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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Raising Wilbur Herbert Wright

(Updated June 20, 2019) Wilbur Herbert Wright, born to Herbert and Irene Wright on February 28th, 1920, was named after his famous Great Uncle Wilbur Wright. His sister Katharine, born on November 10th, 1922, was named after his Great Aunt Katharine Wright. Herbert was the son of Reuchlin and Lulu Wright; Reuchlin the oldest brother to Wilbur and Orville Wright.




Reuchlin Wright's son, daughter-in-law, and grandson Wilbur
Irene Matilda Wright, Wilbur, and Herbert A. Wright, photo from author's collection (1).

Wilbur's mother Irene died January 6, 1931 at the age of 35. Wilbur turned 11 on his birthday the following month. His sister Katharine was just 8 years old when her mother died. Their father Herbert would remarry June 26, 1933 to Edna Fishouser. Edna had been widowed in 1929 when her husband John Christian Loevenguth died. Edna was left to raise their three daughters and one son, Anna Louise, 10 years old, Eula, 6 years old, Aleda, 4 1/2 years old, and John, 3 years old. In 1930, Edna lived at 205 Clarence, Wichita, Kansas. Herbert's family lived at 3501 East Waterman Street in Wichita, about 4 miles east of Edna's residence. Wilbur would suddenly need to adjust from a family of three (himself, his father, and his sister) to a household of eight.


Wilbur was invited by his Uncle Orville Wright to join Wilbur's cousin George Russel and visit Lambert Island, Orville's retreat in Georgian Bay, Penetang, Ontario. Guy R. Johnstone notes in his book From Kitty Hawk to KittyHawk, "George Russel Jr.....worked as Orville's helper during the summers of 1933 to 1936. Orville paid for his university education, and his summer wages became his spending money. George obtained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering..." George then is quoted sharing the following about his Uncle Orv, "When he went to Canada he would only take someone along to do the dishes and heavy work around the camp, so he would take a boy of college age along to do this. I reached college age at a very opportune time, just when he needed someone to do this work for him. So for about two months each summer I would go along and do this work. Some of the jobs were very difficult to do, but someone had to do them, like swimming, fishing, sailing and canoeing. For doing this he would pay my basic college expenses the next year. That was a relationship you just couldn't improve on. The first few summers he would also take along a cousin Wilbur who was the son of my mother's brother. So I guess you could say I knew Wilbur Wright. These trips always started on about July the first. He would send Wilbur and me train fare from our homes in Kansas. This period of time was in the 1930's when you traveled mostly by train and not by plane. We would take the train to Dayton and meet there. We would stay for a day or two in his home. He had a beautiful mansion on a seventeen acre hill in fashionable Oakwood, a suburb of Dayton. It was aptly named Hawthorn Hill for the beautiful Hawthorn trees growing there....Carrie, the housekeeper and cook, was loved by the whole family. They considered her part of the family.....When it came time to leave for the island, we would load up the Pierce Arrow, just leaving enough room for the three of us, and away we would go."(3)

After his stay during the summer of 1933, Wilbur received a letter from a friend Bob Tucker of Toronto, dated September 13, 1933, portions of which follow-
"Dear Wilbur, 
I trust you had a pleasant journey back to Wichita and still feel the benefits of your summer at the Bay. 
I am sending you a book- it is rather advanced in technical knowledge as it is a Navy manual served out to matings in the British Service- however- knowing how keen you are to learn knots and splices and sennets of various kinds- I feel that you are capable of mastering the intricacies of nautical line work also- you'll find the rigs of vessels and will soon learn to tell any rig on sight and know all about the sails...
I figured out a new endless splice after you had gone- and if you are up next year I'll show you how it is done. Cheerio for now, Your friend, Bob."(1)

Orville sent a letter to Herbert dated September 30, 1933, writing, "I enjoyed Wilbur's visit this summer immensely. I think he is one of the finest boys I have ever known, and you have reason to be very proud of him. I am now examining type catalogues in an attempt to find a printing outfit for him. Unless you have a good place for it this may be a white elephant on your hands. Therefore, I would like to know before I purchase it whether there is a suitable place for it.
I just learned a few days ago that Ed Sines, my boyhood partner in Sines and Wright, job printers, dropped into Stevens Printing office while Wilbur was there. I wonder whether Wilbur knew who he was?"  (11)
Bob Tucker sent another letter October 30th, 1933, portions of which follow-
"Dear Wilbur, 
Thank you for your welcome letter, and the picture certainly is a very good one of you and quite an addition to my picture album. 
I'm glad you received the Navy Manual alright, and hope that it may teach you something of the sailor's art, at least if you only have one thing out of it, it will be worth while.
I heard that Mr. Wright had an accident on the way up from Penetang. I'm very glad to hear that he wasn't injured- but boy oh boy! I'd hate to turn over in a car- it's alright doing a role in a plane- but a car- no sir- not for me......"(1) Bob was apparently unaware that Wilbur and his sister only 2 1/2 years prior to this incident, had been in a similar car accident. Their mother driving, Wilbur and Katharine as passengers; the tire blew, and the car overturned. They survived, their mother did not.(14)

