The Story of Pacing Diddle (Henry Overall) (dates
The Troy Free Press, Troy, MO, June, 1950.
[Transcriber's Notes: This is from the Troy Free Press, June 1950, portions will
be left out. Pacing Diddle was a slave of my Gr-GrGrandfather Wm OVERALL who md. Elizabeth
CRENSHAW, as well as some of those receiving this email. Not sure if Dicey OVERALL was his
sister but was owned to the best of my knowledge, by Wm.OVERALL. Dicey jumped over the
boom stick (act of mar) to wait for the circuit riding preacher to be md to Henry HILTON.
He decided he wanted someone else and Dicey remained single the rest of her life. I've
heard the HILTONs, my relatives, speak of her many times and she stayed with different
folks including the Jim ALLEN Family. A picture of Miss Susie ALLEN, Meadows, Dicey and
Susie's grandmother Louvina RIFFLE in the Foley Centenial Book. -j.g.]
Do You Remember by. A. A. Khune 6-23-1950
This week we are writing about a very unusual character called "Pacing Diddle". Do you remember him? Pacing Diddle was a colored man. We knew him about 65 to 70 years ago. He could pace like a horse and as fast as a horse. He was a slave; owned by a Mr. Overall, who lived around Argentville, a small village about 15 miles NE of Troy. When he was freed he moved to a small settlement of colored people about 2 miles NE of Troy called Needmore. He carried the name of Henry OVERALL. I remember 3 of his daughters Susie HARVEY, Ellen ROBINSON and Mary CLARK. Many of you remember their husbands Jim HARVEY, Warren ROBINSON and Alex CLARK. Pacing Diddle would come to town every Saturday. He carried a short whip and whipped his legs when he wanted to go faster. He carried a sack over one shoulder to take back things people gave him and things he bought. He never walked, he always paced, swinging his legs from one side to the other, making the dust fly. He would slap the side of his legs with his arms and crow like a rooster. He had all of the children of Troy scared of him but still he never harmed anyone. When our mothers wanted us to come home by dark all they had to do was say Pacing Diddle might come along the way. He could jump over an ordinary fence without even touching it. Our space will only let us tell one true story on Pacing Diddle this week. He had a race with a man on a horse; the man was Dr. WARDIE, a doctor in Troy at the time. Pacing Diddle had to make the race on foot. The distance was from Troy to Cap-Au-Gris, about 17 miles across the county to the Mississippi River.The race was on, Dr. WARDIE and his horse was ahead for awhile, the horse got too hot and dropped dead. Pacing Diddle paced on until he got to Cap-Au-Gris, won his bet, paced to where the dead horse was, picked up the saddle and carried it back to Troy. I don't know how Dr. WARDIE got back. Next week we will tell you 3 more true stories about Pacing Diddle the unusual man of.....
(rest is missing) 6-23-1950
Do You Remember by A.A.Khune 6-30-1950
Last week we left you with Pacing Diddle winning the race. Mrs. E. B. WOOLFOLK says it was Dr. WADDY instead of Dr. WARDIE. So be it. Here is the 1st true story I promised you last week for this week about Pacing Diddle. Mr. Walt PERKINS the father of Dee PERKINS the banker, lived in Troy, about 70 years ago. He met Pacing Diddle in St. Louis. Mr. PERKINS was on his riding horse, Pacing Diddle was on foot. Both headed for Troy. Mr. PERKINS rode along for awhile, Pacing Diddle pacing along side of the horse. Mr. PERKINS said "Diddle, I will have to hurry on." Diddle didn't answer, but as the horse paced faster Diddle paced faster. In a little while Diddle said to Mr. PERKINS, "What must I tell Ann when I get home?" Ann was Mr. PERKINS,wife. Mr. PERKINS said, "What do you mean. I am riding ,and will be home before you will." Pacing Diddle said, "I want to know what you want me to tell Ann when I get home." Mr. PERKINS said to tell her to have supper ready. Pacing Diddle started pacing faster, left Mr. PERKINS and his horse behind, beat them to Troy, delivered the message to Ann, Ann gave him his supper and Mr. PERKINS and his horse didn't get home until midnight. Distance from St.Louis to Troy is about 55 miles. The second true story is about this. They wanted Pacing Diddle for the army; his hiding place was in a small shock of corn in the field. Through a small opening in the shock he saw some men coming his way, he thought they were officers, and so they were, he threw the shock up into the air, started pacing across the fields, jumping fences without ever touching them and was soon out of sight, in parts unknown. I don't know if the officers ever caught him later or not: Ted CAVERLY and Sherman COTTLE two boys I knew well and ran with had a fighting dog they thought good. Pacing Diddle had an old crippled hound. They bet 50 cents their dog could whip his.The fight was on. Diddle's dog cleaned up on the boy's dog. The boys didn't want to pay Diddle 50 cents, Diddle told them he won the 50 cents fairly and if they didn't pay him the 50 cents they would have to whip him. The boys paid him the 50 cents. The last story is this. My friend John SYKORA, Troy's present harness maker was a fast runner in his younger days . The SYKORA's kept their cow in Roys pasture, the gate was a little ways from this side of Burt ALLEN's house. While John was putting his cow thrugh this gate into the pasture, he looked up ad saw Pacing Diddle pacing down the road, he turned around, lit out for town and made the mile in 3 minutes and 2 seconds. Now this is John's story. I don't know whether it is so or not. We who know John, doubt it. Back to Main Street next week.
Listing of Henry Overall's Death (1890)
The Troy Free Press, Troy, MO, from the files of the Historical Society, Columbia, MO.
Aug. 1, 1890
OVERALL, Henry colored, body found in Cuivre River bottoms, probably dead 2 or 3 days before found July 25.
File submitted to HERITAGE PAGES of LINCOLN COUNTY, MISSOURI by June Groshong, 18 May, 2003.
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