Marsh - Cyrus - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Marsh - Cyrus

Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal Friday, 20 November 1896

The following sketch was recently published in the Commonwealth, a Baptist Church organization in Philadelphia. The writer is Mrs. Blackburn, the wife of Rev. Alexander Blackburn, who for some years was pastor of the Baptist Church in Lafayette, but now of Cambridge, Mass.:

“Cyrus Marsh, or ‘Thorntown Cyrus,’ as the children called him, was about 40 years old when I first saw him in a western city. His mother was buried in the village of Thorntown, so he called that his home, but he spent most of his time wandering from place to place, not because he was poor or homeless, for the beautiful homes of his sisters were freely offered to him, or they would have cared for him in any good home he had chosen or made for himself, but Cyrus was from his babyhood what the old women called ‘strange,’ and one of his strange ways was to grow very sad if confined long in one place. When his sisters found how innocent and harmless he was, and how kindly everybody, even the rough and ignorant, treated him, they yielded to the entreaties of their friends and let Cyrus do as he pleased, and wander where he would.
He furnished and trimmed for himself a little hand cart, large enough for a sleeping place at night. This cart he pulled after him as he tramped over the country roads. It was covered to protect him from the sun and rain, and any farmer was willing he should draw it into his barn if the night was cool or stormy. When Cyrus passed a picnic or camp meeting, or in fact any large gathering of people, he would begin playing his accordion, and would expect contributions from all who listened. Often he would attire himself as a lady, putting on the garments over his own clothes. When he or his audience grew tired of his music, he would show them how he kept house in his little wagon. A large doll was kept in state elevated on a seat in the cart. This doll Cyrus called his wife, and more than one rough man has received from this half witted man instruction he would have scorned from a more learned teacher. Cyrus was very fond of dainties and sweets of almost every kind and much of his money was expended for them if people failed to give him all he wanted. This peculiar selection of food was doubtless no better for him than others, and, notwithstanding everyone showed him unfailing kindness; he often was exposed to storms and doubtless suffered for food and care he could not give himself.

The little cart started out later in the spring and was put up earlier in the autumn. The journeys grew shorter and were farther apart. The slight boyish figure, with its childish, innocent face, was missed in many places where the children loved to see him come. Accidentally, no one could believe it was maliciously, the doll and cart and all its contents were burned, and Cyrus was, indeed, bereaved. Like men with larger brains, Cyrus wanted “no other wife” to take the place of the lost doll. She was “his first and only love.” He seemed to have a good idea of God and often prayed to Him with great earnestness. Sometimes he thought he was about to die and go to God. At last he was confined almost entirely to the institution he had chosen for his home. He played for strangers as they visited the inmates or him, and always expected pay from the gentlemen, but would often tell the ladies he would not charge them.  This money he spent for paper and pencils. He could print nicely, and would spend hours copying stories from books and papers. He was passionately fond of pictures, and spent much time adorning them with lace or any pretty thing he could drape over them. He insisted upon having beautiful curtains, which he could arrange very prettily. He loved the useful as well as the beautiful, and clocks had a special attraction for him. He picked all they allowed him to touch to pieces, and imagined he could invent something wonderful, but the clocks were always ruined when he was through with them. He grew very sad when he could no longer leave the house, and at last for two weeks he could not leave his bed. Fifty years of this life for Cyrus Marsh, and the children who loved him say they were not lived in vain. Tuesday, May 21, 1889, he went where all is brightness and beauty, and they laid his frail body to sleep by his mother under the trees and flowers he loved so well.”
-- thanks so much to "S" for typing this lengthy, touching obit and many others on this site :)

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