Ivonette Wright Miller provides additional information concerning the accident, "In 1933 Uncle Orv drove to Penetang, Candada by way of Buffalo and Toronto. He spent most of his summer vacations at Lambert Island on Georgian Bay. When he returned at the end of the summer, he ran off the road somewhere between Penetang and Toronto, and went into a ditch and turned over. He was not hurt, but the acid from the battery leaked through and ate holes in his clothing. He arrived in Dayton at the time of our son Jack's death. He came to see us the day after the funeral wearing a formal morning coat. Ann Wright (my sister-in-law) who was always quick to see a funny situation, kidded him saying she thought the undertaker had come to call. He then told us about the accident and about his business suits having been ruined."(2)

Bob continued the October 30th letter telling Wilbur he was working on a book on model ship construction, "now you have the grains of ability to make models- when I first made models- I never did half as good work as you did with your first boat.....Well- I hope to see you next summer Wilbur, and you'll be able to show me some models maybe- by then. If you ever get stuck on any points about boats- please do write and ask me- if I don't know the answer I will jolly soon find out for you- Hoping you are having lots of fun at school, Yours sincerely, Bob.(1)

Orville Wright to Wilbur, December 7, 1933-
Dear Wilbur:
It begins to look as though that printing office might be turning up in Wichita before Christmas, after all......I understand the type, cases, etc., were being shipped by freight from Cincinnati yesterday or the day before......The materials are being shipped to Wilbur Wright, care of Herbert Wright, 3501 East Waterman Street, Wichita, Kansas. Of course, I knew there was no need of adding the second name, but these type foundry people don't know lots of things that they should, and they thought that ought to be done. I think they are well meaning people, and I hope you will forgive them for this little "faux pas"........
I did not buy an imposing stone here as the freight will be high. You can probably get this better at a monument works in Wichita. The stone will have to be of marble and perfectly flat on one side. An old tombstone could be used if it would not bring spooks into the office to worry the printer's devil.....
Send me an account of all expenses connected with getting the materials delivered to your house and put into your basement, as well as the cost of the imposing stone. I don't want this outfit to cost you a penny...….

Wilbur had received a Chandler & Price printing press in December of 1933, along with printers type and other supplies. One fine gift for a 13 year old boy about to turn 14. (In a September 26, 2000 Ann Deines interview with Wilbur's cousin Milton Wright, Ann states this printing press was  recently donated to Carillon Park. Milton mentions that Wilbur had a little printing business.) (9)


Matt Yanney Wright Brother Archive
Shipped from Chicago Printer Machine Works to Wilbur Wright c/o Herbert Wright, Chandler & Price Press (1)


Matt Yanney Wright Brother Archive
Printer supplies from American Type Founder Sales Co, to Wilbur Wright- Printers cases, caset stands, box of type, and other supplies. (1)


On display at Carillon Park, Dayton, Ohio


Chandler & Price printing press given to Wilbur H. Wright by his Uncle Orv, currently on display at Carillon Park, Dayton, Ohio.  Display is labeled "This printing press was a gift from Orville Wright to his grandnephew Wilbur Wright...in 1933. Wilbur used this press as a means to work his way through college, printing the Colorado College school calendar, as well as calling cards, letterheads, and envelopes. Interested in printing since age 12, Orville personally chose the best press, as well as the type and fonts for young Wilbur to use." (10)
At Carillon Park, Dayton, Ohio


  

Wilbur was again invited to visit his Uncle Orv at Lambert Island in 1934. Wilbur had left Wichita that first week of June to visit with his Grandma May, and would be leaving directly from her home in Joplin, Missouri for his visit with his Uncle Orville. Herbert wrote his son June 12, 1934 in Joplin-

"Dear Son-
I got your letter today and am awfully glad to know that you got there all right.(To Joplin, Mo). It has been so hot here we can hardly breathe. 
Have been awfully busy getting some things moved over to the west side and house fixed up to rent. Your room at the new house sure looks inviting. It is freshly papered and has double casement windows. Your bed and walnut dresser are there. There is a huge big closet with all your things in it. We need that walnut book rack for you books. Ask Grandma if she cares if you have it in your room. You have a nice study table for your typewriter and everything sure looks cozy. The refrigerator is built in to the wall over the basement stairway and went in slick. The unit is in the basement. Your press is over in one corner and when I get it all set up you will have a better arrangement than before- sort of exclusive and private...."
Wilbur's Father writes him June 21, 1934-
"Dear Wilbur,
Grandma's letter tells me that you have been invited to the island. I am glad for your sake for I know how much you will enjoy it and how much you wanted to go. I can't help but feel homesick to see you and wish you were not going to be so far away. It's all right though and I want you to have a good time and show Uncle Orv you are a good sport and a real help to him.
Will you need more money? Remember to use your head all the time. When something comes up stop and think what is the right thing to do....."


Location of Lambert Island at Georgian Bay, courtesy of Google Earth.


Close up view of Lambert Island, courtesy of Google Earth.

