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Dyson Boothrody: A Soldier of Two Stones

Mark Alan Smith, Carroll County Historian
May 15, 2024

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In preparation for Memorial Day, I thought it fitting that I devote some time to the person and service of Dyson Boothroyd. Dyson was, according to the Hoosier Democrat and Comet from Flora, Indiana, the son of Jerry and Ellen Boothroyd, and was born in Yorkshire, England in 1839. He was one of a family of nine children and, following in the footsteps of his father, became a stone cutter. Jerry had made the trip to America during the 1850’s, and, having travelled to America, found it to his liking for a new home for his family, and found Rochester, NY to his liking and targeted that area as a new home for his family. When Dyson was sixteen years old he enlisted in the British Army as all young lads do, and served for four years in Ireland. Knowing that trouble was brewing between the British Empire and India, he would be called to take up the sword again.

He arrived in Delphi with his younger brother Alfred in October of 1860 and entered into the trade of stonecutting with J.L. Knight for a few months. After spending a few months in Whitestown, IN, he returned to Delphi in March of 1861 and rejoined Knight. Although he was tired of war, he became a ninety-day recruit.

According to an account of the service of the Ninth Indiana, “The Battle of Laurel Mountain, also known as Laurel Hill, pitted 3,500 forces under Union Brigadier Thomas A. Morris against what Morris perceived to be superior forces of 4,000 under Confederate Brigadier General Robert S. Garnett. McClellan had ordered Morris to occupy Garnett while McClellan’s own force of 5,000 attacked 1,3000 men under Lt. Col. John Pengram at Rich Mountain” As a part of Morris’ brigade, the Ninth Indiana, taking cover behind trees, exchanged fire with Confederates, who were behind breastworks. Tiring of the stalemate that ensued, the Union troops charged the breastworks and did “well enough, considering the hopeless folly of the movement, according to Ambrose Bierce.

To give more specific information about Boothroyd, “After Corporal Boothroyd of the Ninth’s Company A was wounded in the neck and paralyzed during the charge, Bierce (Ambrose Bierce, who would later become a well-known Civil War author) carried Boothroyd ‘fully twenty rods (100 m) under enemy fire to safety, only to see him die later, according to an Indianapolis Journal reporter’s account.

According to the Delphi Times of Saturday, August third, “The first duty performed by the Company was the burial of their lamented companion-in-arms, Dyson Boothroyd, who fell while noble fighting for his country’s honor at Laurel Hill, his body having been lying in one of the vaults of the Court House awaiting their return. After the solemn duty had been performed, with military honors, and, after taking the last, sad, look at the final resting place of their much-loved and honored brother soldier, the company returned to town and disbanded. After the sadness occasioned by this first sorrowful day had to some extent worn away, the manifestations of joy expressed between the soldiers and their friends beggar description. . . . “

His initial burial was in the Delphi City Cemetery on East Monroe Street, in a burial ground given over by the original donor of one hundred acres of land for the City of Delphi. This is presently the site of the City Park.

Several years ago the City fathers decided that the graves should be moved, so Dyson’s remains were moved to the IOOF Cemetery and another stone was created to memorialize his final burial. According to reports, his brother Alfred served as the carver for the marker for his final resting site, thus the title of this writing—a soldier of two stones.

The present marker to commemorate the first Carroll County casualty of the Civil War was erected by the G.A.R. circle in 1924, and in May of that year the group met at the site to place the stone, which came from a farm northeast of the City. Accompanying the location of the stone as a part of the Memorial Day ceremonies was a cooperative dinner in the shelter house, which is still standing.

The Wilson Bridge: A Gem in a Beautiful Mounting

Mark Alan Smith, Carroll County Historian
April 17, 2024

A well-appointed jeweler will inform you that there are two elements to a good piece of jewelry, those being the mounting and the gem itself.

The Wilson Bridge, which is located .6 miles west of county road 450 west on county roads 300 north, is an example of this.

The western approach to the bridge includes the western-most border of the Rural Historic District, created on December nineteenth, 2002 to enshrine the area which stands as one of Carroll County’s birthplaces, encompassing the Daniel and Magdalena McCain home constructed in 1852 by Daniel McCain, Dan’s great-great-uncle, the High Bridge, which is another virtual museum piece itself—one of the few remaining spans on the former Monon Railroad, the Morning Heights Cemetery, formerly the Milroy Plot, containing the remains of Samuel Milroy, founder of both the county and city in 1828, enlarged in the 1890s when the remains of those laid to rest in the former City Cemetery were transferred to that site, and the Deer Creek valley itself, which inspired the Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley to craft works such as “Knee-Deep in June”, “Herr Weiser”, “The Beautiful City”, and “On the Banks of Deer Creek.”

The eastern approach of this historic linkage is also a capsulized step back in time due to the small but very noticeable German Baptist colony which eschews modern transportation and amenities such as automobiles and electricity.  

