The Dedication of the Soldiers' Monument
by Charles F. Sullivan
After the Civil War, there was considerable talk of erecting a monument for the soldiers who lost their lives in the war.
Several ways to raise the money were tried and one was to show the “Drummer Boy” at Music Hall, where the Victory theatre is now, and it was shown every night for quite a while. Mr. May, father of Anna Loy May, was a very prominent character in it, and his beautiful white hair and dignified acting was quite a part to its success. Also Clem Herchelrode took the part of the villain and how I did want to get up there and tell him what I thought of him and for many years after, I just hated him, but later when I met him, I found him to be a very fine fellow and we were good friends.
The statue of the soldier upon the top, was modeled after George Fair, a brick layer and not George M. Fair then living at Second and Roe now Crescent Avenue. This statue was made in Italy by Carpender & Sons at Carrara, Italy, and was shipped two weeks ahead of schedule and the vessel that was expected to carry it, left Italy on time but was never heard of after.
The location and foundation were ready without my knowing anything about it, but I received a letter from home, while visiting a cousin at Hartwell, Cincinnati, telling me to be home by July 31st, 1884, for the monument was to be dedicated upon that date. Also that the shaft of the Monument was in one piece and so heavy that no wagon would carry it, and a steam tractor and trailer was used to haul it from the railroad car to the spot.
I was on hand that day and saw the big parade and the immense crowd all headed for the Monument. There was a temporary speaker’s stand, just east of it and several speeches were made, and all was fine until the man was to pull off the veil, which failed. Another tried and broke the rope from the canvas. After quite a wait, a long ladder was placed against the Monument and extended to its full length, was short twenty feet or more.
Soon a steeple jack came along with two ropes, and with the aid of them he was soon at the top. He pulled the canvas off and there was a loud hurrah that could have been heard all over the city, and that finished the afternoon program.
There was quite a pool of water west of Main Street bridge and in the evening, quite a lot of fire works were shown along the north side of the river and the reflection in the water increased the beauty greatly. At the conclusion of this, a sham battle was fought between two flat boats on the river and a fort upon the shore about where the First Baptist church now stands. Small cannon were upon the boats and the fort, and with the aid of the canvas and paint, the boats looked much like real boats.
The boats were propelled by side wheels with man and power and when they neared the fort, a broadside was shot at the fort which was returned by it with a vengeance. While this was at its height, without warning, a heavy downpour started and very one got a good ducking, and all went for shelter wherever it could be found.
There had been an immense crowd wherever space could be found but they all vanished in no time at all. I made tracks for home and was the first to arrive there, but was well soaked with the rain.
The name of the street was changed to Monument Avenue, which it has held ever since.
Chas. F. Sullivan