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The Other Career of Wilbur and Orville

Charlotte K.
August E.

Image of a woodcut which shows both Wilbur and Orville Wright as young men

It all began in 1985 when August was asked to serve on a committee to develop a Print Shop in Dayton's Carillon Historical Park. That group's work resulted in the dedication of a "1930's era print shop" on July 11, 1988.

At the second meeting of the committee, held in the office of Mary Mathews, Executive Director of the Park, Mary displayed copies of two newspapers that were written, edited, printed and published by Wilbur and Orville Wright. Since historians have labeled the Wrights as bicycle merchants and makers (only a few have noted their work as printers), the size and professionalism of these newspapers was a revelation! It was especially exciting to August whose life-long association with journalism and the graphic arts sparked an appreciation of them.

Our resulting research into the Wright's printing and publishing careers had an auspicious beginning. We journeyed to Washington, D.C., for an interview with Wright Brothers expert and author, Tom Crouch, Chairman, Department of Social and Cultural History, National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution. Tom encouraged our effort and directed us to the Manuscript files of the Library of Congress. . .a rich source of Wright material.

A visit with William Pretzer, Curator of Communications at the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village literally opened a door for us. Bill let us spend time in an upper room of the Wright Cycle Shop in the Village where we handled printers type and related equipment which is thought to have been used by the Wrights in their shop.

With Bill's gracious consent, we carried a few pieces of the type to our private print shop where we made "proofs" of it. Good friend, Robert Oldham, pored over the type and proofs and, by studying the founder's "nicks" and "pin marks" was able to identify most of it as being appropriate to the time of the Wrights's printing business.

The efficiently indexed and maintained collection of Wright photographs, books, drawings and documents in the Wright State Archives were made available by Dr. Pat Nolan, Head of Archives and Associate Professor, and his associate, Dorothy Smith. Bright jewels of that collection are the diaries kept by Bishop Milton Wright, the boys' father, nearly without interruption from 1857 until his death in 1917. Charlotte spent hours with them.

The rewards, mostly intangible, of our research are priceless. Resource people were generous with their time and enthusiastic in their suggestions. Many doors were opened to us. Getting to visit with Ivonette, Harold, Sue and Horace, who died April 13,1988, made it all worthwhile.

The publication of the complete manuscript, including its 113 notes, in the respected Printing History triggered an avalanche of notes and letters. A digest of a few of them is included in the footnotes in this printing.

We are grateful, too, to Cross Pointe Paper Corporation and Matthews Advertising & Marketing for their generous cooperation in making this edition possible. Patricia Campbell, Graphic Arts Coordinator, and the Meriden-Stinehour Press were both a great help as was our long-time friend and mentor, Gerald W. Young.

In addition to publication, in 1987 we were privileged to research, plan, and assist in mounting the only comprehensive permanent display which details the work of WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers. Thanks to Mary Mathews, it occupies one of the first floor rooms in Carillon Historical Park's replica Wright Cycle Co. building. It is satisfying that the plaque identifying that structure has been rewritten to describe it as a replica of the place where the Wrights practiced, simultaneously from 1897 until 1899, all three of their careers: printing, bicycles, and aircraft. They worked together in printing from 1888 until 1899.

We found published confusion about the relationship of the brothers' father, Bishop Milton Wright, to the "schism" in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Fortunately, Jane E. Mason, Archivist of the United Brethren Archives at Huntington College in Huntington, Indiana proved to be a willing and knowledgeable source of information. Her precise replies to our many letters clarified that relationship and yielded valuable references to the Wright & Wright printing as well.

Nowhere was our search more productive than in Dayton, Ohio, the home of the Wright brothers . . . and of their closest surviving relatives. During a pleasant visit with their niece, Ivonette, and her husband, Harold, who was an executor of Orville's estate, we were privileged to identify a quantity of woodcuts made and used by the Wrights. Since they were among the last of the undistributed Wright artifacts, the Millers shared our joy in their identification. They graciously permit- ted our printing from them and have placed them on loan to Carillon Historical Park.

In her book Wright Reminiscences, Ivonette referred to a printing press designed and built by Orville, circa 1930. That led us to her brother, Horace, and his wife, Sue. Again a great reception and a mother-lode of neglected Wright recollections now recorded on tape and placed in the Wright State University Archives and Special Collections. Horace had worked with Orville on the development of the press and supervised its operation. A near-neighbor of Horace, Frederic Rieger had worked on the press as a young man. He joined with Horace in recalling its details and prepared a detailed engineering drawing based on their recollections.

Dayton is rich in references and artifacts relating to the Wrights' "pre-flight" years. The Dayton and Montgomery County Library has a complete set of the Wrights' newspapers (except Volume I, Number 38 of West Side News). Nancy Horlacher of the Library's Dayton Collection, permitted our spending many hours with those precious documents. The Collection also includes some of the newspapers' business records and the only known copy of The Weekly Midget, the uncirculated school newspaper produced by Orville and his friend, Edwin Sines.

That we, as amateur researchers/ writers could develop this neglected "chapter" of the Wrights' story emphasizes the continuing need of unified identification and recording of the locations of hundreds of Wright documents and artifacts. In addition to our sources we are aware of important pieces in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the National Park Service's display at Kitty Hawk, N.C., the Deutsches Museum in Munich, West Germany as well as in several private homes and exhibits in the Dayton area.

Understandably, most researchers have concentrated on the Wrights' "aviation years." In our focus on their printing and publishing we glimpsed many tempting vistas of their earlier years (and those of their father, mother, sister and brothers) that could blossom under the caring eyes and hands of future researchers. A real challenge.

Charlotte and August Brunsman
August 3, 1988

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Charlotte K. and August E. Brunsman

Wright & Wright, Printers:
The "Other" Career of Wilbur and Orville

Wilbur and Orville Wright had three careers.

Their first, as writers, editors, publishers and printers has been overshadowed by their work with bicycles and their invention of man-carrying, self-propelled, heavier-than-air, controlled aircraft.

Three years before Wilbur and Orville opened their first bicycle shop1 and six years before their first active interest in flying,2 they had written, edited, published, and printed 52 editions of a four-page weekly newspaper, 78 editions of a four-page five-column daily, and had filled hundreds of orders for job3 printing.

Inspired by their father, Milton, who was a religious writer, editor and publisher as well as a minister and bishop of The Church of the United Brethren in Christ, they learned the challenges of writing and the fascinations of printing while in their teens.

They are credited with having built a printing press in the spring of 1888 when Orville was 16 and Wilbur 21. It was this press that was the subject of a Wright-family story told by their nephew, Horace Wright, on June 26, 1986. Horace is a son of Lorin Wright.

According to Horace, "One of the big printing companies from, I think it was Philadelphia, said they had heard about it and sent a man here to find out. And he came in. And they said, 'Well, there it is. It's operating,' and showed him. He looked at it and studied it from all angles and he got down and looked up underneath the thing and finally stood there, scratching his head, he says, 'It works, but don't see how the heck it does.'"4

This same story, with slight variations, appears in Fred C. Kelly's The Wright Brothers,5 a biography that was authorized by Orville.

Characteristics that served the brothers well in the aviation years were nurtured by their printing and publishing experiences. Their work in those vocations drew acclaim for its "neatness, taste and mechanical construction." The concise writing, so evident later, was admired for "taste . . . and gentlemanliness"6 during their formative years.

Milton Wright and his wife, Susan, moved their young family to Dayton, Ohio in June, 1869 after he was elected editor of The Religious Telescope,7 the weekly publication of The Church of The United Brethren in Christ. Together with their children, Reuchlin, 8, Lorin, 7, and Wilbur, 2, they set up temporary residence in a house on West Third Street. In November they moved into a brick house on West Second Street. Before long they had contracted to purchase a house under construction at 7 Hawthorn Street.8 They moved in April, 1871.9 Orville was born there August 19, 1871 and Katharine on the same date in 1874. This was the "Wright Home" which is preserved at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.

Since The Religious Telescope was printed by the United Brethren Printing Establishment at Fourth and Main Streets in Dayton,10 Milton had an office in that building and the children often visited there. The printing process fascinated Wilbur and Orville; they enjoyed free access to the work rooms.

The dexterity of the type-setters (all type was hand assembled, letter-by-letter), the rhythm of the steam-powered presses and the skills of the book binders opened new vistas to the young visitors. The four-story plant was a busy place: four church periodicals (one in German) were printed there in addition to hymnals, books, church literature, stationery, and a variety of job printing.11

Milton was elected a bishop of the church in 1877 and was assigned the West Mississippi District.12 Since the scattered parish required six to eight thousand miles of travel annually, he established a residence in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and moved the family there in June, 1878. A local object was the building up of the society in Cedar Rapids and the securing of good property there.13 The family's move was difficult for the children, especially for Orville, not quite seven, who had to leave his friend, Edwin H. Sines, who lived at 15 Hawthorn Street.

As a leader of the "radical" faction of the church, it probably was no surprise to Milton when he was not re-elected a bishop in 1881.14 The family moved to Richmond, Indiana in June. Since he was elected Presiding Elder of the Dublin District, which included Richmond, in August, it would seem he anticipated that new office. Other factors which possibly influenced the move included the "less than robust health"15 of Susan and the Richmond residences of her sister and widowed mother.16 In 1882 Milton was elected Presiding Elder of the Indianapolis District; in 1883, the Marion District and in 1884, the Dublin District again.

