Raleigh Rambles

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David Larson: Dead Dads, Lt Walsh & Karl

Peter Eichenberger, David and brother Karl at Viki B’s wedding

The Dead Dad’s Club, Lt Walsh Day, the Poker Game, the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Party, all were a big part of David’s social life and the action often involved brother Karl and his house on Sasser Street in the Oakdale neighborhood of Raleigh. And David always celebrated not just with drinking but with art.

from Alan B

The Dead Dad’s Club was invented by Karl Larson. David went through training and qualified to make videos for broadcast on Channel 10, Raleigh’s public access station. His video starring Karl and others about the club was banned from broadcast for lewdness ( the urination of Peter E off camera during the filming) but represents an excellent history of the event. Alan B posted the video here.

The annual party was attended only by people who had lost their Dad. David’s Dad died at age 50 (David told friends he thought he would die at the same age). David made a card for some of the occasions.

from Alan B DD stickers

from Bill H




from Sasser Street









Lt Walsh was a Confederate soldier who, perhaps in a drunken angry mood, fired on the delegation of Union officers entering Raleigh to accept the city’s surrender. He was captured and hung at a spot in Oakwood near the Side Street Cafe. His grave is prominent in Oakwood Cemetery, and Karl Larson, a fervent local historian, made adorning his grave a special and sometimes large event every April 13th for over 25 years. David’s portrait was used in the elaborate brochure made for year nineteen.



from Sasser St


from Sasser St


Karl Larson was a Raleigh legend in his own right and he as well as his hospitable house on Sasser were an important part of David’s life. Karl’s unique take on history was evidenced as far back as high school, when Steve, my classmate, would intimate stories of midnight readings of Poe in City Cemetery. A few years later, he made his claim to fame with an elaborate, well documented funeral for the original Boylan Avenue Bridge, which was torn down amid concerns for the continued existence of Boylan Heights as downtown and its throughways grew. He is seen below with Kathryn Myers at the ceremony.

lovingly appropriated from the News & Observer

Karl had a fine career as graphic designer and publication manager at NCSU, but his reverence for local history blossomed late in life with a post-retirement job as archivist for the state and especially with his magnificent accomplishment in leading the effort to restore Joe Cox’s Light Wall on the side of the NCSU Library. He also became a beloved part of a local scene blog call Goodnight, Raleigh.

“Raleigh Boy” posts on Goodnight, Raleigh

Karl’s M.A. thesis on the history of Segregation in Raleigh


David Larson survived Karl and his brother Steve, but not by much and now Phil Larson is left with the loss of all three brothers in a few short years. Steve’s dog Dup was a favorite subject for David, and below are some images contributed by some of the many people who have shared their art on these posts. Thanks to all, and love you some DEL!


from Mary R (cut-out with collage)


from Mark H


from Jim D (linoleum print)


from the Sasser Street collection

David Larson Art webpage

January 24, 2022 Posted by | art, David Larson, Raleigh history | , , | Leave a comment

Lt. Walsh Anniversary Celebration Reaches 25 Years

decorated grave

A group of mostly old friends gathered yet again to honor the memory of Lt. Walsh, whose grave in Oakwood Cemetery marks a unique aspect of Raleigh’s history. Raleigh’s near destruction by and survival of Sherman’s march, Spring’s eternal hope, and pure Southern spirit are all embodied in this private ceremony, celebrated for 25 years this one. The anniversary of Lt Walsh’s hanging by federal troops after his potshots at them while entering Raleigh reaches its 150th year in 2015.  hope to see you there! It is always worthwhile. Thank you, Karl.

