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May 30, 2016

The Hamilton County Monument

IMG_0447The Hamilton County Monument

By: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

For Memorial Day, I thought I would look at the largest memorial in town – the Civil War monument in Crownland Cemetery, which will be 150 years old in 2018. It’s the reason Monument Street has its name. The project cost $5,000 at the time, which was appropriated by the county commissioners from the county funds. This would be the equivalent of about $70,000 today.

According to historian Glory-June Greiff, author of Remembrance, Faith, and Fancy: Outdoor Public Sculpture in Indiana, the first Civil War monument in Indiana was installed in 1865 in Princeton in Gibson County. Stylistically, it’s very similar to the Hamilton County monument, but the column is square. The Princeton monument focuses on one regiment from Gibson County, the 59th, while Hamilton County’s monument features three regiments – the 39th, 75th, and 101st – and has names from several more. It even includes the names of the Hamilton County soldiers from African American regiments such as the 28th USCT. This kind of recognition was rare in the 1860’s.

The 1880 history of the county has a pretty good description of the structure.

“The monument stands on the highest and most conspicuous spot in the cemetery at Noblesville. It consists of an octagonal shaft, twenty-two and one half feet in height, each side measuring three and one-half feet in width, resting on a triple base, the sections of which are eight, six, and four feet square respectively.

IMG_0451A perched eagle surmounts the shaft and on each of the four sides corresponding to the cardinal points of the compass and six feet below the top is a spread eagle bearing a scroll.

On the eight sides of the shaft, and on the four sides of each of the two uppermost sections of the base, are the names and ranks of all the commissioned officers and enlisted men, living and dead, arranged in their respective organizations, commencing with the oldest. The national flag enfolds the top of the shaft, beautifully sculptured, above the spread eagles. The height of the structure is twenty-eight and one-half feet, and it weighs 35,000 pounds and is of pure white marble.“

It was completed and dedicated with a ceremony on the 4th of July, 1868. The keynote speaker was Governor Conrad Baker who said,

Conrad Baker“By this structure you not only record your admiration of the virtue, the valor and the patriotism of your own citizens, who rushed to the standard of the country in the hour of its greatest danger, but you also record your devotion to the union for which they fought and for which many of them died”.

Other speakers were officers from the regiments that served, such as Col. James B. Clark, Maj. John D. Evans, Capt. Theodore W. McCoy, Col. James O’Brien, and Col. William Garver. Enoch M. Jackson also spoke and was referred to as the sculptor. However, he may have simply the representative of the company that made it – Jackson and Holloway, Anderson, Indiana – and it was actually carved by men in his employ.

The event finished up with a speech by John Pontious, a Mason and former County Treasurer, who said,

“This monument having been presented and accepted in the name of my country, and in behalf of the citizens of Hamilton County, I do solemnly dedicate this monument to the memory of the brave defenders of our union, who enlisted from Hamilton County under the glorious banner of our Republic, and imperiled their lives in defense of the principles of liberty and happiness of the people of the Union. May we ever revere and cherish their memories in our hearts and emulate their many virtues.”