Soldier's Monument

Soldier's Monument

Above:  Our Soldier's Monument
"To the Dead a Tribute"

For nearly 60 years the bronze soldier has stood on his pedestal of granite in the sightly location at the foot of Court street, overlooking the park. The granite-curbed octagon of green inclosing a smaller curbed inclosure (at a greater elevation), combined, make a tasteful setting for the monument erected in the honor of our citizens soldiers who gave their service to their country.

As many people have come to our town since the erection of the monument, and, although it is a familiar, almost daily sight to many, it is safe to say that the majority of the people know very little about the movement that led to the purchase and setting up of this memorial.

Early in 1869, four years after the close of the Civil War, a movement was started in Westfield by the Grand Army of the Republic, with the object of raising funds for putting up a soldier's monument in some good location in the center of town.

A soldiers' fair was held under the auspices of the Grand Army, which opened at Music Hall, January 10, 1870, and this was made the most elaborate fair of the kind that had been ever been held in town, enlisting the co-operation of all denominations and classes of people. The whole community was interested in the matter. The history of the soldiers' fail may be written in one word -- success! The pulpit and press, men, women, and even the children of the town united in a grand effort to that end, and a goof fortune was the result. The public heart seemed to beat with one generous throb of patriotism. Time, money, experience, and talent were freely poured into the monumental treasury. The Grand Army of the Republic had set the ball in motion, and the people, as a unit, were with them. The wealthy men of the town contributed generously for the good object, and in the entertainments in the hall the various societies and organizations of the town enlisted with great zeal.

The Good Templars put on a pleasing drama, the High School contributed of its talent, and an exhibition by the St. Mary's Sunday School, under the direction of Rev. Father Miglinico, was very pleasing, and the pupils showed great proficiency in their recitations and dialogues.

An object of great admiration was the design for a soldiers' monument, which occupied a commanding position in the center of the hall. A watchful sentinal, with a most lifelike and soldierly bearing, surmounted a granite pedestal. The front face of the shaft had a tablet for the names of the deceased soldiers, which was most appropriately crowned with a representation in alto-relievo of a soldier in the act of falling on the battle field, tow of the remaining faces being filled with emblematic devices. The entire design was 40 inches in height, or quarter size, and reflected great credit upon the artist, M. H. Mosman, of the Ames Works, Chicopee.

There was a large exhibition of war relics including firearms of all kinds and sizes, camp utensils, souvenirs of prison life; also a real Confederate flag, the one that waved over Port Hudson. The gross receipts of the fair were something over $2,000, which gave a net of about $1,500. It was the most successful of any fair that had been given in New England since the war.

Following this fair, at intervals through the year, entertainments of various kinds were given to swell the fund for the purchase of the soldiers' monument and in due time the order was placed with the Ames Works, Chicopee. The stonework was placed in position early in November, 1870. The first base of the monument is 7 feet square, the second 4 feet, and the die 4 feet 8 inches, and 6 feet high, with panels to receive the names of the soldiers who fell in the Civil War. The whole of the stonework is of the best Concord (N.H.) granite.

In January, 1871, another soldiers' fair was held which netted about $500.

On Wednesday, May 31, 1871, the monument was dedicated and stands as a fitting memorial to our heroic dead.

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