It was a very hot Saturday morning. Thermometers read over 100 degrees. But no one at the rededication ceremony for the Confederate Monument in downtown Gonzales, July 11 seemed swayed by the heat.
It was a historic day and they were there to witness it.
Approximately 50 people attended the event which included an opening ritual read by a member of the modern day Daughters of the Confederacy, Lana Henley.
“This day we are gathered together in the sight of God, strengthen the bonds that unite us in a common cause; to renew the vows of loyalty to our sacred principles; to do homage unto the memory of the gallant Confederate defenders, and to perpetuate the fame of their noble deeds unto suceeding generations.”
The Confederate Monument was first dedicated in 1909, by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The group began raising money for the monument in 1903, holding several fund raisers.
“The organization began a drive to raise funds for a monument to the memory of those brave soldiers from the Gonzales County area who fought, bled and died in defense of the South,” said Carolyn Rihn. “Some $500 was contributed to the fund by the Confederate Veterans’ group: G. W. Littlefield, Hartwell Jones, L. M. Kokernot, Hugh Lewis, B. N. Peck, T. F. Harwood, W. B. Houston, Thomas White and others.”
But the fundraising didn’t end there.
“Mrs. B. B. Hoskins, Sr. was elected president of the chapter in 1905 and led the continued effort to raise funds,” said Inez Lasell. “Over the next four years, the ladies held monthly teas, calendars, dinners, Saturday markets, an autographed Confederate quilt, a Tag Day held during the County Fair, and sought contributions from patriotic Southerners.”
The names of the officers of the Gonzales Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1909 were listed on the back of the program given to attendants of the July 11 ceremony.
“It was due to their efforts that the monument, at a total cost of $3200, was placed on the square. I think that would translate into some $77,000 today,” said Virginia Sofge, President United Daughters of the Confederacy, Cross of Honor Chapter #2553. “The President then, Mrs. B.B. Hoskins, Sr., was quoted at the time as saying ‘could our heart’s wish have been gratified, this Confederate monument would have been made of burnished gold, studded with precious stones, and would reach as high as the heavens.’
“I think that is an accurate reflection of the emotions that were felt by those women 100 years ago. The words inscribed on the back of the monument are “Lest We Forget”. I can’t think of a more fitting phrase to describe my own feelings today.”
On Wednesday, July 21, 1909, Gonzales began to fill with people coming to town in buggies, carriages, wagons, on horse-back and even on excursion trains. Eventually, the total was an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 spectators.
“A street parade formed at 10:30 a.m. and made its way around the principal streets. After the parade, a barbecue dinner was served by the local fire department. Mr. J. D. Gates was selected to lay the cornerstone, having had the distinction of being the first Confederate soldier in the State to answer to roll call in 1861,” said Lasell.
As the cornerstone was laid, a tin box was included that contained the following articles: a copy of a Special Edition of the Gonzales Inquirer, a copy of the Confederate Veterans’ Association roster, a roster of Confederate soldiers of Gonzales County, a roster of the UDC Gonzales Chapter #545, Confederate bills, coins of 1909, a roster of the Gonzales Fire Dept., and a sketch of the monument as it would appear when completed.
The monument itself cost $3200 and was designed and created by Frank Teich, a noted sculptor from Llano, Texas. Teich became known as the father of the granite industry in Texas.
The gray granite column is forty feet high with a 12 feet square base. The statue of the Confederate soldier, facing north, is eight feet high and made of Carrara marble.
The completed memorial was unveiled at a ceremony on April 10, 1910 with another ceremony, again organized by the Gonzales Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and attended by approximately 4500 people.
A sundial was constructed on June 3, 1937 in front of the main monument and dedicated to the Women of the Confederacy by Captain H. K. Jones, Infantry, Confederate States of America.
The modern day rededication ceremony concluded with a wreath laying and a flag being placed at the front of the monument by Joe Bostwick and his wife Rae.
Bostwick said his own ancestor S.H. Maxwell was in the 23rd infantry of the Texas State Troopers.
“I got interested in this when I was reading a book about history, then I retraced my own family to the Civil War,” said Bostwick. “We must not forget our ancestors and what they fought for.
Bostwick was impressed by the dedication the Gonzales chapter of Daughters of the Confederacy.
“I think this is the finest group of ladies I’ve ever dealt with on this sort of thing,” he said. “Remembering our history is so important.”
And Sofge couldn’t agree more.
“History is what happens when each individual does his or her own part to serve a cause. That cause may be the hard work needed to raise a family in difficult times or it may be the call of duty to fight in a terrible war. No matter what part we each play in the scheme of things, that action becomes a part of our descendants’ lives.” said Sofge. “We owe honor and respect to our ancestors for their sacrifices, both large and small. It is equally important for us to take the examples of those earlier generations, improve on them to the best of our ability, and hand them on to the future.”