Wilbur was born near Millville, Indiana, on April 16, 1867. He was his father’s favorite child and emerged as the dominant personality among the siblings. Wilbur died from typhoid at the age of 45.
Wilbur Wright (1867 - 1912)
A Young Man with Promise
Wilbur was quiet, but sure of himself. He was intellectually motivated, excelled in school, had an extraordinary memory, and was a good athlete. Toward the end of his senior year at Richmond High School in Indiana, the family suddenly returned to Dayton due to Milton’s church responsibilities. Wilbur was unable to complete his courses and graduate. Hoping to attend Yale and become a teacher, he enrolled in several college preparatory courses at Central High School in Dayton.
Wilbur was self-confident, controlled, and of steady demeanor—“never rattled in thought or temper,” as his father described him. Highly intelligent, he was a voracious reader, a talented writer, and a gifted speaker. Outgoing when circumstances required, he could also isolate himself and shut out the world when he chose.
Wilbur's report card from Richmond High School. View more >>
“I have always thought I would like to be a teacher.… It would be congenial to my tastes, and I think with proper training I could be reasonably successful.”
The “Ten Dayton Boys”
Growing up, Wilbur was mature for his age and gravitated toward his older brothers, Reuchlin and Lorin. Along with seven of their friends, they accepted Wilbur as the youngest member of an informal social club they called the Ten Dayton Boys. Singing was a favorite pastime of the group. Wilbur stands at the center, with Reuchlin to his right and Lorin seated at the extreme right.
An Accident and Isolation
Wilbur’s bright future suddenly changed when he was injured playing an ice hockey type of game during the winter of 1885–86. The damage to his face and teeth healed, but he suffered lingering heart and digestive complications. He became depressed and withdrew from the world. The confident, robust young Wilbur faded.
Uncertain of his health and future, Wilbur dropped his plans to attend Yale and descended into a self-imposed isolation of reading and contemplation.
Wilbur at age 13
Caring for Mother
By the time of Wilbur’s accident, Susan Wright was already ill with tuberculosis and in need of constant care. Struggling with finding a new direction in his own life, Wilbur devoted himself to nursing his mother until she died in 1889.