Wilbur Wright

Wilbur Wright, Class of 1884

 Memories of Harry Morrow from a Palladium Story from the late ‘30’s

“The Wrights had a workshop in the red barn behind their house. They fitted it out with pulleys made out of old spools. There was no motor back there to make things go, but they had other ways of producing motion.

They did a powerful lot of kit flying”. (They lived on 307 N 12th Street next to the Johnsons.) “Dan Johnson was about the mightiest hunter in town and was also a taxidermist. Either Orville or a pal Rush Miller, whose father was JF Miller, superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, running from Pittsburgh to St Louis, one of them came up with the idea of a circus. Kids around town would supply the clowning and acrobatic talent.  The performances were scheduled in the Wright’s barn and cost was 5 cents.  (This was September 10, 1883.)

A great street parade preceded the performance, creating more interest than the show itself. It included Dan Johnson’s taxidermy in cages.

One day, Rush Miller’s Shetland pony ran away with Johnson’s stuffed bear. The pony was hitched to a Studebaker wagon. The bear scarred the pony and off he went all the way downtown before he was caught”.

Harry Morrow was a friend of Orville Wright. He learned to swim with him in what was known as the “Log Hole” on the East Fork of the Whitewater River.  Wilbur Wright was their swimming coach. Morrow says that Wilbur saved him from drowning one day.

While living in Richmond the Wright family rented houses in three locations between 1881 and 1884: 211 North 14th Street, 309 N 12th Street, and 38 S 13th Street. This was confirmed to the Palladium Item in a letter from Orville Wright December 7, 1932. Orville also stated “Wilbur was in high school at the corner of A and South Streets the three years we were in Richmond.  It seemed to me I used to hear him talk a good deal of a Professor Test….Among Wilbur’s classmates were John and Gertie Tracy, Harry McMinn, Abby Johnston, now Mrs. (Dr.) Grosvenor, Jessie Dulin, Will Downing, Anna Kirby, Jessie Winder, Hettie Elliott and Lida Byer.”

Wilbur would have graduated in June of 1884 from the McNeil school building but his family moved to Dayton six weeks before his graduation.  He had enough credits to graduate but decided not to return to join his eight classmates at the Grand Opera House for the ceremony.

Thanks to a nomination by alumni Robert C Thomas, Class of 1955, of California in December 1991, and the persistence of then RHS Principal John M Lebo, the Alumni Association petitioned the School Board in 1993 to award a diploma to Wilbur Wright so that he might be recognized as a Distinguished Alumni from the school.

While in school, Wilbur schedule of classes included Greek, Latin, geometry, natural philosophy, geology, and composition, with general scholastic averages of 94, 96 and 95 for the first three terms.  (The Wright Brothers, by Fred C Kelley)

The Wright family of the mother Susan’s side is related to the Dennis family of Richmond.  They came to Richmond at times when Rev Milton Wright had to travel for his work as bishop in the United Brethren Church.  The boys enjoyed sledding and kite flying and riding bicycles.  Both excelled in their studies at school.  The Pioneers of Flight can credit some of their accomplishments to the education from Richmond.


























  380 Hub Etchison Parkway, Richmond, IN 47374

 (765) 973-3338