The first edition of a small religious quarterly, The Reform Leaflet, appeared in October, 1881 with Milton as publisher.17 That issue announced a proposed "reform monthly, The Richmond Star," and directed correspondence to him. The Star was published from the Wright home beginning March, 1882.18 Both were published by Milton independently19 and were inspired by his leadership of a faction opposing proposed changes in the Church's constitution concerning membership of the General Conferences, changes in the Confession of Faith, and members' membership in secret combinations.20

In 1883 Wilbur and Orville began new interests predictive of blossoming vocations. When Orville and two neighbor boys planned a circus in the family barn, Wilbur, 16, wrote about it for the local newspaper, The Richmond Item. The September 10, 1883 issue published21 the following:

What Are The Boys Up To?

An envelope received to-day through the Item box requests the publication of the following remarkable composition. It is written in a boys' (sic) hand evidently with a great deal of care and we give it that Young America may at least have a chance in the world:

ITEM:--Please publish this and thus confer a lasting benefit on several poor boys of this city, who desire to earn a little money to buy candy.

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, there will be exhibited in this city a show greater than all excessively great shows of Barnum, being in fact the intensely great show of W. J. & M.

In the Procession, which takes place at 10 o'clock the proprietors, W. J. & M., will appear on iron and wooden horses, drawing the magnificent $00005.00 chariot on which Ed. Greasywool will appear in his thrilling character Davy Crockett, supported by a powerful combination consisting of a bear and an eagle....

The editor generously printed three more lengthy paragraphs which listed the pseudonyms of two other members of the troupe including "Baron Ornright" which may have been the Group's "professional" name for "Orville Wright." The parade and show displayed a large collection of animals mounted by the taxidermist father of one of the boys.

As Wilbur was first experiencing the publication of his writing, Orville was beginning an active interest in printing.

Once again, their father's editing and publishing had opened printing shops to his sons. On errands to the printers', their memories of the sounds and smells of the craft were revived.

In the family library, Orville was intrigued by the wood engravings illustrating The Century Magazine. Of excellent quality, the works of Timothy Cole and T. Johnson inspired him.22 He read descriptions of engravers' techniques and probably talked with printers about the necessary tools and materials.

When he decided to try his hand at the art, he made a simple engraving tool from the tempered steel spring of a jack-knife.23 It is likely his printer friends supplied a bit of printers' ink, some paper trimmings, a worn roller, and perhaps some damaged wood type. It was the custom for printers to use the under-side of damaged pieces as the medium for small wood engravings.

With supplies at hand, just one problem remained: How would the young experimenter apply enough pressure to the inked engraving to print an image on paper?

Again, the influence of his father is seen: While living in Cedar Rapids, Milton had purchased a "letter press."24 This was a cast iron cider-press-like device used to make copies of correspondence, before the invention of carbon paper. As a bishop, Milton needed copies of the many letters he wrote.

To use a letter press, correspondence was written in special ink, or a special typewriter ribbon was used. By turning a large wheel mounted horizontally at the top of the press, an iron plate was raised from the base. The "original" letter was placed face up on this base. A piece of moistened tissue paper was laid on the letter. Turning the wheel pressed the iron plate against the letter and the tissue. The wheel was then turned to open the press and the two pieces of paper were removed. When peeled apart, an image of the letter could be seen on the tissue. Since this copy was reversed, it was viewed through the back while held to the light.

Orville recognized the press as the final piece of equipment needed for his new skill. And so it was that while Wilbur first saw his writing in print, Orville had his first experience with printing!

In 1884 the family returned to Dayton. Since they had leased 7 Hawthorn Street25 while they were out of the city, they rented a house at 114 North Summit Street,26 about half a mile from Hawthorn Street. Orville was quick to renew his friendship with Sines and was pleased that both would attend the "Intermediate School" at the southeast corner of Brown and Hess Streets.27 The Wrights moved to Hawthorn Street 16 months later.

It was a special delight for the boys to find they shared the same hobby . . . printing! Sines had traded a collection of copies of a boys' magazine for a small printing outfit owned by a neighbor, Al Feight.28

The printing industry was rapidly developing. The design and production of cast iron jobbing presses, beginning in the late 1830's, brought improved inking, better control and much faster and easier work. George Gordon's "platen jobber" came into universal use after 1858 29 and remained the basic design for job presses until changing technologies revolutionized the industry nearly a century later. Indicative of the growth of the industry is the increase in the number of employed printers in New York City from 2,000 in 1850 to 8,000 in 1890. Improved type-casting methods saw the number of type designs grow from about 34 in 1834 to over 1,000 in 1870.30

With the improvement in efficiency, the demand for printing grew, as did interest in the process. Religious groups were among the first to recognize the potential of reaching large audiences through the printed word which had now become affordable.31

The simplified press designs led to several companies' manufacturing "parlor presses." Together with a small supply of type and ink and a few accessories, they were compact enough to be used in a parlor to print visiting cards which were in vogue at the time.

In the Wright State University Archive is a small envelope containing a quantity of visiting cards and bearing the notation, "Cards printed by Al Feight before 1878. Printing outfit later acquired by Ed Sines." 32 These cards, many printed on heavily embossed material, carry the names, "G. E. Alexander, Willie Shoemaker, Lew W. Anderson, Wilbur Wright, John E. Feight, Mark D. Billheimer, Wilston T. Rowe, Reuchlin Wright, Silvannus Koerner, Freddy Billheimer, George A. McHenry, and Lorin Wright." Lorin Wright's card displays a small portrait of a scowling hooded black man with an inscription in small type, "MY DREAM OF LIFE IS FADED."

Joining their skills, Sines and Orville formed a "printing company" appropriately named "Sines & Wright." A product of their efforts, dated 1884, is in the Wright State University Archive: a 12-page illustrated "publication" with pages measuring 3 inches wide by 3 1/4 inches deep.33 Except for two, all pages are imprinted with an ornate "Sines & Wright." Each page displays a distinctive illustration. Four are from woodcuts which, presumably, were printed on Milton's "letter press."

One of the woodcuts shows an aproned butcher astride a protesting hog, another is a moonlit ice skating scene, a third shows a man seated beside a bonfire and the fourth a barefooted person rolling an up-turned tub from which protrude two flailing feet, one of which is bare.

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Fig. 1. This print of a woodcut simply titled "A Landscape" carries a notation, "It could be turned bottom side up without changing the artistic effect. By Will and Orv." Dated 1886 it is the earliest recorded joint effort of the brothers. (Courtesy of Wright State University.) Image of an early Ohio landscape done as a woodcut

Ingeniously, the young printer-publishers illustrated eight of the pages with heat-transfer needlework designs from their mothers' sewing baskets. These were tissues with printed designs that were normally transferred to textiles as guides for needlework. They were transferred by applying heat with a "flat iron."34

In imprinting "Sines & Wright" on 10 of the 12 pages it appears that Sines' "parlor press" was used since its limited size would have resulted in the random positioning of the imprints. The type style used for the imprint was the same as that used by Al Feight in printing the visiting card for Willie Shoemaker.

The pages of the little publication were sewn together in traditional bookbinder's style.

Kelly records that Milton was so impressed by the boys' application to their craft that he persuaded Wilbur and Lorin to trade a boat they had made, and seldom used, for a larger press for Orville. Milton then bought 25 pounds of "brevier" (type approximately one ninth of an inch high) for the young printer.

An envelope marked "1886 Wood Cuts" (sic) in the Wright State University Archive contains a variety of prints from woodcuts made by Wilbur, Orville, and Lorin. On the back of each is a notation. Lorin is credited with an engraving of a slouching bare-footed man. In a June 27, 1986 interview Horace told of his father's having engraved a woodcut of ". . . the Arkansas Traveler; my father's tool slipped and he almost cut the man's jugular."35 The print in the Archive bears, on its reverse side, the notation, "'A Summer Traveler' by Lorin. The tool slipped and near took his jugular."

A newspaper clipping shows a crying baby with two small flowers. It has the notation, "James in Tears? (sic) By Orville."

Other prints in the Archive envelope include "The Sombre (sic) Slave by Orville," "James in Smiles by Wilbur," a horse's head titled "This is a Horse by 'Little Rat,'" and, of particular significance, "A Landscape" (fig 1) with the notation, "It could be turned bottom side up without changing the artistic effect. By Will and Orv," and two prints on one piece of paper showing a be-ribboned cat titled "Thomas Grimalkin" with the notation, "Improved somewhat since you saw it. By Will." This is printed on the back of a two-color Sines & Wright business card.36

In 1986 Ivonette and Harold Miller placed on loan to Carillon Historical Park eight original woodcuts from the Orville Wright estate for its WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers exhibit. Ivonette is the daughter of Lorin. Her husband, Harold, was one of the executors of Orville's estate.

