Tag Archives: wright brothers

Civil War Sampler: #11B Sidebar, Kansas City Star

Funny story…a sidebar to my Civil War Sampler series.

So, remember how I said that in the introduction to the Civil War Sampler book, Ms. Brackman stated that most of the patterns actually came from 1930s newspapers and are not necessarily Civil War era patterns? Well, one of the newspapers she mentions is the Kansas City Star. (Doesn’t that just sound like it should be a quilt block pattern in and of itself anyway?)

Being a lifetime resident of the state of Ohio and not even particularly “into” news, I had never heard of the Kansas City Star until sometime after I started working at my current place of employment, the Special Collections and Archives at Wright State University Libraries.

There, we have one of the world’s largest collections of material about the Wright Brothers, who are widely credited with inventing the world’s first practical airplane. In addition to items related to aviation and to Wilbur and Orville, all of which seem to be obvious “givens” in anything called the “Wright Brothers Collection,” there are also many materials pertaining to other members of the Wright family, such as their father Bishop Milton Wright and their younger sister Katharine.

Katharine Wright, the youngest Wright sibling and only girl, spent much of her life unmarried, devoted to her father and brothers (Wilbur and Orville were also unmarried), in many ways filling in for her mother who had died when Katharine was a teenager. (More about Katharine Wright on our blog at work.)

But late in life, she fell in love with her former Oberlin classmate, widower Harry Haskell, and in 1926 at the age of 52, she married him. They were only married a few years before Katharine died in 1929.

What does all this have to do with the entry title or the quilt sampler?

Haskell was the editor of the Kansas City Star from 1928 until his death in 1952 (source). According to the National Quilt Museum, the (apparently famous) Kansas City Star quilt patterns began being published in the newspaper starting in September 1928 and continued until 1961.

This obviously includes the 1930s, which is the publication time period for most of the Kansas City Star patterns that are re-purposed in Brackman’s Civil War sampler book. (To clarify: only a handful of the 50 patterns did come from the Star – most came from elsewhere – but of the 4 or 5 that are  KCS patterns, all appear to be from the 1930s.)

I’m not saying that Harry or Katharine particularly had anything to do with this quilt thing. (It sounds like from the National Quilt Museum’s page about the KCS quilts, that it was mostly Edna Marie Dunn‘s doing?)

I can’t find any evidence in the Bishop Milton Wright diaries that Katharine did any quilting herself – but maybe such a thing was so commonplace as to be barely worth mentioning at that time? Supposedly (ref here and here), there is a quilt made by Katharine’s mother Susan on display at Hawthorn Hill, but I can’t find any pictures of it. Again, probably pretty common activity, right? Milton does mention creating a quilt pattern himself in 1857 (see diary entry: April 23, 1857), which was prior to his 1859 marriage. Interesting.

The Katharine Wright/ Harry Haskell/ Kansas City Star quilt pattern connection is probably just one of those weird little coincidences. It seems there’s no escaping the many and varied interconnections of history. Isn’t it fun?

(Note: The first pattern in the book to come from the Kansas City Star is #11: Blockade, which was published in 1938.)

Wright Brothers Benches in the Dayton area

Last Sunday, I attended one of the Woodland Days tours at historic Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio. (I might write more about the tour in general another time.)

One of the first things the tour guide pointed out to us was a sculpture of a bench with two bowler hats on top of it, honoring the Wright Brothers (on the main road near the chapel):

Wright Brothers Bench, Woodland Cemetery

Wright Brothers Bench, Woodland Cemetery (Photo by Matt Rickey, 7 Oct. 2012, used with permission)

The tour guide proceeded to tell us that there were several of the benches around Dayton: five, she thought.  I mumbled to my husband that I thought there were nine, in fact. (These mental–and sometimes whispered–“well, actually”s continued intermittently throughout the rest of the tour, as a matter of fact. I don’t mean to be critical, but as a local archivist and reference librarian, I happen to know a lot about Dayton’s history. So when I heard misinformation, it bugged me a little…)

After we got home, I double-checked, and sure enough, there are nine Wright Brothers benches in the Dayton area, according to the Ohio Outdoor Sculpture Inventory.

According to said inventory, the benches are located at the following places:

  1. Carillon Historical Park;
  2. Dave Hall Plaza;
  3. Dayton International Airport;
  4. Engineers Club of Dayton;
  5. Medal of Honor Park at Wright Patterson Air Force Museum;
  6. the U.S Air Force Museum;
  7. Woodland Cemetery;
  8. Wright Brothers Airport; and
  9. Wright State University.

I have only personally seen four of these, so it’s theoretically possible that the inventory list has the number wrong, and maybe our tour guide was correct. (For instance, I’m wondering: Are there actually two at the Air Force Museum?) I have looked for the one (or two, apparently) at the Air Force Museum before but didn’t see it; then again, I didn’t realize it was out in the park. I thought it would be just outside the lobby or something.

The benches were created by artist David E. Black and dedicated in 1996.

