Soldiers’ Monument Dedication

One of the grandest events to take place in the Village of Poland in the 1800s was the dedication of the Soldier Monument in the Riverside Cemetery on October 12, 1887. The two major newspaper publishers in the Mahoning Valley sent reporters to cover this event. The Youngstown Vindicator was the first to get their story in print as it was then a daily newspaper. Their account of the events that took place that day in October has been widely quoted by Poland historians over the past 119 years and will not be repeated. However, what you will see below is the little known article that appeared in the Youngstown Weekly Telegram dated October 19th and a full week after the festivities took place. Personally I prefer this account as it was written by the only Republican newspaper in this area and the “underdog” always tries harder to get the facts correct.


And Presented to Hawkins Post, G.A.R. – addressed by
C.F. Kirtland on behalf or Committee – Speech by
Hon. William McKinley, Jr.

Although the air was extremely raw there was a large attendance Wednesday at the unveiling of the soldiers’ monument in Poland. The village put on holiday attire, the business houses and residences being profusely decorated with flags and bunting. Business was suspended, the schools closed and all joined in making the occasion a memorable one in the history of the village.
At 1 o’clock sharp the procession was formed in front of the First Presbyterian Church in the following order:

Poland Cornet Band
Hawkins Post, G.A.R., of Poland
Tod Post, No. 29 of Youngstown’
Martial Band,
School Children and Other Singer,
Hon. C.F. Kirtland, Hon. Wm. McKinley, Jr.
Hon. W.C. Lyons, and
Others in carriages.

Following there was a large delegation of school children walking, carrying flags and banners. Upon reaching the cemetery the members of the Grand Army formed a hollow square around the monument, which was draped with the stars and stripes. Following a song by the school children, the beautiful monument was unveiled. Hon. C. F. Kirtland, chairman of the monument committee, in behalf of the citizens of Poland, presented the monument to Hawkins Post, speaking as follows:
A little more than 26 year ago the President of the United States issued his first call for 75,000 men to put down a rebellion inaugurated in the Southern States for the purpose of separating a portion of the states from the Union and forming for them a government independent of it. It was no puny effort but a mighty one. As more men were called for and needed to put it down.
The leaders of it, proud, confident and defiant, and accustomed to domineer, when the control of the policy of the Government was about to pass from them, were determined to destroy it. The people of that section aided them with a unanimity, zeal, courage and perseverance unexpected and worth of a better cause
It required four years of war to defeat them and taxed the resources and energies of the government to its utmost. For a time the Union cause suffered defeat and disaster; its reverses were frequent and there seemed to be no end to them. Then men in the North were found who discouraged enlistments; who encouraged draft riots; who decried the currency and denounced the war and pronounced it a failure. These added so much to the embarrassments and trials of the government that a feeling began to develop among some men who were true to the cause that our form of government, heretofore so lauded, was a doubtful experiment unequal to the strain and about to perish. At this period the heroic conduct and devotion to duty of the Union soldier was shown and never excelled. No wail of discourage came from the front, where they faced death, and though weary with long marching and vigils and hardships of every kind, they continued to have unflinching faith in their cause – their constancy was unshaken and they showed no disposition to shrink from the great work to be done. They knew there was no road to a permanent peace but onward to victory. Defeat and surrender meant anarchy and despotism and a flood of unknown evil. Among them was found the courage and spirit to hand down to their children the territory, the liberty and free government received from their fathers unabridged and unchanged. The road to peace and undivided nation was a long one and bloody. It lead through Bull Run, Chicahominy, Anteitam, Stone River, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Atlantic, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor and Five Forks to Appomattox. Other points, too, were strewn with dead; the graves of 13,000 men at Andersonville tell its horror where cruelty, inhumanity and fiendishness went hand in hand. The soldiers of Poland Township, living and dead, did their share of this great work and they did it well, the record on this monument shows it. It was erected by the people of Poland in honor of her sons who died in the war for the Union. It is a voluntary tribute to their worth and to remind the living of them who have sacrificed their lives to duty. Unveil it and let it be seen. In behalf of the committee who were appointed to erect this monument, I now place it in the care of Hawkins Post of the Grand Army of the Republic and the citizens of Poland.
Mr. Manassas Meyers, commander of Hawkins Post, in the name of the organization, accepted the handsome gift, reading from the ritual of the Grand Army, Rev. J. A. Wright followed in the eloquent prayer, and at its conclusion the school children joined in singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Rally ‘Round the Flag.”
Hon. C.F. Kirtland then introduced Hon. William McKinley, Jr. who delivered an eloquent address, paying a warm tribute to the heroic dead whose names were inscribed upon the granite shaft. At the conclusion of his address Capt. W.C. Lyon, of Newark, Ohio, delivered a short address full of patriotism and love for those who had laid down their lives in defense of their country, and referring to the spirit manifested by the patriotic people of Poland in rearing the handsome monument to their memory. At the conclusion of the addresses, the visitors were escorted to the rink where a most palatable dinner was served by the ladies of Poland.
The monument was furnished by J. A. Koehler & sons of Warren, Ohio, and is a handsome piece of workmanship. It is 18 feet high, the base being of unpolished granite, and the shaft supporting the figure of polished granite. Surmounting the shaft is a life-size figure in granite of a soldier in full uniform, wearing an overcoat. His hands are clasped in front holding his cap, and a musket rests in his arms. The design is perfect and was modeled in New York and finished in Warren. On each side of the shaft is a roster of the heroic dead of Poland, with the places where they were killed or died from wounds.