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Monument’s history laid out

September 30, 2013

    Although formal re-dedication ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Adams County Peace Monument were held last month during the annual Kekionga Festival, the true century mark from the monument’s initial dedication will not take place for another month, on Oct. 30.
    To further education anyone interested about the history of the first-of-its-kind structure built in the United States to commemorate the service of Civil War veterans – and later to add the names of those who served in conflicts up to and through the Spanish American War – local historian Max Miller on Sunday hosted a display of artifacts and documents that led to the monument’s construction.
    Gathered inside the Adams County Historical Museum were various pieces of correspondence, photo-copied newspaper stories and other items related to the concept and completion of the Peace Monument.
    Included was a letter from French Quinn, who in 1912 first broached the possibility of a monument to honor Civil War veterans. Quinn, a controller of the inter-urban electric trolley that at the time ran between Decatur and Fort Wayne, quickly garnered support from the local chapter of the GAR, or Grand Army of the Republic, whose members circulated petitions that subsequently were presented to the county commissioners for support. The county officials, in turn, imposed a new property tax – 7 cents on the dollar – to finance the $10,000 monument.
    Other documents on display on Sunday were letters from  Charles Mulligan of the Chicago Art Institute, who was hired to design the monument, and local lead contractor George Wemhoff.
The Adams County Peace Monument contains the names of some 1,400 county veterans, of which 1,200 were those who served in the Civil War. As the 100th anniversary of its dedication approaches, Miller shared some information he had discovered about the Oct. 30, 1913 celebration.
    Attendance was low at Sunday event, perhaps due to a steady rain, or perhaps the Indianapolis Colts’ televised football game.
    One hundred years ago it was quite different, Miller said, noting that the original dedication of the Adams County Peace Monument “was an all-day event.”

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