Season’s Greetings from the Miami Valley

December 1916, Box 8, File 1 (MS-146)

Diaries offer a wonderful way to glimpse an individual’s thoughts and feelings on a specific day in time. Let us take a walk through history with the words and writing of Miami Valley residents, some at home and one away, on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day 1863, James F. Overholser, a Preble County resident, was stationed 12 miles south of Pulaski, Tennessee, with Company D of the 81st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. His unit marched to Pulaski in November 1863 and was tasked with rebuilding a Tennessee & Central Alabama Railroad Bridge. James, in his December 25 entry, wrote “Cool and cloudy had a big turkey roast there was a lot of citizens in to take dinner with us.”

James F. Overholser Papers, 1861-1869 (MS-5)

54 year later, on December 25, 1917, the Miami Valley celebrated a white Christmas with roughly 1.6 inches of snow on the ground. The Dayton Weather Bureau entry for December 25, 1917, described the day as cloudy and cold.

Dayton Weather Bureau Records, 1883-1996 (MS-74)

Joseph Graham Crane Schenck, Sr., a cashier at NCR, and his wife, Alice Elizabeth, resided at 228 N. Ludlow in 1917. His diary entry for Christmas Day 1917 opened with the weather:

“Tuesday 1917 turned cold in night & snowed so that the ground was white & frozen. After breakfast we took Caroline in to see her tree etc. I went for Aunt Clara in my car 9:30am. AES gave me a wonderful picture of carolers for my Xmas present. I was crazy about it. I gave AES Xmas ck $50.00 & a few other necessities. B 7 Club 3 PM till 9 PM TP- won $5.00. We had a very fine Christmas.”

December 25, 1917, Box 1, file 5 (MS-284)

The final entry from Christmas Eve, December 24, 1933, reads like many of our holiday preparations today, staying up all night to finish wrapping, baking, or candy making! Florence Brown, her husband Ed, and two children were living at 932 Kammer Avenue in 1933 when she described her day and night on the 24th.

Sun. Had our Xmas dinner today-chicken but fried it it was nice too_Ed & Mary and I went to Ray’s tonite. I come home & made candy till 3:08 A.M. Heard the singers sing Xmas carols. But I do wonder where Mon is at.”

December 24, 1933, Florence Brown Diaries (MS-478)

All of the above diaries can be viewed by visiting our reading room during regular  hours (we’ll be back on January 2, 2018, at 8:30 A.M.). The James F. Overholser diaries have been digitized and can be viewed anytime on CORE Scholar. We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!

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December 17, 1903: “Success Four Flights…”

At 10:35 a.m. on December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers achieved the impossible, the first powered flight. On the first attempt, Orville would fly a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds. The brothers would go on to make 3 additional flights that day, including Wilbur’s 59 second flight covering 852 feet. At home in Dayton, their father, Milton Wright, recorded in his diary the telegram he received from Orville describing the day, “Bishop M. Wright: “Success four flights Thursday morning all against a twenty-one mile wind started from level with engine power alone average speed through the air thirty one mile–longest 57 seconds. XXX home Christmas. Orville Wright.”

First Flight photo (ms1_16_2_10)

First Flight photo, December 17, 1903 (ms1_16_2_10)

Three days before, on December 14, Wilbur and Orville had attempted the flight for the first time from the slopes of Big Kill Devil Hill. Wilbur, after winning a coin toss, was at the controls, for the unsuccessful try.

Wilbur Wright lying down in the Wright 1903 Flyer after the failed first attempt to fly on December 14, 1903 (ms1_16_2_3)

Later that day Wilbur wrote home to his father and sister to describe the attempt, “The power is ample, and but for a trifling error due to lack of experience with this machine and this method of starting the machine would undoubtedly have flown beautifully. There is now no question of final success” (December 14, 1903, page 3, Library of Congress). Two days later, Wilbur and Orville would have that success!

Page 2, Wilbur Wright, December 14, 1903, Library of Congress

Page 3, Wilbur Wright, December 14, 1903, Library of Congress










Additional images of the First Flight and the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk from October-December 1903 have been digitized and can be viewed on CORE Scholar.

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Winter Break Closure, December 23, 2017-January 1, 2018

Special Collections & Archives will be closed December 23, 2017-January 1st, 2018, for Wright State University’s winter break.

The reading room will re-open Tuesday, January 2, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. The hours for the week of January 2-5, 2017, will be 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

While the office may be closed, our web site (including collection guides), blogs, and digital collections on CORE Scholar are available 24/7/365.

SC&A would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!

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