Karl decorates grave

Karl decorates the grave

Chloey reads the story of Lt Walsh

Chloe reads the story of Lt Walsh


Goodnight Raleigh’s post on Lt Walsh

Another fascinating Civil War Raleigh item from Goodnight Raleigh

Interesting link via Jim Dean

News & Observer Lt Walsh story (Josh Shaffer)

Ernest Dollar’s story about Walsh on Raleigh Public Record

Raleigh Rambles posts on Lt Walsh:

 Lt Walsh and the pseudo-mystery (2008)

Lt Walsh celebration reaches 20 years (2009)


April 13, 2014 Posted by | Raleigh history | | 3 Comments

Lt. Walsh Remembrance Reaches 20 Years

Lt Walsh decoration April 13, 2009

Lt Walsh decoration April 13, 2009

A year ago, in starting this blog, I made use of a personal connection and had a little fun with the mystique surrounding the annual decoration of Confederate Lt Walsh’s grave in Oakwood Cemetery. Just as last year, Channel 5 treated it like a mystery, and for the 20th year, an old friend managed to make his remembrance, hold an afternoon reading, and retire to a well-earned evening of mint juleps with friends unscathed by identification.  I missed the reading this year, vacationing in Charleston with Cara, but our experiences there had me well steeped in Confederate lore as I checked by the gravesite and stopped for a quick visit at the post-reading party.  I’m quite sure they’re still sitting around in Oakdale as I write this, so the event is in process, but Good Night, Raleigh got out an uncannily timely post about the decorations and directs us to NandO’s contribution to last year’s media coverage ( WRAL had current footage of this year’s decorations joined with a re-run of last year’s story).  As I promised a year ago, below is the contemporary account included in the printed handouts that accompany the remembrance/celebration.


The Incident at Lovejoy’s Grove

As witnessed and related by Millie Henry

“I was drawin’ water at th’ well at th’ end of Fayetteville Street when th’ Yankees come.  I seen ’em ridin’  up th’ street with their blue coats shinin’ and their horses steppin’ high.  I knowed that I ought to be scared, but I ain’t; an’ so I stands there an’ watches.

“Suddenly, as they passes th’ bank, out rides two men from Wheeler’s cavalary, and they gets in the middle o’ the street; one of th’ horses wheels back an’ th’ man shot right at th’ Yankees, then he flew from there.

“Two of the Yankees retracts from th’ army an’ they flies after th’ Rebs.  When th’ Rebs get to th’ Capitol one of them flies down Morgan Street an’ one goes out Hillsboro Street with th’ Yankees hot in behind him.

“They catched him out there at th’ Hillsboro [Street] bridge when his horse, what was already tired, stumbles an’ he falls an’ hurts his leg.

“Durin’ that time th’ big man with th’ red hair what they calls Kilpatrick brung up his men to th’ square an’ sets under th’ trees an’ a gang o’ people comes up.

“When they brung th’ young good lookin’Reb up to th’ redheaded Gen’l, he sez:  ‘What you name, Reb?”

“Th’ boy sez:  Robert Walsh, suh.’

“‘What for did you done go an’ shoot at my army?’

“‘Cause I hates th’ Yankees an’ I wish that they was dead in a pile!’ th’ Reb sez, an’ laughs.

“Th’ Gen’l done got his dander up now, an’ he yells: ‘Carry th’ Reb somewheres outta sight o’ th’ ladies an’ hang ’em!’

“Th’ Reb laughs an’ sez:  ‘Kind  o’ you, suh!’ an’  he waves goodbye to th’ crowd, an’ they carried him off a-laughin’ fit to kill!

“They hanged him on a ole oak tree in th’ Lovejoy Grove, where th’ Governor’s mansion stand now, an’ they buried him under th’ tree.

“Way after th’ war they moved his skeleton to Oakwood Cemetery an’ put him up a monument.  His grave was covered with flowers; an’ th’ young ladies cry.

“He died brave, tho’, an’ he kept a-laughin’ til his neck broke.  I was there an’ I seen it;  furthermore, there was a gang o’ white ladies there, so they might as well a hanged him on the capitol square.”

Millie was a ten year old servant in the Boylan family household who in 1865 was employed at a Fayetteville St. boarding house.


I concur with Goodnight, Raleigh in saying thanks to the local history lover who keeps this fascinating story alive in our hearts and memories.


April 14, 2009 Posted by | Raleigh downtown, Raleigh history, reflection | , | 3 Comments