Robertson: 'History is what it is and not what we wish it to be'
Confederate monument dedication draws a crowd of 500
Staff Photos by Morris Stephenson: Confederate soldiers set the tone for the dedication ceremony Saturday of the new Confederate monument on the lawn of the Franklin County County Courthouse.
Monday, August 9, 2010
By MORRIS STEPHENSON - Staff Writer
Confederate soldiers marching up South Main Street set the tone for the dedication ceremony Saturday of the new Confederate monument on the lawn of the Franklin County County Courthouse.
The original monument, dedicated in 1910, was destroyed by a pickup truck in 2007. The new replica went into place in June.
A crowd of about 500 people gathered on both sides of South Main Street and East Court Street, filling chairs on the courthouse lawn and spilling onto the sidewalks.
The crowd listened to featured speaker Dr. James I. (Bud) Robertson, a distinguished Civil War professor at Virginia Tech.
Robertson, along with Dr. Frances Amos and Circuit Court Judge W.N. Alexander II spoke from the decorated balcony on the second floor of the courthouse.
Retired judge and former state Senator Bill Hopkins, whose father as a young boy won an essay contest and the prize of 25 cents during a fundraising effort for the original monument, also spoke from his wheelchair in front of the courthouse entrance.
Robertson spoke of how two major things came as a result of the Civil War -- the elimination of slavery and most importantly, the establishment of a union. "Union" is the single most important word that describes the war, he said. "It's the single threat that now binds us all."
"History is what it is and not what we wish it to be," he said. Both sides fought for their homes, their families and their ways of life, he added.
Robertson noted the war was a "national tragedy" as Americans fought Americans, with "700,000 plus who all died ugly deaths."
"We can love history, which most do, or hate history, which some do. But it is history, and we can all learn from it," he concluded.
Amos traced the history of the monument, telling of Miss Essie Smith, a local librarian and historian who led efforts to get a statue erected. The original monument cost $1,800.
He noted that of the 2,500 Franklin County men who fought in the war, some 300 did not return. The statue honors those men, Amos said.
Amos also pointed out that in 1862, 300 freed slaves participated in the South's war efforts. "History is what it is, and our liberties should not be taken lightly."
Hopkins recalled his father was a speaker for the dedication of the Booker T. Washington National Monument.
Hopkins also recalled attending a Confederate memorial event in the 1930s when a Rocky Mount band of 12 members played for three hours. He said six or seven Confederate veterans, including Capt. Hale, were there, all sitting in chairs.
"I think there is no way we could have avoided the Civil War, but we are a greater nation because of it," he concluded.
Rodger Doss brought tears to the eyes of a number of people when he played "Shenandoah" on a harmonica, while standing on the balcony above the crowd.
Gerald Via, president of the Jubal A. Early Preservation Trust, gave a roll call of the Franklin County companies who fought in the war.
Alter the monument was unveiled by members of the Daughters of the Confederacy, Jubal Early Chapter, Annette E. Wetzel, registrar general of the UDC, and Madeline Eckerman placed a wreath in front of the statue.
The Fincastle Rifles Camp 1326 of the Sons of the Confederacy, commanded by Red Barbour, fired a volley of three shots into the air as the color guard stood at attention.
The playing of "Taps" by JeffﾠMcGuire of the Franklin County High School Marching Eagle Band and the retiring of colors, concluded the hour-long event.
Also, Rev. Larry Holland gave the invocation; Charles Santrock, a veteran of two wars, led the pledge to the flag; Dolores Smith, past Virginia president of the UDC, led the pledge to the Virginia flag; and John Holland, a descendant of Franklin County Confederate Soldiers, led the salute to the Confederate flag.
The Flora N. Morris Memorial Civil War Exhibit, which was closed during the ceremony, attracted a steady crowd from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A large number of people also visited the encampment at The Grove, which was often visited by Capt. Jubal Early. His law office remains on the property.
The encampment was hosted by the 1st Stuart Horse Artillery, with Capt. Earl Jueck and the 60th Infantry, Company K, commanded by Doug Camper. A cannon demonstration was held following the ceremony.