Wilbur's Grandmother May (Bessie May, Irene's mother) wrote July 1, 1934-
"Dear big boy, 
This is a lonesome day after all the music and life we have had lately. The Campbells ( Lou and Ruth Campbell, and their daughters Betty and Sally; Ruth is Bessie's daughter) got started this morning at a quarter till five. I see they had some rain at St Louis so hope it will not be so hot when they get farther east. It is still very hot here and no rain. I am wondering how your trip was and if George (George Russel, Wilbur's cousin) was already in St L. when you got in. Was there room to take your "uke"?
....I meant to have you get a cheap pen (fountain) before you left. It is better to use pen & ink when you can, to people outside the family anyway as the letters look neater. Sallie asked lots of questions about your going, and when you would come back etc....(Sally just 4 years old at this time).
I will be thinking of you to-morrow speeding away toward a cooler spot. Be sure to tell me how you find things up there and all about everything. I had a letter from Mrs. Willis. Donny is having the whooping cough. She said they were all glad you were getting to go to the island. They expect to go to Colo the 15th. I wish I was going with them. Be sure to help all you can, - but I know you will. Write to me often as you feel like it, I will always be thinking of my boy. Lots of Love, from Grandma May."(1)

Irene and Ruth May's mother, Herbert Wright's mother-in-law
Grandma May (Bessie Devore May), Irene and Ruth's mother.(1)

Wilbur's sister Katharine wrote July 5, 1934. Katharine is 11 at this date (misspellings included)
"Dear Brother,
All I need is some money and maybe if you asked Uncle Orve He would solve my problem (Hint Hint). I am so glad you are up there and your alfully lucky. Thank you a hold lot for the Camera. I have finished the first ones all ready as you will see.......


Matt Yanney Wright Brother Archive
July 5, 1934 letter from Katharine to her brother Wilbur H. Wright, "All I need is some money and maybe if you asked Uncle Orve he would solve my problem (hint hint)." (1)

Wilbur's sister, Katharine, note from July 5, 1934.(1)
Katharine had been visiting her Grandma Wright in June, and at that time had written Wilbur saying, "Grandma Wright has a wonderful garden in front and back and even on both sides of the south side is a vegetable garden and the rest are flowers."(1)


Katharine and Wilbur H. Wright, courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives. (7)


Wilbur's father Herbert wrote July 10, 1934-
".....I got your card mailed from Penetang and was glad to know you got there all right. Grandma Wright is down here visiting Edna and me for a few days. Anna Louise is working to earn some money to go to school next year. Katharine is with Aunt Helen in Lawrence. We are sweltering hot and I sure envy you up there in that cool place. I hope you appreciated it. Take an extra breath of that cool bracing air for me and an extra plunge in that lovely clear clean water for me. Hope you'll write and tell us all about your latest projects. Love, Dad.(1)

In this July 10th letter, Herbert mentions family members involved in Wilbur's upbringing. He refers to Grandma Wright (Herbert's mother Lulu Billheimer Wright). He mentions Edna,  Herbert's second wife, Wilbur's new step-mother. Anna Louise is Edna's 15 year old daughter. Katharine is Wilbur's sister. Aunt Helen is Herbert's sister Helen Margaret Russel. Herbert asks his son to write and tell about his latest projects. Orville Wright always had projects for the boys to work on at the island.

Aunt Ruth (Irene's sister) wrote to Wilbur, July 11, 1934, as her family was vacationing. Her daughter Sally misses Wilbur and Katharine, and wishes they could have joined her. 
"There is a Globe theatre- a replica of the theatre where Shakespeare first produced his plays. It was here we were guests of the Simmons Co. to see & hear Mrs Roosevelt broadcast Mon. night. We were among the fifty special guests. We sat about twelve feet from her and she was very charming, not so homely as her pictures.
Sally enjoyed the Enchanted Island  but missed you and Katharine as it wasn't much fun to do things alone...."

Portion of July 11, 1934 letter from Ruth May Campbell, Irene's sister, to her nephew, Wilbur H. Wright.(1)

Grandma May to Wilbur, July 15, 1934-
"Dear Wilbur,
You don't know how glad I was to get your letter today. I am glad you haven't forgotten our agreement to write every week. I don't seem to rate quite so well with the rest of the family. Nothing from daddy and one small  letter from Katharine......Is there anyone else at the island beside you, Geo. & Uncle? How do you get along with your dish-washing?"

A short aside on Wilbur's dish washing: Herbert's sister Bertha Ellwyn Steeper's daughter Margaret Ellwyn tells of visiting Lambert Island when she was 12 years old, in July of 1936. She went with her parents, and was met by her Uncle Orv and cousin George Russel. She writes, "We did help with the dishes and heard stories about other cousins. Wilbur Wright, my cousin, broke many drinking glasses and declared to Uncle Orv, 'these glasses are rotten!' Uncle Orv loved to tell those stories."(3)

George Russel, in his May 21, 1997 interview with Ann Deines, shared the following account about Orville Wright-
"I like to claim that Wilbur and I did teach him one thing about cooking. When we'd go into town, he would buy a sack of oranges and come home and cut them up and make the most delicious orange marmalade you could imagine. Well, of course, we'd always have toast in the morning, so Wilbur and I would stack this marmalade up on the toast, you know. He finally got smart. He watered the marmalade down to the point where we couldn't stack it up. So I claim that's how we gave him some cooking instructions."(4)

Grandma May continued in her July 15, 1934 letter to Wilbur-
"I am glad you could take your uke, it will be company for you. Be sure not to stay right by Uncle Orve when you practice- at least all the time- it makes some folks, who are not used to youngsters & their practice, nervous. I wish you were right here beside me now & we were singing. I will send some song words next letter...."(1)

Mentions Uncle Orve, Orville Wright, at Lambert Island, 1934
Portion of July 15, 1934 letter from Bessie May to grandson Wilbur H. Wright.(1) "Be sure not to stay right by Uncle Orve when you practice- at least all the time- it makes some folks, who are not used to youngsters & their practice, nervous."

