Wheeling Gaunt is remembered each year when the Village of Yellow Springs distributes flour and sugar to its deserving widows, and has been for the last 123 years. But there is much more to Wheeling Gaunt’s story.
Born a Kentucky slave, he earned his freedom by peddling apples and blacking boots. He freed his family and built a small real estate fortune. In 1864, with the Civil War closing in, he sold his holdings and moved to Ohio where he grew his fortune and his reputation for industry, frugality, fair dealing, and benevolence. He was known to every distinguished man of his race from Frederick Douglas to AME Bishop Daniel Payne, founder of Wilberforce College. At his death, he was said to be the richest black man in Ohio. He bequeathed his considerable fortune to Wilberforce.
Yellow Springs Arts Council and the The 365 Project are leading an effort to create a life-size, bronze statue of Gaunt as a reminder of his spirit and a tribute to his significant contributions to the AME Church, Wilberforce, and the Yellow Springs community.
From the Xenia Gazette, May 15, 1894:
Mr. Wheeling Gaunt was buried Sabbath afternoon in Glen Forrest cemetery. He was one of the best citizens of our village and will leave a record and example of his fair dealing and benevolence which would be well to imitate by those who are left behind.
We have the Artist: Brian Maughan
Brian Maughan (MFA, BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute) is a nationally known sculptor who moved to Yellow Springs in 2006 from New York City. Maughan has worked in various media, but sculpture has dominated his efforts. In the last 20 years he has worked principally in ceramic clay, much of which is then cast in bronze. Recent installations include “Bob Uecker,” radio announcer, and “Bud Selig,” Commissioner of Major League Baseball, in Miller Park, Milwaukee