(MACON – Jan 2, 2015) It was 1911 when a monument was to be placed in Twiggs County; a place of prominence had been decided upon – the grounds of the County Court House. As the story goes, there was a disagreement about placing it on the courthouse grounds.
When the monument arrived by rail, in Jeffersonville, according to some of the local residents it did not belong on the grounds of the courthouse. After much refusal to place it there, it was eventually unloaded and sat at the Depot for some time before being placed “in a field” across the railroad tracks. The local newspaper printed, on at least two occasions, that there would be a “Dedication of the Confederate Monument,” but it was never formally dedicated. Many efforts over the years have been tried. In 2003 a group of SCV the members, lead by Russ Huffman and Tommy Fountain, sought to petition the Twiggs County Commissioners at their regular meeting of Tuesday, August 5, 2003. The Commission never took action on the request.
The monument remained in the same location for one hundred and three years. Initially, there were no businesses encroaching on the site, but over time, the monument was vandalized, the rifle was broken and weeds grew in the cracks between the stones.
Forward to March, 2014. The 4th Brigade Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Kim Beck, voiced his concern about the monument being so very close to Highway 80. In April, plans were put in motion to apply for funds for the moving of the monument to be paid by the Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Tag Fund with the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Sidney Lanier Chapter finding the remaining ten percent required.
The UDC considered the monument to be “an orphan monument” since there isn’t an UDC chapter or SCV camp in Jeffersonville. The Sidney Lanier Chapter UDC agreed to being “the leaders” of the project with the assistance from two local SCV camps – the Tracy Camp #18 and the Camp of the Unknown Soldier.
Jeff Ellis of Clark Memorial was contacted and told that funding had been approved. However, getting permission to move the monument was not an easy task. Judy Wall Smith accepted the job of speaking to local officials regarding moving the monument. Several local residents offered parcels of their land to place it, but the locations were not prominently located. Each time, supporters just knew we had THE PLACE. But it could not be that simple.
Beginning in August, Mrs. Smith began calling land owners and asking about a prominent place for relocation – everyone who was contacted had the same answer, “It needs to be on the Court House grounds”. Easily said, but not easily accomplished, until someone stepped forward to help could get the proposal on the Agenda of the County Commissioners meetings.
Mr. William “Bill” Hamrick arranged to have his name and that of Mrs. Smith placed on the agenda of the November 4th 2014 Commission meeting at the Court House at 4pm. After sitting through the usual items of business, Mr. Hamrick got up and addressed the Commissioners and introduced Judy Smith. Mrs. Smith explained to the commissioners that the UDC and the SCV had the money to move and restore the monument, and that both groups, along with much of the local population wanted it to be placed on the 1911 intended spot, the Court House grounds. There were five commissioners. After the initial vote, it was 3 to 2 to allow the move to the Court House grounds – then the discussion, back and forth – why it should and should not be on public property. But the final vote was passed by a 3 to 2 vote in favor.
On November 18th at 7:30 pm during the commissioners meeting, the area next to “the longest serving Sheriff in Georgia or the Nation” Mr. Earl Hamrick’s monument was proposed as the final location for the monument. Again the vote was 3 in favor and 2 no votes. But it passed; and on Monday, November 24th, a start date was decided upon. On December 8th, the foundation was dug and the coping from the monument was removed and placed at the new site. Due to the cooler weather, it took a few more days for the concrete to cure before the monument could be moved.
Finally, on Thursday, December 18th, the Twiggs County Confederate Monument was moved to the grounds of the County Court House after waiting since 1911. The Macon Telegraph, PBS, and others were present. Photos were taken by the Telegraph supporters each time a section of the monument was moved, placed on the truck, and taken to the area to be placed. It took seven hours from dismantling to relocation on the ground where it was intended.
After 103 years, the Twiggs County Confederate Monument now sits on the Courthouse grounds where it was intended originally. The Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans recognizes the mutual efforts of the Georgia United Daughters of the Confederacy and Mrs. Judy Smith in helping to complete this long overdue project to honour the brave Confederate veterans from Twiggs County. Many thanks, too, to Mrs. Smith for her authoring most of the account recorded in this release.
For more information about the Sons of Confederate Veterans or any of this year’s planned events to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War, contact the Georgia SCV at 404-456-3393 or online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org