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Old Monument Gets a New Look in Macomb

Rich Egger
People got their first look at the retored monument after the rededication ceremony midday Saturday. The west side of the monument honors Commodore Thomas Macdonough.

Around 50 people participated in a rededication ceremony for the War of 1812 monument in Chandler Park.  Pella Corporation collaborated with the city and several other businesses to restore the marker, which was first unveiled on September 11, 1914.

Credit Rich Egger
John Finn, Pella Plant Manager. "We told the city we'd love to take this on (the monument restoration) as a project for our 90th anniversary and 10 years in Macomb."

"Pella Corporation has 11 manufacturing facilities spread all across the United States. And as part of our 90th anniversary, we wanted to give back to those communities,” said John Finn, Plant Manager for Pella’s factory in Macomb.

“I figured the best person to go to was the mayor (Mike Inman). So we approached the mayor one early spring afternoon and he directed us down here to this monument.”

The refurbishing included removing patina from the monument and installing a concrete patio around the marker with a concrete sidewalk leading to it.  Some landscaping surrounds the base of the statue.

Previously, the monument sat on a slight grassy knoll with no patio, no landscaping, and away from other park features – what Finn called “a little bit of a non-descript location.”

Credit Rich Egger
The east side of the monument honors General Alexander Macomb.

The monument pays tribute to two War of 1812 heroes in particular – General Alexander Macomb and Commodore Thomas Macdonough, for whom the city and county are named.

Local author and columnist John Hallwas, who delivered the keynote address, said Macomb and Macdonough led the nation to victory in crucial battles at Plattsburgh and on Lake Champlain on September 11, 1814.   

Credit Rich Egger
Local author and columnist John Hallwas. "The War of 1812 had a positive influence on American culture. There was a new sense that America was finally free from European interference, was secure within its borders, and could expand westward without conflict with the British," Hallwas said during his keynote speech at the re-dedication ceremony.

“This (monument) shows residents and visitors that we are committed to thinking about, and appreciating, what matters in our national past, and relating it to our lives in this place,” Hallwas told the crowd.

Hallwas also explained how the federal government tried to encourage development of western Illinois between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers by creating the Military Tract for veterans of the War of 1812.

“The land was surveyed in 1816-1817, before most counties were developed, and then 2,800,000 of those acres were distributed to former soldiers.  Few of them actually settled on their lands, but rather, most sold their titles to speculators, who then helped to create a land boom in western Illinois during the 1830s, when Macomb and so many other towns were established,” Hallwas said.

Finn said he was captivated by that piece of local history.

“As a businessman here in Macomb, I was really intrigued by the Military Tract warrants that brought economic development and population relocation into the area,” Finn said.

“We (Pella) are very new to the economic development scene here in McDonough County. But I think you have to have a certain respect for what got it all started. And this monument reminds us of what that actually was.”

Credit WIU Archives
The dedication ceremony in September, 1914 drew a large crowd to Chandler Park.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.