Among the Wright woodcuts now on display is the "Thomas Grimalkin" one that "Will" had indicated he had "improved somewhat." Others include a "test block" on which an engraver had inscribed a crude flower, a globe, a quill pen, a door, a large letter "I" and a series of shading lines. On the back of an unused L-shaped block is part of a circular trademark reading "BUSC . . . & HAGEN Cin. O." The firm of Buschle & Hagen was a supplier of wood for engravers' use located at 12 East Seventh Street in Cincinnati, Ohio.37

Other cuts in the display include one of a surprised gentleman rising from a tack that had been placed on a stool. When Ivonette Miller saw a print of it in 1986 she remarked, "That looks like Uncle Orv's humor! The bowler hat could be one Uncle Orv wore."

Also in the collection is a woodcut of an eagle patriotically mounted on a striped shield. This, apparently commercially-made printing plate, shows repeatedly in Wright printed pieces.38 An unidentified woodcut of a man's portrait seems typical of those supplied to printers by itinerate evalgelists. There is also an unidentified woodcut of a running horse.

An overlapping of the Wrights' skills is seen on a commercially-made woodcut reading "Office" into which type has been wedged to add the word "OF." To incorporate this type (approximately an eighth of an inch square) into the cut required drilling a hole in the block and wedging two pieces of type into the hole so that they were square with the engraved portion.39

Ornate printing was typical of the late Victorian era and many decorative devices (referred to as "dingbats" by printers) were available. Two such pieces are included in the Carillon Park materials loaned by the Millers.40

Kelly indicates the press Wilbur and Lorin obtained for Orville would print "anything up to 3 x 4 1/2 inches."41 However, the next recorded project of "Sines & Wright" was a four-page newspaper, The Weekly Midget with a page size of 4 1/8 inches wide by 5 5/8 inches deep intended for their fellow-students of the Intermediate School. One copy of "VOL. I NO. I" dated April, 1886 is known to exist. It is in the Dayton Collection of the Dayton and Montgomery County (Ohio) Public Library.

As Kelly's story goes, the paper was never circulated. Because of the limited size of their press, each page was printed separately. All of the type had to be set by hand. Apparently discouraged by the amount of work entailed, the partners left the third page blank except for imprinting their "company" name two times on the page.

When Milton saw their imprints on the otherwise blank third page he insisted the boys "had not done themselves justice in slighting that third page. Readers of the paper," he said, "might get the impression that the publishers were lazy or shiftless." He forbade its distribution.42

It was likely the boys were relieved that the issue was not circulated since it contained a sly reference to one of the faculty members. They couldn't be sure how it would have been accepted. The paragraph read:

Next week we propose to publish one of Miss Jennings (sic) famous lectures delivered before the pupils of the Intermediate School on the Inherent Wickedness of School-children.

After "Sines & Wright" obtained the larger press and more type, they moved from Sines' home to a shed at the rear of 7 Hawthorn Street. On cold days they were likely to do their type-setting inside the Wright home.43 As they expanded their capacity by buying $2 worth of "display" type, business increased and they hired a neighbor boy, Forrest Whitfield, for 15 cents a week.44

When a customer paid for some printing with popping corn on the cob, the partners disagreed as to what to do with it. Orville favored selling the corn to a grocer who offered them $2 and using the money to buy more type. Sines disagreed. Finally, it was decided to dissolve the partnership. Since Orville owned the press and most of the type it was agreed he might buy Sines' share of the business by paying him for his half of the popcorn. So, Ed Sines was no longer an owner but continued to work with Orville as "an employee."45

Kelly wrote that Orville soon decided to build a press and, with Wilbur's help, one large enough to print a sheet 11 inches wide by 16 inches deep was completed.46

When the General Conference of The Church of the United Brethren in Christ held in Fostoria, Ohio, May 14-17, 1885, elected Milton bishop of the Pacific Coast District47 he was required to spend most of his time away from the family. His leadership of the "radical" faction of the church was reflected in the comment of the Dayton Daily Journal, May 27, 1885: "A number of liberals excused themselves for voting for him (Wright) by stating that his election would send him clear across the Rocky Mountains where he could not disturb them."48

On July 15, 1885 The Richmond Star and another independent publication, The United Brethren in Christ were merged in favor of a new twice-a-month newspaper, The Christian Conservator.49 On March 4, 1886 it became a weekly. The first issue was printed in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania by Jacob K. Graybill who had published The United Brethren in Christ there. Until 1897 it was printed in Dayton, Ohio.50

In the Williams Dayton City Directory for 1886-87 Graybill's printing shop is shown located at 1528 West Second Street, as is his residence. The 1887 through 1895 directories list this shop and residence at 1450 West Third Street.

The same directories show the office of The Christian Conservator from 1886 through 1892 at 1429 West Third Street, from 1892 through 1894 as the southeast corner of Third and Williams Streets (then the location of the Wrights' printing shop), and from 1894 through 1897 as 112 South Broadway. In 1897 it was moved to Huntington, Indiana. The last listing of Grabill as a Dayton printer is in the 1897-98 directory.

At a convention of The Constitutional Association of the United Brethren in Christ at Hartsville, Indiana, August 4-6, 1885, the Conservator was adopted as its official publication.51 This action was to have an effect on several of the Wrights.

Reverend William Dillon served as publishing agent of The Conservator until 1887 when he was succeeded by Reuchlin who served until August 2, 1888. Reuchlin declined re-election in 1888.

In June, 1889, following the division of the church at the York, Pennsylvania General Conference, The Conservator became the official publication of the "Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Old Constitution)." Milton was elected bishop and publishing agent. With the growth of the publishing activities, a skillful book- keeper was needed. Without Milton's knowledge, the church solicited Lorin for the position. He returned to Dayton and became, "not in name, but in fact assistant agent"52 until M. F. Keiter was elected publishing agent in 1893.

In an authorized biography (CURRENT BIOGRAPHY, October, 1946), Orville recalled working "two summers . . . sixty hours a week in a Dayton printing establishment."53 He was 15 or 16 years old. It was at that time that he learned the art of stereotyping. This was a system by which a mold was made of a "type form" (a complete array of type for a book page, for example). The mold was either plaster, or a paper-like matrix. With the paper-like method, a dampened "mat" was placed face down on the type form and beaten with a special brush to impress the letters into it, thus making a mold against which a molten alloy of lead, antimony and tin was poured to make a metal "duplicate" of the original material.54

In the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library Dayton Collection is a printed sheet advertising "Spring Valley Flour." It has the notation on the back, "First Proof, before routing, of stereotype made by O. W. 1886 or 87." "Routing" refers to a machining method by which unwanted parts of the plate, some of which were necessary to the molding process, could be deleted.

In a November 12, 1888 letter from older brother Lorin in Coldwater, Kansas to sister Katharine (whom he address as "Dear Little Deutchen") he made two comments which indicates he was not current on the activities of his young brothers.

Lorin inquired, "What has become of Wright Bros. printing office? I have heard nothing of it for a long time." Touching upon Wilbur's extended trauma and convalescence from a severe hockey injury, Lorin also inquired, "What does Will do? He ought to be doing something. Is he still cook and chambermaid?"55

That Lorin was not current on family activities is indicated by Kelly's writing that ". . . Along in the spring of 1888 . . . (Orville) started to build another press, bigger than any he has used before . . . The job turned out to be much more difficult than Orville had expected, and Wilbur, observing his kid brother at a tough job, offered to help him build the press. Some of the suggestions Wilbur made for moving parts of the press were peculiar in that they seemed to violate all mechanical rules and could not possibly be expected to work. Yet they did . . . ."56

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Fig. 2. In 1883, when Wilber was 18, he wrote a critical commentary on the legal and parliamentary maneuverings of a Church Commission Session held in Dayton, Ohio. In 1888, Wright Bros., Job Printers printed and sold hundreds of these tracts. It is the first printed record of the name Wright Bros., Job Printers. (Courtesy of Wright State University.) Image of the cover showing the first instance of the phrase Wright Bros., Job Printers

A stronger indication of Wilbur's condition is his writing, and publishing in 1888, a widely accepted sixteen-page tract, Scenes in The Church Commission During the Last Day of Its Session (fig. 2).57 In it Wilbur wrote with remarkable clarity (he was 18 when he first drafted it) of the intricate parliamentary and legal maneuvers during a meeting of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ's Commission in Dayton on November 23, 1885. Copies were offered by Reuchlin from his home at 1422 West Fourth Street in Dayton for 60 cents per 100 copies. On June 1, 1888 Susan wrote to Milton, "The boys have about a thousand tracts ready to send out." On June 5, 1888 she wrote "He (Wilbur) has sold two hundred tracts that I know of . . .The boys are going to print a (sic) two or the (sic) thousand tracts again this week. They want to send several hundred to the convention next week." Her June 19, 1888 letter to Milton informs him that "Orville did well in his examinations. I don't remember his average but I think it was 88. Wilbur's tracts are going fast. I think Reuchlin has sent out about thirteen hundred . . . The boys are at Reuchlin's this morning mailing."58

The Scenes tract has another significance. It is the earliest record of the imprint,

7 Hawthorne St.

On July 31, 1888 Milton wrote to Orville, "You have already sold many more that I expected. I wish it were leaded as it would look better."59 ("Leading" refers to the insertion of strips of lead 1/36th of an inch thick to add space between lines of type.) In this comment Milton shared his experience as an editor with his sons.

