Forward Wayne County is focusing on Our People this month. We teamed up with some of our local historians to write about a few of Wayne County’s historical figures! Read below to learn about some interesting people from Wayne County’s past.

George Booe

Written by Joe Smith, Historic Hagerstown, Inc. Board Member

George Arthur Booe was born November 8, 1930 in New Castle, Indiana.

Booe was very social at an early age. He was a cub scout, class officer on more than one occasion, was involved in class plays and organization, and Prom King of the junior senior prom in Hagerstown. He graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1949.

In September 1950 George joined the United States Marine Corp stationed at Paris Island, South Carolina. In June 1951, Booe sustained an injury in the Korean Conflict. His injury won him a Purple Heart medal in January 1952.

After his service, Booe joined the IOOF Lodge, William O. Frazier Post 333 American Legion. He found employment at Perfect Circle, worked as a Carpenter and became an expert birdkeeper. The Booe family was one of the most well informed birdkeeping families in the US for the next eight years.

Birding and Beyond

Max Knight, former writer for the Palladium Item in a 1960 feature story, tells of George starting the unusual hobby of collecting birds in 1952, when he purchased forty birds. Could this be a reasonable solution to aid in forgetting war?

Pat Redmond, staff reporter for the former Indianapolis News published a report in September 1959 of George’s bird collection.

“A few song birds, a couple of cages, some bird seed, etc. Then his hobby took wing, so to speak, and when the 28 year old bachelor took count recently he found he had more than 1,000 birds with varying peeps and plumages.” “I used 3 ½ tons of bulk feed in a year, he said.” 

Hundreds of trophies graced the Booe household. A result of winning shows with his birds throughout the U.S. He won the coveted “Kellog” trophy in the Cleveland Ohio National Show in 1957. For three straight years the Booe’s won the championship at the Greater Toledo Aviculture show.

February 1960 brought disaster to the Booe family. Seventy five percent of their bird collection died of suffocation from a small electrical house fire. The last account found of George participating in a bird show was July 1961 as a Judge of the show.

In the fall of 1961, George Booe married Lucinda Sager. A son, Jay was born Nov 1962.

With new responsibilities it seems his bird fancier career was over. He had a brief hospital stay for treatment and observation in August 1963, he was a prospective juror in January 1964, a committee member for the Wayne County Sesquicentennial in 1966.

On March 16, 1968 George Arthur Booe, age 37, died of a gunshot wound.

This ordinary young man was thrown into a fight. And fight he did. He fought the memories of a hateful war and created an extraordinary hobby of loving Family. Even if part of the Family was “for the birds”.

Oliver Morton

Written by Jim Resh, Wayne County Tourism Bureau

Oliver Perry Morton was born in Salisbury, Wayne County’s first county seat, in 1823. Morton’s grandparents and family raised him after his mother’s passing. He worked in Centerville as a hat maker and an apothecary clerk as a young teenager.  Morton was schooled in Cincinnati and ultimately came back to Centerville to work.  In 1846 he was admitted to the State Bar, and his law partner was John Kibbey of Richmond.

Oliver married Lucinda Burbank of Centerville in 1845, and they were blessed with five children.  He purchased a new home on West Main Street in Centerville.  The house was built by well known attorney Jacob Julian.  Oliver became active in state government.  In 1860 Henry Lane, candidate for Indiana Governor, asked Oliver to run for Lt .Governor.   As it turned out Mr. Lane was elected to serve as U. S. Senator and Oliver Morton was selected Governor. 

Oliver became a friend of President Lincoln and helped to raise money and recruit men for the Civil War.  Re-elected in 1864, he suffered a stroke in 1865 but continued to serve as Governor.  He was then elected U. S. Senator from Indiana in 1867 and died Nov. 1, 1877 in Indianapolis.

A statue of Oliver P. Morton stands in Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capitol building, there is one outside the Indiana State House, and one on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.  A Morton statue is also on display on the 2nd floor of the Wayne County Court House in Richmond. Oliver P. Morton served his county, state and country well.

Daniel G. Reid

Written by Sue King, Morrisson-Reeves Library Archivist

Daniel Gray Reid was born in 1858 just west of Richmond on the National Road, to Daniel Reid and Anna Gray Reid.  The elder Daniel Reid was quite prominent in Richmond’s early history, serving as Postmaster for many years, and owning several businesses and farming operations.  The father died when Daniel was 15 years old, and the youngster got himself a job at the Second National Bank as a messenger boy.  He rose quickly, and within a few years was named cashier, ultimately becoming a Vice President of the bank.

He was a very active man in many business pursuits in addition to banking, including real estate development.  In the early 1890s a national economic change would change Dan Reid’s life and alter Richmond’s history as well.

Congress passed the McKinley Tariff in 1890, and one of its provisions was to place a high duty on imported tin plate in order to promote domestic tin plate production.  Before, nearly all tin plate was imported from Wales.  Reid, and his boyhood friend and business partner, William B. Leeds, started a factory in Elwood, Indiana that was eventually quite successful.  

By 1898, Reid, Leeds, and their associates had combined most of the tin plate manufacturers into the American Tin Plate Company, headquartered in Chicago, with Reid as its president.  Just a few years later, J. P. Morgan was creating the giant conglomerate of United States Steel, and American Tin Plate Co. was one of the companies that made up the new corporation.  This transaction made Daniel Reid an extremely wealthy man.

Reid’s Philanthropic Impact

In the next few years, he engaged in the lifestyle of a New York millionaire — mansion on 5th Avenue, country estate in Irvington, NY, private rail car, yacht, European trips — but he always considered Richmond his home.  He lavished an unknown amount of money on a variety of projects and causes when called upon, as he often was.  Reid gave gifts to Earlham College, the Richmond Art Association, and many churches.   He provided $75,000 to the YMCA for the construction of the building on the southwest corner of North A and 8th on the condition the community supply the same amount.  Reid also purchased the land and built the original building of what would become Reid Memorial Hospital. 

Unlike these examples of responding to requests for assistance, Reid himself initiated the construction of the church on the northwest corner of North A and 11th.  The Reid Memorial United Presbyterian Church was his gift to the congregation in which he grew up, and in which most of his family had been leaders.  He paid for everything in it, and he spared no expense.  The famed Tiffany Studios in New York City designed the interior – wood carving, mosaic tile, ect – and every window is Tiffany Art Glass.  Now known as The Reid Center, it is becoming a community entertainment hub, hosting a variety of concerts and events. 

Daniel Reid died in January 1925, and his funeral was held in the church he built, before his body was interred in his mausoleum in Earlham Cemetery. 

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