Friday, March 19th, 2010 by

Julie Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, recently published by NewSouth Books, brought her search for information on a Wright brothers-Birmingham connection to the pages of the Birmingham News in an op/ed piece on March 14. In her article, Williams recounted meeting and hearing from several locals with personal stories about the Wrights.

Julie met descendents of Frank Kohn, donor of the plantation the Wrights used for their field, who now live in Birmingham.

She received an email from a descendent of Earl Kreis, who served as the Wrights’ “water boy,” and spoke with Miller Gorrie, whose ancestor built the Wright hangar in Montgomery. The family business, Brafield & Gorrie General Contrator, is headquartered today in Birmingham.

Julie was also contacted by a descendent of David Clark Wright, a distant cousin of the brothers who helped them with the bicycle.

Andy Davis shared with Julie his story of meeting Orville Wright:

Orville visited Edwarda, widow of Orville’s distant cousin, when Davis was around age 5 or 6. As Davis recalled, Edwarda called him in from outside to meet Orville. “Nice to meet you,” little Andy said politely, and turned to leave.

Edwarda stopped him. “You don’t understand,” she said. “This is the man who invented the airplane.”

Young Andy stared up at Orville and asked, “May I go get my friends to come see him?” This amused the adults, who turned down the offer. “‘Oh,’ I said,” Davis recounted. “So I took my ball and went outside to play.

Davis had a news clipping about Orville’s visit for many years, but it got lost. He’s hoping to locate another.

Julie was able to “solve” another Wright mystery by searching the internet. She discovered that the eldest of the Wright brothers, Reuchlin, probably did live in Birmingham:

Reuchlin was a member of a club called “The Ten Dayton Boys.” When the club met on Feb. 12, 1887, it threw a reception in honor of Reuchlin, who was leaving soon for Birmingham.

Julie Williams asks that anyone with more information about these or other connections to the Wright brothers in Alabama contact her by email at jjwillia (at)

Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online book seller.