 

One more facet of the “mounting” of this link is a section of Carroll County which was almost incorporated into a state park in honor of the veterans of the county, as per articles in the Citizen of November twenty-ninth of 1945 and January tenth of 1946.  The Wilson Bridge was a creation of a Carroll County architect Craven Smith, who was ironically a brother of Dr. Wycliffe Smith, compatriot of Riley, and the firm responsible for the span was the Lafayette Bridge Company, the shops of which were located along Earl Avenue and the offices of which were situated on Ferry Street. 

 

Had it not been for the consistent lobbying of Robert Royster, whose ancestors had moved into Carroll County from Virginia to settle on the eastern bank of the Deer Creek and the namesake for the well-used ford and John D. Wilson, another Virginian born in Harding County, Virginia on October twenty-fourth, 1828, and who located with his father Isaac on a farm two miles east of Delphi in 1832. Wilson spent five years in the gold fields then settled down, marrying Nellie Huggins, November thirteenth, 1865. He was a stockholder in the A.T. Bowen Bank and prominent Mason and died in Delphi at his residence November sixteenth, 1909. (Odell, p. 189).

 

According to the National Register documentation on the bridge, Wilson oversaw the construction of this span. Two other local contractors, John C. O’Connor and James Peirce, were responsible for the earthen approaches and masonry; the latter being responsible for the approaches and the former the masonry.

 

The span was in place by April of 1898 sans the fill to the east, the absence of which generated a complaining petition.

 

Having weathered the storm of nearly a century of consistent usage, the bridge became the focus of another Firestorm of controversy similar to the one which gave it its birth, and in 1995 the County Commissioners vowed to replace it. This generated a counter-move consisting of the formation of a well-organized group of locals and others interested in saving this historic jewel known as the Bridge Coalition, headed up by Paul Brandenburg and the Mears family who were occupants in the former Royster homestead. There were evening parties consisting of cook-outs and hikes on the west end of the bridge which attracted national attention from those in the Department of Interior.

 

The aforementioned bridge coalition recommended National Register status for the bridge which was accomplished in 2001. Following other correspondence with similar bodies, the section 106 review process was reinstated, and it was determined that a nineteenth-century culvert was in the way of planned construction. Using Federal TE funds rehabilitation work was started, with a target date of construction being 2005.

Visitors are welcome to view a display of this structure as well as others in the Museum Display area on the second floor of the of the Carroll County Historical Society Museum during open hours.

Vigilantes Along the Michigan Road

Mark Alan Smith, Carroll County Historian
Mar. 20, 2024

Looking South on Michigan Road toward Burlington and Covered bridge over Deer Creek

 

In case we think that days gone by were all calm and taciturn, we need to reconsider! The mood along the Michigan Road (now SR 29) was the exact opposite in the spring of 1900-nearly a century and a quarter-ago.

On the morning of February sixth of 1900 the Logansport Daily Pharos reported that both spans of the covered bridge at Deer Creek were burned away, leaving only charred timbers. It is estimated that about 500 people pass over the bridge daily that now have to ford the creek about one half mile above the bridge. It was once a handsome structure, though of late yeas not noted for its beauty but its usefulness. The bridge had been the source of much bickering the past few months between those saying the bridge was too old to be good and those who didn’t. On February seventeenth, the Turnpike Company posted notice of a reward of $200 for the arrest and conviction of the vandal or vandals who set fire to the Deer Creek Bridge (I hope my ancestors were among them!).

The Daily Pharos reported on April fourth that the Toll House and gate at Deer Creek had been dynamited last night by a mob of about 150 men all wearing masks, and was so badly damaged that it could not be repaired. The old Toll Collector had moved out the day before over a dispute with the Company, and the new man wisely quit his post and left when he realized the danger. The Toll Bridge at Rock Creek (farther north) was also dynamited probably before the Deer Creek House, but the explosive charge apparently was not placed correctly and the damage was limited to a few boards at the north end of the bridge and the abutment which was destroyed. (Lee Appleton, the History of the Michigan Road in Carroll County, Indiana, p. 9.)

This is vaguely reminiscent of the dynamiting of the dam at Pittsburg by those dissatisfied with upstream flooding in the winter of 1881-venting their displeasure on transportation media.

Herr Weiser’s Gun at the Museum

Mark Alan Smith, Carroll County Historian
Feb. 20, 2024

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One of the more unique artifacts on display at the CCHS Museum is a musket crafted by Phillip Weiser, gunsmith, who was born 11 January 1814 at Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania with his passing occurring 18 April 1886 in Carroll County, Indiana. His marriage was to Catherine Zerbe Greiff (b.25 December 1815, Orwigsburg, Schuylkill Co. PA; d. 26 March 1885, Delphi, IN. Weiser is listed in the 1860 Delaware Co, OH Census, Delaware Twp., p. 8 as a gunsmith.

