Orville Wright
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Orville Wright (1871 - 1948)

Orville Wright
Born in Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Died at age 76 in Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 14 Nov 2008
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Orville Wright was born at 7 Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio on August 19, 1871 to Milton Wright and Susan Koerner Wright.[1][2] [3][4] His sister Katherine was born on his birthday, exactly three years later. In 1878, the Wright family moved to Iowa, but returned to 7 Hawthorn Street in 1885.[2]

As a boy, Orville became interested in flying after receiving a flying top from his father. He and his brother, Wilbur, built replicas of the toy. They also watched birds to see how they flew. Orville was quite the trouble-maker in school, getting expelled from grade school for a time. He made it to high school, but dropped out during his senior year.

Orville opened a print shop, using an old tombstone and parts from buggies. He printed a newspaper called "The West Side News". After realizing that the shop couldn't compete with larger newspapers, the Wright brothers decided to pursue the newest trend: bicycles. They started calling themselves the "Wright Brothers" at this time and opened their own bicycle shop. They used the money they earned from the bike shop to pay for expenses for their flying experiments.

The Wright brothers first venture into flying started with designing kites and manned-gliders to test aerodynamics. They decided to go to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to do their testing.[4] It had better terrain for flying and was more remote, guarding the results of their pursuits. Their first few gliders had many problems, but they didn't give up. They looked at everything objectively, and kept making adjustments to their plans. They found that adding a movable tail to the glider would make handling easier and prevent crashing. After successful tests, they decided to try powered flyers.

Their first powered, sustained flight was in 1903. Orville flew for 17 seconds! They realized the 700-pound flyer couldn't stay in the air beyond that time, though, so it was back to the drawing board. The next flight was Wilbur's, and he managed to stay up for more than five minutes. The aircraft was still very hard to keep under control, so they revised their design again.

In 1905, they finally got their first real airplane: The Wright Flyer. The brothers started taking passengers with them but that didn't last long. Orville crashed in late 1908 in Fort Meyer, Virginia. He survived with only a few injuries, including a broken leg. However, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge was not as lucky and was killed in the accident. Orville rested and mended while Wilbur continued flying in France.[5]

In 1910, Orville took Wilbur as his passenger. It was the only time the two flew together, having promised their father to reduce the risk of losing both his sons at once. They flew for six minutes together. Following that incident, Orville took his father up to 350 feet.

Upon Wilbur's death from typhoid in 1912, Orville inherited the whole of the Wright company. Not enjoying running the business, he sold the company in 1915, and he, Katherine, and their father, moved to Hawthorn Hill, Ohio. They moved into a mansion, a sign of their wealth at the time. Orville's last piloted flight was in 1918 before retiring.

Orville stopped speaking to his sister when she married in 1926 because he did not approve of her spouse. He only decided to speak to her again when she later fell ill.

In 1944, Orville took his last airplane ride, piloted by Howard Hughes. While riding he commented on the wingspan of the plane, which was longer than his first flight!

The year 1948 marked a second, and fatal heart attack for Orville. It occurred while he was fixing his doorbell on January 30, 1948 in Dayton, Ohio. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio.[6]


  1. "Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003", database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X6QP-BLH : 18 May 2020), Orville Wright, 1871.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MD2B-9W7 : 28 August 2017), Orville Wright in household of Milton Wright, Cedar Rapids, Linn, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district ED 255, sheet 53A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,351. Ancestry Record 1880usfedcen #23537070
  3. "Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2011. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Orville Wright, King Of Birdmen, Born In Ohio, 43 Years Old Today", Trenton Evening Times, Wednesday, Aug 19, 1914. Trenton, NJ. Page: 6
  5. "Orville Wright to Finish Tests Aviator Who Was Injured at Fort Myer Will Again Fly There," Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, Apr 14, 1909, Philadelphia, PA. Vol: 160 Issue: 104 Page: 16
  6. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 17 August 2020), memorial page for Orville Wright (19 Aug 1871–30 Jan 1948), Find A Grave: Memorial #1130, citing Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .
  • "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MM6W-31L : accessed 17 August 2020), Orville Wright in household of Milton Wright, Precinct E Dayton city Ward 5, Montgomery, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 54, sheet 11B, family 283, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,307. Ancestry Record 1900usfedcen #50868502
  • "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:ML64-97P : accessed 17 August 2020), Orville Wright in household of Milton Wright, Dayton Ward 5, Montgomery, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 80, sheet 11A, family 273, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1217; FHL microfilm 1,375,230. Ancestry Record 1910USCenIndex #131260868
  • "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MD5N-BRC : accessed 17 August 2020), Orvill Wright, Van Buren, Montgomery, Ohio, United States; citing ED 237, sheet 5B, line 87, family 116, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1423; FHL microfilm 1,821,423.
  • "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4HL-DS5 : accessed 17 August 2020), Orville Wright, Van Buren, Montgomery, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 200, sheet 17A, line 28, family 438, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1857; FHL microfilm 2,341,591.
  • "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KW2T-Z4R : 11 December 2019), Orville Wright, Oakwood City, Oakwood Township, Montgomery, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 57-48, sheet 16A, line 24, family 359, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3120.
  • The Wright Brothers on Wikipedia
  • Wikidata: Item Q35820 help.gif
  • Meltzer, Brad, Heroes For My Son, pgs 2-3, Harper Collins Publishing

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Comments: 8

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FYI. Please see Capt. Isreal [Perry-11108].

Capt. Israel Perry ferried Wilber and the Wright Brother’s glider to Kitty Hawk through a dangerous storm. And more details.

Also, I have included more sources.

posted by Richard (Jordan) J
Orville and me are 8th cousins once removed Robert Parke is our common ancestor
posted by Andy Johnson
Orville and Wilbur Wright are my 8th cousins three times removed.
posted by Steven Losey
My husband's great-grandfather was O. P. Boyer. The Boyer Funeral Home was established in the mid-1800s by Oliver Perry Boyer in Dayton, Ohio. O.P. Boyer (1827-1903) began his trade as a cabinet maker, making wooden coffins in his spare time. Eventually, his work evolved into a full-scale mortuary, eventually ceasing to produce cabinets. It was said that "Anyone who was anyone in Dayton was taken care of by the Boyer Funeral Home."

The Wright family funerals were conducted by the Boyer Funeral Home. The papers from the funeral home are located at the Wright State University archives. We have a copy of Orville Wright's death certificate. Under Usual Occupation it reads: Inventor of airplanes. I will try to post it. The O.P. Boyer's Sons Funeral Home was located at 211-213 W. 3rd St around the turn of the century. By the 1920s, the funeral home had moved to 609 W. Riverview Ave., Dayton, Ohio.

posted by June Jacobs
Hi there profile managers!

We plan on featuring Orville as the Example Profile of the Week in the Connection finder on August 19th. Between now and then is a good time to take a look at the sources and biography to see if there are updates and improvements that need made, especially those that will bring it up to WikiTree Style Guide standards. A Team member will check on the profile closer to the week we'll feature it and make changes as necessary.

Thanks! Abby

posted by Abby (Brown) Glann
I am a direct descendant of Samuel Wright who was born 1614 who is also an ancestor of Orville Wright. I could provide the Wright family tree but not sure where best to post it?
posted by Alan Cooke
I went to Orville Wright Elementary school and Wilbur Wright High School in Dayton Ohio.
posted by Martha Garrett

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