Katharine “Kate” <I>Wright</I> Haskell


Katharine “Kate” Wright Haskell

Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Death 3 Mar 1929 (aged 54)
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Burial Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Plot section 101 lot 2533
Memorial ID 31769874 View Source
Suggest Edits

Sister of the Wright brothers, she is best remembered for her caring for her brothers and with helping them organize their business. Born August 19, 1874, exactly three years after Orville, Katharine was the only surviving girl born to Milton and Susan Koerner Wright. She was especially close to Wilbur and Orville, and when her mother died it became her responsibility to take over the household, seemingly ending any prospects of marriage. Despite her new responsibilities, she finished her studies in Oberlin College in Ohio, and took a position in Steele High School in Dayton. To help with the chores, she hired a maid, Carrie Kayler, although she was always under Katharine's shadow. Katharine constantly wrote to her brothers, keeping them abreast of all news at home and reassuring them during their darkest days. She often scolded Orville and Wilbur when they didn't regularly send correspondence, and warned them of 'distractions' when in Europe. In 1908, after many years of trying, the brothers convinced the U.S. Signal Corps to allow them to test their Flyer for possible sale to the government. Orville was the pilot that day, however after a few successful trials, disaster struck as the plane crashed, killing Wright's passenger and seriously injuring himself. With Wilbur in France, Katharine immediately went to Washington D.C., taking emergency leave from the school. She was never to return. Wilbur asked Kate to come over to France with Orville, and in 1909 they joined him in Pau. Forever the organiser, she quickly dominated the social scene, herself being far more outgoing and charming than the notoriously shy brothers. The French newspapers were fascinated by what they saw as the human side of the Wrights, and it was then that rumors began to circulate as to her importance in the invention of the Wright Flyer. Indeed, to this day many of these myths - such as her funding of the experiments, her sewing of the wing coverings or help with the math needed to design the aeroplane - still live on, despite strenuous denials by both herself and the brothers at the time. The French though were not to be dissuaded, and she was awarded, along with Wilbur and Orville, the Legion d'honneur, making her one of the only women from the U.S. to receive it. When they returned to Dayton, Ohio, the family were huge celebrities, and as such Katharine took more of the business affairs on, becoming an officer of the Wright Company in 1912 after Wilbur died. The company was sold in 1915 by Orville. In 1917, their father Milton died, three years after he, Katharine, Orville, and Charles and Carrie Kayler Grumbach moved to Hawthorn Hill, a newly-constructed mansion in the Dayton suburb of Oakwood. With no one else to take care of him, Orville became more and more dependent on Kate, as his old injuries had him in severe pain. She looked after his correspondence and business engagements along with his secretary, Mabel Beck, and ran the household as before. In the 1920s, Kate began to renew correspondence with an old flame from her college days, a newspaperman named Henry Haskell, who lived in Kansas City. They quickly began a romance through their letters, but Kate was fearful of Orville's reaction to it as she was afraid he would become jealous, knowing herself that he couldn't survive without her. After several attempts, Henry broke the news to Orville. He was devastated, refusing to speak to the couple. When they finally wed in 1926, Orville refused to attend the ceremony, and wouldn't speak to them up until they moved to Kansas City. She was ridden with guilt for choosing Henry over her brother, and tried many times for a reconciliation, but Orville stubbornly refused. Two years after her marriage, Katharine contracted pneumonia. Even when Orville found out, he refused to contact her. It was their brother Lorin who eventually persuaded him to visit her on her deathbed, and was with her when she died. She was 54 years old.

Bio by: VanMan

Family Members


Sponsored by Ancestry


See more Haskell or Wright memorials in:

Sponsor and Remove Ads


  • Created by: VanMan
  • Added: 27 Nov 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 31769874
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Katharine “Kate” Wright Haskell (19 Aug 1874–3 Mar 1929), Find a Grave Memorial ID 31769874, citing Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by VanMan (contributor 47074586) .