On March 1, 1889, when Orville was 17, he printed and published the first edition of West Side News, a three-column four-page weekly with a page size 8 13/16 inches wide by 12 1/16 inches deep. In his "Salutatory" editorial, he wrote, "This week we issue the first number of West Side News, a paper to be published in the interests of the people and business institutions of the West Side. Whatever tends to their advancement, moral, mental and financial, will receive our close attention . . . . "60 The subscription price was 40 cents a year or 10 cents for 10 weeks.

The first issue carried 17 advertisements in addition to one for West Side News. The Cash Book, which was kept by Sines,61 records a total income from advertising of $6.26 with prices varying from 20 cents to one dollar. The one dollar advertisement was a full column (10 inches) deep and one column wide. Among the early advertisers was Sines' mother who purchased a 20 cent space to advertise her "Pinking and Stamping" service.62 The "Stamping" indicated her use of heat transfers such as Orville and Sines used in their first publication.

In the March 30, 1889 issue, Orville advertised for "a boy between 13 and 15 years of age to work in a printing office. No experience required. Apply at 7 Hawthorne Street."63 In the next issue (April 6, 1889) he wrote of being roused from his bed "in the dim hazy light of the early morning" to be greeted by an applicant for the job.

In the April 13, 1889 issue Orville wrote, "We are glad to inform the friends of the News that we have secured a neat little office on Third Street, near the corner of Third and Broadway, where our business will be conducted hereafter . . . at 1210 West Third Street."64

The first issue from the new office was dated April 20, 1889, Vol. I No. 7. It was now four columns wide and the pages measured 10 7/8 inches wide by 15 15/16 inches deep. For the first time the masthead showed Wilbur as editor and Orville as publisher. Subscription prices are listed as "Quarter of year, twenty cents. Six weeks, 10 cents." Indicative of the move is the editor's comments: "This issue of the News was put up in great haste. Our readers will please overlook a number of weak points. In the future we hope to be able to give the paper that careful attention which will render it worthy of the section of the city it represents."65

While no mechanical description of the printing presses the Wrights are believed to have built has been found, several references to such constructions exist. Since the Religious Telescope was published by The Church of The United Brethren in Christ from which Bishop Wright was to lead a "radical" group on May 13, 1889, it is significant that the May 1, 1889 Telescope published a comment on the West Side News which was re-printed with pride by the News on May 5, 1889:

The Religious Telescope, the largest and most widely circulated paper in this city, gives the News the following kind notice:

West Side Newsis the name of a paper issued every Saturday from the office on West Third Street, Dayton, Ohio. It is edited by Wilbur Wright and managed by Orville Wright, sons of Bishop M. Wright. These young men took to the printer's case and themselves learned the printer's art; and though the publication is not large, for neatness, taste, and pleasing mechanical construction it is seldom excelled, even in offices of large size. They made their own press, as we learn, which has a capacity of 1,200 impressions an hour. The paper is devoted to the news of the western part of Dayton, and is edited with taste, raciness, and gentlemanliness, which highly commend it. We wish these young men and their paper success.66

J. W. Hott who was then editor of the Telescope fostered views opposed to those of Bishop Wright. It was Hott's writings that had influenced Bishop Wright's founding of the Richmond Star.

The "gentlemanly" demeanor of the News was typified in the last paragraph of a lengthy account of the church schism which occurred on May 13, 1889. In the May 18 issue appears:

The officers elected on each side are representative men in their parties, and will be a credit to the church. The question as to who are the legal officers will probably soon come to trial in this city. It is hoped that the party which is defeated in the courts will make no further attempt to keep alive the fires of contention in the church.67

After Wilbur became editor, an increased number of illustrations was printed in the News. Most were printed from "stock" printing plates which could be purchased from printers' supply houses. On page 2 of the June 22, 1889 issue, the woodcut identified as "James in Smiles? (sic) By Wilbur" is used with an added octagonal border.

When Susan, the boys' mother, died on July 4, 1889 it was reflected in several ways. While the Bishop's diary recorded her death as occurring at 12:20 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, her worsening condition apparently interrupted the production of the News dated Wednesday, July 3. When it was distributed it included information about her death on July 4 as well as details of her July 6 funeral.

Appropriate to the prevailing Victorian newspaper custom, page two of the News was printed with "turned rules."68 This was the publishers' way of printing a "mourning border" (black lines 1/12th of an inch wide) around the editorial on their loss. Normal lines between columns of type, called "rules," were printed from thin printing surfaces on thick metal strips. When the "rules were turned" (inverted) the thick bases of the metal strips printed.

In a nearly two-column obituary the writers described Susan as, ". . . the mother of seven children, all of whom save two, who died in infancy, are living . . . To her husband, whose life has led him to positions of the greatest care and responsibility, she has been a chief support and comfort; and in her death her children have lost their best, their truest friend on earth . . . . Of her children the oldest, Reuchlin, resides in Kansas City, Mo.; Lorin, the second son, at Santa Fe, Kansas; Wilbur and Orville, of the News, and the only daughter, Katie, still live at home."

An embarrassment to the News began with the publication of an article on July 20, 1889:

Mrs. Alice M. Brehm, of West Second Street, will soon take an extended tour through the old country, visiting the various points of interest. She will be accompanied by a wealthy man from the east, to whom she will be married in a few weeks, after which they will make their departure. She will be gone several months. Her many friends wish her a pleasant trip.

The July 31, 1889 News carried this retraction:

Last week we gave a notice stating that Mrs. Alice M. Brehm, of West Second Street would soon take a trip to Europe. We are sorry such a mistake occurred, for we have since learned that the matrimonial part of it is entirely false. But having received a letter giving the account, and stating that the writer had been informed by Mrs. Brehm's mother; and the letter having been signed "L," we knew at once from whom it came. We supposed what it said was true. It was a piece of spite work, and let the parting Wright-ing (sic) it rest assured that he is known.

This was a difficult time for the young publishers. They had failed to print a weekly edition on Saturday, June 29. The next issue was dated July 3, a Wednesday. Its distribution date is uncertain. Following the embarrassment of the Alice Brehm misinformation on July 20, the regular Saturday edition was omitted and replaced by a Wednesday, July 31 appearance. The next Saturday's paper was omitted and did not appear until Saturday, August 10. The Saturday, August 31 edition was omitted and the normal schedule resumed on Saturday, September 7.

Wilbur's name appears in the masthead of the News for the last time in the July 20, 1889 issue.69

The December 21, 1889 edition had the first of a series of "Weather Predictions" columns attributed to Wilbur.70 He continued this humorous approach to the weather in later publications.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, the renowned black author and poet, was a classmate of Orville's at Central High School and shared the Wrights' interests in writing and publishing. While it was unsigned, it is believed that the following poem in the last issue of West Side News on April 5, 1890 was contributed by Dunbar:

Come, come assist me, trusted Muse!
For I would sing of the West Side News;
A sheet that's newsy, pure and bright√£
Whose editor is Orville Wright;
And by his side another shines
Whom you shall know as Edwin Sines.
Now all will buy this sheet I trust,
And watch out for their April "bust."

About this same time a four-page circular measuring 3 7/8 inches wide and 5 3/4 inches deep was circulated on Dayton's West Side by THE ITEM PUBLISHING CO., 1210 West Third St. to announce "A WEST SIDE DAILY! Delivered to any address 4 weeks for 25 cents." It stated "The ITEM will Contain the Late Telegraphic News, City and Local News, Editorial Comment, and other Interesting Matter of Miscellaneous Character."71 The proposed paper was further described: "The ITEM will be a five column folio. Thus the daily will be about twice the size of the West Side News which we have been issuing heretofore."

In the solicitation of subscribers the folder observed "If there is any one of the West Side who does not think it worth a cent a day to have a daily paper here, it must be that he has no property on the West side and does not know how to read."

The first edition of The Evening Item appeared on April 30, 1890 with more than half of the columns filled with national and international news supplied by a syndicate. Since the typography of this material differed from the "local" news and editorials it is likely this material came to The Item in the form of "matrices" to be cast into stereotype plates or as "boiler plate". . . pre-cast metal plates ready to be combined with type set in the newspaper's printing shop. The Item carried the scores of the preceding day's major league baseball games, including those of the American Association and the National League. "Cincinnati's" complete score, including the names of the batteries and the umpires were included.

Each of the five-column pages measured 12 11/16 inches wide by 19 3/4 inches deep. This would suggest that the Wrights had built or purchased a larger press. No reference to the press appears in The Item.

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Fig. 3. This advertisement first appeared in Tid Bits, a Wright Brothers' advertising booklet. Image of a Wright Brothers Job Printers label

Somewhat prophetic was a brief mention in the May 8, 1890 issue that:

The foundation for Z. T. Hoover's new building is almost completed. The last stones will be laid this afternoon.72

Hoover, who maintained a drug store at the northeast corner of West Third and Williams street was one of their loyal advertisers. His new building at the southeast corner of West Third and Williams street would be known as the Hoover Block, the next address of WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers.

