I have the utmost respect for the facts and opinions expressed in your editorials. However, there was an error in “What’s in a Name?” Aug. 5.
You mentioned that Dickeyville was named after an early settler whose last name was Dickey. I researched this topic a few years ago and came up with the following explanation:
Popular rumor has it that, in the late 1800s, a family of itinerant grotto-builders was traveling from Louisburg to Ellenboro. Times were hard, and there was little money to spend on the religious edifices. Furthermore, there was a dire shortage of concrete chunks, broken pop bottles, and shattered marbles. (Most boys’ marbles had been lost to a wandering marble-shark, posing as a hobo who had lost his marbles. But I digress.) The itinerant grotto-builders began their trek late in the fall, and one bitterly cold night they reached a small settlement a few miles north of Louisburg. It had no name, for it was but a poor collection of shacks, 27 Catholics, two “Holy Rollers,” one Republican, and a poor mongrel dog named Dickey.
That night an unexpected blizzard swept down from the north, and the travelers had no place to stay. There was no hotel or rooming house, and they had no money to pay for rooms had any been available. So the poor travelers huddled in their tattered clothes under some trees in the middle of the village. The winds were so strong and bitterly cold that the visitors would have frozen to death by morning if it were not for the poor mongrel, Dickey. The skinny, starving old dog went from one traveler to another throughout the long night, curling up beside them long enough to thaw their chilled bodies and keep them from freezing.
When morning finally came and a weak sun peeked over the horizon, all the travelers had survived the brutal storm. But poor Dickey lay stiff and cold; he had finally lacked the energy to pull himself out of the wind to the shelter of the protective trees.
The visitors were so grateful to Dickey for saving their lives that they decided to bury him there in the center of the village in what was to become the churchyard. And they wanted to repay his great sacrifice by building him a grotto on the spot. This became such a majestic site that thousands of pilgrims trek there every year. And the residents of the town voted unanimously to name their village Dickeyville.
Mary McDonald Gershon
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