BRISTOLVILLE, Ohio (WYTV) – The American Civil War ended in Appomattox, Va. 150 years ago when General Robert Lee surrendered the last major Confederate Army to Ulysses S. Grant.
But two years before that, in the small northern Trumbull County community of Bristolville, Ohio’s very first Civil War monument was erected at what is now the town’s crossroads at state Route 45 and state Route 88. The monument is located at Bristolville Town Park.
Last week, Trumbull County historian Wendell Lauth was decorating the Civil War monument with markers and flags to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
It was erected in 1863 and its etchings contain the names of 14 men who died in the Civil War.
“For some reason, they stopped with the dedication in 1863 and then they did not proceed to add those who died in 1864 or those who died in 1865 during the war. And we don’t know why, Lauth said.
It was after the 1862 Battle of Shiloh that the people of Bristol decided to build the monument. By early 1863, they had the $500, contracted with a Cleveland monument company, built the mound and put it up.
“It was commissioned and erected in the same year, 1863. It was a quick turnaround,” Lauth said.
The monument starts on top with an urn, followed by emblems for the various units of cavalry, artillery, and infantry. Then comes the names of the 14 men who died, which are now illegible. Newer bronze plaques have been installed with the names on them.
Across the bottom of the monument, on all four sides, it reads “Defenders of the Union from Bristol, Ohio.”
The oldest known sketch of the Bristolville Town Park was done in 1874 and it shows the monument right in the middle.
On Memorial Day of 2005, a historical marker was placed near the road, officially making it Ohio’s first Civil War Monument. Around 1990, someone vandalized the urn by pulling it off. It was then that officials decided to put up the wrought iron fence.
“Kids used to love to climb it. And you worry that they are going to break off some of the fragile pieces,” Lauth said.People often stop to look at what the people of Bristol Township have long taken for granted.
“Everyone knows about it. Hopefully they know the significance of it also,” Bristol Township Trustee Doug Seemann said.The Westminster Chimes from the Methodist Church nearby gives the park an aura that comes only from small towns like Bristolville. Joining the Civil War monument, one on each end of the park, are other monuments dedicated those lost in America’s other wars.
There are other Civil War monuments in the area. Mesopotamia has a big one on the town square. Both Grandview and Hope Cemeteries in Salem have them as does Poland’s Riverside Cemetery.
One of the most famous is the Man on the Monument in downtown Youngstown.