This Week in Dayton History: A missing statue, Wilbur Wright’s death, Dayton’s 175th birthday bash and more

Throughout this year, we’ll be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Dayton Daily News with stories, photos, videos and more.

Each week, we’ll bring you a selection of notable stories that happened this week in Dayton history, chronicled by the same newspaper that continues to serve the community today.

Here’s a look at some stories happening the week of May 28-June 3.

May 30, 1912: Wilbur Wright dies after fight against Typhoid

Wilbur Wright, inventor of the airplane, died of Typhoid fever at the home of his father at 7 Hawthorne St. in 1912 at the age of 45.

Wright had been sick for a month prior to his death, with a temperature frequently over 104 degrees for his final week.

The news filled the first three pages of the Dayton Daily News that day, covering everything from a detailed account of his final days, his early childhood, family history, Wright Brothers achievements and tributes from city leaders.

June 1, 1957: Copters land at White House

The news in 1957 was that President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s two new helicopters were making test landings on the White House lawn. Later in the story, a Wright brothers connection was made.

It was noted in the story that it was only the third time an aircraft had landed on the White House lawn.

In 1930, an autogiro, forerunner of the modern-day helicopter, piloted by James Ray landed at the White House during the Herbert Hoover administration.

The first-ever landing of an airplane at the White House was on July 14, 1911, when a pilot named Harry Atwood landed and took off on the south lawn in a Wright brothers Model B biplane as President William Howard Taft watched.

May 31, 1963: Goats finance dad’s bus trip to visit daughter in Dayton

Ninety three-year-old Virgil Finton had to sell his three milk goats to do it, but he made it to Dayton to give his “little girl” a birthday surprise.

Abbie Bostock said, “I opened the door and there he stood. I about dropped dead.”

The journey involved a 29-hour bus trip from Girard, Kansas.

Finton thought about borrowing the money from his neighbors, but decided to sell off “Susie, Sally and Billie” instead.

Bostock, whose 63rd birthday was upcoming, had not seen her father for two years, when she last visited him in Kansas.

“It really was the best birthday surprise I ever had,” Bostock said, “I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

May 30, 1971: City of Dayton plans 175th birthday bash on Main Street

In 1971, Dayton was preparing to celebrate the City of Dayton’s 175th birthday with a big party downtown.

Six blocks of Main St. were to be closed for an entire weekend, June 26 and 27.

Plans included canoe rides on the Great Miami river, a Miss Pioneer Dayton fashion contest, hot air balloons, antique cars, folk dancers, concerts by school bands, rock bands and the Dayton Philharmonic orchestra, and more.

Possible celebrities for the event that were still being arranged included comedian Jonathan Winters, cartoonist Milt Caniff and the singing McGuire sisters.

Capping things off in the evening would be fireworks on both nights.

May 30, 1984: Library joining the computer age

The Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library was in the process of joining the computer age in 1984.

It was going to take about a year to transfer the estimated 1.2 million books and materials into computer code numbers. The code numbers were to then be transferred to bar codes and placed on the back corner of each book, record, tape or film.

The new system was designed to allow staff to quickly locate books for patrons.

The new system would allow the code to be entered in to a computer to check whether a book is available, which branch has it and how many copies are on the shelf.

The card catalog system would still be in use for those with “computer-phobia” until they got used to using the computers.

May 28, 1991: Where, oh where, is Pvt. Fair?

A Memorial Day dedication ceremony was held for the relocation of Dayton’s Civil War Soldiers Monument.

The 73-foot tall granite column was there, but the one-ton 14-foot bronze statue of Pvt. George Washington Fair, which was supposed to be standing on top ... was AWOL.

The statue was still being finished at the Karkadoulias Bronze Art Co. in Cincinnati was not known if it was going to be ready for a few more hours or days. The statue ended up arriving two days later and was installed without a crowd to witness it.

No one was happy about it, including Ray Reynolds, the city’s director of urban development, who said, “Every time I talked with them they said it would be ready. To miss the celebration by seven or eight hours when they had seven or eight months to complete it is beyond me.”

This delay still paled in comparison to the discovery the previous fall that the original marble statue, from 1884, would not survive a relocation from Sunrise Park to Main Street after years of weathering had taken it’s toll.

May 28, 1997: Pro star recalls glory days

It had been nearly 18 years since Martin Bayless had worn his Belmont High School No. 41 football jersey.

“But believe me I’m still a Belmont product,” said Bayless, a 14-year NFL veteran and 1980 Belmont graduate.

During his visit, the high school retired his jersey during a ceremony at the school.

Bayless’s years at Belmont were the first during desegregation in the city, and he said although he was proud of his accomplishments, “I’m more proud of how we all came together as teammates.”

His senior year they won the Dayton Public league title.

Bayless was playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and had also played with San Diego and Washington.

About the Author