Rock Island County Soldiers’ Monument

The feeling inspired in a great number of the people of the County, to pay a tribute to the soldiers of this County, who had and would die in the war for the protection of the Union, was expressed and recognized by- the Board of Supervisors December 17, 1863, by the passing of a resolution, appropriating $1,500 toward the building of a suitable monument to be placed in Courthouse Square as a memorial to the soldiers of this County who died in the War of the Rebellion; and that their names be inscribed thereon. For the purpose of carrying out the intent of the resolution, the clerk of the Court was authorized to issue county orders to the amount of $1,500 to the County Monument Committee whenever they may call for them. The committee appointed were Nathaniel Belcher, B. H. Kimball, S. S. Foster, J. Q. Wynkoop and S. W. Wheelock. September 12, 1867, the Board of Supervisors authorized Major James M. Beardsley, chairman of the Citizens’ Committee, to procure plans and specifications. The design presented by Leonard W. Volk, Sculptor, of Chicago, was accepted by the committee and contracted for. Committees were appointed throughout the County to solicit contributions from every-body, which received a hearty recognition. December 17, 1868, the Board of Super-visors authorized the County Clerk to draw an order on the County Treasurer for the amount necessary to complete the Rock Island County Soldiers’ Memorial Monument, upon the order of the County Monument Committee, after they should have expended the amounts already appropriated by the County and donated by the people. The approximate cost of the monument was $10,000; larger proportion coming from the people’s donations. The base of the monument is Concord granite, and Athens, Illinois, limestone; the shaft, which is capped, is surmounted by a statue of a Union soldier; all of Italian marble, and is about fifty feet in height. A copper box was placed in the base, under the marble shaft, where was placed newspapers of the day, and historical documents. Names of all soldiers enlisted from the County are engraved on the bases. The monument was first placed a trifle north of midway, between the east entrance of the Court House and the street sidewalk. In removing the monument to its present location one of the base stones were broken and replaced with granite. On the base of the monument is inscribed this sentiment: “In memory of its patriotic and heroic sons, who served their country during the Great Rebellion, and died that the Nation might live, Rock Island County dedicates this Monument.” On Friday, April 9, 1869-the day being the fourth anniversary of the surrender of Lee’s army to General U. S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia-occurred the dedication of the Soldiers’ Memorial Monument. With clouds and rain the previous day, filled the feelings of the people with disappointment; but the morning dawned clear and beautiful. The crowds gathered from the cities and country,. with a fine, strong and large representation of our Iowa neighbors. The Court House square, with Illinois and Orleans Streets, were crowded. The city was gaily decorated with flags, bunting and banners. At about 2 o’clock the police and military formed at Court House square; the Masonic orders on Buffalo Street, the Odd Fellows and Good Templers on Illinois; the Fire Department on Market Square, and the civic societies in Court House square. A long line of march was made, starting from Court House square; east on Orleans Street to Madison; north on Madison to Illinois; west on Illinois to Otter; south on Otter to Orleans; and east on Orleans to Court House square, where the ceremonies commenced. The military from the Island made a most commanding appearance. General T. J. Rod-man and most of the officers were present. The Turner Societies with their fine singing added much to the occasion. Salutes were fired, whistles blowing and church bells ringing. After the invocation to the people, Honorable Emery A. Storrs of Chicago was introduced, and made the main address of the day, a most eloquent and patriotic oration. The ceremonies of the day were highly interesting and impressive, and indication of the community’s deep respect for the dead soldier. The occasion was the most memorable in the history of Rock Island County-full 30,000 people being present. The twelve cannon originally placed around the Court House yard were given to the County by the War Department through an act of Congress, and are cannons captured from the Confederacy-several of them being spiked. Two of these cannon were after-wards presented to Graham Post No. 212, G. A. R., Moline, Illinois, and placed in Riverside Cemetery. Decoration Day ceremonies have been regularly observed; first by the Rock Island Light Artillery, and since their disbandment by G. A. R. Posts situate here.

 

Early Settlements of Rock Island County 

 

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908