EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
Just 100 years ago (1972), Findlay and Hancock County were in the midst of a discussion with regard to a memorial to the community’s Civil War participants.
A movement for such a memorial took form in 1871 when a foundation for a monument was constructed. Lack of funds held up the completion of the project until 1874 and dedication did not take place until mid-1875.
The monument now stands in Maple Grove Cemetery. It had been in two different locations previously.
The large monument which honors the memory of Findlay and Hancock County citizens who fought in the Civil War in 1861 through 1865 and which now stands in Maple Grove Cemetery is just two years over the 100 mark in its history.
The monument has stood in three locations across the years. Two were in downtown Findlay, before removal to the cemetery.
The cemetery has been the location of the monument since 1935. It is now situated on a plot of ground where those from here who have died in the various wars of the United States are honored.
The movement for the Civil War monument had its inception at a public meeting held in Findlay on the day of President Lincoln’s assassination. The Hancock Monumental Association was formed to provide a suitable monument. The raising of funds for the project proved difficult. Finally around $2,000 was obtained by public subscription but this was not enough for the full project. So it was decided to construct just a base and pedestal first, at a cost of $1,900. After much debate, it was decided to locate the monument on Park Place (later renamed Broadway) between West Main Cross and West Front streets. The foundation was completed in the fall of 1871.
Eventually enough funds were obtained to complete the monument and a dedication took place July 6, 1875. A series of entertainments including a military drama entitled “Union Spy” produced the required money. Gov. William Allen and former governor R.B. Hayes were among the speakers. (The next year in 1876 Hayes was elected president of the United States.)
There was a parade as a feature of the dedication program, which included the singing of a patriotic song, composed by Col. William Mungen, Findlay attorney who once served in Congress. The audience stood with heads uncovered as the drapery was removed from the statue.
In mid-1935, the county commissioners took action to move the Civil War soldier monument from Park Place to the courthouse grounds, replacing a fountain which had been moved to the rear of the courthouse, from the southeast corner of the county’s building grounds. Surviving members of the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization of Civil War veterans, supported the move.
Moving of the monument to the cemetery started July 16, 1935. W.E. Clingerman of Williamstown received the moving contract. Don Brown, Findlay garageman, aided the contractor.
The two-ton marble statue was first moved, followed by the massive stone pedestal, weighing some 20 tons. The pedestal was moved in one piece. To protect pavements, the truck bearing the pedestal traveled on heavy planking laid down for it all the way to the cemetery, a distance of more than a mile.
The cemetery location once contained a chapel structure, which was razed in connection with the movement to make the entire plot a memorial ground, honoring all who have died in the country’s wars. The Civil War monument stands on the southeast corner and on other corners are small crosses for each Hancock County soldier who died while serving his country in war. The annual Memorial Day services of the community are conducted in this area.
The soldier statue is of pure Italian marble and measures 6 feet in height. It represents a soldier standing at “parade rest.”
The words “Our Honored Dead” appear on the monument in a prominent position. Beneath are these words: “In memory of the soldiers of Hancock County who fought to suppress the great rebellion, 1861-1865.”
At the courthouse, the monument stood on an elevated platform, but at the cemetery, this was done away with in the change.
There are four cannon around the monument. They were once in use in the Civil War. They were obtained for Hancock County by Sen. John Sherman, of Ohio, from the federal government. They were in the war.