Austin DeWitt BoydMy grandpa Boyd died when I was only 10 years old so I did not get to know him very well, although I do have some distinct memories of him. I remember his death distinctly, as my father and "us kids" were at Grandpa and Grandma's house that night.
Grandpa had gone to the basement or utility room to get some batteries for his radio so that Dad could install them for him. I was in the dining room and saw Grandpa fall in the kitchen next to the table. Dad gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation and had Grandma call the emergency squad. She was too shaken though and Dad had to help her. She did herd us children out to the front porch, and we stood guard for the ambulance. I believe Grandpa was dead before it got there. Standing on the front porch and waiting on that pretty July night seemed like a long time. Of course we were not allowed back in the house until after they had taken Grandpa away. That was July 12, 1965.
radio that needed batteries
My primary remembrances of Grandpa are of him sitting in his huge gray rocking chair in the front room of their house at 306 Spencer Street in Marion. He would sit there with his big hand held out just tempting us to lay our hand in his so that he could grab us and tickle us until we screamed. And of course we did get caught in his trap, and then he did tickle us, and of coarse we screamed and Grandma would say "Oh Dusty! Leave those kids alone."
as I remember him, including the railroad cap. You can see
his Studebaker Lark in the garage.
He was an avid gardener, using the lot next to the house and for a time even a lot acorss the street. Maybe he had this interest because he grew up on a farm. He had a huge garden beside the house on Spencer Street. Dad would roto-till it for him in the spring and Mom would help pick strawberries in the summer. He always had good fresh vegetables, and to this day, the only white radishes I've ever eaten were ones he had grown. Mrs. Eleanor Berkshire who's researched the Boyd family and knew both Grandpa Boyd and his father, told me that his father, Austin Augustus Boyd, had a truck farm in Marion - a truck farm being a large vegetable garden. Maybe she actually knew of Grandpa's big gardens.
I remember mowing his lawn for him with a push mower and when I was done, he said he had never seen anyone mow like I did. I thought I had done something wrong and then he explained that he had never seen anyone go as fast as I did. I felt like a million bucks when he said that. That's for sure!
Grandpa was born and raised on a farm just North of Prospect at the juncture of State Route 4, Route 203, and Bethlehem Road. Just accross the river was a little village called Newmans. The farm ran up against the Scioto river. Uncle Bob commented to me that "it was funny that he grew up by the river but never learned to swim." The farm was about 170 acres and Rt. 4 actually crossed through the Western part of the farm.
I have found no record of what grade of school he may have finished, although, taking into consideration that his Uncle Joseph was a school teacher and his sister Molly was a school teacher, and he had two older sisters who no doubt used him as the pupil in make-believe school, he was probably fairly well educated for his day. I have found some of his old school books, included in which are "The School History of The United States", and "Applied Physiology - Advanced". He studied at Prospect School.
He probably worked on the farm until he was of age to work at The Huber Co. in Marion.
Or, it may have been in 1902 when the house at the farm burned down1 and his mother and father moved into Marion that he bagan working at Huber. In the 1900 Census, Austin "Dusty" & his mother and father are listed as living in Prospect Township in Marion Co. which would be the farm that he grew up on next to the Scioto River at Rt. 4. In the 1910 Census, they are listed as being in Marion Township, which would have been the new address in Marion at at 220 Madison Ave.
His job of bucking rivets inside the boilers was presumed to be the cause of his hearing impairment in later years. Since both his son John and Grandson Mark now too have hearing impairment, I rather believe his as is ours, to be hereditary. Although service in the trenches in WW 1 with a Chauchat Automatic Rifle could well have attributed to it.
He was listed as a laborer in the 1910 Census. In the 1915/16 Marion City Directory, is listed as living with his parents at 220 Madison Ave. and his occupation that of "clerk." He apparently got a promotion. His brother Carey worked at Huber after
He made reference to "trenching" in one of his letters home from WW1, and he helped Ralph and Lucile by digging a trench for their septic tank drain in later years, so apparently he spent some time as a ditch digger.
In June of 1917, he was called to serve in the newly formed 166th infantry of the 42 division of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. World War One. See my "Letters Home" web
pages for a detailed account of his service.
He always told Dad that he was a "mule skinner". Dad assumed this to be a common term for the members of a military supply company. He in fact, served in company D, which was an infantry company, although he did spend the latter part of his time in Europe working a team of mules. This came after the fighting had ended. It is possible that his reference to being a mule skinner was much like saying he was a B.S.er (as Dad assumed it to be). At any rate, it certainly appears that he was a foot solder plain and simple. He mentioned in one of his letters that he had one of only 16 automatic rifles in the company, so you can bet he wasn't driving mules with that! His statement that he was a "mule skinner" may have been his way of avoiding further discussion of the war. Certainly, people would be less likely to be interested in the service of a mule skinner than that of a dough boy who spent months in the trenches shooting at "the Boech". To be sure, he was at home behind a team of mules, having grown up on a farm where mules were likely the primary motive force.