The uniqueness of the piece comes when you consider that Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley wrote the poem “Herr Weiser” in Delphi about a farmer who lived near Deer Creek. Riley had accompanied his fishing friend Dr. Wycliffe Smith to pay the farmer a visit. According to a card on the item the piece was crafted in 1860 and became a part of the Museum’s holdings in 1927 thanks to R. W. Booth.

Here is an excerpt from “Herr Weiser”:

Herr Weiser! Threescore years and ten,

A hale white rose of his countrymen,

Transplanted here in the Hoosier loam,

And blossomy as his German home—

As Blossomy and a pure and sweet

As the cool green glen of his calm retreat,

Far withdrawn from the noisy town

Where trade goes clamoring up and down

Whose fret and fever, and stress and strife,

May not trouble his tranquil life!

A December Flashback 

Mark Alan Smith, Carroll County Historian
Dec 19, 2023

This month’s newsletter comes in the form of a December flashback, reminiscing about a grand event which occurred on December eleventh of 2017 commemorating two momentous occasions, one being the statehood of Indiana, and the other the occupancy of the Courthouse which was noted in the November 29th, 1917 Delphi Journal concerning the move-in of file cabinets and other necessary items.

During this grand event in 2017 which was sponsored by the Carroll County Historical Society and which commenced with the presentation of flags and the pledge with invocation by Pastor Ed Selvidge there was a dedication of a painting done by local artists Janalie Smith Robeson of a likeness of Charles Carroll and a presentation by Superior Court Judge Kurtis Fouts of a painting of the Carroll County Courthouse by Rena Brouwer, purchased by the Carroll County Bar Association attorneys for display at the Indiana State Capitol and our Courthouse.

Additional accents to the event were from Commissioner Bill Brown and the Heritage Keepers school group.

There was a fine picture in the December twentieth Carroll County Comet of Rena Brouwer, Former Judge Fouts, Bonnie Maxwell, County Bicentennial Chairperson, and Judge Ben Diener.

Janalie Smith Robeson and her painting of Charles Carroll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the risk of being trite and traditional since I have dealt with Veteran’s Day in the past few newsletters of this month I thought I should share with you this account by the late C.B. Kurtz from the Delphi Journal of 1990 entitled “Welcoming Home Our Veterans”.

“I am writing of an event that has always been in my memory of the old days. It took place in the summer of 1919. Carroll County and especially Delphi organized a welcome home celebration to honor our World War One veterans who were lucky enough to return home alive.

I was thirteen years old and had two brothers in the celebration. The third one hadn’t yet been discharged and was at Camp Eustace, Virginia. The two taking part, one a lieutenant and the youngest a corporal, just returned from Bremen, Germany where they had been with the army of occupation.

They formed ranks in the street by the courthouse in full uniform and marched out the former highway towards Pittsburg. A few roads down the road there was a beautiful grassy grove like a park, shaded by giant oak trees. Here the good ladies of the county had long tables set up and a great feast ready. They welcomed their warriors and started serving, and what a feast they served.

The veteran families were welcome also, but we did not eat with them, just visited and enjoyed ourselves. After several hours of pleasure, the soldiers again formed ranks under their commander and marched back to the city square where they were disbanded.

The large frame farmhouse that stood back in that beautiful oak grove caught fire and burnt to the ground in the 1940’s, and the beautiful grove has long disappeared. Those beloved brothers of mine are all dead and gone long ago, including most of their comrades; but that memory stays with me clearly to this day. I am now 74 years old.”

Civil War Veterans Reunion, abt 1900

Mark Alan Smith, Carroll County Historian
Nov 11, 202
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Shucking Hooks and Corn Pickers-

Harvest Time in Carroll County

Mark Alan Smith, Carroll County Historian 

Oct. 4, 2023

Now that we are in the season of the year when the leaves turn(and sometime fall) and the frost is on the punkin so to speak, at times our minds turn to harvesting that universal crop in Carroll County(and Indiana) named Corn.

It’s difficult to believe that with today’s behemoth machines which used cost tens of thousands of dollars and new even more at hundreds of thousands that harvesting that universal crop was at one time performed manually with a device known as a “shucking hook” which was placed on the farmer’s hand much as a glove may have been situated with a sharp peg projecting from the device which was used to remove the husks (sometimes called shucks, thus the saying) from the ears.

According to the entry on Corn Husking Contests and related matters in the History of Rural Organizations by John and Doris Peterson, p. 324, “In the age of mechanization, it is hard for a person to realize the amount of hard work and skill required to husk corn by hand. Only the better huskers could average 100 bushels per day, so it was a real accomplishment to husk from 25 to 40 bushels in 80 minutes. Contestants were penalized for leaving ears in the field, and for leaving husks on the ears.

It was an art to grab an ear of corn, remove the husks and silks and throw it in the wagon while other ears were on their way to the wagon. A good husker would keep three ears in the air on the way to the wagon.

Lyons Family Farm

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