For nearly a century, the confederate veteran has kept watch over Bryan County. He would have been watching a different area of town had he been placed at the originally intended location at the corner of 3rd & Main. Newspapers of the day do not say why officials decided not to use that location, only that, “it was thought not to do.”
The statue was carved in Italy and brought to Durant where it sat crated in storage five years before being erected.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy are credited with the building of the monument and putting the Confederate soldier where he is today.
The motto of the Daughters that is carved in the base of the monument says, “Lest we forget.” The following is on the pedestal: “Erected in memory of our gallant Confederate soldiers, by the Julia Jackson Chapter, U.D.C. A.D. 1917.”
The soldier is in the position of rest with his gun. He is wearing the private’s Confederate uniform.
The program to unveil the statue was rich with prominent speakers and visitors. It was said of the ceremony, “One of the largest crowds of people gathered in the county in quite some time.”
The Honorable W.A. Durant, who was to be the state’s next Governor, spoke at the program. He oversaw the entire project as Chairman and “presided with his usual dignity.”
Newspaper accounts continue by saying, “The Daughters to whom goes the credit for the monument, were there in full force in the happy and patriotic spirit.”
Everyone in the county as well, was excited to have the monument to the Confederate soldier. Speakers for the occasion were Governor Robert L. Williams and Colonel Jim Tom Story, a veteran of the Confederacy.
Story was also the editor of the ‘Bokchito News’, which insured plenty of news coverage of the days events.
Jim Tom Story the Great Grandfather of Bob Story and the Great Great Grandfather of former city councilman Bobby Story.
Newspaper accounts say, “In a happy manner, Honorable W.A. Durant introduced Governor Williams who held the vast crowd spellbound.”
They said, “The Governor made the speech of his life. He was full of the subject before him-referring many times to the heroism of the people of the South, in the sixties. He paid high compliments to the women of the South and to the Daughters (of the Confederacy) who are laboring to perpetuate the principles, the memory and the deeds of the brave boys, who followed the flag.”
Governor Williams, at the unveiling ceremony continued, by stating he was proud because it was in his home town, and county and state. Williams said about the occasion and history.
“All of this showed the sealing of the North and South – that we now have no North, no South, no East or West. Yea, all one for winning of this war under our great President, Woodrow Wilson, but one now inseparable.”
His reference was to World War I which was being fought overseas as the monument was unveiled.
The statue actually brought together all Americans for the cause to win the first World War.
Newspaper accounts said, “the Governor was looking and feeling well and in the best of spirit to suit the occasion.”
Miss Julia Jackson was in attendance at the unveiling and was greeted with loud cheers and applause as she took her seat on the platform that day.
“The little lady arose and acknowledged her thanks as the band played ‘Dixie’ amid cheers and hurrahs.”
Then Colonel Jim Tom Story spoke. He told of how proud he and his comrades were to be present. He paid compliments to the Daughters of the Confederacy, who had labored for years, for the statue.
“None except this band of Daughters, the noblest little women in the world, could have made such a success as this had proved to be,” said Story. “All praise to Julia Jackson chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy of Durant, the best on Earth.”
Julia was the niece of Stonewall Jackson who attended the event.
“The old Confederates of today are bending their energies in helping to win this war, and we must win it, and we will win it,” said Story.
He mentioned the flag and said, “Long may it wave o’re the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
It was at this point in the ceremony newspaper accounts said, “Two sweet little girls, Mabel Hicks and Edl Speairs, in a handsome manner, unveiled the monument which showed the Confederate soldier at rest with his trusty rifle, canteen, haversack and cartridge box. He is clothed in the regulation Confederate uniform.”
At the time of it’s unveiling in 1917, this was the only monument in the state of Oklahoma that was erected solely in memory of the Confederate veterans. There are others to individual Confederates, but none to the Confederate soldier.”
The Confederate veteran statue has stood 98 years with it’s birthday only a couple of years away.
With a little refurbishing of the base of the monument, the statue should stand another 100 years, until our contribution to it’s refurbishing, is but a memory.
Contact Dan Pennington at (580) 634-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org