Fred L. Black
F. L. Black
from his ID Card
courtesy of Angel Gnau

Fred L. Black
Fred L. Black
courtesy of Angel Gnau

Edsel Ford's Aid Enlisted
Scripps Develops Worth-While Project
By Wm. E. Scripps

     Since my election to the presidency of the Early Birds in December, 1934, I have given a great deal of thought to the accomplishment of some worthwhile undertaking during my tenure of office. Upon various occasions it had come to my attention that our organization had long sought a suitable place to safely preserve for posterity the records, photographs, biographies, antiques and other matters of historical interest of the Early Birds.
     The first person of whom I thought in this regard was Mr. Edsel Ford, who at the time was attending the California-Pacific International Exposition at San Diego. Notwithstanding this I called Mr. Ford by long distance and outlined to him at length our desire. He expressed interest in our proposed undertaking and requested that I contact him upon his return to Detroit. This, of course, I did, and found him interested in the idea in connection with the Edison Institute Museum at Dearborn, Michigan.

     In addition to Mr. Edsel Ford, I have also conferred with Mr. Henry Ford and Mr. Fred L. Black, the latter of whom is an old-time flyer and therefore, keenly interested in aviation. Mr. Edsel Ford's interest in aviation, particularly in the developement and manufacturing fields, is well-known to us all.
     Shortly after my interview with Mr. Ford, I thought it desirable to appoint a committee to facilitate the accomplishment of our purpose. Believing that this committee should be composed of men readily available at all times, I named the following to comprise what I chose to designate the "Museum Committee"; Mr. Frederick A. Hoover as chairman, Major George E. A. Hallett and Mr. Walter Lees.
      Our organization is fortunate in being able to interest Mr. Ford in this work, and we all should be willing to lend every cooperation possible toward carryhing this undertaking through to a successful conclusion.
This from The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, June, 1936


About Greenfield Village
     "Henry Ford Museum and its adjacent Greenfield Village were conceived by Ford as a learning institution where Americans could learn how their ancestors lived and worked in the past -- specifically Henry Ford's past, the latter half of the nineteenth century and early portion of the twentieth. Ford believed that the precepts he had learned growing up in rural and small town Midwest America was responsible for his success and that of other Americans such as Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, and the Wright Brothers. Thomas Edison himself signed the cornerstone of "The Edison Institute," as it was originally known, in 1928. Then Ford began to fill the 8-acre building with what, at the time, many considered flea market fodder. Today, of course, they are priceless relics."
Acquiring the Wright Stuff
     "Most of Dayton, however, remained as uninterested in the matter as they had when the Wrights were making their first flights at Kitty Hawk and Huffman Prairie. Henry Ford, his son Edsel, and Fred Black, the director of Greenfield Village, swooped down from Dearborn that October. While talking to Orville about removing the bicycle shop, they found that the old home at 7 Hawthorne Street might also be available. A month later, they bought it from Lottie Jones, the Wright's former washerwoman, for $4,100. By February of 1937, both the shop and the house had been removed to Michigan. Henry Ford even took the dirt on which the house stood, and the hole in the ground on Hawthorne Street remained for many years."
Restoring the Home and Shop
     "Orville and Lottie Jones gathered items for the house, including some pieces of furniture that he and Wilbur had made. For some time, Lottie kept "discovering" things that had belonged to the Wrights and sending them up to Greenfield Village with requests for payment. Fred Black was amenable, but he didn't want her to continue milking the Edison Institute indefinitely. He finally confronted Lottie and demanded a complete list of the items she had so he could arrive at a final financial settlement."
Editor's Note:

     These four paragraphs, in which Fred Black was mentioned, were extracted from the full story which may be found on the website of the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company & Museum of Pioneer Aviation. I heartily recommend that you visit it to read the whole story and to enjoy the many other features on the site. To access it, just click on:
Greenfield Village

My Story
By Charles E. Taylor, as told to Robert S. Hall
Air Line Pilot, April 2000, page 22

     When Orville Wright died Jan. 30, 1948, Charles E. Taylor became the only surviving member of the three who built the first airplane. Charlie Taylor was the only employee and intimate associate of Wilbur and Orville Wright throughout the critical years. Without precedent or fanfare, Taylor built the engines for the Wright's first planes to their designs.
     This article, written in 1948 while Taylor was living in retirement in California, was first published in Collier's, Dec. 25, 1948, and was reprinted in Air Line Pilot, December 1978. Taylor died Jan. 30, 1956, at the age of 88.
Extract Refers to Fred Black

     "In 1937 Henry Ford hired me to help restore the original Wright home and shop when he moved them to his Greenfield Village museum at Dearborn, Mich. They were installed near the first Ford workshop and Thomas Edison's original laboratory.
     I helped Fred Black, the director of the project, track down the original machinery and furniture, and then I built a replica of the first Wright engine. The home and shop were dedicated in April 1938 with all the big names in aviation on hand.
     I met Orville often during this period, both in Dayton and in Dearborn. When I left the village to return to California in 1941, I called on him in Dayton. That was the last time I saw him, but he wrote me regularly about his work and I kept him posted on what I did. He wrote every December 17. It was sort of a personal anniversary with us, and it was also a Christmas message."
      You may read the entire, fascinating article on the Air Line Pilot magazine website by clicking on:
My Story

from Rick Snell, 7-23-10
I just ran across your site while doing some research on Ford Motor Co. for a book I'm working on.

In reference to Fred Black on your site- He died in 1971 and there's a nice write up on him in the book "Henry's Lieutenants" by Ford Bryan. It goes into detail what he did at Ford and mentions some things that may be of interest for your site.

Henry Ford also had on his payroll the first woman in Michigan to have a pilot's license, Evangeline Dahlinger. If you'd like some information on her I can send you whatever you need.

Hope this is of help,

Rick Snell

Ford's Lieutenants

Ford R. Bryan
Product Details
Paperback: 324 Pages
Publisher: Wayne State University Press;
First edition (2003)
Used Price: $57.99
ISBN-10: 0814332137
ISBN-13: 978-0814332139
  Product Description:
Although Henry Ford gloried in the limelight of highly publicized achievement, he privately admitted, "I don't do so much, I just go around lighting fires under other people." Henry's Lieutenants features biographies of thirty-five "other people" who served Henry Ford in a variety of capacities, and nearly all of whom contributed to his fame. These biographical sketches and career highlights reflect the people of high caliber employed by Henry Ford to accomplish his goals: Harry Bennett, Albert Kahn, Ernest Kanzler, William S. Knudsen, and Charles E. Sorenson, among others. Most were employed by the Ford Motor Company, although a few of them were Ford's personal employees satisfying concurrent needs of a more private nature, including his farming, educational, and sociological ventures. Ford Bryan obtained a considerable amount of the material in this book from the oral reminiscences of the subjects themselves

Fred died in 1971

Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this Early Flier,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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