SYCAMORE – The copper soldiers who stand guard on the DeKalb County Civil War monument in Sycamore will once again bear arms befitting their rank, if a local group is successful in its fundraising efforts.
The Gen. E.F. Dutton Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, based in Sycamore, is raising funds to restore the weapons of the two soldiers who stand on the base pedestal of the monument, erected in 1896. At one point, one of the soldiers carried a sword and the other a long gun. Both weapons disappeared at some point in the statues’ 118-year history, and the gun was later replaced with one made of wood.
“A couple of our guys noticed the gun was just cobbled together out of wood; it doesn’t even really look like a gun,” said Jim Locke Lyon, a member of the Dutton camp and state commander of the Sons of Union Veterans. “Twenty-two hundred guys from DeKalb County went to the Civil War, and this is their monument.”
The camp is trying to raise $10,000 to have weapons crafted by an expert in Pennsylvania, Lyon said, who will also match the bronze-like finish and patina on the statues. The new weapons will be fixed to the monument so they don’t go missing like their predecessors.
DeKalb County Historian Sue Breese, who can see the monument from her window in the Joiner History Room across the street, said she thinks it’s “wonderful” someone is taking an interest in restoring the monument.
“It means so much,” she said. “It’s one of those things people go by every day, but they just don’t see. It’s important for us to remember what it stands for. And, it’s beautiful. So any attention people can draw to it is a good thing.”
County administrator Gary Hanson said the Sons of Union Veterans approached him about restoring the monument, which belongs to the county. After determining that they would use a qualified expert and “the job would be done right,” he said, they received the county’s blessing.
“We were very happy they were willing to take this on and to raise the funds for it, because that would be hard for us to do,” Hanson said. “We’re really happy with the project and wish them well with their endeavor.”
Lyon said any money raised above what is needed to restore the monument will go toward the Sons’ other restoration projects, such as restoring markers on the graves of Civil War soldiers. The goal is to have the work completed by June 2015.
A “meet the artist” event is planned from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, at the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore. Artist Mike Kraus of Pennsylvania, who will be doing the restoration, is scheduled to speak. Local Civil War historians will also talk about other quirks of the monument, Lyon said, including possible reasons the names of several battles listed on the monument are misspelled.
How to Donate
Checks made payable to Civil War Monument Restoration can be sent to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore, IL 60178. For more information, contact James Locke Lyon at 815-895-6735 or firstname.lastname@example.org.