Having read accounts of the service of the 166th infantry, 42 Div., I can understand why anybody would want to avoid remembering, let alone talking about, those days of Hell on earth. Accounts of some of the artillery barrages that he survived might also explain his later hearing impairment. At one time, he endured several days straight of continuos artillery barrage.
Everyone knew him as Dusty, except Uncle Cary who called him "the kid" (and he in turn called Cary "the Kid" according to Dad). Apparently, hardly anyone even knew his real name. I didn't, and Dad says that he didn't really consider him to even have any other name. I don't know how he got the name Dusty. He did have the name even when he was a child as he autographed some of his school books "Dusty".
He was discharged from the army in 1919 at Fort Sherman near Columbus, Ohio. He was no doubt met by a mother and father and his sister Mollie who were a part of the elated thousands who turned out to meet the "Sons of Ohio" who had returned from the war.
He returned to Marion, and after receiving a score of 97 1/2 on the fireman's exam, he was appointed to the position of fireman on the Marion Fire Department as of January 1, 1920. This proved to be the start of a long and successful career. Of course the job was not without its frustrations just as any job is, and Dad says that when someone would ask him if he was going to be a fireman when he grew up, Grandpa would say, "Tell them 'no' or they'll think you're retarded." He eventually became captain of the West Station, which was near the Marion Power Shovel on Center and David Streets. He had 2 or 3 men under him at the station, and they worked shifts of 24 hours on and 24 hours off. His "Kelley day" (extra day off every other week) was Thursday.
No one has made mention to me of any heroic deeds he might have performed while a fireman, and you certainly wouldn't expect any reports from one who pooh-poohed a year's service in front-line trenches in Europe (he wrote in one of his letters home that being in the trenches was about as dangerous as crossing a city street).
Uncle Bob told me that Grandpa was in line for the position of chief, but that politics came into play and he never attained it. Uncle Bob also described how Grandpa drilled and drilled to memorize the location of all of the fire alarm boxes in Marion. Bob would give him a fire box number and Grandpa would have to recite the street location.
Family ManThe 1920 Census, shows him back from the war, living with his mother and father on Madison Ave. In September, 1922 he was married to Ruth Elizabeth Weber of Marion. The next year, 1923, when he was 34, was a rather tragic one for him. His first child, Mary Elizabeth, was born, and then died only nine days later. His father also died that same year. In October 1923, he was living at 242 Lincoln Ave., Marion, Ohio.2
When he was age 39, his last child, John, was born. Three years later, his mother died.
In approximately 1943 or 1944, he had a heart attack and left the fire department on disability. By the time his disability ran out, he was old enough to retire. His son John was working at a bakery and his son Robert was about to or had graduated from high school and entered the army. When he was 57, his son John graduated from Marion Harding High and entered the service.
He was somewhat of an outdoorsman. He hunted and fished. Dad says he learned to drive by driving Grandpa around on the farm (Ralph and Lucille's farm) hunting ground hogs. In the letters he
wrote to Bob when Bob went in the army, he mentions guns or hunting in eight out of the sixteen letters.
with his future daughter in-law, Betty Mosher
During his retirement, he tried his hand at real estate, but never really did much with it. He spent part of his time hunting groundhogs over by the old folks home and at Ralph & Lucille's farm near Caledonia. After dad joined the army and married mom, he took mom hunting squirrels and phesants.
Note: Lucille Roesch told me she has a letter from Grandpa to her mother, Molly Boyd written while Grandpa was in Europe.
1) From Prospect Monitor, April 25 1902:
Totally Destroys the Old Boyd Homestead North of Town Tuesday
Afternoon.---Fire Caught from Sparks
Tuesday afternoon about five o'clock while supper was being
served, the house on the Boyd farm about three miles north of
town was discovered on fire. On account of the high wind the
flames spread so rapidly that nothing valuable was saved from
the burning building.
The residence was occupied by Joseph Boyd, Mr. and Mrs. Austin
Boyd and their daughters, Mollie and Edna. The occupants lost
everything except the clothes which they wore. Austin Boyd also
lost $35 in money, Joseph Boyd lost 45 in money and a valuable
gold watch. The Misses Mollie and Edna Boyd were in Prospect
during the fire, and lost all their belongings, including Edna's
gold watch. The building was totally destroyed. Loss $1800,
insurance $900. The cause of the fire is supposed to be from
sparks out of the chimney. Even the chicken coop and shop in
which were $75 worth of carpenter tools belonging to Joseph Boyd
went to satisfy the angry flames.
2) Have letter addressed to him at that address from the United States Veterans Bureau regarding his military life insurance.