ground, but when he picked up and went ahead the machine worked as handsomely and was managed as gracefully as anything I ever saw in the line; in fact, a swallow could not have made the curves any better until the machine went down. I suppose that was the fault of the engine and no fault of Orville's. If that was the last flight for the season it certainly was a big success so far as managing the machine is concerned. Should there be any more experiments I would be very glad to have a brief account of same. I shall be counting the days, weeks and months from now on until April or such a time as you see fit to start up. Please give my kind regards to your sister. As ever your old friend, A. I. Root.

December 6, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Sirs:- Hurrah for my good friend Orville. By the way I think I will have to explain that I sent Torrence Baird some postal cards and asked him if he would briefly report if you made any more flights yet this winter. He just tells me that Orville went around four times without stopping on Dec. 1st. It was a pretty cold day up here. Now if Orville sailed that thing as gracefully and steadily as he did on the last trip I witnessed he certainly is not a back number to any man living at present. I rejoice and thank God that you two have been able to make such a record before winter sets in, and I declare I begin to believe that may be you will get the knack of flying in cold weather so you may keep it up more or less all winter. I hope I did not transgress any in asking Torrence to keep me posted. Of course I shall not make any mention of it until I have permission. Yours old friend, A. I. Root.
 
December 12, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
The Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Friends:- The enclosed is from the Scientific American. The only point that interests you is perhaps the last sentence. Now Baldwin is going to work on a flying machine that will fly without a balloon.....May be I am mistaken, but before it gets to be an old story I would like to have the privilege of telling the world something of what I know about it, and I hope that I may be able to help prove your priority of invention. If I am making myself busy over your affairs you will have to excuse me the best way you can. My only excuse is that I am deeply interested in the whole matter........

Apparently Amos finally received permission from the Wrights to publish his eye witness accounts of their 1904 flights. His persistence having paid off, he again visited Dayton. From Milton Wright's diary entry, Root visited the family at their home at 7 Hawthorn Street, meeting Milton for the first time.

Milton Wright diaries, entry for Monday, December 19-
"I go on 6:00 car to Dayton arri. at 7:20. Read letters, slept 2 hours, Mr. A. J. Root (A. I. Root) came at 4:30. He read his articles for his bee Journal. He went on 8:00 car to Springfield. Mr. Root seems to be a fine old gentleman. He lives in Medina, Ohio."

December 21, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Sirs:- Please do not forget to send me cut representing your gliding machine. The one on page 20 of your little pamphlet "Soaring" would suit me very well.....we want to get out a little earlier on account of its being the 1st of January. I am going to give our Sunday School Christmas gathering a little talk about God's latest new gifts showing them a little model of the gliding machine. Your old friend, A. I. Root.

December 24, 1904, Amos to Wrights-
Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
Dear Sirs:- Enclosed find proofs of the forthcoming article on the flying machine. As we want to get it in the issue for January 1st will you please look it over.....

December 29, 1904, Amos to Orville Wright-
O. Wright, Dayton, O.
Friend Orville:- Thanks for your card of December 25th....Some time in the future I hope to have the privilege of showing our people a good picture of the complete machine. As ever yours, A. I. Root.

Finally, Amos, with the Wright Brother's blessing, published the first eyewitness account of the Wrights' flights-
"Dear friends, I have a wonderful story to tell you- a story that, in some respects, out rivals the Arabian Nights fables- a story, too, with a moral that I think many of the younger ones need, and perhaps some of the older ones too if they will heed it. God in his great mercy has permitted me to be, at best somewhat, instrumental in ushering in and introducing to the great wide world an invention that may outrank the electric cars, the automobiles, and all other methods of travel, and one which may fairly take a place beside the telephone and wireless telegraphy......I am now going to tell you something of two other boys, a minister's boys, who love machinery, and who are interested in the modern developments of science and art. Their names are Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton Ohio......"

The entire four page article can be viewed here. (But be sure to return to read the rest of the post).


Wright Brothers flights at Huffman Prairie
Gleanings In Bee Culture, January 1, 1905, Amos I. Root provided the first published eye witness account of the Wright Brother's flights. "God in his great mercy has permitted me to be, at least somewhat, instrumental in ushering in and introducing to the great wide world an invention that may outrank the electric cars, the automobiles, and all other methods of travel......"


Correspondence between Amos and the Wright Brothers would continue throughout 1905 as the experiments continued at Huffman Prairie, and the Wright Flyer III was perfected.  Amos would write 32 letters in 1905 to the Wrights, and his son Ernest would join in and write several letters. The letters would continue the following years, but in much less frequency. A sampling of some follow.

October 21, 1905, Amos to Wrights-
Wilbur & Orville Wright, Dayton, Ohio.
Dear Friends:- May the Lord be praised for the good news that comes in yours of October 19th. I just got home last night and if I thought you would be making flights I should not stay home a minute. Please do not fail to let me know when you think of making another trial.....I take it for granted that you do not wish any mention made of what you have done at present. This is rather hard for me because they keep saying to me tauntingly "What has become of the Wright Bros?"....I will keep still or I will wake up the whole sleepy world, just as you say... From your old friend, A. I. Root.

August 9, 1906, Amos to Wrights-
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

Milton Wright diaries, entry for Wednesday, November 14, 1906-
"I go on 7:17 tr. to Richmond & home, arriving at Dayton at 12:00 noon. Mr. A.I. Root supped with us, on his way to St. Louis. He is from Medina County, Ohio, the bee culture man, very friendly to our boys."