Linda Stanley with the Franklin County Historical Society Museum said she was pleased with the way the event turned out.
New statue of Confederate soldier arrives, set in place
Board tables request for another monument
New statue of Confederate soldier arrives, set in place
Staff Photo by Morris Stephenson: The Confederate soldier statue and monument, which was destroyed three years ago when a pickup truck crashed into it, was replaced Tuesday on the courthouse lawn. A special dedication ceremony is set for Aug. 7.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
Just before the new statue of the Confederate soldier was put into place on the Franklin County Courthouse lawn Tuesday afternoon, the board of supervisors tabled a proposal to erect an additional monument to be placed with the statue.
The proposed monument, a 4-foot high granite commemorative column, would honor men and women of color, both enslaved and free, who were active participants in the Civil War.
But some opposition has surfaced to the additional monument, with residents wanting instead a statue of Booker T. Washington in front of the courthouse.
Dr. Francis Amos, one of the members of the committee that has been working on replacing the Confederate statue, told supervisors that a group of county residents has been meeting in recent weeks to find a way to give "people of color" who served or contributed during the Civil War the "recognition and honor they deserve."
Amos said that not only did African-Americans serve as soldiers, many from Franklin County were called to Richmond to work on battle fortifications.
"Interested community members, both black and white, have met several times during recent weeks to discuss this idea," Amos said. "The consensus of our meetings has been to ask the board of supervisors to erect a granite column approximately 4 feet high with the appropriate inscription. We believe it is appropriate to remember all those individuals who participated in the War Between the States."
That inscription would read, they suggested: In commemoration of the many contributions, service and sacrifices on the home front and on the battlefield by people of color, enslaved or free, from Franklin County during the War Between the States (1861-1865).
Erected with Gratitude by the Citizens of Franklin County 2010.
Amos said that the proposal is "time sensitive" if it is to be finished for the August dedication of the Confederate statue.
Amos asked the board to approve the request and underwrite the cost, which would be about $3,400.
Circuit Court Judge William Alexander II was also a member of the committee that oversaw the replacement of the statue of the Confederate soldier, and he spoke to board on speaker phone since he is on vacation.
Alexander praised the idea of the additional monument and said it would be "an opportunity to bring citizens of the county together."
Darlene Swain, a local community leader who has written a book about African-Americans who were involved in the Civil War, said history makes little mention of them and there are few tributes.
"I think this (monument) is one of the most beautiful things the county has ever thought of doing," she told board members.
But Florella Johnson, a retired educator, said on behalf of the local chapter of the NAACP that the proposed monument "is not representative as to why blacks fought in the Civil War."
"We want to see a statue of Booker T. Washington on the courthouse lawn," she said.
Snow Creek Supervisor Leland Mitchell said he would like to have more input from the community before making a decision on the proposed monument.
"This really should be decided by citizens," he said.
Blue Ridge Supervisor Bobby Thompson said he agreed with the idea of recognizing the soldiers and other African-Americans who participated in the Civil War, "but obviously there is still some separation on how to do that best."
"The last thing anybody wants is that this request be divisive in any way," he said.
Supervisors tabled the motion and asked Thompson and Gills Creek Supervisor Russ Johnson to work with the two groups to try to find a solution.
Amos said the dedication ceremony for the new statue of the Confederate soldier is set for Saturday, Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. The keynote speaker will be noted Virginia Tech Civil War historian James Robertson.
The original statue, which was set in place in December 1910, was destroyed after being hit by a truck in June 2007. A company in Connecticut constructed a new one after putting together the pieces of the old statue for a model.
Statue Will Again Get Its Day At Courthouse
Roanoke Times-World News
May 23, 2008
Statue will again get its day at courthouse
Franklin County is making headway to replace a Confederate statue destroyed last year.
By Jay Conley
A memorial in Rocky Mount dedicated to Rebel troops was destroyed by a motorist in June.
Almost a year after it was destroyed, the planned resurrection of a nearly 100-year-old historic Confederate statue in front of the Franklin County Courthouse is going to take a little more time.
