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Reenactors to Camp on Sunbury Square

Battle of Sunbury - Fact or Myth?

When we recreate the Civil War Battle of Sunbury Saturday, May10, we need to remember much of history is passed in the oral tradition long before anyone takes the time to write of it. Seeing it before your eyes does not make it so.  Richard Helwig wrote a dramatic version which ran in The Sunbury News, March 20, 2003.  He based his account on the booklet "It Happened in Delaware" published in 1976.  The authors of that booklet are no longer here. Where their data came from is a mystery. 

Many northern residents were sympathetic to the southern cause and became known as Copperheads. The group was comprised largely of Peace Democrats who felt the Civil War was a mistake. Some members were radical enough to discourage enlistments, resist the draft, and shield deserters.

The Knights of the Golden Circle (K.G.C.) were chartered on paper in the late 1850's by George W. L. Bickley, formerly of Virginia but then a resident of Cincinnati, who pretended it was a real group complete with castles. A Cincinnati Printing firm published an exposť pamphlet in mid 1861 exposing the fraud. Ohio Republicans used the K.G.C. bogeyman to affect voters. Ohio newspapers, mostly Cincinnati Gazette, Cleveland Leader, and the Columbus Ohio State Journal led efforts to make K.G.C. a household name. They implied the K.G.C. hid in Democratic closets and were guilty of planning treasonous acts. Later not a single bit of evidence proved the K.G.C. castles existed in Ohio.

Two Ohio men named Charles Gaylord were, in Civil War: one a private in Ohio 4th Regiment Infantry, the other, Charles D age 22, with the 41st Regiment of Ohio Infantry went in as a 2nd Lieutenant and out as a 1st Lieutenant. Neither man was from Delaware County. Neither was Captain Gaylord.

However, a big Gaylord family was well known in Sunbury area. Eleazor Gaylord, of Litchfield County in Connecticut, is first listed at Big Rock in Delaware County in the 1820 census. Eleazor and his wife Jemima Wheeler had nine children born in Pennsylvania. Eleazor then married Sarah Ann and had two more children, Catherine and Benjamin, in Delaware County. On the 1849 map, Eleazor Gaylord owned the mill and still on the northeast corner of Big Walnut Creek and St. Rt. 37. Gaylord bought the property in 1825 from Major Strong who bought it in 1817 from the builder of the mill, Nicholas Manville. He also owned the property just south of the Big Walnut Creek and west of Route 37. This land, including the hill where Billy Southworth built his home, became known as Gaylord hill.

Eleazor’s sons, George and Benjamin C, are listed in Berkshire Township in the 1850 census.?

Benjamin C. Gaylord, 25, and his mother Sarah, 63, resided in a home on the west side S. Columbus Street at the edge of Sunbury surrounded by land belonging to C. Armstrong. Their home was the second one south of South Street and north of the Nestles Plant. Benjamin died in 1858, his daughter, Sarah in 1864, but I do not know where his wife Laura went. His mother owns the home on the 1866 map closeup.

n 1866 map, George A. Gaylord owned the still and the land south of the creek and west of 37 formerly owned by Eleazor. Charles R. Gaylord, 17, is the 3rd of George and Lydia’s seven children living in his household in 1850. Two more children were added by 1860.

A Charles Gaylord,22, is shown in the 1860 census as living with Jarvis (24) and Jane (24) Leavender, their children Rose (3) and George (1), and Ellen Gaylord, 13. Both men are listed as being carpenters in Berkshire Township. Ten years later, carpenter Charles is in the census in Indiana married to Lucy Estelle Clay. I suspect these are descendants of Eleazor’s other sons.

So enjoy the Battle of Sunbury next weekend but remember it was probably part of the Copperhead movement. Tell your children and grandchildren it didn’t happen but it could have.

. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


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(04/01/2006 )

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