If Wilbur's practicing on his Ukulele would make his Uncle Orv nervous, it might be payback time for how Orville affected his sister's state of mind back in 1900. From a letter written by Katharine, she stated, "Orv has begun lessons on his Mandolin, and we are getting even with the neighborhood for their noise they have made on pianos. He sits around and picks that thing until I can hardly stay in the house." 

Grandma May included several sheets of music in the envelope with her July 15th letter to Wilbur. One piece "Darling Nelly Gray" was written by Wilbur's Grandma Wright's Uncle Benjamin Russel Hanby. Benjamin wrote this song in 1856 at the age of 23, of the sad account of a slave mourning the loss of his sweetheart Nelly who had been sold and taken away. 

"There's a low green valley on the old Kentucky shore, 
Where I've whiled many happy hours away, 
A sitting and a singing by the little cottage door 
Where lived my darling Nelly Gray.
When the moon has clim'd the mountain, 
and the stars were shining too, 
Then I'd take my darling Nelly Gray, 
And we'd float down the river in my little red canoe, 
While my banjo sweetly I would play. 
O my poor Nelly Gray, they have taken you away, 
And I'll never see my darling any more; 
I'm sitting by the river and I'm weeping all the day, 
For you've gone from old Kentucky shore.
My eyes are getting blinded, And I cannot see my way;
Hark! There's somebody knocking at the door, 
O I hear the angles calling, 
and I see my Nelly Gray, 
Farewell to the old Kentucky shore.
Oh my darling Nelly Gray, 
up in heaven there, they say, 
That they'll never take you from me any more;
I'm a coming coming coming, as the angels clear the way, 
Farewell to the old Kentucky shore.
Darling Nelly Gray sheet music sent to Wilbur(1)

Herbert to son Wilbur, July 20, 1934-
"Dear Wilbur-
Was glad to get your letter. It was nice and long. You are improving a great deal. You can scarcely believe how hot it has been here for weeks. It has been up over 100 degrees every day for several weeks. We have been breaking heat records so often that it is not even interesting anymore. A temperature of 109 or 110 or 112 degrees is a common occurrence any more and it never gets below 80 degrees even in the "cool" hours of the early morning. They say our average temperature the last week or two has been equal to Death Valley....
Was sorry to hear about George. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding. I try to believe the best about a situation and not jump to conclusions if possible. If Uncle Orv thinks you are O.K. it gives you a lot of encouragement doesn't it? I am sorry if you think I have not encouraged you enough. We will try to work together better this next year. 
....Are you still eating so well- and growing? We had some good peach ice cream out of the Iceomatic last night. Lots of love from your Dad."


Herbert to son Wilbur, July 27, 1934-
"I sold a refrigerator yesterday and one again today so I guess your letter brought me luck. The radio season ought to be better soon now. We usually have radio business in August. Most of the new radios will be what we call "all wave"- that is the reception will be over long and short wave both.....
I was surely glad to hear that you plan to be a good sport when you get back and I am counting on you to cooperate to make things work out. We are all going to have a keen time together I think. I am anxious to see how much you improved in your tennis game. I have not played any- it has been too hot.......You sure want to enjoy that cool air up there while you can. You can't realize what a lot of heat you are missing. I think it fine you can handle the evinrude.(Evinrude- the motor on one of Uncle Orv's boats) Never take any long chances at least without calculating first how they will come out- then you won't have any trouble. Lots of love, Dad."

Jenkins Music Company letterhead 1934, Herbert A. Wright
Portion of first page of July 27, 1934 letter to Wilbur from his dad Herbert Wright. Herbert worked at Jenkins Music Company as a salesman, at the 323-25 E. Douglas Ave. Wichita, Kansas location.(1)

Grandma May to Wilbur, July 31, 1934-
"Your letter came yesterday. I think it fine for all of you that 'Aunt Carrie & Uncle Charlie' are with you. You must be sure to help all you can,- especially while the company is there..."(1)

From this letter, we learn that Carrie Grumbach and her husband Charles are visiting Lambert Island in July of 1934. Guy R. Johnstone in his book From Kitty Hawk to KittyHawk, reproduces a number of letters from Orville to Carrie during the 30's, providing news of the Island. A letter from August of 1931 indicated Carrie and Charlie will be visiting that month. In a letter from August of 1932 to Carrie, Orville describes some of the construction projects that summer.(3)

Wilbur's cousin Betty Campbell writes (Irene's sister Ruth's daughter, now 20 years old), to Wilbur, August 6, 1934. Betty is baking and selling potato chips to raise money for school. These are the depression years, after all.