In a matter of seconds last June, a driver's erratic operation of his Chevy S-10 pickup truck felled a statue of a Rebel soldier that was placed in front of the courthouse in Rocky Mount in 1910 to honor Civil War soldiers. According to a police account, John Ozmore may have had an epileptic seizure that caused him to cross South Main Street, hit a sidewalk and then smash into the statue, toppling it and breaking it into pieces.
"We felt like there was a death," said Linda Stanley, a special projects coordinator for the Franklin County Historical Society and a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. "We were so devastated."
A judge later fined Ozmore $40 for improper driving.
Since the accident, efforts have been under way to replace the statue and settle with Ozmore's insurance company.
This week, the Franklin County Board of Supervisors agreed to set up an account to collect the insurance money -- and donations -- that will pay for the statue's replacement. The county has received about $62,000 from its own insurance company and a $500 donation from former state Sen. Charles Hawkins of Chatham.
The most accurate cost estimate so far to create a new statue is about $163,000, said Mike Thurman, Franklin County's director of public facilities.
The county should soon receive an additional $100,000, the maximum amount that Ozmore's insurance will pay out, Thurman said.
"I think all the hurdles and obstacles of dealing with the insurance companies are behind us," he said. "Hopefully within the next week, we will have the funding all in place and then we can begin the procurement process immediately after that."
It will be up to the supervisors to choose the company that replaces the statue.
"This is something that we want to do right," Thurman said. "But this monument is close to 100 years old. It's a lot different than getting a replacement to a late model automobile. And that has been somewhat of a struggle over the last few months, to find people with the, how I would say, the correct or adequate resume who have dealt with something like this. People who do this type of work are somewhat limited."
Stanley said she's hopeful a statue will be back in front of the courthouse soon.
"It's a piece of our history. We just need to find a way to get it back up," she said.
The original statue was paid for and donated to the county by the Gen. Jubal A. Early Chapter of the UDC as a monument to Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
Much of the original statue has been preserved and is being stored in a secure location, Stanley said. It could be used as a guide for carving the new statue, which would likely be made out of marble with a granite base, Thurman said.
Stanley said the UDC would like to see the original statue restored.
"My thought would be, battle scars and all, we'd like to have it put back," she said.
Momument Update - January 12, 2008
The Confederate Statue that stood in front of the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount from 1910 to 2007 is going back up - in some form. according to a county official.
Mike Thurman, general properties manager for Franklin County, told members of the Jubal Early Chapter on January 12 that negotiations are moving slowly with the company that insured the pickup driver who damaged the statue in June 2007.
He explained that damage of this type is an "unknown" requiring intervention from the national headquarters of the insurer, Progressive Insurance. He noted that damage to a historic work of art is very different from damage to a vehicle whose value can easily be determined from various sources. He said some county insurance is available once Progressive makes an offer that is accepted. Offers so far, have fallen far below the expected cost of restoring the monument. He said this cost is projected in three figures.
Mike told chapter members that the board of supervisors, circuit court judge, county administrator, county attorney and others are working to get the statue back up. He said there has never been a question that it would be re-erected. The question, instead, is whether the many pieces of the damaged monument should be pieced together with the numerous fabrications that would be necessary to make a complete figure of the Italian marble soldier that graced the stop.
Mike said he has consulted numerous sculptors, curators and other experts on local, state and now national levels for advice. His fear, he told the women, is that the replaced monument will not stand the test of time and would eventually begin to crack and deteriorate. Some of the women said they favored piecing the statue together and lettings its "battle scars" show in remembrance of the men the monument honors.
Mike said the base of the statue suffered damage but likely can be used. He is working with experts to determine whether it is stable enough to hold the top of the monument without extra efforts.
Mike promised to make regular reports to chapter member Linda Stanley who has been working with him since last June. He said the county attorney has contacted Progressive with a strong letter asking for action. In the meantime, MIke said he is open to suggestions for sculptors and other experts who might offer advice. He emphasized that he is a Franklin County native, interested in history and has very strong feelings about the importance of restoring this monument as quickly as possible.
