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Mecklenburg County Confederate statue’s new home: Boydton cemetery

South Boston News / January 13, 2021

Mecklenburg County’s Confederate statue will have a new home once the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors agrees on a plan to cover the cost to relocate the monument.

County Administrator Wayne Carter told supervisors on Monday that the Town of Boydton has agreed to take possession of the statue and have it placed in the Presbyterian Cemetery on Hull Street.

Board members in November agreed to bear the cost of relocating the 130-year-old monument. During Monday’s meeting, supervisors objected to spending the estimated $62,300 it will cost to relocate the nine-foot-tall tribute to the county’s Confederate soldiers. Carter said that was the price quoted to him by James Jefferson, who has experience moving large objects.

Jefferson previously relocated a similar statue in Brunswick County.

ED-7 supervisor Jim Jennings said he thought the price was excessive based on his experience moving a 20,000-gallon propane tank at a cost of $13,000.

Carter was asked to solicit additional bids, though he said he was unaware of any other local companies qualified to undertake the job of moving the monument. County Attorney Russell Slayton told board members to provide Carter with names of qualified companies that they want solicited to bid on the project.

Supervisor David Brankley, ED-8, objected to the decision to turn the statue over to the Town of Boydton, saying he would prefer it go to the Sons of the Confederacy, who also asked to have the statue given to them.

In August, Jimmy Cox, representing the local Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp, told board members that the monument belonged to the citizens of Mecklenburg County who commissioned the statue and paid to have it constructed.

Slayton explained that by law the Town of Boydton had first claim on the monument, but to appease Brankley he suggested the board approve the transfer with the non-binding recommendation that should the Town later decide to remove or relocate the statue, it will consult first with the SCV.

The Confederate monument has stood at the courthouse square in Boydton since 1909. It was erected in two parts. The granite base is inscribed with the words, “To the confederate soldiers of Mecklenburg” and “From Bethel to Appomattox: 1861-1865,” and it was built in 1899 with funds raised by members of the L.A. Armistead Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 26. The bronze statue was added ten years later.

Local folklore has it that John Bowen, of the Third Virginia Cavalry, served as the model for the statue, though the artist would have taken some license since Bowen lost an arm at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in May 1864.

In July, ED-2 supervisor Glanzy Spain asked the board to look into whether the statue should be removed from the courthouse grounds in July. His request came as protests erupted across the U.S. with the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, and as discussions about systemic racism and racist symbols were taking center stage.

Both the Town of Boydton and the Sons of the Confederacy expressed interest in taking possession of the statue in November after Supervisors voted to relocate it from the courthouse grounds. Supervisors agreed to pay the moving costs, but would not bear the expense of building a base for the statue at its new location.

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