Bishop Milton Wright



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Bishop Milton Wright, 1889. The father of Wilbur and Orville, Milton Wright (1828—1917) was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

Bishop Milton Wright, 1889. The father of Wilbur and Orville, Milton Wright (1828—1917) was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

What, then, is the basis of these stories? According to Bishop Milton Wright's diary,*  covering a sixty-year span from 1857 to 1917, he was bishop of the Pacific District of the United Brethren Church from 1885 to 1888. During that time he held conferences in California and was in Rohnerville from August 25 to September 6 or 7, 1886. On the 29th of August he preached at the Rohnerville United Brethren Church, and that afternoon and evening held services at the Methodist Episcopal Church. He preached at the Brethren Church on the afternoon of September 4 and again the following morning. He chaired a quarterly conference of the Brethren leaders at Rev. David Eby's house on September 4. During his stay Bishop Wright wrote the obituary and preached the funeral sermon for Mrs. Jacob Ackerson, wife of a United Brethren minister.

While visiting in Rohnerville, Bishop Wright stayed and/or ate with Rev. Ackerson, Rev. Eby, and Rev. S. T. Starrett. Included in his diary is a list of Rohnerville Brethren  -  J. F. Nowland, Nancy Houck, James Smith, Frank Carter, J. R. Jordan and John Douglas.

This story illustrates how fact becomes fiction, first through oral communication and later through the written word. An element of truth  -  the visit of the Wright Brothers' father to Rohnerville in 1886  -  became an expanded, embellished story that assumed a degree of credibility when published in the local media. And yet, even with so many facts at hand, the whole story may not be known. Perhaps there are yet-to-be-discovered surprises in Rohnerville's history.

* Information supplied by E. Faye Connor, Archivist, United Brethren Archives, Huntington, Indiana.

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