Herbert A. Wright's mother-in-law, Bessie May.
Aunt Ruth, Betty, and Grandma May, around 1920. (1)



Herbert to son Wilbur, August 9, 1934-
"...Edna and I have been putting up some fruit in spite of the heat so we will have something good to eat this winter. We put up some cherries and plum butter and pickled beets- some cucumber pickles- bread & butter pickles and some peaches- some pickled and some just regular.- also some peach butter. Does that sound good? Oh yes- some water melon preserve too. 
I could not make much out of drawing of the trap. Without intending to criticize you will have to admit that your drawings are not too neat...."(1)

It would be interesting to see this drawing Wilbur had sketched of the trap. George Russel provided the following account concerning Orville Wright's challenge to George and Wilbur concerning trap construction (3)-
"He (Uncle Orville) occasionally would figure out a way to let Wilbur and me earn a dollar. This was back in the thirties, when a dollar was a dollar. This particular time he told us that if we would design and build a trap that would catch one of the local animals, he would pay us a dollar for each one we delivered to him outside of the trap, unharmed (he said the animals were to be unharmed; I don't recall anything being said about harm to Wilbur and me). There were two kinds of animals that we caught, the Canadian hare and the Canadian ground hog. The hares were quite large and the ground hog was about the size of a small beaver. 
He helped Wilbur design a trap with a "figure four" trip for the trigger. Wilbur soon caught a hare in his trap. Remember, I told you that the hare was quite large, with very powerful hind legs. Well, by the time Wilbur got the hare out of the trap and had it subdued, he almost got flogged to death by the hare's hind legs. But Wilbur wasn't about to let that dollar get away, so he finally succeeded. I thought Uncle Orv would fall over from laughing so hard. I think he got more entertainment from that dollar than any other he had ever spent."(3)

Possibly Wilbur's cousin George Russel, sitting in main cabin at Lambert Island. Any confirmation from family members would be appreciated. (1)(5)

Herbert continues in his August 9, 1934 letter-
"...Your newspaper idea is good but I hope you find some one to help- some one who "loves" to put type away again..."
It appears that Wilbur had considered following in Uncle Orv's footsteps to start his own neighborhood newspaper. Perhaps call it "The West Side Wichita Evening Item Tattler" or something along those lines. Or not.


To Lambert Island in care of Orville Wright.
Letter from Grandma Lulu Wright to Wilbur, Aug 11, 1934, Care of Orville Wright, Lambert Island.(1)

Grandma Wright (Lulu Billheimer Wright, Reuchlin's widow) to Wilbur, August 11, 1934-
"Dear Wilbur
We are wondering if you would like to stop here on your way home. You could visit the new Gallery and have company on the train from here to Wichita. If it would be more expensive I will not ask it but if about the same perhaps Uncle Orv. would not mind planning your trip by K.C. unless you have some other plans. 
It has been very hot here but so far we have all survived, that is all your family. There have been many deaths from the heat in the city. 
Katharine has given up going to Joplin (Grandma May's) for the present, will go from here to Wichita.
Margaret Steeper is here visiting with K. and we are all going to the "Big Circus" next Tuesday. Wish you could go with us. (Margaret is Herbert's sister Bertha Ellwyn's daughter, born in 1924, so two years younger than Katharine).
Betty Russel has had so much bad sore throat this Summer that they will have to have her tonsils taken out right away before school begins, so she cannot come up and go to the Circus as we planned.(Betty is Herbert's sister Helen Margaret's daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1923).
I hope you can read this writing, it surely is from With love, Grandma Wright"

Orville Wright's birthday was August 19th, and in 1934, he would be turning 63 years old. Grandma May mentions the birthday in this next letter from August 21st. As mentioned earlier, Wilbur's mother, Bessie May's daughter Irene, died in January of 1931. Three and a half years later, Bessie, in this letter, continues to help in the raising of Wilbur by providing advice on how to be "a strong boy and man", and to become the person his Mother would have wanted him to be.
"Dear Wilbur,
We were very glad to get your letter, and I know you would be very busy with company there, and I hope you all had a "happy birthday" with "Uncle Orve". 
We are happy today too, for we are having a lovely rain and last night was the first cool night this summer. You have been fine about doing as you said you would about your writing to me and I am so pleased for not only did the letters make me happy, but the living up to a decision. That is one of the things I have tried so hard to have you understand. That to be a strong boy and man you must look things squarely and fairly in the face and decide what you want and know to be right then stay by it.
Not a sermon, sweetheart but I realize my time with you has been and is short, and there are so many things for your good, things mother would have liked you to do, and be.
I tried to get daddy to let me have Katharine with me this winter, but he would not,- altho it is where she wants to be. I guess he doesn't think I am a very good grandmother even if you have convinced "Uncle Orve" that I am. One thing you can always be sure of tho, that is,- that I have done my best for all of you- daddy too. 
A letter from daddy yesterday told me that Katharine was going to get to come down here- after all and he had written her to let us know what day to expect her this week. She had thought she was going to have to go straight home from K.C. We are all so glad as you and I know how much she had counted on coming here....."

Herbert to son Wilbur, portion of August 24, 1934 letter-
"...Hope you are getting to be a good swimmer. 
Won't be long now before you will be starting home ward. I am getting pretty anxious to see you.
Love, Dad."

Wilbur H. Wright at Lambert Island.
August 24, 1934 portion of Herbert Wright letter to son Wilbur.