He said a deadline for an offer from the insurance company will likely be set soon but noted that no work on restoration can begin until a plan of action is agreed upon. He said that plan is pending a report from the New York art company and from the curator of statues at the State Capitol in Richmond.
Mike added that he has been busy with this project on an almost daily basis, has talked to hundreds of people and contacted everyone suggested to him who might be able to put the monument back together or carve another one. He said most of the artists said they would reconstruct the soldier statue and use it as a model for carving a new one. That reconstructed damaged piece, he said, probaby should be stored inside as a historic artifact. Various chapter members opposed the idea of a new statue.
Today, Monday June 11, Franklin County General Properties Manager Mike Thurman advised us that all the pieces of the marble soldier are secured under lock and key awaiting the next action. When the granite slabs were moved from the courthouse lawn today for safe keeping, a few more statue pieces were found and also are secured.
He believes that the $1,800 price of the original Confederate monument would translate into $250,000 to $300,000 today for the same job. Mike notes that there are not as many marble cutters as in 1905 so other avenues will be explored with an eye to authenticity for the replacement of the soldier. Obviously, we want it to last another 100 years minimum.
We are gathering information on the Roanoke company that built the granite portion as well as the Italian company that likely provided the soldier statue. Assisting us are many people including Col. Andy Jackson of the Jubal Early Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans (Carroll County) who is working with officials in Independence (Grayson County) to repair the monument there. The Independence monument is a year younger than Franklin County's and also includes a marble soldier from Italy. We found that marble company and are awaiting a reply to our SOS.
Mike Thurman said the granite "terraces" can probably be salvaged. The carving on the edges seems to be okay, with the possibility of needing some "sanding" or smoothing by a professional once they are put back in place. As these pieces were moved today, several people stopped to make sure they were not being destroyed or permanently relocated.
Commonwealth's Attorney Cliff Hapgood advises that other charges are being explored against the driver who hit the monument. He said destruction of historic properties may not be an option as the court requires proof of intent to damage for a conviction. There are other options for other charges and also a case for a civil suit to seek replacement funds for the monument. He promises to press for the maximum punishment/fines. The status of the driver's insurance coverage has not been determined.
The Historical Society received numerous calls today with offers of fundraising assistance, help with the anticipated re-dedication ceremonies and so on. Everyone is very grateful for these offers.
Many callers had very good things to say about the Jubal Early Chapter UDC and the patriotism of the ladies who assist with various community and school programs.
One man who said he moved to Franklin County from New Jersey three years ago told us he wished Northerners were as patriotic as Southerners. "It's hard to tell which side lost that war," he said. "U'ns seem to be prouder of losing than we were of winning. It makes me proud to live here and see the women and men (re-enactors) in their outfits." He said he's even learned the words to the salute to the Virginia flag.
While the monument's destruction is an awful thing, the positive side continues to be the opportunities for public education and interaction with people we might never have met.
We are gratetul for county's support, the interest of county officials in history and heritage and their quick action.
Linda Stanley, Special Projects Coordinator
Franklin County Historical Society
PO Box 905
Rocky Mount, VA 24151
Confederate Monument Article - Roanoke Times
June 9, 2007
Civil War soldier subject of community debate
Some residents of Franklin County question whether another Confederate memorial should be built.
By Ruth L. Tisdale
ROCKY MOUNT -- The statue in front of the courthouse dedicated to the memory of the Confederate dead of Franklin County meant different things to residents in Rocky Mount.
Some viewed the statue as a symbol of patriotism and freedom.
Others viewed it has a symbol of hatred and bondage.
Nearly all were shocked when they learned that the statue was damaged following a crash in front of the Franklin County Courthouse on Thursday night.
A pickup truck driven by John Ozmore, 53, crossed into the northbound lane on South Main Street, hit a sidewalk and then smashed into the statue, toppling it, about 7:15 p.m.
Ozmore was charged with driving under the influence.
Charles Wagner, a member of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors, said the county should have an estimated cost to repair the damage by next week. At that point, the county will be able to discuss what should be done next.
