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Albert Capwell Wyckoff

This article first appeared in issue 6, and was written by Ed Waggener.

Prolific author of Mercer Boys series, Christian novels wrote 29 published books-including three in Columbia

Rev. Wyckoff wrote 30 books, including an unpublished one

Albert Capwell Wyckoff is buried next to his wife, Edna M. Deakyne, near the two tall evergreens in the Columbia City Cemetery.

A few remember him as a well-loved minister of the Columbia-Union Presbyterian Church from 1948 to 1953, when, on January 10, he was fatally stricken with a heart attack at the manse.

Many remember his two daughters, Ginger, who married Bobby Chapman and now lives in Louisville, and Dorothy, now deceased, who was married to Clifton Finn of the Portland area of Adair County.

Members of the church remember that the Wyckoffs were the first family to occupy the present manse. His pastorate here followed that of Rev. Robert E. Reeves and preceded that of Rev. Art Freet

But today, in Columbia, few remember that this remarkable man was a major writer of boys adventure books and Christian novels, or that three of his novels were written in Columbia.

Indeed, not one of his 22 Mercer Boys books or seven Christian novels are in the local public library.

The few collectors of his books in this area know that many dealers charge almost as much for copies of his Mercer Boys editions as they do for many titles of Janice Holt Giles

Those who do collect Wyckoff books also know that they have been difficult to find.

Sue Chapman Sandusky, Columbia, who is collecting the books, recently received a beautiful letter from her sister-in-law, Ginger Wyckoff Chapman , which tells much about the Wyckoff's life here and shares it with our readers. Mrs. Chapman writes:

Dear Sue and Sammy,

Here is some information for you. I don't know why there is such a skip beween 1936 and 1943. I do know that my father wrote for "Boys Life," "Open Road for Boys," and other magazines.

My father loved missionary work and only held two pastorates. We were in Madisonville during the World War II years when gas and tires were almost impossible to get and later in Columbia, after a doctor told him he had diabetes and must control his sugar by eating at home and not where good farm cooks "cooked for the preacher."

We lived in Columbia twice. Dorothy started first grade there and then came back to graduate from Columbia High School with her class in 1949.

My father always wrote stories. He wrote plays for his church young peoples group to put on. I don't think I have any of the play scripts but I do have tickets to some of the plays.

He never finished high school! His father died suddenly of pneumonia and he had to go to work to support his mother, two sisters, and younger brother.

When my parents went to Arkansas he was a lay minister, which meant he could not marry or baptize anyone. This was very unsatisfactory to him and he began a long task of becoming an ordained minister. Summer school and correspondence classes went on forever. I don't think it is possible today to become ordained today in the Presbyterian Church without four years of college and three years of seminary.

There is one unpublished novel here that Zondervan turned down. The story is about faith workers in Garrard County, out from Lancaster, who were run off their mission by "Holy Rollers." Zondervan said they just couldn't publish it. I don't know if he had l panned to rewrite it and soften it or not . . .

Lots of Love, Ginger

Along with letter, Mrs. Chapman also lists the following works by her father, written under the name "Capwell Wyckoff," along with some notes:


A.L.Burt Co, NYC. Published as Capwell Wyckoff:

1929 -Mercer Boys Cruise on the Lassie

-Mercer Boys on a Treasure Hunt

-Mercer Boys at Woodcrest

-Mercer Boys' Mystery Case

-Mercer Boys in Summer Camp

-Mercer Boys on the Beach Patrol

1930 -Mercer Boys as First Classmen

1932 -Mercer Boys with the Air Cadets

1932 -Mercer Boys and the Indian Gold

1933 -Mercer Boys and the Steamboat Riddle

1930 -The Secret of the Armor Room

1931 -In the Camp of the Black Rider

1932 -The Mystery at Lake Retret

1932 -The North Point Cabin Mystery

1932 -The Mystery of Gaither Cove

1934 -The Mystery Hunters at Lakeside Camp

1934 -The Mystery Hunters at Haunted Lodge

1936 -The Mystery Hunters oon Special Detail

1935 -The Sea Runner's Cache

1936 -The Search for the City of Ghosts

(Two other books not on Mrs. Chapman's list are Mercer Boys on Ghost Patrol and Mercer Boys with the Coast Guard.-Ed.)

Mrs. Chapman notes, "A.L.Burt Co. went out of business and sold rights to World Publishing Co. and also went to Saalfield. Falcon Books, by World Publishing Co., brought out 6 of the 10 Mercer Boys in an updated version in the late 40s."

Rev. Wyckoff did not receive a huge royalty for the books. "These books were written and sold outright by A.C. Wyckoff for $200 apiece," Mrs. Chapman writes, adding, "The Wyckoffs bought their first car and headed for Arkansas as missionaries of the Presbyterian Church. They were sent to Kentucky after a few years and spent the rest of their lives in Kentucky."

Mrs. Chapman notes that the following Christian novels were published by Eerdman under the name A.C. Wyckoff:

1943 -Bright Harvest

1944 -Sounding Brass

1945 -Victory at Daybreak

1947 -Singing Heart

Published by Zondervan , ALL written in Columbia

1949 -Bright Horizon

1950 -Bells are Ringing

1951 -Winning of Kay Slade.

Mr. James Blair says that the books would be welcome additions to the Trabue-Russell house collection.

Editor's Note: We would appreciate additional information relating to this author. The address is: Columbia!, PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728. Our phone or fax is 502-384-3603.

This story was posted on 1996-08-01 12:01:01
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The Wyckoff graves

1996-08-01 - Photo Staff. The Wyckoff graves are located near two tall evergreens in the Columbia City Cemetery.
WYCKOFF 'Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant'
Albert Capwell Edna M. Deakyne
Feb.21,1903 May 20, 1906
Jan.10, 1953 June 5, 1992
This item first appeared in Issue 6 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.

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Archive Photo

1996-08-01 - Photo Staff. This item first appeared in Issue 6 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
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