Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dillaplain Harrison Wright (1875-1945)

From the Rochester Motorist, August 1918.

    The following write-up highlights the life of one Dillaplain Harrison Wright, an oddly named resident of Webster, New York who served his native town for three terms as Mayor (or, to more precise, Village President.) In addition to political service Wright was also a well known local businessman and amateur inventor, and in 1919 secured a patent for a new style of quickly detachable dust cap for automobile tire valves. Despite the somewhat daunting task of finding biographical information for Mr. Wright, an obituary for him (published in the May 4, 1945 edition of the Webster Herald) helped out significantly in terms of information!
   Born in New York state in 1875, Dillaplain Harrison Wright was the son of William H.H. and Kate Wright. His early life was centered in the Niagara County town of Wilson, and as a young man was employed as a telegraph operator in that town, later relocating to Webster to continue in the same line of work with the New York Central railroad. Wright married Leo Anna Norton on July 2, 1896 in Webster and later became the father of four children, Dewey, Carroll, Francis, and Lois. 
   In the years following his resettlement in Webster Dillaplain Wright left his employment as a telegraph operator and took on the position as a bookkeeper and office manager with the J.W. Hallauer and Son Evaporated Fruit Company. Sources of the time note that during the early part of the twentieth century Wright was an important figure in the dried fruit industry, being instrumental in the founding of the Evaporation Publishing Company, which was responsible for the production of a periodical entitled  "The Evaporator", a "monthly journal devoted to the interests of Evaporator Men, Evaporator Equipment Crop conditions, Models and Designs, Markets, Horticulture Comment, Gasoline Engine Power, etc." Wright served as editor and publisher of this journal for a number of years, and in addition to this was involved in the brokerage business in Rochester for more than two decades.
   While being prominent in the production of dried fruit in Monroe County, New York, Wright found additional distinction as an automobile enthusiast and inventor, being a member of the Rochester Automobile Club. He was accorded a substantial write-up in the August 1919 edition of the Rochester Motorist, which highlighted his invention of a "Quick Detachable Dust Cap" for use on car tire air valves. The Motorist noted that his invention:
"has been thoroughly tested out in a practical way the past year not only by Wright himself but by the experimental departments of some of the largest tire manufacturers in this country and pronounced 100 percent. One of these concerns in Akron, Ohio, stated it to be the best Q.D. cap ever produced."
   Dillaplain Wright's success in business and his being a reputable citizen in Webster eventually culminated in his election as Mayor (Village President) of that village in 1925. Serving three terms in office (1926, 1927 and 1928), Wright is recorded by his Webster Herald obituary as being:
"Largely responsible for the extension of heating gas service to Webster in 1928. He also initiated important street improvements as well as being instrumental in bringing mail delivery to Webster."
   The title of village president of Webster changed to Mayor after Wright left office, and he was succeeded by Mayor William F. Kittleberger. Wright remained an active citizen in Webster after his term(s) in office concluded, maintaining memberships in the local Methodist Church choir, the Webster Fire Department, the Webster Republican Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Masons and the Odd Fellows and Moose Lodges. Wright also served as a member of the Webster Village Board, his exact dates of service being unknown at the time of this writing.

From the Webster Herald, April 23 1980 edition.

   Wright is recorded as suffering from ill health during the last few years of his life, with the Webster Herald noting in his 1945 obituary that he had been "ill for some time" prior to his passing. Dillaplain H. Wright died at his home in Webster on May 1, 1945 at age 69 and following funeral services was interred at the Webster Rural Cemetery in Webster, New York.

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