It seems to have become a monumental issue. Or is it a monumental task?
The monument erected to the Confederate war dead remains on the Sebastian County Courthouse. An Arkansas law may make it easier to move the courthouse than the monument. Southwest Times Record staff writer Alex Gladden has reported the latest on whether the monument will stay.
What is best for Fort Smith?
Is a historic park a better option, and should Fort Smith follow Bentonville on such a question? The United Daughters of the Confederacy there in 2020 decided to move a similar monument to a private park.
The monument in Fort Smith, with a soldier atop, was erected on the courthouse lawn in 1903 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The words "Lest We Forget" and "Our Confederate Dead," are engraved on the sculpture.
Who were the Confederate war dead? As I learned this week, unknown bodies gathered from ditches are said to have been buried locally, even at Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith.
One Confederate veteran went on to become the Sebastian County treasurer.
Jeremiah Preston Durden was in the 45th Alabama Infantry when he was struck by a Minie ball in the knee and fell in the field on Dec. 15, 1864, at the Battle of Nashville.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 16, almost exactly 100 years before I was born, a young girl found him. He survived in a farm home for 10 days before being taken to the federal prison where his leg was amputated. He was fitted with a peg.
He signed papers stating he would Never Bear Arms Against the United States of America again.
He would arrive in Greenwood in 1872. He taught school and worked in the county assessor office before he became treasurer.
He is my great-great-grandfather.
After the war, he was a teacher in Alabama from 1867-72. He moved to Sebastian County, where he kept teaching. In 1874, he was appointed deputy assessor of Sebastian County. He was elected county assessor in 1875 and served until 1881. In 1886, he was elected county assessor. He was elected circuit clerk from 1896 to 1900.
The Confederate Monument in Bentonville has been moved by the same organization that put it up there, the United Daughters of the Confederacy. And the decision to move the similar Sebastian County monument from the courthouse lawn is also in the court of the Varina Jefferson Davis Chapter for the future of Fort Smith here.
Robert Medley is the editor of the Southwest Times Record, email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Fort Smith's Confederate past leaves a monumental task