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The Other Wright Brothers And A Wright Sister

Susan (1831 - 1889) and Milton Wright (1828 - 1917) had five other children in addition to Wilbur and Orville... Reuchlin (1861 - 1920), Lorin (1862 - 1939), Katharine (1874 - 1929) and twins, Ida and Otis, who died soon after birth in 1870. Of these, perhaps the most well-known is Katharine, holder of a teaching degree from Oberlin College, who was a vital part of much of the swirl around the activities of Wilbur and Orville. She made certain that Wilbur had decent clothes (mostly Orville's) to wear when he gave speeches, she encouraged them both, advocated on behalf of their aerial experimentation to the patriarch of the Wright family, Bishop Milton Wright, attended to the running of the Wright home after the death of their Mother and she handled the affairs of the Wright Cycle Company when Orville and Wilbur were away experimenting. She nursed Orville back to health after the disastrous accident during September of 1908 at Fort Myer, Virginia, and traveled with him when he went to join Wilbur in France. While in Europe, it was noted, she charmed all who met her, royalty included. She became a board member of The Wright Company in 1912 after Wilbur's death, and she lived with Orville, looking after his domestic needs and helping him to socialize with extended family and visitors.

Orville Wright and Katharine Wright aboard
a Wright Model HS Biplane - 1915
(Library of Congress # LC - W85 - 129) (cropped)

After Wilbur's death, she sacrificed much of her personal life and dreams to the considerable needs of Orville. Quite unexpectedly, she married in 1926, an act which Orville viewed as a complete betrayal. The resulting breach was deep and profound. To his considerable discredit, Orville refused all entreaties from his devoted and self-sacrificing sister and refused any contact until, apparently, immediately before her death in 1929. According to Katharine's husband, Orville came to her bedside and Katharine was asked if she recognized her brother. She answered that, of course, she did. There was, apparently, no discussion and no spoken reconciliation between them.

Friends Harriet Silliman (left) and Katharine Wright (right) - 1900
(Library of Congress # LC - W85 - 11) (cropped)

While a few accounts have sought to exaggerate her participation in the aerial experimentation of her brothers, more often her considerable contributions have been minimized or even purposefully overlooked. Some of this stems from the bitterness and even hostility with which Orville came to treat her after she married and left him to himself in 1926. While she didn't sew the fabric covering for the Wright Flyer (as some stories have told it), and she probably didn't help with mathematical computations (although she was fluent in math), she did 'mind the store' both figuratively and literally, and she almost certainly gave assistance to Orville as he penned a few articles, perhaps even to the extent of meriting a note of co-authorship, recognition which she never sought. While it is difficult, perhaps, nearly impossible, to state with a high degree of certainty, after reading and reviewing much of the remaining record about the relationship between Katharine and her more famous brothers, the impression left is that she had by far the most well-developed personality and character. It is quite clear that without her, both Orville and Wilbur (most especially Orville) would have had a much more difficult time succeeding in their aerial endeavors.

Lorin Wright and three of his children - 1901
(Library of Congress # LC - W85 - 12) (cropped)

Lorin Wright is most well-known for his espionage (as "W. L. Oren") against Glenn Hammond Curtiss in Hammondsport, New York, during June of 1915. His "mission" was to document the trials of the much-rebuilt and modified Langley Large Aerodrome which Glenn Curtiss conducted under contract to the Smithsonian Institution. He attempted to take photographs but was foiled by a Curtiss partisan who seized the exposed film. He also took note of various details of Curtiss Hydroaeroplanes, Biplanes and Flying Boats. In 1900, while Wilbur and Orville were in North Carolina, Lorin assisted Katharine in the operation of the Wright Cycle Company. During October of 1902 Lorin was in camp with Wilbur and Orville near Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina, when they were testing their 1902 Wright Glider. While he remained on the periphery of the aerial experimentation, Lorin did assist his brothers in their work when needed. In 1929 Lorin persuaded Orville to visit their sister, Katharine, when she was dying of pneumonia, at least that seems to have happened. Lorin married and had four children.

Reuchlin Wright - 1901
(Library of Congress # LC - W85 - 23) (cropped) (damaged negative)

Reuchlin Wright left Dayton, Ohio, in 1889 for Kansas City, Kansas, where he led a life distinctly separate from that of his brothers and sister in Dayton, Ohio. Reuchlin (nicknamed "Reuch" - pronounced "Roosh") apparently never enjoyed any great success in any of his endeavors, working for a while as a bookkeeper, a railroad agent, and later as a farmer. He married and had four children.