Friday, August 07, 2009

Old settlers come to life at Corydon

My guess is it'll not surprise you when I report that this afternoon's cemetery walk, sponsored by the Wayne County Historical Society, has been my favorite part so far of Corydon's 126th annual Old Settlers Reunion and celebration.

There are a couple of factors operating here. In the first place, I have a proprietory interest --- my great-great-grandparents, Peachy Gilmer and Caroline (McDaniel) Boswell, are buried in the Corydon Cemetery as are my great-grandmother's, Chloe's, first husband, Moses Prentiss, who exploded (literally) in 1865, one of the factors in the fact I'm around now to talk about it, and a bunch of distant uncles, aunts, cousins and shirttail kinfolk.

And then you've got to love a cemetery where the sheriff with the best name ever, Jesse Hook, is buried.

Beyond that, I really like Wayne County. Now if I told you I like Wayne County better than I like Lucas County I'd just have to lie later and deny it, but ...

Folks in Wayne County know how to talk right, too. I has been my observation that the farther north you go in Iowa the harder it is to find folks who talk right and for some reason that difficulty begins at the Wayne/Lucas county line.

Anyhow, it was a beautiful late afternoon --- steamy as Iowa can be after morning rain but not unbearable with a mix of clouds and sunshine combining with haze and all that incredible green to create other-worldly views from the cemetery hilltop into the hills beyond around Corydon Lake.

Four occupants of the cemetery were featured during the walk that took me at least an hour to complete with time out for tombstone sitting, conversation and plenty of bottled water.

Laci Sharp (top) was stunning as Ethel Miles, whose grandparents, William and Emily Miles, gave the old part of the cemetery to the public about 1854 when the child of a family moving west died nearby. Here's what the walk program had to say about Ethel:

Ethel, the only child of Banjamin and Mary Miles, died of typhoid fever at the age of 14 in 1895. Her father was a partner in business with his brothers, William and Lewis, in the Miles Brothers Store, a mercantile operation on the Corydon square from 1884 to 1928. Ethel's father, Ben, was born in the log cabin that can be seen at the Prairie Trails Museum (operated in Corydon by the Wayne County Historical Society).

Shara Becker and John Martin were charming as Iowa and Cornelius A. "Neil" Niday, buried just north of the Sprott mausoleum. Here's the tour program's summary of their lives:

Cornelius, or Neil as he preferred to be called, grew up on a farm northeast of Corydon. Neil Niday was an educator, teaching at the Normal College in Humeston in the late 1880s or early 1890s. He served as Wayne County School Superintendent 1891-96. He published an early educational newspaper 1892-1897, "The Wayne County Teacher." He also was one of the organizers of the first telephone company in Corydon.

Iowa Zern grew up in Corydon, the daughter of S.D. and Susannah Zern. Her father, S.D. Zern, was a pioneer druggist in Corydon. Neil and Iowa married in 1892 and lived in Corydon for many years. The couple were charter members of the Corydon Christian Church. In later years, the couple moved to a farm west of Seymour.

If an academy award were given for best performance at a cemetery walk the winner Friday certainly would have been Moriah Morgan, portraying Marguerite (Coupris) Brubaker with a French accent that hardly seemed forced at all. Here's the program data bout Marguerite:

Marguerite was born in France. She graduated from Bordeaux University and taught school for a time. During World War I Marguerite assisted the Red Cross in France where she met a dashing young American, 1st Lt. Carl Brubaker. They were married in Bordeaux and Marguerite came to America as a young doctor's wife in 1917. Dr. Brubaker practiced medicine in Plano from 1917-1926. The couple moved to Corydon in 1926 where Dr. Brubaker practiced medicine until 1959.

The next award, for depth of knowledge of his subject and ability to think on his feet when asked tough questions, would go to Glenn Williamson, who portrayed William Patterson (Pat) Allred. Glenn probably had the most uncomfortable costume, too --- an authentic although itchy wool tunic. Here's the information about Pat Allred:

In 1854, when Pat was seven, his family traveled to Wayne County. They were the first settlers on the open prairie in what is now Monroe Township, south of Seymour. At age 18 Pat enlisted in Co. H., 46th Iowa Infantry. In 1908, Pat was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives and served two terms. The Corydon Fife and Drum Corps was organized by Pat in 1917 or 1918 and was composed of remnants of the old New York Fife and Drum Corps in addition to new recruits from the Sons of Union Veterans and others. The Corydon Fife and Drum Corps was an important part of Old Settlers for many years.


Wanda Horn said...

Corydon's Old Settlers Day was second only to Chariton's Fourth of July celebration to our family during my childhood and teens. My dad grew up in Wayne County; so at Old Settlers we always saw lots of friends and relatives, most of whom I'd never seen before and haven't seen since.

I have no family in Corydon Cemetery that I know of, but we do grace many other cemeteries in that area. We really consider Sharon Cemetery, just off Highway 14, our "family cemetery," although I also have relatives in Confidence and Cambria cemeteries in Wayne County. Sharon holds all my grandparents (the Fryes and Robertses), one set of great-grandparents (William Franklin Roberts and Enna Griggs Roberts) and lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. My parents, Fred and Margaret Frye, have a headstone there, although both were cremated.

I think Dr. Brubaker delivered my sister in 1940 - at home, of course.

Thanks for sharing an up-to-date Old Settlers Day. It doesn't look like it's changed much except to get better.

Anonymous said...

I have an old book from 1908 "Telephone and Telegraph Engineers Pocketbook" It has the name LT. Carl H Brubaker written inside it. Id like to give to some of the relatives of Lt. Carl H Brubaker.

Best Regards Jeff