|William "Dutch Billy" Losien, 1921|
The first picture is one you might have seen alluded to in a comment recently, and it kind of blew my mind when I saw it. I honestly never even considered the possibility that we might one day have a photograph of this man, but here we are. The picture was taken near Pleasant Hill (south of Corner Ketch) in 1921, and comes to us from Rob Hobdell, the grandson of the original photographer.
The subject of the photograph is a German immigrant named William Losien, but he was much better known as Dutch Billy. The original post has all the details, but the short version is that Billy, born in Germany in 1844, came to the United States at the age of 38 in 1882. He worked as a farmhand and butcher, but also made much of his living as a hunter and trapper. He was a friendly type, but kept largely to himself in his cabin in the woods. He died by his own hand in December 1927, surrounded by his beloved hunting dogs.
In addition to the fabulous (just by its very existence) picture, we can add a few more details to the story of Dutch Billy, by way of family lore passed on by Rob. From what he's been told, Billy was a devout Quaker (and therefore a pacifist), and left Germany to avoid conscription into the army. With some aid from by a network set up by the Society of Friends to help conscientious objectors, Billy was directed to the community surrounding the Mill Creek Meeting. (In the story Rob was told it was the Union Meeting, but with "Union" being the name taken by Corner Ketch when it got a Post Office in the 1870's, I think it's safe to say the Union Meeting was a local name for Mill Creek.) Depending on the version of the story, either Billy attended the meeting for a while before drifting away or he lived in the woods by himself from the start.
One piece of information Rob shared gives us some insight as to why Billy may have chosen to live his secluded lifestyle. Apparently he was afraid of being found by German spies and returned home to be hung for desertion. I don't know whether there was any realistic reason to fear this or if it was just paranoia, but it does help explain why he never wanted to settle on a permanent homestead. It also explains why Billy had Rob's Great-Grandmother Myrtle Whiteman Lamborn send and receive letters to and from his mother in Germany. (Myrtle was the daughter of Henry Whiteman, whose house was covered in a previous post.) There seems to be a disagreement as to whether this practice began with Myrtle's mother Sarah Ann (Moore) or her mother-in-law Emma (Dixon) Lamborn. In either case Billy was always welcomed at the Lamborn's home near Ashland, and often attended holiday meals there.
Incidentally, Rob states that the photograph was taken by his grandfather Nelson Hobdell, likely on a day when he and wife Mildred were out riding around on their Indian motorcycle, with Mildred of course in the sidecar.
|Peach Kaolin Company brick|
The other recently-acquired photograph is actually a new one, but of an old item. It's a picture of a brick from the Peach Kaolin Company, Mermaid, Del. It was found by a local homeowner in the creek behind Renee Lane, in the Chestnut Valley neighborhood off of Paper Mill Road (more or less across from the Independence School). That little creek (I don't even know if it has a name) runs pretty much through the middle of the former site of the Peach Kaolin Company. The business, the family that ran it, and the house they owned were all featured in a post a few years ago.
The brick itself is a firebrick, made to be used in high-temperature applications, such as fireplaces, kilns, or furnaces. When William Peach and his siblings began mining the kaolin clay from their property they built a processing plant onsite to make bricks such as this one. The owner says that there appears to be some mortar on the reverse side, so this one may have been part of a structure at the site. I had only ever seen one other photograph of a brick like this, but that one was taken some forty years ago, and I have no idea what became of that brick. (And I only recently came across that picture.)
Both of these photographs are wonderful records of subjects we knew existed, but maybe never thought we'd actually see. They're also another great example of why the job of chronicling this history will never be done -- there's always more stuff out there to be found.
And as a bonus, for no reason other than I neglected to post it earlier, here's a photo of William Peach and his favorite horse.
|William Peach (left) and horse, by his home|