Edith Deeds

Edith Deeds was born in Spring Valley in 1869, to Samuel and Mary Walton, and was the older sister of William Walton. In her early life, Edith studied music, painting, and languages at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Though her father Samuel was a Quaker, the family attended the First Baptist Church after moving to Dayton. It was there that Edith met Colonel Edward Deeds. Edith and Edward married on June 5, 1900. Throughout their marriage, Edith assisted her innovative husband and the infamous Barn Gang by performing office work and participating in the development of the automobile self-starter.

When flying became popular, Edith was very enthusiastic about aviation, and christened one of Edward’s planes the “Kingbird” and was the first passenger in the plane.

As many know, Edith is responsible for the presence of our beloved Carillon Bells at Carillon Park. While travelling in Belgium, Edith fell in love with the sound of carillon bells. According to Wikipedia, a carillon is a “pitched percussion instrument that is played with a keyboard, and consists of at least 23 cast bronze bells in fixed suspension and tuned in chromatic order so that they can be sounded harmoniously together.” She was so enamored with the sound that she wanted to share it with Dayton.

This idea came into reality when Edith purchased three acres of land from NCR, and had Reinhard and Hofmeister (the architects of Rockefeller Center in New York City) design the granite, steel, and limestone structure. Deeds Carillon was officially dedicated on August 23, 1942. There are 32 “speaking” bells, and six “silent bells”, which are memorials to members of the Deeds and Walton families who had passed. All of the bells are dedicated to members of the Deeds family.

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Edith died in New York City at the age of 79, on February 9, 1949. Funeral services were held at Moraine Farm on February 12th, with her beloved Carillon Bells sending her off to burial at Woodland Cemetery.

Today, the Carillon Bells are a beloved landmark of Dayton, with the enchanting Carillon Tree of Light illuminating the area every Christmas season. This year, the Tree of Light will be lit on Wednesday, November 24th.

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