By Nancy Noel | For The Times-Post
“Whistling Dick” was not a person but rather a cannon.
It was owned by Stephen “Daddy” Hair.
Hair was an artillerist in the Civil War and in civilian life was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and a practical joker.
The cannon had a colorful part in Pendleton’s history.
Sometime before 1890, Hair bought a cannon, which was nicknamed “Whistling Dick.”
It was used at election time, fired only to tantalize the defeated Democrats.
It was a muzzle loader equipped with a ramrod wiper and touch hole.
No one could fire it but “Daddy.”
To safely fire the instrument, it was necessary to hold the ramrod a certain way and to keep a thumb on the touch hole while loading was in progress.
Plaque that once graced the “Whistling Dick” cannon in Falls Park.
At election time, the cannon was carefully guarded lest some unscrupulous Democrat would drive a rat tail file in the touch hole and spoil the ratification.
Sure enough, the Democrats did this very thing after one Republican victory.
It seems that the cantankerous Republicans managed to drill the file out, and “Whistling Dick” announced to the world that the Republicans had won the election.
The cannon was far better than two anvils to make a victory noise. It was really the only shooting iron of its kind in this part of the state.
When Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888, “Whistling Dick” worked overtime and could be heard three miles out of town.
The gun was on a regular carriage and was usually wheeled to the stone quarry area where the Falls Park now is. It was not certain just when the last time “Whistling Dick” went into action.
“Daddy” Hair was a Civil War veteran. He lived at 211 S. West St. in Pendleton.
For years, in peace he drove a one-horse dray about town delivering everything from a churn to a pot-bellied stove.
“Whistling Dick” is located in Falls Park without any identifiers to tell its story. It is unknown when the plaque disappeared.
Nancy Noel is president of the Pendleton Historical Museum board.