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Atchison honoring famed bricklayer Boular with statue

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013, at 3:29 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013, at 3:31 p.m.

It’s been six decades since William Boular passed away.

But on Thursday, the town of Atchison in northeastern Kansas will unveil a statue honoring the deaf double-amputee who became a world-renown bricklayer and featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” He is credited with laying 48,000 paving bricks in a day’s time.

Boular, known as “Deafy,” was born Sept. 9, 1869. When he was 4, Boular was diagnosed with spinal meningitis, leaving him unable to hear or speak.

At 10 he was involved in a railroad accident that severed both his legs. Although he was fitted with artificial legs, he didn’t wear them. Instead, he wore a custom-made pair of boots that allowed him to walk on his knees.

For the next half-century, Boular led an active career working as a bricklayer, doing foundry work and as a beekeeper. Many of the bricks he laid on Atchison’s streets are still intact and driven over daily.

In 2010, Boular was nominated as one of the most fascinating people in Kansas, competing with the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Atchison’s own aviatrix Amelia Earhart for the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s 8 Wonders of Kansas series of contests.

Along with the new sculpture of Boular, Atchison has a display on Boular’s life in the Atchison County Historical Society Museum.

The unveiling of the statue, entitled “Lessons from the Master” by artist Aleda Haug, will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The statue is located in the 400 block of the Mall in Atchison.

According to a press release issued by the Atchison County Historical Society:

“Boular’s story is one that inspires to this day and sets an example that any difficulty may be overcome.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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