Over a period of several years the Women's Relief Corps had presented plays, held bazaars, ice cream socials, strawberry festivals and community suppers (which were extremely popular) to raise money for a new monument. The populace especially looked forward to the George Washington's Birthday dinners put on by the W.R.C. The menu included choice roast beef, browned potatoes, noodles, creamed onions, lettuce salad, bread and butter, jelly, cheese, apple pie, cherry pie and coffee -- all for twenty five cents a person.
By 1897 the Corps had $475 in its treasury and, through an agent, J.M. Gorrell, they purchased a monument for 700 dollars. The base was to be of New England granite, surmounted by a soldier of Italian Marble. The base would extend nine feet above the ground and the soldier would be six feet tall, have a handsome face, mustache, curly hair and wear the uniform of an American private foot soldier. The monument was to be made in Italy.
This was the year also (1897) when the Board of Education gave the Village its old school ground, North of the Baptist Church and extending from South Main Street to Park Ave. The land was deeded over to the village with the provision that the plot could be used for no purpose other than a park. It was on this public ground that the W.R.C. made arrangements to place the new monument. The monument arrived from Italy and it was erected and a dedication planned for August 5th, 1897.
The monument was kept covered until the appointed day and an elaborate program was planned. The Governor of Ohio, Governor Bushnell, agreed to be present for the dedication and to give an address. The famous Eighth Regiment Band of Akron was engaged (at a cost of $150) to present a street concert in the morning, and the afternoon program, in addition to the speech by the Governor, was to include music by the band and by a chorus of 50 voices, addresses by the Honorable W.S.Kerr, the Honorable I.F.Mack and other dignitaries. Ray Brundage, Christine Giles and Ford White were to give solos, accompanied by the chorus and band. The climax of the program was of course, to be the unveiling of the monument.
The morning of August 5th was clear, promising an ideal day for the big event, but about 12:30 p.m., the heavens opened up and there was such a deluge that everyone raced for cover. The biggest disappointment of all, however, was a last minute message that Governor Bushnell was ill and would be unable to attend. When the storm was over an attempt was made to present the program in the Town Hall but the crowd finally adjourned to Memorial Park where an abbreviated program was given.
The church groups had planned to serve dinner for the visitors but only one or two groups had enough patrons to repay them for their work according to an account of the big day in the New London Record of August 6th, 1897. The article said the expected crowd of 5,000 had been reduced to about 3,500 because of the storm and many of these patronized the saloons instead of the church suppers.
Anyway, the "Soldier" had a new home. A fence was put around the spot in 1903 and the plat was seeded and graded in 1907.
From New London Record of Aug. 5th, 1971.