Prominent Local Figures: The Wright Brothers

Who doesn’t know the Wright Brothers? Anyone that has taken a plane, or knows someone that did, has been affected by the Wright Brothers. Born in the mid 1800’s, Orville and Wilbur Wright grew up in Dayton Ohio, in a family of 7 children.

Aug. 19, 1871 – Jan. 30, 1948                      

April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912

They often credited their interest in flying to their father bringing home a toy planophore, a French invention loosely resembling a modern day plane. The boys played with this toy until it broke, then built one themselves.

Giving the world the gift of flight was not the only thing they did, however:


  • They owned their own bicycle shop.
  • Orville started up his own printing business after he and Wilbur built their own printing press from a damaged tombstone and old buggy parts.
  • Ran the weekly newspaper, West Side News, then converted it to a daily paper called, The Evening Item.
  • Printed the weekly Dayton Tattler, edited for a while by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Neither Wilbur nor Orville ever married. Wilbur once commented that he does not have time for both a wife and an airplane.

Wilbur died at 45, after contracting typhoid fever on a business trip in 1912. Orville lived until he was 76, dying after his second heart attack in 1948.

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