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A monument to those who served: Cemetery soldier has stood watch over his fellow veterans for more than a century in Ogle County

Editor’s note: Otto Dick of Oregon researches the people, places, and events important in the Oregon area’s history for the Ogle County Historical Society.

DAYSVILLE – A monument in Daysville Cemetery stands as a lasting tribute to more than 350 soldiers who answered the call of duty.

The monument’s story begins at the dawn of the 20th century, when local veterans formed the Daysville Monument Committee to erect a monument to their fellow soldiers in the cemetery.

The committee consisted of chairman  Dr. H.A. Mix and members T.A. Jewitt, B.F. Sheets, Virgil E. Reed, Franc Bacon, William T. Williams and George M. McKinney.

By the time they first gathered, many of their fellow soldiers had died. The first big task they faced was raising the money for the monument. Its location in the soldiers lot is an ideal spot, as well as a historic one. The first person buried there was Daniel Day Sr., a Revolutionary War soldier, in 1838.

After enough money was pledged, the committee placed an order with Hugh Nicol, a contractor out of Rockford, to build the monument.

The design of the monument – which stands 22 feet high, with the top 7 feet being the statue of a soldier – was based on a soldiers monument in the Gettysburg battlefield. A story in a January 1900 issue of the Ogle County Republican reporting on the committee’s progress referred to the Daysville monument as “an Imposing granite memorial.”

Nicole reached out to Leon Moore to sculpt the monument. It’s interesting to note that Moore, of Pipestone, Minnesota, was born in Daysville and his father was among the early pioneers of this community. Moore also was part of the Illinois 39th Infantry. Upon returning from the Civil War he moved to Minnesota, where he earned a reputation as an excellent sculptor. Moore visited quarries in the east and selected the slab of blue Bedford stone and shipped it to the home of his old friend and classmate, William F. Willliams of Daysville, where he carved the soldier.

Among the names engraved in the monument are Daniel Day, one of the three Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Ogle County, and his son, Jehiel, who served in the War of 1812. Both men fought against the British. Mix and Reed also are buried at Daysville.

Reed’s father, Lyman, moved to Ogle County in 1839, 3 years after Oregon was founded and built several buildings during the town’s early growth. He later opened a store in Daysville and ran the Daysville Post Office.

Reed was best known for his rock collection at his home in Watertown, 2 miles west of Daysville. He collected a variety of rocks from many states. I was looking for his grave marker in Daysville Cemetery and couldn’t locate it. I later learned the Reed burial site is marked by several stones.

It’s kind of amazing that Reed, a Civil War Veteran serving in Company F of the 34th Illinois Volunteers who worked to have the monument erected, chose to mark his family grave site with only two unmarked stones.

Mix served as a surgeon in the 64th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. His funeral was conducted at his family mansion on North Third Street, where apartments now stand.

In closing, as I pass by the Daysville Monument, I think of Daniel Day, his son, Jahiel, who fought in the War of 1812, Civil War veterans Mix and Reed, and Reed’s rock collection.

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