As promised, in the circular describing the new publication, the Saturday May 10, 1890 issue included a four-page insert containing essays, household hints and jokes as well as "national" advertising for Beecham's Pills, the Rock Island Railroad, and numerous offers of assistance in filing "Pension Claims." This supplement showed The Evening Item's name on its first page and came to the publisher completely printed. A small printed "code" each week indicated it was produced by "N.U., F.W.," a newspaper syndicate which supplied such materials.

On July 9, 1890 it was announced that future Saturday issues would contain 12 pages, eight of which would consist of an insert.

In a paper Wilbur read before the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago on September 18, 1901 he commented, "My own active interest in aeronautical problems dates back to the death of Lilienthal in 1896. The brief notice of his death which appeared in the telegraphic news at that time aroused a passive interest which had existed from my childhood. . . ."73

In the July 17, 1890 edition of The Evening Item, on page four, appeared the following "international news":

He Can Half Fly
A German, named Lilienthal, after experimenting for twenty-three years with artificial wings, has succeeded in raising himself, weighing 160 pounds, with the aid of counter weights lifting eighty pounds. How to raise the other eighty pounds is still beyond him.74

As significant as Lilienthal was to become in their lives, it is ironic that the same article, using a different editorial "style" (numerals in place of "spelled-out" numbers), appeared again in The Evening Item on page two, July 26, 1890:

Need More Wings
A German named Lilienthal, after experimenting for 23 years with artificial wings, has succeeded in raising himself, weighing 160 pounds with the aid of a counter weight lifting 80 pounds. How to raise the other 80 pounds is still beyond him.75

If the inadvertent repetition of this article was called to their attention, these 1890 references to Lilienthal and his flying efforts made no recorded impression on them.

On July 30, 1890 The Item "closed its brief but illustrious career. The reason can be stated in a few words: More money can be made with less work in other kinds of printing, such as job printing, etc." In a long editorial the editor commented on the difficulty of inducing residents of "Miami City," as that part of the community west of the Miami River was called, to patronize neighborhood merchants. He cited a store owner who, after closing his "West Side" store and moving it "across the river" was "selling more goods to Miami City people now, than he did when he had his store over here. . ."76

With the termination of The Item, Wilbur, 23, and Orville, 18, had edited and published 52 issues of the weekly "West Side News" and 78 issues of the daily, The Evening Item. This wasn't the last of their newspaper printing. On December 13, 1890 Dunbar and an associate, Preston Finley, published the first issue of Dayton Tattler, a black-oriented weekly newspaper printed by WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers. Three issues of the paper were printed by them. WRIGHT & WRIGHT's Cash Book77 shows printing charges of $17.50 for each of the December 20 and December 27 issues together with a $2.75 charge for a "heading." The book records the Wrights' receipt of $15.00 on this account. It also shows a December 8 charge to "Tattler Co." of $1.25 for 500 billheads.

The Tattler was a four-page newspaper, each page measuring 13 inches wide by 19 3/4 inches deep.

From December, 1890 through March, 1893 the Wrights recorded many printing jobs for Dunbar. They were mostly tickets, programs, "dodgers" and show cards that probably related to the poetry recitals and dramatic readings Dunbar presented. He supplemented his earnings as elevator operator in the Callahan building, and gain recognition for his unique talent, through these recitals.

The Wrights' printing shop remained at 1210 West Third Street from April, 1889 until sometime in 1890. Their Thanksgiving, 1890 publication, Tid-Bits, shows their address as the southeast corner of West Third and Williams Street, the location of the new Hoover Block. Since the editions of The Tattler the Wrights printed in December, 1890 required a press similar in size to that used for The Item, that large press was probably moved to the new location. An 1893 photograph of that building shows "WRIGHT & WRIGHT JOB PRINTERS" painted on a window of the room at the northwest corner of the second floor. It was during this time that Dunbar chalked on the wall of their shop a bit of graffiti:

Orville Wright is out of sight
In the printing business.
No other mind is half so bright
As his'n is.

Testing their idea that "more money can be made with less work in other kinds of printing, such as job printing, etc." the Wrights produced a variety of work. Their Cash Book shows the sale of 175 ribbons to the Miami Valley Poultry Association, $1.50; 2,000 Subpoenas for the Clerk, Police Court; 100 clock faces for A. F. Brandenburg; 500 Annual Reports for the West Side Building & Loan Company, $22.00; 10,000 Corn Planter Circulars for Stoddard Manufacturing Co., $6.25; 300 Sabbath School Records, 3 colors, for Agnes Osborn, $1.00; T.D.B. Annual Club Programs, 50 cents; and 50 Wedding Invitations for Ed Sines, $2.75. In the period of 1892 through 1897 their Cash Book recorded 968 sales entries.79

From its formation following the 1889 division until 1894 the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Old Constitution) had no printing facility.80 In his dual position as bishop and publishing agent of this group, Milton opened opportunities for his sons to print for the various Conferences. Consisting principally of Conference minutes, booklets varying in size from 5 3/4 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches deep to 5 inches wide by 7 1/4 inches deep and containing up to 116 pages were produced. Since these pages were printed in "signatures"81 of 16 pages they required a press accepting a sheet at least 17 inches by 23 inches.

Other church-related publications included pamphlets titled Christian Giving or the Divine Rule of Beneficence, Constitution and Helps of the Woman's Missionary Association, and Hindrances to the more Speedy Conversion of the World. All of these show the WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers imprint with dates ranging from 1889 to 1894.82

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Fig. 4. This unique spiral typographic design was on the first page of the Wrights' "TID-BITS for Thanksgiving, 1890" advertising booklet. Since each letter was a separate piece of printers' type this difficult bit of craftsmanship was assembled from the center outwards. (Courtesy of Wright State University.) Image of an Wright Brothers' advertisement using spiraling type

While the bishop's office was helpful to his sons' business, his purchases constituted a small part of their Cash Book entries. In the 1892-97 period 63 sales were charged to him.

Advertising booklets were printed and published by the Wrights for special events and holidays. Among the first of these was TID-BITS for Thanksgiving 1890 (fig. 3).83 Like many similar Wright promotions this 20 page booklet, measuring 6 inches wide by 9 1/2 inches deep, contained jokes, riddles, light reading and advertising by local merchants. Advertisements ranged in price from $2.00 to $3.50. Each advertiser was given a quantity of the booklets for distribution to customers.

Programs for Y.M.C.A. Field Days included details of the days' events and the contestants' names together with advertising. One of them lists Orville as a competitor in several bicycling races.

TID-BITS for Thanksgiving, 1890 includes a unique typographic example. The type was set in a spiral form which was difficult since each letter was a separate piece of metal with square corners. To set this, it was necessary to begin at the center of the spiral (the end of the printed message) and work outwards (fig. 4).

While the first Wright bicycle shop was set up in 1892 at 1005 West Third Street in Dayton,84 the earliest record of their billing the Wright Cycle Co. for printing is a Cash Book entry of $7.50 for 5,000 bills and 500 folders on April 25, 1895. Unlike most entries, this one is not marked "Paid."85

In 1886, the older boys, Reuchlin, Lorin and Wilbur helped organize a group called Ten Dayton Boys. A social group, they enjoyed a picnic as well as a banquet in the home of one of the members each year. Elaborate menus were printed for the occasions by WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers.86

The varied entrepreneurial interests of the Wrights are recorded in the Williams Dayton City Directories of the period. In the 1888-89 edition, Wilbur is listed as a printer. From the 1889-90 edition through 1892-93 Wilbur and Orville are shown as editors, printers or publishers. The 1893-94 book lists Orville's employment as "WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers" and "Wright Cycle Exchange" while Wilbur's occupation shows only "Wright Cycle Exchange." That same edition records "WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Job Printers" as the business name for Lorin and Orville, as does the 1894-95 edition. Lorin was listed in 1892-1893 as "bookkeeper, s.e.c. (southeast corner) 3d and Williams," the Hoover Block location. From the 1895-96 until the 1989-99 directory Wilbur and Orville are shown as employed by "WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers," and by "Wright Cycle Co." The 1895-96 listing shows Lorin as bookkeeper employed by "The John Rouzer Co.," a Dayton building contractor.

In light of Wilbur's writing talent and dry humor, it is difficult to evaluate a two-page "legal" document87 he prepared sometime after August, 1892. In this paper, headed "CIRCUIT COURT OF 7 HAWTHORNE ST." listing himself as "Plaintiff" and Orville as "Defendant," he detailed dissatisfaction with Orville's performance under "an agreement made in June, 1892."

Wilbur wrote that he is a member of the firm of Wright & Wright, "a firm doing a general printing and press manufacturing business. . . ." He explained that "said firm entered into a contract with Mathews and Light, printers, to erect for them a Wright re-re-Wright improved press of new and improved design, for which Mathews and Light were to pay $250."

The complaint noted that in August, 1892 it was agreed that Orville was to "labor for L. Wright at printing and that Wilbur should continue the work of constructing said press, but the wages earned by said Orville Wright were to be the property of the firm aforesaid."