In the September 15, 1910 issue of Gleanings in Bee Culture, in the article "Then and Now. The Wright Brothers and Their Flying-machine up to Date", Amos wrote, "Day before yesterday, Aug. 29, it was my pleasure to get around once more to the old familiar field between Dayton and Springfield, Ohio, where they have so long made their experimental flights.....In a little while people began gathering in from all directions, with automobiles and other vehicles. An ice-cream wagon came on the ground; the popcorn boy was in evidence, and on of the Wright machines was easily slid or pushed outside of the building. The track that the machine used to run on had been dispensed with, and also the weight dropping to shoot the machine up into the air. Two pairs of pneumatic tire wheels, not unlike what we see on automobiles, were so placed as to lift the car a little above the runners, made something like a sled-runner.....During my first visits, years ago, before their patents were secured, I was asked to omit certain things in my write-up; but when I to-day asked if I could describe all I saw Wilbur replied, "Mr. Root, you may tell any thing you choose about our work, providing you tell the truth." God knows we as a people want the truth always and everywhere."

A. I. Root and the Wright Brothers
September 15, 1910 Gleanings in Bee Culture, from author's collection. Amos writes "Gleanings was the first periodical on the face of the earth to announce to the world the crowning success of their years of experimenting in order to make a machine that would fly without a balloon."

A. I. Root in passenger seat at Medina County Fair, 1915, photo courtesy of Medina County Historical Society.

September 14, 1915 letter to 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.


April 30, 1923 letter 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 that he would be glad to have me express to you for him a final word of friendship........Yours sincerely, Earnest R. Root

From June 18, 1920 letter, author's collection. Amos's son communicated with the Wright's multiple times over the years, and his letters are on file with the Library of Congress, as are the letters of Amos I. Root.

May 8, 1923, response to Ernest R. Root from Orville Wright-
Dear Mr. Root:
Your letter announcing the passing away of your father has been received. You and the other members of your family have my heartfelt sympathy. Your father was a man of unusual character and intelligence, and his passing is a real loss to the World as well as to his family. I look back on the times when your father used to visit us while we were carrying on our early flying experiments with much pleasure; and though we had not had the opportunity of seeing him in his later years we often thought and talked of him. If some account of his life should appear in "Gleanings" I would be very grateful if you would send me a copy of it. Sincerely yours, Orville Wright. (7)

May 16, 1923, response from Ernest to Orville-
Dear Mr. Wright:
....Father often spoke of you two men and your sister Katharine, of the very high character of you all. While he claimed no credit in your great invention, he seemed to feel a great deal of pride in that he knew both of you men personally...Father left us a very wonderful heritage that carries with it a deep responsibility upon us, his children, to carry out his life work....Most sincerely yours, E. R. Root



Additional Recommended Reading-
The First Witness: Amos Root at Huffman Prairie, by James Tobin

Chapter 8, "What Hath God Wrought?", "To Conquer the Air" by James Tobin 2003

Associated Web Links-
A. I. Root and the Wright Brothers

Bee Culture 

Nova- The First Reporter  

Updates-
June 10, 2017, added Bishop Wright diary entry of November 14, 1906.


Notes:
1.  From "The First Witness: Amos Root at Huffman Prairie", James Tobin, Wright State University CORE Scholar, Following in the Footsteps of the Wright Brothers: Their Sites and Stories, 2001.
2. Letters of Amos I. Root from the Library of Congress Archives. There are roughly 75 letters written by A. I. Root to the Wright's and another dozen letters written by his sons Ernest and Huber. The letters span from 1904 through 1935. Amos wrote many of his letters in 1904, 1905, and 1906. This post concentrates on the 1904 letters leading up to his famous January 1, 1905 article. Root's letters after 1904 enter into discussions about aviators Maloney, Whitehead, Santos-Dumont, and other various topics as they appeared in the news of the day.
3. An interesting comparison to a similar statement Orville wrote to his sister August 27, 1908, from Ft. Myer, "I haven't done a lick of work since I have been here. I have to give my time to answering the ten thousand fool questions people ask about the machine." From Miracle at Kitty Hawk, 1951, edited by Fred Kelly.
4. The Wright Brothers, by Ian Mackersey, 2003, Chapter 16, Shattering the Five-Minute Barrier, (1904).
5. I believe from the contents of Amos's August 23rd letter, it is obvious he met Wilbur, Orville, and Katherine during his stop at Dayton. He asks specifically about their plan to build a derrick, thanks their bright sister Katharine for making his stop so pleasant, and thanks God that he can call the Wright's his personal friends. The real intent of his automobile trip was to visit Dayton, as is evident in his repeated desire to do so as stated in his previous letters. He likely did not visit their home at 7 Hawthorn on this trip, as he asks for Katharine's address, indicating he did not know where she lived.
6. McFarland's The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Vol 1, 1953.
7. A note from the desk of Orville Wright read "See letter Mrs A E McLaudon Dec. 1938 offering for sale, letters W Bros to Root, clipping & pictures found in attic of Root home at Brandentown, Fla." A letter to Fred C. Kelly, November 5, 1943, from the A. I. Root company, reads ..we have heard nothing further from the woman in Florida.....She seems to think the original letters of A. I. Root and Orville and Wilbur Wright ought to be worth a small fortune....The next time I do (go) down there I shall try to go over whatever letters she may have. She offered to show them to me when I was there the last time." I have not investigated where these letters now reside, if they're in private hands, or available for research. It would be interesting to see the contents of the responses of letters sent to Root from the Wrights. Anyone with information concerning these letters, I would appreciate it if you would send me a note. Better yet, send me the letters.......


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