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Lorin Wright's Life Story

Lorin Wright
November 18, 1862 – December 1, 1939
Lorin, the second son of Milton and Susan Wright, was born in Fairmont, Indiana, in the home of his grandparents. Named by his parents for a community chosen randomly from a map, Lorin moved with his parents and siblings to Dayton, Ohio, in 1870. As a child, Lorin developed a close relationship with his elder brother Reuchlin. He and Reuchlin enrolled at Hartsville University in Indiana, the alma mater of their parents, between 1881 and 1883, but did not earn degrees. Instead, Lorin ventured west to Kansas City in 1886 in search of work. Lorin spent little time in Kansas City, where Reuchlin settled, returning to Dayton in the fall of 1886. However, Lorin returned west in 1887, settling in the frontier town of Coldwater, Kansas, where he worked as a bookkeeper and deputy county treasurer. In 1889, he returned to Dayton, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Lorin married Ivonette Stokes on January 12, 1892 and took a position with the John Rouzer Company as a bookkeeper. Lorin and Netta had four children, nieces and nephews with whom Wilbur and Orville developed close relationships.

While not a frequent participant in the research of his brothers Wilbur and Orville that produced the first successful airplane, Lorin assisted them when needed. He helped manage his brothers’ financial affairs in Dayton while they were away from home, and he delivered news of their first powered flight in December of 1903 to the Dayton Journal. Unfortunately, the Associated Press representative at the Journal ignored Lorin’s important news. In 1915, amidst the Wright-Curtiss patent battles, Lorin secretly visited Lake Keuka in New York, where Glenn Curtiss attempted to fly a modified 1903 model of Samuel Langley’s Aerodrome. Curtiss’s employees discovered Lorin and confiscated his film, but they failed to demonstrate that Langley’s craft was capable of flight before Orville and Wilbur’s flights of December 1903. Lorin turned his energies to the Dayton area in the 1920s and 1930s, becoming an owner and president of Miami Wood Specialties, which made wooden toys (including toy airplanes) and serving as a Dayton City Commissioner from 1920 to 1927. He died in Dayton in 1939 and is buried at Woodland Cemetery.

Did You Know?

Orville, Katharine, President Taft, and Wilbur Wright at the White House, 1909.

Orville, Katharine, and Wilbur Wright travel to Washington, D.C. in 1909 at the request of President William Howard Taft. The Wright brothers were presented with the Aero Club of America medal at a White House ceremony.