The long document complained that the plan was not followed as agreed and that Wilbur worked in the printing office "at girls work" and that the pay for such work "was but small." Wilbur wrote that a compromise was reached whereby he was to pay Orville $15 "for labor upon said press, whereupon said plaintiff (Wilbur) was to secure entire control of said press and was to receive all of the $250.00 which said firm was to receive for said press. . . ." It was further agreed that "in all other matters the partnership should continue as heretofore."

Wilbur complained that Orville proposed to settle the matter "on a basis of $2.50 per day for his own (Orville's) work and a few cents a day for the work of said plaintiff."

The document "prays an order issuing out from this court directing said defendant to pay said plaintiff one-half of the money collected by him in behalf of said firm . . . and further prays an order . . . requesting him (Orville) to keep his mouth shut in the future lest he should be again guilty of befouling the spotless and innocent character of others."

While the significance of this "document" has not been established, the 1892-1894 Williams Dayton City Directories list Mathews & Wright, as publishers of The Reporter and job printers at 1263 West Third Street.

Both Sines and Harry Ewing were "compositors" (type setters) for The Evening Item.88 Since mechanical type setting machines were not introduced until 1886,89 and then, only in very large shops, each letter had to be assembled by hand. It is possible to estimate the time needed to set the type for each issue of the Wrights' newspapers.90

If, as appears likely, only the "local" news and advertising was set in type in the WRIGHT & WRIGHT shop, the assembling of type for an average issue of West Side News would have required an estimated 30 man-hours. While The Evening Item was a larger publication, it contained more "boiler plate" material. It would have required an estimated 30 man-hours of "composition" for each daily edition. In addition the previous issue's type would have to be "distributed" (put back in the type cases for re-use), the syndicated news material prepared, and all of the varied pieces "made up" into "forms" ready for the press. Without including press time, at least one full-time "compositor" would have been required for the West Side News; The Evening Item would have needed no fewer than three full-time "compositors."

Fig. 5. A new publication, Snap-Shots at Current Events, containing 16 pages, first appeared on October 20, 1894. It was a bright little publication featuring clever essays and jokes. Published by Wright & Wright, Printers in the Hoover Block, its subscription rate was 40 cents a year. (Courtesy of The Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library.) Image of a Wright Brothers publication called Snap Shots

On October 20, 1894 WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers, published Volume I No. I of a weekly magazine, Snap-Shots at Current Events (fig. 5) featuring 16 pages, 6 inches wide by 8 7/8 inches deep with a red and black "name plate" on the cover. They offered ". .. to send SNAP-SHOTS by mail every week till January 1st for 5 cents. Till July 1, 1895, for 25 cents."91

Readers who had enjoyed the humor of "The Weather" comments in the West Side News were pleased to read in the first issue of Snap-Shots, "The other day an old man of somewhat dilapidated appearance toiled slowly up the stairs leading to our sanctuary . . . it was our old friend the weather prophet, whose services were of such value to us in the old days of the West Side News," Following a rambling essay it concluded with a typical "BULLETIN NO. 1: For the regions at or in the vicinity of the North Pole, very cold weather, accompanied by increased indications of returning spring in the southern parts of Africa, South America and Australia."

The Wrights' increasing interest in bicycles was shown by the number of references to that popular machine in the Snap-Shots columns. An early editorial comment reported, "The Board of City Affairs will find that it is monkeying with a buzz saw, if it does not look out. The bicycle riders of this city are too numerous to be tramped on with impunity. Bells and lanterns are the biggest frauds ever invented. . . ."92

The same issue noted, "A great rush of business in our job printing department renders it impossible to issue Snap-Shots in its usual size this week."

While earlier editions show the typographic style of completely "local" production, Volume I, No. 5 contained "boiler plate" syndicated material as did numbers 9, 11 and 12.

Among regular features of the smart little magazine were delightful essays under the headings of "The Idlers' Club," and a column of "Queries and Answers."

Several issues displayed a half-page advertisement for Wright Cycle Company with no address shown. Prices range from $100 for the "Best bicycles built" to $40-$50 for "Boy's machines."

On February 29, 1896, Volume II, Number 1 of the Snap-Shots appeared in a new size with the publisher shown as "WRIGHT CYCLE COMPANY." Its name was now modified to, simply, Snap-Shots. The reduced size of the page, five inches wide by eight inches deep, combined with the improved quality of printing suggests that WRIGHT & WRIGHT,Printers, had secured a new printing press.

While no formal mention was made of a new location, the following item confirmed it: "Business men will please remember Wright & Wright, Job Printers, 22 S. Williams, when needing anything in the line of printing. Work will be executed promptly and well."

Volume I printed references to bicycles, but Volume II was dominated by them. Among columns of "RACING NEWS" was:

The Wright Cycle Co. have (sic) on hand a number of printed blank certificates, of which a copy is given below, which it will be glad to furnish to those needing them.

PERMIT This is to certify that I. . . . . . . . . the
legally wedded wife of . . . . . . . . . . . . . in
consideration of his riding an ENVOY bicycle,
and purchasing for me a FLEETWING bicycle,
do hereby permit him to go where he pleases,
to drink what and when he pleases. I furthermore
authorize him to carry and use a latch key, and to
have and enjoy all the privileges and
immunities usually conferred by a key of
the kind aforesaid.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Volume II, Number 1 printed a full column advertisement by WRIGHT CYCLE CO., 22 South Williams St. offering "Second-Hand Wheels," "Bicycles to Rent," and "Repairs."

Apparently inspired by the vigorous growth of John H. Patterson's National Cash Register Company in Dayton, the Wrights emulated his dedicated use of printed advertising. Not long after his purchase of that company Patterson nearly bankrupted himself for printing and postage.94 In a lesser way, the Wrights spread the word of their bicycle business through their offer, beginning with Volume II, Number 1, that Snap-Shots ". . . will be sent free by mail to any one who will pay postage on it, or may be had for the asking at a number of places, a list of which will be given later."

Volume II, Number 6 published on April 17, 1896 reported: "For a number of months Wright Cycle Co. have (sic) been making preparations to manufacture bicycles. After more delay than we expected, we are at last ready to announce that we will have several samples out in a week or ten days and will be ready to fill orders before the middle of next month. The WRIGHT SPECIAL will contain nothing but high grade material throughout, although we shall put it on the market at the exceedingly low price of $60. . . . and we will guarantee it in the most unqualified manner." This was the last issue of Snap-Shots.

Beginning with their 1897 Day Book95 a co-mingling of bicycle and printing accounts is evident. Typical are the August 12 entries:

Tom Thorn, Van Cleve No. 108 $30.00
M. Wright (Printing) 2.50

Several entries indicate the sale of bicycles on the basis of "$10.00 down and $10.00 per month." Many entries of payments to Sines are recorded in this period as are several indicating the purchase of printing from other printers.

The financial growth of the business is shown in the "Net Worth" summaries recorded in the front of their 1899-1900 Cash Book.96

Dec. 1, 97
Inv. $1,245.00
Accts   544.00
Cash  167.00

Oct. 1, 98
Inv. $1,401.46
Accts   652.45
Cash  875.00

Nov. 1, 99
Inv. $1,280.84
Accts   943.41
Cash  1,271.14

Nov. 1, 00
Inv.  $1,389.07
Accts  1,370.00
Cash  1,039.84


A February 26, 1898 entry shows a charge of $8.50 for printing an issue of Van Cleve Notes, a publication by the Wright Cycle Co. advertising its products.97 A replica of the May 8, 1899 issue is included in the WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers exhibit in Carillon Historical Park. It is a four-page paper measuring 5 1/2 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches deep which took its name from one of the brands of bicycles they manufactured. It, in turn, had been named in honor of an ancestor who, on April 1, 1796, was among the first to settle in Dayton. Their great, great grandmother, Catharine98 Benham Van Cleve Thompson, is credited by some historians with being the first to set foot ashore at the new town site. Others give that recognition to her daughter, Mary Van Cleve.99 Catharine, who had married John Van Cleve, August 1, 1771, was widowed with six children when he was killed and scalped by an Indian in Cincinnati in 1791. She married Samuel Thompson, circa 1793.

Sines maintained his relationship with WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers with few interruptions. He is credited with keeping the books for West Side News100 as well as working as a printer. From 1893 to 1895 the Williams Dayton City Directories indicate he was employed as a bookkeeper. The 1895 through 1898 directories list him as a printer. References in West Side News and The Evening Item show he was an employee of those papers. The June 8, 1889 edition of the West Side News printed:

Mr. E. H. Sines, who has been connected with News since the first paper was issued, has been chosen business manager of the Church Stylus, the local organ of the Brown Street Christian Church. His selection for this responsible and difficult position is a fine tribute to his ability in business management. He goes to take charge of his new position followed by the best wishes of all connected with the News.

The July 20, 1889 issue of West Side News reported "Mr. Edwin Sines, advertising solicitor for the News was laid up several days this week with Cholera morbus." Beginning with the July 31, 1889 edition he was listed as "Solicitor" in the masthead.

