From our collections room
The "Moses Wright Spinning Wheel"
standing next to the Spinning Wheel
Known by wool spinners as a
Wheel”, “Great Wheel”
This wheel is measures 45” in diameter. Mounted on a 47” bench it is
60” in total height and has
marked on the side of the bench.
In 2007, Marian Phillips, placed the spinning wheel on loan to the Society.
Marian received the wheel from Mrs. Charles Stevens, who recalled that it had
been given to the Stevens Family from a Canadian man and that he had stayed and
worked at their farm in Newfoundland in the early 1900’s.
Research on spinning wheel
manufacturing in the local area may indicate the origin of this spinning wheel.
Society members Scot and Carol Brown have a near identical spinning wheel to the
one on loan to GDHS. The Brown’s spinning wheel was found in the attic of the
Gabriel and Margaret Brown farmhouse on Rt.196 in Sterling Township, Pa.
It is inscribed with the maker’s name, “M. WRIGHT”.
The 1863 estate inventory for Gabriel Brown lists “1 Spining Wheel and Real”,
valued at $4.00.
In comparing the Brown and Phillips’
spinning wheels, there are many similarities. The name “M. WRIGHT” is
imprinted on both benches in the same location. Above the name, the wood
is fluted and the wheels are identical in size and design.
Alfred Matthews’ “History of
Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties”, tells us that Moses Wright was “an
ingenious man and made spinning-wheels and reels and various other articles
needed by the settlers.” Moses was born on May 31, 1788. His father,
Nathan S. Wright, came to Pennsylvania from Litchfield, Connecticut with his
brother-in-law, William Dayton, in about 1796. In 1803, Nathan moved to a
place a mile south of Salem Corners, (now Hamlin).
Phineas Goodrich cited in his
“History of Wayne County”, that “He (Nathan S. Wright) came to this
area by encouragement of Major Theodore Woodbridge, who, knowing him to be a
good blacksmith, said the settlers must have a blacksmith, and could not do
without one, as in those days, the plowshares were all made of wrought iron and
(Major Woodbridge was the grandfather of Aurelia Woodbridge who later married
George Brown, son of Gabriel and Margaret.)
Moses Wright married Polly
Peet and settled near his father’s place on the North/South Rd. (now Rt. 196).
Moses is on the US Census, Pennsylvania, Wayne County, Salem Township in 1810,
1830 and 1840. He had no children and died on Apr 23, 1849 at age 60
years, 10 months and 23 days. He is buried in the Hamlin Cemetery, Wayne
(Thanks to Marian Phillips, Scot and
Carol Brown, and Bernadine Lennon who contributed to the research of the
Spinning Wheel and Moses M. Wright, Spinning Wheel Maker).
Julia Grapatin’s Wheel Chair
to GDHS by Frank and Diane Razny of Greene Township in 2007. This well-preserved
wooden wheel chair has a caned back and is 51” high with an 18“x20” seat and 26”
diameter wire wheels. The wheel chair was used by Mrs. Julia Grapatin,
who with her husband Gustave, were the former owners of the Razny’s house.
Frank Razny, Edythe Gilpin, Art Frey
Gustave and Julianna Grapatin were born in Germany. Gustave immigrated to
America in 1896 and Julia in 1898. They met in Scranton where they married in
1901. Gustave worked on the railroads and work took him and his family to Ohio
where he was a foreman of freight car inspectors. Gustave wanted to return to
Pennsylvania to farm so Julia returned to Pennsylvania to select a farm which
they purchased in 1917 on Pine Grove Road. The Grapatins probably selected this
area of Pennsylvania because they had cousins (the Letz’s) living on Beaver Dam
Road in Greentown.
Over the years, Julia developed a condition that caused her difficulty
in walking. The doctor referred to the condition as Haley’s Ascending
Paralysis. Initially, Julia used crutches but eventually Lydia and Charles
Frey (her daughter and son-in-law) purchased the wheel chair for her.
Following Julia’s death, Gustave sold the house. In 1949, Leonard and Anne
Razny and their sons (Leonard, Jr and Frank) purchased it and discovered the
wheel chair in the attic.
In this photograph, taken in September 1939, are Julia Grapatin and
her grandchildren Art Frey (seated left) and his brother Edwin (seated
The wheel chair’s caning was torn in several places and society member Clint Roach
volunteered to re-cane the chair.
The wheel chair was manufactured by the Gendron Wheel Company of
Toledo, Ohio, between 1928 and 1938. Peter Gendron came to Toledo at
the age of twenty-one and found employment as a pattern maker in the Toledo
Novelty Works. In 1871, he went to Detroit as a pattern maker for the Detroit
Safe Company. As a boy he had worked in his father’s wagon shop and while in
Detroit, he conceived the idea of a wire wheel. In 1875, he returned to
Toledo, perfected his invention, first using the wire wheel on children’s
carriages. Beginning in 1877, he and three associates began the manufacture of
wheels and established a market for them. Over the years the company expanded
its products to include bicycles, invalid chairs, go-cars, baby carriages, doll
carriages, coaster wagons, toy wheelbarrows, etc.
In 1941, with the advent of World War II, children’s vehicles were discontinued
to concentrate on hospital equipment including wheel chairs and wheeled
stretchers. Today, the company develops, designs and manufactures patient care
products for acute care, long term care, home care and rehabilitation care.
Products include wheel chairs, stretchers, lifts and beds. The company is
located in Archbold, Ohio.
Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio, 1623-1923 by John M. Killits, (Chicago, 1923), p.
Excerpt from “Gendron 1872-1997” (Gendron Inc.: Archbold, Ohio, 1997)
Fred Strobel -
firstname.lastname@example.org re: history of Gendron wheel