Working to save history

2-year fundraising effort inching towards goals

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - A two-year fundraising effort for the statue of a nameless Civil War soldier is closer to one of it's foals. 

The Civil War Soldiers' Monument Restoration Project started in 2014, when it became apparent that the soldier who stood outside the courthouse had fallen into disrepair over time. The soldier was removed for safekeeping, and a fundraising effort was started. 

"He stood guard for 150 years," said Captain Ron Erickson of the Rock Island County Sheriff's Office. "We would like to make sure his replacement does another 150 years."

The Italian marble soldier has details and facial features that have been worn away by weather and time. The initial estimate for casting the statue in bronze is $40,000. Currently, the effort has raised just under $32,000

The Rock Island Sheriff's Department and Rock Island County Historical Society are heading the fundraising effort, and the goal for the project is $100,000. That amount would restore the entire monument as a whole and leave some in reserves for it's upkeep. 

The monument itself stands outside of the Rock Island County Courthouse still. It stands about 30 ft. tall and houses 354 names of fallen Civil War soldiers who are affiliated with Rock Island County.

"It gets back to the fact that we don't want these men to have served in vain," said President of the Rock Island Historical Society Merredith Peterson. "This is a memento here at home that commemorates their struggle and their sacrifice."

"It is the only memorial for these 400-some soldiers in existence," said Erickson. "Back in the Civil War era, when somebody passed they were buried where they died, they weren't transported back home. So, this is the only memorial for the families of all these names."

The sculptor, Leonard Wells Volk, also has significant historical significance. Find out more about Volk and his work here.

The sculpture was dedicated in 1869 to a crown of 30,000. Although they have only raised $32,000, Erickson says they hope to have a re-dedication ceremony for the 150th Anniversary of the monument in 2019. 

"In order to perpetuate a sense of history in this age of digitization we have to go the extra mile to find ways of bringing the past alive for our children and grandchildren," said Peterson.

To donate to the cause click here.


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