LAFAYETTE — Standing on the corner of High and Main streets is the Jackson Township Civil War soldier monument. The stone soldier wears the uniform of the Grand Army of the Republic, but he represents all soldiers who have fought for democracy at home or abroad, soldiers alive and dead.
The monument has served as a landmark for residents of Lafayette as well as a point of pride.
In 1903, the citizens of Jackson Township raised $400 to build the Civil War soldier monument in tribute to the area’s soldiers. This monument was unveiled Nov. 24, 1903.
“The community held a fundraiser and actually raised the $400 to put the statue up in one day. They were really proud of it. A few facts that are interesting; one of the dignitaries that was there for the unveiling was Jacob Parrott who was the first Congressional Medal of Honor winner from Kenton. They started giving the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Civil War and the reason he was the first was because he was the youngest of that group that got awarded for it,” said Lee Yoakam, past president of the Lafayette Jackson Historical Society.
There are currently 269 memorials in 85 counties in Ohio. Most are in cemeteries, but others are in parks and at prominent intersections, such as Lafayette’s. Fully half feature the popular image of a soldier standing at parade rest. An inventory of Ohio’s Civil War memorials can be found online at http://library.cincymuseum.org/cwdetails7help.htm.
“One thing that I found out in the research that I did was that this was a very unusual monument, for a town this size. You see these throughout the state and throughout other states similar monuments, but not in the town the size of Lafayette. They were very proud of it back then. You know the fact that towns twice or three times our size don’t have monuments that nice, I think it is rare that we have one so good, expensive and nice here in Lafayette,” said Yoakam.
In 2001, the citizens of Jackson Township raised $30,000 to restore the soldier on the monument.
Currently, the base of the monument is crumbling, and the citizens are again being called upon.
“Right now they’ve got donations of $46,000 and they need $120,000 total. We have $30,000 in cash donations and Scott Spallinger has offered a crane and an operator for the dis-assembly and re-assembly and then also to buy the materials and help lay the foundation too, so that amounts to about $16,000 according to the people we have contracted out of Columbus,” said Yoakam.
Columbus Art Memorial Inc. has been contracted. This restoration encompasses the entire monument being disassembled and the wrought iron fence removed. The soldier and plinth, the part the soldier stands on, would be removed to Columbus Art. The two base stones will be replaced with unpolished granite, after the below-ground base has been removed and replaced.
Donations are being solicited now. A fundraiser may be held in spring.
While the historical society plays a role in handling the money, the restoration itself is a township/village responsibility.
“I can’t imagine Memorial Day without our soldier observing the parade and solemn ceremony held at his feet. Our veterans have discharged their duty. Now it is time for us to do our duty and show respect for the sacrifices those men and women who serve our country have made,” said Yoakam.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511