When a tentative proposal to the Highland County Board of Commissioners for an extension to a seating wall in front the Highland County Courthouse was presented earlier this month, it came with a potential stipulation of necessitating the removal and relocation of existing monuments — one commemorating Civil War era history, and another a poignant reminder of more contemporary historical events.
The Marching Mothers bench, which was placed more recently following extensive community efforts and social activism fueled by the group Hillsboro Against Racism and Discrimination (HARD) was initially proposed by local resident Shawn Captain.
“I think it’s just as deserving as the other monuments to be on the courthouse square. It’s a huge part of American history, and to come from a small town like Hillsboro, it’s really significant,” Captain previously told The Times Gazette following the placement of the bench.
The project for the courthouse seating wall that was tentatively pitched by Rob Holt of Bagshaw Industries drew the ire of a group of community members, who voiced a dissent at a recent city council meeting, despite the wall plans having been subsequently rescinded by its originators, citing budgetary constraints.
Council noted at the meeting that the location of the monuments was on land owned by the county, not the city.
“That bench represents recent history,” Patrick Shanahan said at the meeting.
The Highland County Civil War Memorial, which stands in front of the Highland County Courthouse, was dedicated on Nov. 17, 1897. The sculpture’s creation is attributed to New York sculptor Casper Burbel. It is inscribed with the following: “To the memory of the soldiers and sailors of Highland County, Ohio, who served the Union Army during the War of the Rebellion.”
The statue depicts on its highest tier a statue of a soldier, under which are the numerals “1861-1866.” On a secondary tier a soldier playing the drums is depicted. Over the course of time the figures have taken on the characteristic verdigris patina caused by oxidization seen in other iconic statues such as The Statue of Liberty. Like that statue, which beckoned immigrants from afar and marked their entry into a new world, the Civil War Memorial statues stand as not only historical markers, but as a well-known and recognized symbol of Hillsboro’s uptown area and cultural heritage, installed in front of the oldest courthouse in Ohio still functioning in that capacity.
Monuments and historical markers are peppered throughout Hillsboro and Highland County.
“These markers help tell the unique stories of the people, places, things and events” that comprise the history of, “individual communities as well as Ohio and the United States,” according to www.ohiohistory.org., which also provides information on how to start the process of getting a historical marker installed in Ohio, including necessary resources on local sponsorship, application, grant funding and more.
For more information about historical markers in Ohio, visit www.ohiohistory.org.