In a July 8, 1939 letter to friend Earl Findley, Orville wrote, "I am happy that you could accept the invitation to visit the Bay, though I would be happier, if you could come a little earlier. My only concern is over the kind of weather we may have after the first few days of September. Sometimes that is the best time of the whole season, but often the "equinoctials" set in at that time, which keeps one indoors. However, I have a pretty good place to sit indoors--a place you have never seen. I am going to have my niece Katharine and nephew Wilbur with me this year. Carrie will be up for several weeks, but will be gone before you get there, if you come the end of the month. If you come late, you will have a cook (O.W.) who will give you better food, but food you will not eat too much of....."

From Kitty Hawk to KittyHawk, Orville Wright's Life on Georgian Bay in Canada, author Guy R. Johnstone wrote, "Wilbur, the grandson of Orville's brother Reuchlin, spent several partial summers at Lambert, some with his older cousin George Russel...In the earlier years, Wilbur was noted by Orville to avoid as much work as possible, but by 1941 Orville comments to Carrie that he has become especially helpful."

Orville Wright letter to Carrie Grumbach, July 24, 1941-
"....Wilbur is just breaking his neck to be nice to me. He works awful hard without complaints, and then runs to do all kinds of little favors to relieve me...."(3)


Katharine Wright, Wilbur H. Wright, and wife Priscilla, 1943
Katharine, Wilbur, and Wilbur's wife Priscilla in 1943, courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives.


Priscilla wrote in 1999 the following-
"There is no doubt that Uncle Orv favored Will's approach to living an honorable life. How to handle problems- how to find solutions, how to give every man his just due. Honesty above all."(12)







Related Posts-
The Story of Herbert & Irene Wright

Five Copper Cents- The True Account of Jacob and Amanda Billheimer- Reuchlin Wright's In-Laws

Reuchlin Wright- The Eldest Wright Brother 

Index of Topics


Updates- July 26, 2017, added June 12, 1934 letter Herbert to Wilbur, and info on printing press.
Updated June 3, 2018, added photos of press, and letters of Orville Wright to Herbert and Wilbur, 1933. Added quote of Priscilla Wright.
July 15, 2018, added July 8, 1939 letter from OW to Earl Findley.
February 12, 2019, Restored post. Had mysteriously converted back to version prior to any updates.

April 27, 2019, added detail of Irene Wright's death. 

June 20, 2019, added July 8, 1939 Orville to Earl Findley letter. 


Notes-
1. Letters and photographs are from my personal collection, unless noted otherwise.
2. Account by Ivonette, Lorin Wright's daughter, is from Wright Reminiscences, compiled by Ivonette Wright Miller, 1978, published by The Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc.
3. From Guy R. Johnstone's book, From Kitty Hawk to KittyHawk- Orville Wright's Life on Georgian Bay in Canada, 2011, published by Huronia Museum, Midland, Ontario.
4. From George Russel interview by Ann Deines May 21, 1997
5. This photo is not identified, but my best educated guess is this is either of George Russel, or of Wilbur H. Wright. Hair color points more toward George than Wilbur. Any input from ancestors of Wilbur Wright or George Russel would be appreciated. The photo is among those in my possession of a grouping that had belonged to Wilbur H. Wright, photos from the 1920's and 30's.
6. Benjamin and his father William Hanby were involved in the underground railroad, assisting runaway slaves to their freedom. For more on this history, go to the Hanby House website.
7. Photo as available on Core Scholar Wright State University Libraries Campus Online Repository. Listed with creation date of 1925, but actual date is later. Wilbur born in Feb 1920, Katharine in Nov 1922, ages in photo appear at least 7 for Katharine, 9 for Wilbur, year closer to 1929 or 1930.
8. Further research is required to determine which items Wilbur may have printed on his press. Anyone with information, please share.
9.(Added 4/8/18)  Dayton Aviation Heritage NHP Oral History Project, Milton Wright interviewed by Ann Deines, September 26, 2000. (Milton's grandfather was Lorin Wright).
Ann- "Did Orville encourage all the nieces and nephews to go to college?"
Milton- "Yeah. Not with money. (chuckling) Although he helped Wilbur out quite a bit, because Reuchlin's.........Well, because Wilbur's father married after his mother died, funds not available to Wilbur, I don't think, and so he had Wilbur.....He sent him to military school for a while, then sent him to college at Oberlin. 
Ann- ".....because Carillon Park just got donated a printing press that Orville gave to Wilbur to help him raise money to go to school or something...…"
Milton- "Yeah, he had a little printing business."
Ann- "Just little printing jobs he'd do?"
Milton- " Yeah. I think Wilbur taught in college out in Colorado or someplace."
10. Photos taken by author during visit to Carillon Historical Park, May 26th, 2018. Appreciation given to Larry Alkire of Carillon Historical Park for all the information he shared concerning the press.
11. Orville Wright letters, courtesy of Carillon Historical Park, brought to my attention by Larry Alkire during May 26th, 2018 visit.
12. From Artifact Questionnaire completed by Mrs. Wilbur (Priscilla) Wright, donation of Chandler Price printing press, February 15, 1999, courtesy of Carillon Historical Park Archives, appreciation given to Larry Alkire. 
13. This letter, within a grouping of postcards and letters sent to Earl Findley by his friend Orville, was recently offered through Christie's Auction House, and is currently being resold on E-bay (7-15-18). I'd love to have it, but cash poor for the moment.
14. The Manhattan Mercury, January 7, 1931. "Overnight in Kansas- Wichita- Mrs. Herbert Wright, 35, died in a hospital here last night from injuries received when her motor car overturned near Howard, Kans., last Friday. A tire blowout caused the accident. Mrs. Wright's two children, Wilbur and Katharine, were not injured."



