Katharine Wright's Life Story
Katharine Wright Haskell
Katharine left teaching in September of 1908, after the crash of a Wright airplane piloted by Orville during a demonstration flight for the U.S. Army at Fort Myer, Virginia; a crash that killed Lt. Thomas Selfridge. She stayed with Orville during his convalescence, and after his recovery traveled with him to meet Wilbur in France for a promotional tour. Katharine actively assisted her brothers' careers, serving as a confidant and sounding board.
Katharine's relationship with Orville, who never married, became especially close after the deaths of Wilbur in 1912 and Milton in 1917. She served as a director of the Young Woman's League of Dayton, supported efforts to gain women the right to vote, and remained active in Oberlin College affairs, leading its alumni group and gaining election to its board of trustees. She also married a college friend, Kansas City newspaper owner and editor Henry J. Haskell, at Oberlin on November 20, 1926. While Lorin Wright heartily approved of the marriage, it ruptured Katharine's relationship with Orville, who believed that through it Katharine rejected him as a brother. He refused to interact with the couple, who lived in Kansas City, shunning Katharine until days before her death from pneumonia on March 3, 1929. Orville asked Henry to allow Katharine to be buried in Dayton, and she was interred with her parents and brother in Woodland Cemetery.
Did You Know?
The Dunbar House in Dayton, Ohio, was purchased by Paul for his mother in 1903. On July 23, 1936, the Dunbar House became the first state memorial to honor an African American.