The statue has stood in front of the courthouse since 1910, said Linda Stanley, who is the special projects coordinator for the Franklin County Historical Society and a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Stanley said the statue was donated to the county by the Gen. Jubal A. Early Chapter of the UDC after the board of supervisors of the time was unable to provide money for the project.
Over the years residents mistook the statue of a Confederate soldier as the county's famous native son Early, who fought in the war and later became a prosecutor for Franklin and Floyd counties, said local historian and physician Dr. Francis Amos.
"Gen. Early has a plaque on the site, but that's not him," Amos said. "The man in the statue carried a rifle. Gen. Early would have had a sword."
Stanley said that while the statue was raised to honor Confederate soldiers -- many such statues or monuments stand near courthouses in Virginia -- it came to symbolize all those in Franklin County who died in all wars over the years.
"That shows our patriotism," Stanley said. "I just wanted to know how quickly we could put it back up there. We are just deeply saddened."
Stanley said she wasn't sure who would be paying for the statue but said there were plenty of donors in line.
"We have people from all over who have called to see how they can help," Stanley said. "We are just waiting to see what the county will do."
The statue was erected 45 years after the end of the Civil War, at a time when the generation of Confederate war veterans was beginning to pass and the Confederacy was memorialized in some quarters of the South as the noble "Lost Cause." It was also a time when black Virginians were disenfranchised, subject to state-sanctioned discrimination and educated in segregated schools.
Nearly a century later, not everyone wants to celebrate the Civil War and its aftermath.
Ashley Childress, for one, said she was happy to learn the statue was damaged, and the county shouldn't replace it.
"It shouldn't have been there in the first place," said Childress, a lifelong resident of Rocky Mount. "If there was a slave in front of the courthouse, people would probably be burning crosses on everyone's doorstep."
April Camp, walking near the site Friday, said the statue should not be put back up in front of the courthouse, but instead in one of the war memorials.
"We shouldn't put something up that is so offensive to so many people," Camp said. "The courthouse is supposed to be a place of freedom and justice. Why would we put a statue there that symbolizes anything but freedom and justice?"
Darlene Swain, who runs the annual Warren Street Heritage Festival honoring black history in the town, said she is not against the statue's being replaced, but that if one is in front of the courthouse it should be inclusive of the entire community.
"I'm for anything that's positive," Swain said. "If we are going to celebrate history let's celebrate the entire history. We should have a black Confederate soldier there, too."
Elizabeth Greer, head of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said the statue wasn't political, pointing to the fact that renowned black educator Booker T. Washington donated money for the statue to be built.
"It is central to the identity of the county," Greer said. "Every courthouse in the North has a statue of a Union soldier, and every one in the South has a picture of a Confederate soldier. It's a part of who we are."
Jubal Early Chapter New Website!
We are proud to announce the opening of our new website, created by Jeff Knipp of Mad Cow Medias, our long time webmaster. Jeff has spent countless hours in creating this website with no expectations of reward other than satisfying his own desire to honor those that so bravely fought for the Confederacy and those who honor them today.
With this new website we have many new features and abilities, such as blogs, Confederate ancestor biographies, events, news, photo galleries and more. We hope you enjoy our new site and take advantage of the features it has.
All Jubal Early Chapter Members will receive instructions soon with their username and passwords. So in the meantime, get those photos and articles ready and let's put some life into our site.
We still have a few things we are working on so be patient during our transition to this new site.
Jubal Early Chapter Received Proclamation
May 15, 2007
On May 15, 2007,the Franklin County Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 26th as Confederate Veteran's Day in Rocky Mount. Present to receive the proclamation were Lois Brown, Maxene Dickerson, Linda Nezbeth, Martha Hubbard and Doris Eames. These ladies are also members of the Old Carolina Road Chapter of the DAR in Rocky Mount.
Franklin County Historical Society
Civil war veterans honored by display
"Windows of Time," a new display at Franklin County History Museum is an ongoing effort to collect photographs of military personnel for permanent collection. The project is initially seeking photographs of veterans of the Civil War.....Read More