Marshall Historical Society

Romance Wyatt
[Newspaper article: no source, no date]

The grave of Romance Wyatt is located in Deansboro Cemetery. On the gravestone is the "war record" of this full blooded Indian. An American Flag is carved at the top of the stone. Beside the gravestone is a tree hydrangea planted by Romance over a half century ago. It was planted beside the grave of his daughter who died at an early age.

The east side of the Deansboro cemetery slopes down to the one-time Chenango canal. There is a narrow roadway along the side with sharp turns, laid out long before the advent of the automobile.

On this slope there is a rounded headstone, in the shade of a Tree Hydrangea, and carved at the top is an American flag.

The markings on the stone are not too clear, however, after a time it was possible to decipher the following: "Romance Wyatt, Co, K, 9th regiment, New York Volunteers, Died September 30, 1907, Age 81 years."

Mrs. Walter Nash of Oriskany Falls, told me the story of Romance Wyatt, a real American Indian, who used to live in a small house on the west side of the highway between the Falls and Deansboro.

From time to time, "as the spirit moved," Romance would do some work on the farm. He would even help weeding flower beds. As to his ancestry, he belonged to the "Brothertowns," the remnants of many tribes brought together in these parts to live on lands along the Oriskany between Deansboro and Clinton.

Romance came from Rhode Island, and in ancient days there were two tribes in the Roger Williams land, the Naragansetts and the Wampanoags. Mrs. Nash often heard Wyatt mention the Naragansetts, so she believes he was a member of that tribe.

Besides his wife, Romance had a daughter named Nettie, living in the little house. She passed away at an early age and her grave is located on the east slope of the cemetery. Romance said he wanted some living thing so that it would grow by his daughter's grave. The folks at the farm helped him secure a Tree Hydrangea.

This shrub grew and thrived bringing forth showy blooms each year.

Today, more than a half century later, the Hydrangea paniculata stands as a sentinel between the graves of father and daughter, and shooting forth its bloom in season.

Also, "when the spirit moved," Romance would weave baskets and put splint seats in chairs. He was a familiar figure on the streets of Oriskany Falls as he went door to door offering his baskets for sale. In season he also tended the boxes in the hop fields.

One day Romance was weeding a garden, when there was a terrific racket up the road. Wyatt, Mrs. Nash, and her mother rushed to the gate of the wooden fence which extended along the front of the farm.

The noise came from a "horseless carriage," speeding along the dirt road at 15 miles per hour. It was a high car with a door and steps at the rear.

The car "rushed" by in a cloud of dust, and Romance said, "Its the first time I ever saw such a thing. Someday when my Injun money comes, I am going to buy a horseless carriage."

Wyatt talked for several years about using his "Injun money" to buy a horseless carriage, however the idea finally was given up.

Romance served in the "Yankee Army" in the Civil War, and he was wounded in the heel by a bullet. When he returned home after the war there was a slight hitch in his gait, and if anyone wanted to rouse his wrath, they would say he was wounded, running away from the front lines.

Our nation's dead soldiers today are honored each Memorial Day with metal graveside markers and flags. The only marker on this grave is a small flag carved in the tombstone and the inscription, "Co. K, 9th Regiment, N. Y. Volunteers." But each year the Hydrangea blossoms forth to let the world know that here too lies the body of an American soldier.

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