June 28, 2007

Lost and Found - Historic Fountain Returns to Rightful Home

A piece of Scotland County history was missing from the Scotland County Courthouse lawn, but just for an afternoon.

The removal of the antique water fountain from its home on the south side of the courthouse generated a public outcry from several courthouse employees, ultimately resulting in the return of the historic memorial.

The Scotland County Commission initially had approved the removal of the water fountain because it was in disrepair and an inspection had indicated it would be cost-prohibitive to return it to service

The drinking fountain was removed on June 20th. Several courthouse employees noticed the icon was missing and questioned the move.

The case of the missing fountain resulted in research revealing the history of the item, a reprieve for the item that was slotted for disposal, and ultimately the return of the fountain the following afternoon

Instead of removing a non-functional, seldom used drinking fountain, the county had accidentally jettisoned a piece of history.

Turns out, the old fountain was actually an original piece of the soldier’s memorial located on the southwest portion of the lawn.

According to an article published in the April 19, 1923 edition of the Memphis Democrat, the fountain was part of the war memorial that was unveiled on Decoration Day, May 30, 1923 as a World War I memorial. The monument was commissioned by the Betsy Ross Club. It was created by Cameron, Joyce and Schneider of Keokuk, IA at a total cost of $3,150.

The article stated: “The memorial will be a drinking fountain with an elaborate Bedford stone roof supported by four pillars of the same material.”

The soldier’s memorial has the names of local World War I soldiers inscribed on the pillars.

The project was funded by the Betsy Ross Club, the American Legion, the WTCU, the Tuesday Club, the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion, the Eastern Star and the Home Guard to the tune of approximately $1,000 with a matching $1,000 contribution from the State of Missouri.

According to published reports in the newspaper, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 spectators were on hand for the dedication of the monument.

Some 20 years later the fountain gave way to a new addition to the soldier’s memorial, the granite slab listing the local soldiers killed during World War II.

When the second memorial was dedicated in June of 1947, the fountain was moved to its current location.

Over the past 80 years the condition of the fountain has deteriorated, and the history of the landmark was forgotten by many.

The memorial has returned to the courthouse lawn and efforts are underway to secure funding to repair and restore the piece of history.

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