William

Statue of Deafy Boular, the Legless Bricklayer

Field review by the editors.

Atchison, Kansas

"Little Will" Boular was born September 9, 1869. He lost his hearing when he was four, then his legs when he was 12 (They were run over by a train that he couldn't hear coming). He was best known as "Deafy" (dee-fee), and although he had a pair of prosthetic legs, he refused to wear them. Instead, he had special boots made to fit his stumps, and soon found that he was the perfect height for the job of paving the sidewalks and streets of Atchison with bricks -- because he didn't have to bend over. Ripley's Believe it or Not once claimed that Deafy laid 46,000 paving bricks in a single eight-hour day.

Deafy died in 1953 and was mostly forgotten until 2010, when a statewide contest named him one of the "most fascinating" people in Kansas history. Atchison erected a life-size statue of the bricklayer at work in 2013, titled, "Lessons from the Master." It's the first-ever public sculpture by self-taught local artist Aleda Haug, who made it in her garage.

Deafy's boots are preserved in the local museum, but they're not on display except during special Deafy exhibitions.

Also see: Town Ambassadors

Statue of Deafy Boular, the Legless Bricklayer

Address:
N. 5th St., Atchison, KS
Directions:
Downtown. On the east side of N. 5th St. midway between Main St. and Kansas Ave.
Admission:
Free
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October 16, 2019

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