The bicycle business took an increasing amount of the Wrights' time and created a need for more space. In 1897 they moved both the bicycle and printing businesses to 1127 West Third Street, the historic "Cycle Shop" (fig. 6) where major work on the first airplane would be done. The printing office was in the southeast corner of the second floor with the printing shop in the room behind that.101

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Fig. 6. All three careers of the Wrights were conducted simultaneously in the original "Cycle Shop" building at 1127 West Third Street in Dayton, Ohio. Bicycles were serviced and manufactured, their printing business was located on the second floor and early gliders and aircraft were built in the shop at the rear of the building. This replica of the building, containing artifacts of all the careers, is at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton. (Courtesy of Carillon Historical Park.) Image of the original Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop in Dayton, Ohio

The February 16, 1898 edition of The Christian Conservator published a letter from Rev. H. J. Becker, D. D. referring to the impact of the removal of the church's printing plant to Huntington, Indiana from Dayton. In reporting the concern of West Side residents, he noted "The Wright Brothers are in business on the West Side and are expert printers and will be able through their agent to do a large amount of the (printing) work."102

Since the Wrights' bicycle business was increasing and their aeronautical interests were developing, Becker's reference to "their agent" confirms the increased responsibilities of Sines and the decreased printing activities of Wilbur and Orville.

When Sines' injury to a lame knee in 1899 caused him to seek other employment, the printing business and equipment were sold to Thomas R. and Marion J. Stevens who operated "Stevens & Stevens," a printing company, at 1225 West Fifth Street.103

In 1936 Henry Ford negotiated with Charles Webbert, owner of the 1127 West Third Street Cycle Shop building for its purchase. The sale was completed on July 2, 1936.104 In a letter on May 6, 1936 Ford's representatives were told that "Mr. Wright would like to see his old home, which still stands at 7 Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio, included in any permanent exhibit contemplated at Greenfield Village, and I personally believe it is a very important part of our plan to obtain or reproduce all of the original buildings, tools, papers and products of the Wright Brothers..."105

On November 16, 1936 Orville wrote to Ford's representative regarding progress in the negotiations with Lottie Jones for the Wright home and with Thomas Stevens for the printing equipment.106 A letter to Orville on January 27, 1937 reported that Stevens had submitted a list of printing materials together with a price of $486.49.107

In an interview in 1938, Sines recalled that ". . . last year . . . a truckload of printing equipment the Wrights once used was removed to Detroit from Stevens Brothers' printing company, half a block from Wright's laboratory on South (sic) Broadway."108

It was in that laboratory that Orville conducted varied research and perfected several inventions. One of his patents covered the design of a toy, called "Flips and Flops" which projected a small wooden figure through the air to engage a trapeze. It was patented by him on January 20, 1925109 and manufactured and sold by the Miami Wood Specialty Company in Dayton whose president was Lorin.110 Together with sons Milton, Horace and son-in-law Harold Miller, Lorin owned and operated the company. Horace was in charge of manufacturing. When the company began the manufacture of balsa wood toy gliders they sought a method of printing on them. Recalling his printing experience, Orville designed and build, circa 1930, a printing press.111 It had a three roller ink distributor, printed from a curved printing plate, and was fully automatic.

After Lorin's death in 1939 the company was sold to the Lowell P. Rieger family.112 Frederic Rieger, one of the sons, was employed by The Monarch Marking Systems Company and assisted at the toy company. He often operated the printing press and, on occasion, modified its design.

In 1987, Horace and Rieger met to recollect the design of the press, which had been disposed of when the toy company was closed in 1947. Based upon their conversations,113 Rieger made a detailed drawing and, together with Horace, on March 18, 1987 signed a copy of it which is in the WRIGHT & WRIGHT, Printers display in the replica Cycle Shop building in Carillon Historical Park (fig. 7). Along with the drawing is one of the toy gliders loaned to the Park by Ivonette and Harold Miller.

Also on display are numerous reproductions of WRIGHT & WRIGHT's printing and publishing together with a quantity of printers' type of the design and style used by them. The type is on loan from the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, and is believed to be from among Ford's purchase from Thomas S. Stevens.

Fig. 7. Printing press designed and built by Orville Wright, circa 1930, for the Miami Wood Specialty Company. Drawing by Frederic L. Rieger (March, 1987), as recalled by Horace Wright and Rieger. (Courtesy of Carillon Historical Park.) Image of a drawing of a printing press designed by Orville Wright

The interest of Wilbur and Orville in printing, which began with Orville's wood engraving in Richmond in 1883 and was revived by his design and construction of the Miami Wood Specialty Company's printing press circa 1930 exceeded the time spans of their bicycle and aviation interests.

Yet, this important phase of their lives, their first career, has been largely neglected by researchers and historians.


1.Fred C. Fisk, "The Wright Brothers Bicycles," The Wheelmen, no. 17 (Nov. 1980): 4.

2.Orville and Wilbur Wright, "The Wright Brothers, Aeroplane," The Century Magazine 76, no. 5 (Sept. 1908): 641.

3."One who does miscellaneous printing, especially circulars, cards, billheads, etc.√£job printing." Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed., unabridged, s.v. "job printer."

4.Horace Wright, tape recorded interview with authors, RFD Xenia, OH, June 26, 1986. The tape recording is housed in the Wright State University Archives, Oral History Collection, Dept. of Archives and Special Collections, Wright State University, Dayton, OH.

5.Fred C. Kelly, The Wright Brothers (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1943): 35.

6.Religious Telescope (Dayton: Church of United Brethren in Christ) 55, no. 18 (1 May 1889): 280, United Brethren Archives, Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington, IN.

7."Rev. Milton Wright, D. D. Twenty-second Bishop United Brethren in Christ," Our Bishops, (Chicago: Elder Publishing Company, 1889): 542, United Brethren Archives.

8.The spelling of the street name by Wilbur and Orville Wright is at variance with the original plat map in the 1868 Plat Book A in the Recorder's Office of Montgomery County, OH. Page 188 shows the Wright's lot # 111 (36 1/2 feet x 110 feet) as fronting on Hawthorn Street (spelled like the tree). Wilbur and Orville Wright consistently spelled the street name as Hawthorne (like the author) in their printed material. By contrast, their suburban Dayton mansion was named "Hawthorn Hill" without the terminal "e." Today's governmental references to the street use the spelling "Hawthorn."

9.Arthur G. Renstrom, Wilbur & Orville Wright, A Chronology (Washington, D.C.: Science & Technology Division, Reference Department, Library of Congress, 1975): 3.

10.Paul R. Fetters, ed., Trials and Triumphs, (Huntington, IN: Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Department of Church Services, 1984): 211

11.Williams' Dayton Directory, vol. 1 (Cincinnati: Williams & Co., 1856-57): 46, 48.

12.Our Bishops, 546; Rev. Wright's first district "embraced the whole country occupied by the church, between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, and Wisconsin and Rock River Conference of Illinois. " Our Bishops, 547.

13.Our Bishops, 546; Lou Breurer, "New Light on Wright Brothers," Cedar Rapids Gazette, 13 Dec. 1955.

14.Our Bishops, 547, 548.

15.Kelly, Wright Brothers, II.

16.Bond's City Directory of Richmond and Wayne County (Indiana) for 1881-82 (Richmond: Daily and Weekly Palladium Printing House, 1881-82).

17.The Reform Leaflet (Richmond, IN) I, no. 1 (Oct. 1881), Wright State University Archives, Box 8, File 4, Wright Brothers Collection, Dept. of Archives and Special Collections, Wright State University, Dayton, OH.

18.The only known extant copy (vol. 2, no. 9, Nov. 1883) is in the Methodist Archives, Drew University, Madison, NJ.

19. John H. Ness, Jr., One Hundred Fifty Years (Dayton: Board of Publication of the Evangelical United Brethren Church): 387, Dayton Collection, Dayton and Montgomery County (Ohio) Public Library, Dayton, OH.

20.Fetters, Trials and Triumphs, 238.

21."What Are the Boys Up To?", Richmond Item (Richmond, IN) 10 Sept. 1883.

22.Kelly, Wright Brothers. 29.


24.Kenneth W. Duckett, Modern Manuscripts (Nashville: American Association for State and Local History): 173.

25.Kelly, Wright Brothers, 23.

26.Williams' Dayton Directory (Cincinnati: Williams & Co, 1884-85).


28.Wright State University Archives, Box 3, File 10, Wright Brothers Collection.

29.The APHA Newsletter (New York City: The American Printing History Association, Nov.-Dec. 1986): 22.


31.Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt, The Book in America (New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1952) states that of 2,076 new publications recorded in 1880, 239 were religious. This was exceeded only by fiction, 292, and juvenile, 270.

32.Wright State University Archives, Box 3, File 10, Wright Brothers Collection.


34."An iron with a flat smooth surface for ironing clothes. The base of a common type has the general contour of an isosceles triangle. " Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Lan-guage, 2nd ed., unabridged, s.v. "flat iron."

35.Horace Wright, tape recorded interview with authors, RFD Xenia, OH, June 26, 1986. The tape recording is housed in Wright State University Archives, Oral History Collection.

36.Wright State University Archives, Box 3, File 4, Wright Brothers Collection.

37.Williams' Cincinnati Directory, Thirty-fifth Annual Issue (Cin-cinnati: Williams & Co., June 1885).

