In 1894 the Evergreen Cemetery Board of Trustees resolved to construct the Soldiers Memorial Monument in honor of all soldiers who fought for our country. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 1898 the monument was dedicated at Evergreen Cemetery. Located in section 2 of the cemetery it is sometimes referred to as the Civil War Monument because of a Civil War soldier on the top of the monument and the Civil War dates (1861 – 1865) on the front of the monument. The site on which the monument stands serves as the location of Fort Atkinson’s annual Memorial Day service.
The following article from page 2 of the Jefferson County Union dated Friday June 3, 1898 describes the magnificent event:
THE BEAUTIFUL SOLDIERS MONUMENT UNVEILED IN EVERGREEN CEMETERY
Thousands View the Handsome Pile and Pronounce It Fine Work of Art
The impressive ceremonies connected with the dedication of the soldier’s monument, drew an unusually large number ot visitors to this city Monday, variously estimated at from 6,000 to 7,000 people.
The memorial exercises at the City Hall filled it to overflowing, fully 1,000 people failing to gain admission. Long before the opening number of the program, there was only standing room at the rear. On the stage were seated Mayor F. W. Hoard, president of the day; Rev. H. W. Thompson, Past Senior Vice Commander Department of Wisconsin ,of Fond du Lac, who was to make the address; Post Commander W. H. Rogers; Chaplain, F. B. Staff of the Congregational church; George Hausz, chairman town board of supervisors and W. D. Hoard Past Commander Department of Wisconsin.
At the rear of the speakers on the stage were seated the Fort Atkinson Military Band, which opened the program with an excellent musical selection. Rev. Staff made an eloquent prayer, followed by the speaker of the day in a very interesting address. Considering the many valuable and helpful thoughts it contained, it is to be regretted that so many were unable to hear him.
A quartette, Mrs. Jessie Learned soprano, Mrs. D. E. Roberts contralto, and Messrs Jos. Schreiner and D. E. Roberts tenor and bass, sang very acceptably, a war medley.
While the exercises were in progress at the City Hall, the G. A. R. society, the fire department, and the Arion cornet band, of Jefferson, arrived at the northern city limits, and alighting from carriages, formed in double file and marched through the city. It had been the intention of those in charge to reserve seats in the hall for these societies, but the committee, owing to the lateness of their arrival, had been unable to hold out against the crowd which
poured in and filled the hall in short order. However, in the parade which soon followed, from the hall to Evergreen cemetery, the Jefferson societies were given the places of honor. The make-up was as follows;
- Arion Cornet Band, of Jefferson.
- Military Band, of Fort Atkinson.
- Fire Department, of Jefferson.
- Fire Department, of Fort Atkinson.
- Ex-Members of Co. B, 1st Regiment. W.N.G.
- G. A R. societies, of Jefferson and Fort Atkinson, without division
- President of the day and speakers in carriage.
- Woman’s Relief Corps in carriages.
- Old Soldiers in carriages.
- The City Council and Town Supervisors in carriages.
- Citizens in carriages and on foot.
On the march to the cemetery, the two bands played some excellent music, often in conjunction.
At the monument, Rev. Staff opened the exercises with a beautiful prayer, followed by Hon. L. B. Caswell, who on behalf of the subscribers to the fund, presented the monument to the G. A. R. Post. In his address, Mr. Caswell stated that the statue was intended to stand in remembrance of the soldiers who slumbered in Lake View, as well as in Evergreen, in the cemeteries of surrounding cities and in remembrance, also, of our dead that lay buried, some of them in unknown graves, on the battle fields and in the national cemeteries at the South; and in this remembrance the brave boys of the navy should not be forgotten. Post Commander W. H. Rogers accepted the monument in a well worded speech, in which he pledged its careful preservation from the destruction of vandal hands.
Past Dept. Commander W. D. Hoard followed with a few remarks, urging upon all to remember the patriotic impulse, self sacrifice and heroic conduct that had inspired the rearing of this monument, and to treasure in their hearts the heritage of brave deeds that had saved the Union from destruction.
The exercises closed with the singing of America, led by the quartette, the band accompanying.