Keeping it all straight-
Reuchlin Wright, oldest brother of Orville, Wilbur, Lorin, and Katharine Wright.
Carrie Grumbach, life-long housekeeper for Wright family at 7 Hawthorn Street, and Hawthorn Hill.
Lulu Billheimer Wright, wife of Reuchlin, referred here as Grandma Wright.
Herbert A. Wright, son of Reuchlin and Lulu Wright.
Helen Margaret, Bertha Ellwyn, sisters of Herbert A. Wright.
Helen Margaret married George N. Russel.
Helen and George's children were Louise, George, and Elizabeth.
Helen and George's son George M Russel went to Lambert Island with Wilbur H. Wright.
George was 5 years older than Wilbur H. Wright. George 19 in 1934, and Wilbur 14 years old.
Bertha Ellwyn married Harold Steeper, and their children were Margaret Ellwyn and Charles Harold.
Herbert A. Wright married Irene Matilda May, and their children were Wilbur Herbert, and Katharine.
Irene's parents were Thomas and Bessie May. Bessie referred here as Grandma May.
Irene's sister was Ruth.
Ruth married Lou Campbell, and their daughters were Betty and Sally.
Thomas May died in 1909 when Irene was 14. 
Reuchlin died in 1920. His sister Katharine died in 1929.
Irene died in 1931.
Lulu Billheimer Wright's mother was Amanda Hanby Billheimer, daughter of William Hanby.
Benjamin Russel Hanby was Amanda's brother.
Minnie "Minnehaha" Hanby was Benjamin R. Hanby's daughter.
Aunt Lizzie Collier was Ruth Elizabeth Hanby, Amanda's sister.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wright & Wright Printers- West Side News and The Evening Item- Where are the Issues?


If you can find a copy (1), "The Other Career of Wilbur and Orville- Wright & Wright Printers", by Charlotte K. and August E. Brunsman, 1989, The Trailside Press, is a must read to learn about the Wright Brother's printing career. The Brunsman's wrote "Three years before Wilbur and Orville opened their first bicycle shop and six years before their first active interest in flying, they had written, edited, published, and printed 52 editions of a four-page weekly newspaper, 78 editions of a four-page five-column daily, and had filled hundreds of orders for job printing." The 52 editions of a four-page weekly newspaper refers to West Side News, and 52 is obtained by not including Vol I, no. 38, December 14, 1889, and the odd issue printed a year after the series ended, the May 2, 1891 issue.(2) The 78 editions of a four-page daily refer to The Evening Item published by the Wrights from April 30, 1890 through July 30, 1890.

Newspaper published by Wilbur and Orville Wright
West Side News, July 3, 1889, from Author's collection.


Orville Wright was listed as Publisher of the weekly newspaper West Side News, beginning with the first issue of March 1, 1889 through the issue of April 13, 1889. The April 20th issue lists Orville as Publisher, and Wilbur as Editor. This continued for a total of 13 issues including July 20, 1889. The July 31st issue then indicates Orville as Editor, and Edwin Sines as Solicitor. This continued through January 3, 1890. The January 11, 1890 issue indicated Orville as both Editor and Publisher, and was so listed until April 5, 1890. One more issue was printed the next year, May 2, 1891, and indicated as Published by Wright & Wright, Printers, corner of Third and Williams, Hoover Block, Dayton, Ohio. The Dayton Library issue has the 1891 date circled, with 1890 written next to the date. 

In the Preface of Wright & Wright Printers, the Brunsman's made note of the Dayton Montgomery County Library collection of West Side News, and also mentioned Wright documents located at the Franklin Institute, National Park Services at Kitty Hawk, the Deutsches Museum in Munich, and several private homes and exhibits in the Dayton area. I have consolidated a list of existing issues of West Side News that I am aware of as follows:

The Dayton Metro Library
The Library lists an inventory of all the published West Side News issues except for the December 14, 1889 issue. These issues are identified as Vol I, no.1 (March 1, 1889) through Vol I, no.52 (March 22, 1890), and Vol II, no.1 (March 29, 1890), Vol II, no.2 (April 5, 1890), and Vol (?) (May 2, 1891). The list skips Vol I, no.38 (December 14, 1889). There is also a break between Vol I, no.48 and no.50, with no Vol I, no.49 listed.
The Library lists 53 different dates of West Side News of the 54 issues. The Archive contains one issue of each date with the exception of March 1, 1889, August 24, 1889, and November 9, 1889, for which there are two copies each.
West Side News issues are just a small portion of an extensive collection obtained by the Library December 30, 1948.(3)

The Wright State University Special Collections and Archives-
The WSU inventory lists 24 issues of West Side News. The first issue is from the Glen Osborn Collection, March 30, 1889. Other issues from 1889 include May 25, June 1, July 3, August 10, September 14, 21, 28, October 5, 12, 19, 26, November 2, 16, 23, December 7. From 1890, the issues include January 3, 11, February 1, 15, 22, March 15, 29, and April 5. 

