History on the move – Daughters of the American Revolution seek new home for WWI boulder

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One of Mower County’s oldest memorials for soldiers is likely on the move. The question is: Where would be the best permanent home?

The Daughters of the American Revolution is looking to move a boulder commemorating the 64 Mower County soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. The DAR requested to move it to the Mower County Veterans Memorial on the lawn of the Mower County Government Center; however, the Mower County Veterans Memorial Committee recommended the county board deny the request, stating there’s not enough space at the memorial, among other concerns.

“What they didn’t want to do was single out one war-time period,” said Wayne Madson, the county’s veteran services officer.

Email newsletter signup

Despite not believing there’s space at the veterans memorial, Madson and the committee expressed support for the boulder memorial, suggesting other potential homes, such as the Veterans Pavilion or the flag by the bandshell.

“It’s a fantastic memorial to World War I,” he added.

The veterans memorial is nearing its initial goal of selling 1,056 pavers, and Madson said the committee wants additional space for future expansion.

The WWI boulder memorial is currently near the sign for the Austin Municipal Pool and had been near the flag pole by the pool, but it had to be moved for the North Main Street flood mitigation work. But it appears that’s only a temporary location.

“We would like to see a permanent home for it,” DAR Registrar Cheryl Potter said. “And one where people will recognize the significance of what is being memorialized.”

Mower’s DAR formed in 1921 and initially planted 64 elm trees near Todd Park to commemorate the 64 men who died in the “Great War.” The boulder was added there later. It is about 2 to 3 feet tall and includes a plaque with the names of all 64 men. Dutch elm disease and time wreaked havoc on the trees, which are no more. The remaining few were taken out in the 1990s for work to the Todd Park diamonds, according to Potter.

The boulder was then moved from Todd Park to near the pool.

Potter also pitched the Historical Society as potential location, saying there’d be plenty of space for it and memorials for other wars.

“To me it belongs in an area that could potentially be a veterans memorial,” Potter said.