Milton Wright's Family Tree
Catherine Reeder Wright
Dan Wright, Jr.
In 1823, Dan sold this farm and moved his family to a farm 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southwest of their first home. This second farm grew over the years to cover a full 160-acre quarter section. Catherine gave birth to Milton Wright, the fifth of five surviving Wright children, at this farm in 1828. Later in life, Milton Wright described his father as “grave in his countenance, collected in his manners, hesitating in his speech, but very accurate.” After converting to Christianity in 1830, Dan – who worked in a distillery for a time while living in Centerville – became a teetotaler who avoided alcohol and refused to sell his corn crop to distillers to convert into whiskey. Dan also strongly supported the abolition of slavery, voting for Liberty Party candidate James G. Birney in the presidential election of 1844 (an election won by Democrat James K. Polk). Dan also opposed the activities of secret fraternal societies such as the Masons. Milton inherited strong views towards religion, slavery, and fraternal societies from his father. In 1840, Dan sold the second Rush County farm and moved to another in Orange Township, Fayette County. He died at this farm in 1861 – the site of Lorin Wright’s birth in 1862.
Milton's Life Story
Milton and his family first moved to Dayton in 1869 when he became editor of the United Brethren periodical, The Religious Telescope. His prominence within his denomination grew, and in 1877 Milton’s colleagues elected him bishop. The next year his duties expanded to include the administration of the church’s Western conferences. He and Susan moved their family to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to allow Milton to live closer to the churches he served. Milton cared greatly about the intellectual development of his children and maintained a large and varied library in which they read. His gift of a toy helicopter to Wilbur and Orville in 1878 helped develop their interest in aviation.
The Wright family returned to Dayton, home of the United Brethren’s publishing house, for a final time in 1884 when Milton desired to live closer to the United Brethren headquarters and publishing house during the culmination of years of theological conflict between Radical and Liberal elements of the church. Milton, a leader of United Brethren members known as Radicals who were loyal to the denomination’s old constitution, was instrumental in an 1889 denominational schism. Milton was a respected elder statesman of the United Brethren in Christ – Old Constitution until his retirement from the active ministry in 1905.
Milton continued to live with sons Wilbur and Orville and daughter Katharine after his wife’s death in 1889. He flew once, with Orville at Huffman Prairie in 1910, and moved with Orville and Katharine to Hawthorn Hill in Oakwood in 1914. He conducted extensive genealogical research into the ancestry of his family and maintained a diary that chronicled nearly sixty years of his life. Milton died at Hawthorn Hill on April 3, 1917. He is buried in Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery.
Did You Know?
In 1902, Wilbur and Orville Wright construct a 6-foot wooden wind tunnel which was used for measuring lift and drag on model air-foils.