Carillon Historical Park-
Carillon's inventory includes two issues of West Side News, March 16, 1889, and April 20, 1889. These were obtained through Harold Miller, co-executor of Orville Wright's estate.(4)


Library of Congress-
The Library of Congress archives contain two issues of West Side News, issues March 23, 1889, and May 11, 1889.

The Franklin Institute-
The Franklin Institute collection has two issues of West Side News, issues March 16, 1889, and May 5, 1889.


North Carolina Wright Brothers National Memorial-
North Carolina Memorial has one issue of West Side News, June 8, 1889. This issue was obtained from Harold Miller's collection.(3)

Author's Collection-
West Side News, July 3, 1889.  

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village-
The Henry Ford does not have any West Side News issues.
 
From this inventory, a number of the early issues exist only at the Dayton Metro Library, one issue each of April 6, 13, 27, May 18, June 15, 22, July 13, 20, July 31, August 17, September 7, November 30, December 21, 28, 1889, and January 18, 25, February 8, March 8, 22 of 1890, and May 2, 1891, for a total of 20 unique one-of-a-kind issues. Three other dates exist only at Dayton Metro, with two copies each, March 1, August 24, and November 9, 1889. It may well be that many other copies exist at other institutions, or in private hands. Anyone with additional information, please post comments.

The Evening Item issues that I am aware of:

The Dayton Metro Library
The Library lists a complete inventory of all the published The Evening Item issues. These issues are identified as Vol I, no. 1 through no. 78, from April 30, 1890 through July 30, 1890.


The Wright State University Special Collections and Archives-
The WSU inventory lists 64 issues of The Evening Item. They are lacking the first two issues, April 30, and May 1, 1890. Also lacking are May 31, June 3, June 12, June 20, June 27, July 8, July 14, July 15, July 16, July 25, July 28, and the last issue July 30th. Their June 23rd issue is currently on loan to the Wright Dunbar Museum where it is on display at the second floor Wright Print shop (See photo below).
Also at WSU, within the Ivonette Wright Miller Papers, 13 additional copies of The Evening Item reside,  June 5, 14, 23, 24, July 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 21, & 26.


Carillon Historical Park-
Carillon's inventory includes one issue of The Evening Item, July 29, 1890.(4)



North Carolina Wright Brothers National Memorial-
North Carolina Memorial has one issue of The Evening Item, July 19, 1890.(3)

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village-
The Henry Ford archives contain one issue of The Evening Item, June 12, 1890.


Wright & Wright Job Printers, Hoover Block, West Third and Williams, Dayton, Ohio, photo by Author.
Wright Brother Newspaper
The Evening Item on display at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, Dayton, Ohio. Photo by Author.



Recommended Reading for information on the Wright's Printing Business-
A. Preserving the Wright Brother's Legacy: Proceedings of the Symposium Oct 22, 1999 with a Guide to Resources on the Wright Brothers. Edited by Elli Bambikidis, Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, published 2001. This 145 page compilation contains a guide to the collections related to the Wright Brothers.
B. The Other Career of Wilbur and Orville- Wright & Wright Printers. Charlotte K. and August E. Brunsman, The Trailside Press, 1989.
C. The Wright Brothers from Bicycle to Biplane by Fred C. Fisk and Marlin W. Todd- actually could be called from Printing to Bicycle to Biplane, as this source includes information on the printing business.
D. The Bishop Boys, by Tom Crouch, 1989, Chapter 2, A Business for Brothers.
E. The Dayton Flight Factory, by Timothy Gaffney, 2014, Chapter 1 At Home in Dayton.
F. A Field Guide to Flight On the Aviation Trail in Dayton, Ohio, by Mary Ann Johnson, 1986, West Anchor Ch 2- The Wright Cycle Company 22 South Williams Street, Chapter 3- Hoover Block 1060 West Third Street, and Ch 8- First Wright Brothers Printing Shop Site 1210 West Third Street.


 Notes:
1. I was able to obtain a copy of Wright & Wright Printers on E-bay. I'm also aware of a copy at a local Antique Mall. An on-line version is available at the Centennial of Flight website.
2.Anyone who has knowledge concerning why the Dayton Library collection is complete except for the December 14th, 1889 issue, please share. Is it possible this issue was not produced? Is there evidence that an issue was printed with this date? I'm also curious why one issue was printed a year after the West Side News was terminated. (This was likely a misprint; the date should have read 1890, in lieu of 1891.)
3. As indicated in "Preserving the Wright Brother's Legacy: Proceedings of the Symposium October 22, 1999.
4. From "Preserving the Wright Brother's Legacy", "Aware that Carillon Park was under construction, the executors sold to the Park for one dollar a number of extraordinary artifacts. These include the family's 1898 treadle-style Singer sewing machine; a drawing table modified by Orville Wright; three bicycle racing medals won by Orville in local YMCA bicycle races; several newspapers published and printed by the Wright brothers; and the canoe which Wilbur Wright had carried beneath his airplane during the Hudson-Fulton celebration in New York City in late September and early October of 1909."

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