|Irene Matilda Wright, Wilbur, and Herbert A. Wright, photo from author's collection (1).|
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-
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)
|Shipped from Chicago Printer Machine Works to Wilbur Wright c/o Herbert Wright, Chandler & Price Press (1)|
|Printer supplies from American Type Founder Sales Co, to Wilbur Wright- Printers cases, caset stands, box of type, and other supplies. (1)|
|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)
|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)
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.......
|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 and Wilbur H. Wright, courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives. (7)|
|Portion of July 11, 1934 letter from Ruth May Campbell, Irene's sister, to her nephew, Wilbur H. Wright.(1)|
|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."|
|Darling Nelly Gray sheet music sent to Wilbur(1)|
"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."
|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)
|Aunt Ruth, Betty, and Grandma May, around 1920. (1)|
Herbert to son Wilbur, August 9, 1934-
|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..."
|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-
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.
|August 24, 1934 portion of Herbert Wright letter to son Wilbur.|
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, Wilbur, and Wilbur's wife Priscilla in 1943, courtesy of Wright State University Special Collections and Archives.|
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.