Congratulations to the Hanover News Agency as Hanover’s Iron Mike Business of the Month!
I am sure that George Washington Welsh didn’t quite have this in mind when he had Iron Mike created, but it is nice to know that the ole’ dog still serves a purpose to all of Hanover.
George Washington Welsh was born in Hanover on February 22, 1826 to Benjamin and Elizabeth (Myers) Welsh, and named appropriately for our country’s first president, George Washington. (Welsh family genealogy. York County Heritage Trust) George served his country during the Civil War between April 25, 1861 and July 25, 1861 as a Private with Company G, 16th Regiment. (Pennsylvania Veterans’ Burial Card, 1777-1999. Ancestry.com) During George’s lifetime, both the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Federal Census reports show his occupation as a life insurance agent and merchant. He married twice, first to Maria McSherry, who died in 1878, and then to Emma Ellen LeFevre in 1880, just four days before he himself died.
The Iron Dog, created by a York Foundry, resided on George’s front lawn at 19 Baltimore Street in Hanover, until George’s death on July 5, 1880. The Iron Dog was relocated to the Welsh family plot at Mount Olivet Cemetery. The horses that pulled the hearses into the cemetery became spooked by the Iron Dog, causing another move for the Iron Dog. Later, and with an agreement between the cemetery and the Hanover Borough, the Iron Dog became a fixture on the circle of downtown Hanover. However, the Iron Dog dodged yet two close calls.
In the Hanover Evening Sun newspaper article written December 6, 1991, the Hanover Historical Society mentioned that in 1912 a group of rowdy West Virginian National Guardsmen came from Gettysburg to Hanover, and tried to carry off the Iron Dog. The second incident occurred during World War II when metal objects were being melted down for the war effort. Through public outcry, the Iron Dog was spared.
For an old dog, the Iron Dog (aka Iron Mike, as it is affectionately referred to) sure got around during its lifetime.
As I searched the Internet for a photo to add to this post, I came across this bit of information about the term, Iron Mike. Could this be a possible explanation for the name, Iron Mike? I would love to know.
“Iron Mike is the de facto name of various monuments commemorating servicemen of the United States military. The term “Iron Mike” is uniquely American slang used to refer to men who are especially tough, brave, and inspiring; it was originally a nautical term for a gyrocompass, used to keep a ship on an unwavering course. Because the use of the slang term was popular in the first half of the 20th century, many statues from that period acquired the Iron Mike nickname, and over the generations the artists’ titles were largely forgotten. Even official military publications and classroom texts tend to prefer the nickname to the original titles.” To read more, click here.