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Interview with Mr. E. A. Stracener, Kilgore , Texas , p. O. Box 303, in
connection with the Wright Brothers .
Mr. Stracener: The way I learned what I know about brother
eel'".. II ," , ~ ai r plane , it was first through my
father. My father was dealing with the
at Pittsburg in the machine business and this is
where I learned abo ut it . He came back home
and told my mother about the airplane that brother
[" " 1,:""1:: was building and when he got it completed ,
there isn't any use in telling it all . I tell
enough for it to be sufficient . He got it
completed and tried it out in the building . They
ran it back and forth to see if it would travel when
it was out on the ground . When he got it ready,
they let one side of the building down and carried
the plane out to the pasture , and put it back to gether
. He cranked it up , got in it and started to
take off, but it didn't have any speed . It had a
one cylinder engine . The Wright brothers learned
that he was building a airplane at Pittsburg . They
got on a train and came to see brother down
at the machine shop , and looked it over . They were
very smart machanics and they saw what it needEd.
'I'hey wanted brother C:,","; ,,~v to sell they half interest.
He was getting short on money and did sell them the
half interest. ~e Wright brothers told him they
would spend some money on it , and try to make it
work. They went back home and the three together
drew up the plans for a four cylinder motor . If
they could get a four cylinder motor made and find
someone to make it , that is all the plane would need.
They sent a foreman to Germany and the German people made it .
They put it together and tried it out it see if it would work
and it did. The shop foreman brought it back . In the meantime
, the Wright brothers built a bigger plane because they
knew it would take a larger plane fo r the size motor they would
be putting in it . They put the motor in the plane and took
it out to run it . The shop foreman had tried it out only
on the ground and had learned to handle it before actually
taking off and flying . It did fly and the Wright brothers
made a deal with him . Eve rything went alright and when he
landed, he ran into something and wrecked it . One wing was
knocked off by running into a light pole . They studied and
decided they would have to find a way to comtrol it when it
landed . A year passed and the Wright brothers approached
( ;:~ I~ .. ) ;, It.. and said if he would sellout to them , they
would spend more money on the plane , and complete the job.
He was broke and sold out to them . He le f t Pittsburg and
came to Longview and went to work for Guy McKay Machine Shop .
He sat on the work bench and told me all about how the
Wright brothers had treated him and how he had lost out.
John Fox: When he left Pittsburg, did he quit being a preacher and start
being a machanic?
Stracener: He lif~ still a preache r and was a preacher when he came to
Longvi ew .
John Fox: Did he preach til he died?
Stracener: I guess he did . I never did go to one of his chruches. He
lived to be an old man . I don't know how long it was that he
was working for Guy McKay, but he figured out a cotton picker .
He almost had the cotton picker worked out when he died . He
had it where it would do the job, but he never finished it .
Stracener : I don ' t know if the Wright brothers carr ie it back with the~ ,
or what happened to the plane . I don't know what Brother
Cannon said happened to the one he built . The Wright brothers
may have ta~n it with them to have something to go by. They
had never seen anything like this before, they never had heard
of it . Where did you hear the story about them going to Ohio?
John Fox: I read it in a magazine article .
Stracener : I don~ know when he could have done it . I was a great big boy
when this happened.
When he built it in Pittsburg, my daddy
put in a " mill and wanted 7000 shingles . My
daddy took his two wagons and got two more wagons and I drove
one of the wagons. We carried four loads of shingles up there
to him. He told my daddy when he bought a boiler engine from
him that when he ever needed shingles he would buy them from
him. Brother Cannon was working in machine shop
then. I was big enough to drive a wagon.
John Fox : He had the whole second floor , didn ' t he?
Stracener: Yes , he had the whole second floor . moved all his
machines out and gave him the whole building. I imagine it
was a whole 40 feet wide. It was a la r ge machine shop. Any -
thing he wanted to make was made available to him .
John Fox: Didn ' t Mr. want to sellout to your father?
Stracener: No, he didn't want to sellout , he just told my father that
if the airplane worked he was going to deed you the machine shop.
Brother cannon and I will have all the money we will ever want .
John Fox: Do you know of a man named Rowe Locket? He was supposed to be
a machanic that helped Brother Cannon there at the shop .
Stracener: No, there was nothing to that . My daddy was the third man
to see that airplane. My daddy, and brother Cannon
were the only three men. There wasn't any things else said
about anyone else helping Brother Cannon with the plane .
John Fox: Then no one else saw it until they took the wall down?
Stracener : No one saw it until they were ready to demonstrate it . I am
just telling it like Brother Cannon told me .
John Fox: Did you see the flight?
Stracener: No , I didn't.
John Fox: I imagine it was a big celebration when he tried to.
Stracener: Oh yes, I guess the whole town closed down to go out to see it
John Fox: Do you remember the year?
Stracener: No .
John Fox: What part of the year was it? Spring, summer .
Steacener: I don't know if it was in the spring or summer . It was one of
the two when we carried the shingles up there . had
showed my daddy the machine then . I believe it was around
John Fox: And it was in the spring or summer?
Stracener: Yes, I know it was in warm weather .
John Fox: Was school in session?
Stracener: No, they didn't have but three months of school then . The only
schooling we had then was during the winter months after we
had gathered our crops . Sometime we would have to quit school
and go to farming before the three months were up. In 1900, no
in 1901, my daddy bought out the Stracener Qn and then he
put in this shingle mill . It was 1900 when we had so much
John Fox: Was that before he flew?
Stracener: No, Brother Cannon had already tried it out.
John Fox: How long did he work on this plane?
Stracener: My daddy bought out the gin in 1901 and then he ran the gin
" UU, fI r' ,,111 ,,"-' ~Ir flr'Wrl'
that year and it was the next year, 1902 when he bought the
boiler engine from
John Fox: In the Sp~ng or the summer?
Stracener: Yes , it was in the Spring . After he decided to put in that
shingle mill, there was a young man who carne to see him . He
knew how to run a shingle mill , he knew how to run the machine
that cut shingles . When we got the new boiler engine in, he
had to reverse the cam shaft to run the engine backwards
instead of forwards .
The wings of the plane were made out of white . the
whole plane was made out of it . It was the best cloth he could
John Fox : What type of wood did he use in the plane?
Stracener: I don't know . He used the best he could get , I quess . In those
days , hickory was the toughest and hardest wood we had . Pine
John Fox: Where did he get his engine?
Stracener : You could buy a one cylinder engine any whrer.
John Fox: In a store in Pittsburg?
St r acener: Yes . They weren't hard to get. I remember when the oil man
carne a round in the spring selling oil , and taking orders for
oil for the different machinery.
John Fox : Did Brother Cannon use gasoline or coal oil for fuel?
Stracener: He used gasoline.
machine shop .
used gasoline to run his big
John Fox: Did Borther Cannon have only one set of propellors on his plane?
Stracener- : No , I don't remembe r him telling me about that . I don't see
how he could have put two props on the plane because there was
only one crank shaft .
Stracener: If it Guy's son in the phone book, he might know something
about Brother Cannon .
John Fox : I'll talk to him . I'll see if he knew his father ' s friends.
He may be a young man .
Stracener: If it is Guy ' s boy , he'd have to be around 50 years old. Guy
may have had several children . I bought the first six cylinder
engines in Gregg county.
John Fox : Do you know where I could find a picture of the plane?
St racener: No .
John Fox: Wbat about a picture of Brother Cannon?
Stracener: If you could find any of his relatives , they might have one .
John Fox: Thank you very much Mr . Stracener .
Stracener: I enjoyed telli ng you everything I know .
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