For funsies, here are photos from my personal collection of the benches I have seen (in addition to the one at Woodland, shown above):

Wright Brothers Bench, Wright State University

Wright Brothers Bench, Wright State University (photo by the author, July 2003)

The bench at Wright State was the first one I ever saw. I imagine I first laid eyes on it sometime in the Fall of 2001, when I was a freshman at WSU…

Wright Brothers Bench, Engineers Club

Wright Brothers Bench, Engineers Club (photo by the author, 7 June 2012)

Here’s the one at the Engineers’ Club on Monument Avenue, so you can see the context in which the bench is situated. (Honestly, do you really want to see several close-ups of these identical benches?)

I have seen the Carillon Park bench, but apparently I did not snap a picture of it. Darn.

If you search for “Wright Brothers Bench” on Flickr, there are several pictures of them… Since I don’t have photos of my own to show you of the other ones, let’s see if I can find them on Flickr and link…..

Once again, with gusto:

  1. Carillon Historical Park;
  2. Dave Hall Plaza;
  3. Dayton International Airport;
  4. Engineers Club of Dayton (or see above);
  5. Medal of Honor Park at Wright Patterson Air Force Museum;
  6. the U.S Air Force Museum;
  7. Woodland Cemetery (or see above or see this other one of mine);
  8. Wright Brothers Airport; and
  9. Wright State University (or see above).

Huh…well. That was kind of a let-down, actually.

Guess I will just have to hunt down the ones I haven’t found yet and photograph them. 🙂

Wright Brothers newspapers available online

I’ve been involved in Dayton, history, and Dayton’s history…for about 10 years now. So sometimes I forget that there used to be a time when I didn’t know very much at all about the Wright Brothers. Sure, I knew that they “invented the airplane” (so simplistic!).

Yes, indeed, there was a once time when I was barely aware of what actual names of the individual Wright Brothers were — Wilbur and Orville — much less which one was which (Orville’s got the mustache!) or what year they made that first flight (1903!) or that they owned a bicycle shop.

But even those who are at least vaguely aware that the Wright Brothers built bicycles before they built airplanes, might not know that even before that, they operated a printing business.

Young Orville and his friend Ed Sines started Sines & Wright printed the lone issue of The Midget in 1886. Later, Wilbur joined forces with his brother under the name Wright & Wright Printers. They built their own printing presses, and in addition to doing all kinds of job printing, they printed three publications of their own: the West Side News (1889-1891), the Evening Item (1890), and Snap-Shots at Current Events (1894-1896).

Job Press Room, Wright & Wright

Job Press Room, Wright & Wright

The Dayton Metro Library has original copies of most issues of all four of these publications — the copies that were kept by the Wright Brothers themselves in their own collection and were donated to the library after Orville’s death in 1948. These originals were microfilmed for preservation several years ago, and last year, the library had that microfilm digitized to enhance access to the newspapers, which comprise an important and interesting Wright Brothers resource.

Please visit the Wright Brothers Newspapers digital collection to browse and search the papers. Here are the specifics of what can be found in the digitized, online collection:

  • The Midget : A newspaper published by Edwin Sines and Orville Wright of the firm Sines & Wright. Only one issue was ever printed. The Midget, vol. 1, no. 1 (Apr. 1886).
  • West Side News : A weekly newspaper focused on events in West Dayton. West Side News, vol. 1, no. 1-52 (Mar. 1, 1889-Mar. 22, 1890) ; vol. 2, no. 1-2 (Mar. 29, 1890-Apr. 5,1890) ; vol. ? (May 2, 1891).
  • Evening Item : A daily newspaper that focused on world events. The Evening Item, no. 1-78 (Apr. 30, 1890-July 30, 1890).
  • Snap-Shots at Current Events : A weekly magazine aimed at cyclists in Dayton. Snap-Shots at Current Events, vol. 1, no. 1-13 (Oct. 20, 1894-Jan. 10, 1895); vol. 2, no. 1-6 (Feb. 29, 1896-Apr. 17, 1896).

The original newspapers can be found at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402, in the Local History Room, MS-001 Wright Brothers Collection.

To learn more about the Wright Brothers as printers and to see their shop and some of their equipment, I highly recommend visiting the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (corner of Third and Williams Street, Dayton). I visited there in 2008; you can see some of my pictures of the Wright Brothers print shop here. (There are several so make sure you click “next” from that first picture.)

You can also learn more about the Wright Brothers as printers at this great online exhibit from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; and The Other Career of Wilbur and Orville Wright by Charlotte & August Brunsman, online at the Centennial of Flight web site.

Large and significant collections of original Wright Brothers materials can also be found at Wright State University, Special Collections & Archives, and at the Library of Congress. And don’t forget the exhibition at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

And finally, if you’re looking for a comprehensive but also pleasantly readable biography of the Wright Brothers, you’ve got to check out Tom Crouch’s Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright (find at a library, or at Amazon).