38.West Side News, ed. Wilbur Wright, pub. Orville Wright (Dayton, OH), 27 April 1889, 26 May 1889, 1 June 1889, 8 June 1889, and others, microfilm edition, vol. I, Ohio Historical So-ciety.

39.A woodcut with mortise enclosing type used by the Wrights is on loan from Ivonette Wright Miller and Harold Miller at the Wright & Wright, Printers Exhibit, Carillon Historical Park, Dayton, OH.

40.One piece is shown as ornament no. 4815-4 in Barnhart Bros. & Spindler Type Founders Specimen Book No. 8 (Chicago: Barnhart Bros. & Spindler Type Founders): 667.

41.Kelly, Wright Brothers, 31.

42.Ibid., 31-32.

43.Ibid., 32.


45.Ibid., 32-33.

46.Ibid., 34-35.

47.Proceedings of the Nineteenth General Conference of the United Brethren in Christ held in Fostoria, Ohio (Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1885): 261.

48.Fetters, Trials and Triumphs, 254.

49.William Dillon, "Valedictory," Christian Conservator, 30 May 1917, p. 4, United Brethren Archives.

50.Christian Conservator, 4 March 1886, United Brethren Archives.

51.Ness, One Hundred Fifty Years, 387.

52.Proceedings of the Twenty-first General Conference of the United Brethren in Christ (Dayton: M. F. Keiter, 18-27 May 1893): 30.

53.Letter and enclosures: Orville Wright to H. W. Wilson Com-pany regarding Current Biography, 3 Oct. 1946, Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

54.Michael Winship, "Printing with Plates in the Nineteenth Century United States," Printing History 5, no. 2 (1983): 19ff.

55.Lornie (Lorin Wright) to "Dear Little Deutchen" (sister Katharine), 12 Nov. 1888, Wright Papers, Library of Congress.

56.Kelly, Wright Brothers, 34-35

57.Wright State University Archives, Box 8, File 3, Wright Brothers Collection.

58.Susan Wright to Milton Wright, 1 June 1888; 5 June 1888; 19 June 1988; Wright Papers, Library of Congress.

59.Milton Wright to Orville Wright, 31 July 1888, Wright Papers, Library of Congress.

60.West Side News, 1 March 1889, p. 2, microfilm edition, vol. 1, F001, Ohio Historical Society.

61.Dayton Collection, Dayton and Montgomery County Pub-lic Library.

62.West Side News, 6 April 1889, p. 3. microfilm edition, vol. I, F012, Ohio Historical Society.

63.Ibid., 30 March 1889, p. 2, vol. 1, FOO8.

64.Ibid., 13 April 1889, p. 2, vol. 1, FO15.

65.Ibid., 20 April 1889, p. 2, Vol. 1, F017.

66.Ibid., 5 May 1889, p. 2, Vol. 1, F024.

67.Ibid., 18 May 1889, p. 2, Vol. 1, F028

68.Ibid., 3 July 1889, p. 2, Vol. 1, F046.

69.Ibid., 20 July 1889, p. 2, Vol. 1, F049.

70.Ibid., 21 Dec. 1889, p. 2, Vol. 1, F107.

71.Wright Brothers Scrapbook 1890-1926, Dayton Collection, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library.

72.The Evening Item, 8 May 1890, p. 3, microfilm edition, vol 1, F019, Ohio Historical Society.

73.Marvin McFarland, ed., The Papers of Wilbur & Orville Wright, Vol. 1: 1899-1905 (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1953): 103.

74.The Evening Item, 17 July 1890, p. 4, microfilm edition, vol. 1, F167, Ohio Historical Society.

75.Ibid., 26 July 1890, p. 3, Vol. 1, F188.

76.Ibid., 30 July 1890, p. 2, Vol 1, F201.

77.Dec. 8, 1890 Cash Book, Container 68, Wright Papers, Library of Congress.

78.Marvin McFarland, ed., The Papers of Wilbur & Orville Wright, Vol. 2: 1906-1948 (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1953): 696.

79.Dec. 8, 1890 Cash Book.

80."Publishing Agent's Quadrennial Report, 1897," a report by William Dillon, United Brethren Archives.

81."A printed sheet containing a number of pages, as 4, 8, 12, 16, etc. folded as one unit and forming a section of a book or pamphlet." Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed, unabridged, s.v. "signature."

82.Wright State University Archives, Box 8, File 3, Wright Brothers Collection.

83.Ibid., Box 3, File 10.

84.Fisk, "Wright Bicycles," 4.

85.Dec. 8, 1890 Cash Book.

86.Wright State University Archives, Box 3, File 10, Wright Brothers Collection.

87.Ibid., Box 3, File 6.

88.Ibid., Box 3, File 4.

89.Haupt, Book in America.

90.American Encyclopedia of Printing, ed. J. Luther Ringwalt (Philadelphia: Menamin & Ringwalt, J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1871): 168, 366, 367.

91.Snap-Shots at Current Events, 20 Oct. 1894, Dayton Collection, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library.

92.Ibid., 3 Nov. 1894.

93.Snap-Shots, 29 Feb. 1896, Dayton Collection, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library.

94.Isaac F. Marcosson, Wherever Men Trade (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1948): 44.

95.1897 Day Book. Container 68, Wright Papers, Library of Congress.

96.1899-1900 Cash Book, Container 68, Wright Papers, Library of Congress.

97.Dec, 8, 1890 Cash Book.

98.Charlotte Reeve Conover, ed., Dayton and Montgomery County Resources and People. vol. 1 (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Inc., 1932): 12.


100.Advertising Accounts West Side News 1889 Kept by Ed Sines, Dayton Collection, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library.

101.Scrapbook, No. 1623, Box 6, Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village Archives, Dearborn, MI.

102.Christian Conservator, 16 Feb. 1898, p.3, United Brethren Archives.

103.Williams' Dayton Directory (Cincinnati: Williams & Co., 1898-99).

104.Allan Fletcher, "The Wright Brothers' Home & Cycle Shop in Greenfield Village," thesis, Program in Museum Practice, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 30 June 1972, p. 40.

105.Piersol to F. L. Black, 6 May 1936, Edison Institute, Dearborn, MI; referenced in Chronology: Orville Wright and Greenfield Village, 3rd revision, 11 June 1984, researched by Susan Bushouse, Edison Institute, Dearborn, MI.

106.Orville Wright to F. L. Black, 16 Nov. 1936, Edison Institute, Dearborn, MI; referenced in Chronology: Wright and Greenfield Village, Bushouse.

107.F. L. Black to Orville Wright, 27 Jan. 1937, Wright Papers, Library of Congress.

108."'Wright Brothers Born Inventors,' Says Ex-printing Partner," Dayton Journal (Dayton, OH) 9 Feb. 1938, p. 16.

109.Patent no. 1,523,989, 20 Jan. 1925, cited in Renstrom, Wright, Chronology, 79.

110.Williams' Dayton (Montgomery County, OH) City Directory Cincinnati: The Williams Directory Company, 1939.

111.Ivonette Wright Miller, Wright Reminiscences (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH: Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., 1978): 25.

112.Williams' Dayton (Montgomery County, OH) City Directory (Cincinnati: The Williams Directory Company, 1941).

113.Horace Wright, tape recorded interview with authors, RFD Xenia, OH, Jan. 15, 1987. The tape recording is housed in Wright State University Archives, Oral History Collection.

image of a woodcut of a kitten engraved by Wilber Wright used as an end note icon
Woodcut engraved by Wilber Wright


I am pleased that your well-documented article of the Wright Brothers history is now available for a wider audience.

Christopher S. Duckworth
The Ohio Historical Society

"This constitutes a whole new chapter in the lives of two remarkable men.

Fred Howard
Retired Aeronautics Librarian,
The Library of Congress
Author, Wilbur and Orville

"How fortunate that you created a definitive historical account that will serve us all from now on."

Wilkinson Wright
Great-nephew of Wilbur and

"Your research has added greatly to the scholarship on the Wright Brothers by uncovering new information and by clearing up misinformation."

Mary Mathews
Executive Director
Carillon Historical Park

"Nobody who writes about the Wright Brothers from now on can afford to ignore what you have published."

Dr. Pat Nolan
Head of Archives
Wright State University

... one of the best written and most interesting features we've ever presented."

Pat Henry
Managing Editor
Printing News

"You have made a valuable addition to the history of the Wright Brothers with this well-documented and accurate story. It is perhaps the only article about the Wrights that has the facts correct pertaining to the church."

(Mrs.) Jane E. Mason
Huntington College
United Brethren Archives
Huntington, Indiana

Certainly the best thing on the subject available to date."

Tom D. Crouch
Department of Social and Cultural History
National Museum of American History

"Congratulations on the publication of your article on Wright brothers as printers. I am delighted to see it appear in such a respected journal (and the lead article no less)."

Paige E. Mulhollan
Wright State University

"You both deserve a medal for what you have done as all of this important history of their printing was lost ... until you both saved what would have been lost."

Fred C. Fisk
Bicycle researcher and writer

"What a tremendous offering to be added to the known published works on the Wright brothers!"

Virginia M. Hanson
Reference Librarian
The Dayton and Montgomery
County Public Library

© C.K. and A.E. Brunsman

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