With the heightening of the removal of Confederate monuments in the Carolinas, Samuel Clemmons, native of Anson County, contacted the Anson Record about the removal of the statue outside of the Anson County Courthouse.
“I never paid it any attention,” Clemmons said. “I never knew what it meant.”
According to NCpedia, “this monument was built in memory of the Confederate soldiers from Anson County who were killed during the Civil War.”
The statue is of a bronze confederate common soldier, on top of a tall, multi-tiered white granite base and column. The soldier is standing at rest, while the bottom of his gun rests near his feet.
“An ornate, darker granite section rests on top of the first three tiers of the base, and the four sides of this darker granite face are inscribed,” NCpedia states. “Each corner of this section is framed by a Roman-style column, capped with acanthus leaves.”
The Confederate statue was built in 1905, cost $3,000, and was sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Anson Chapter No. 357. The cornerstone was laid Jan. 13, and the monument was dedicated on Jan. 19, 1906.
“They had a meeting in front of the courthouse,” Clemmons said. “It (the monument) was built so they could commemorate the white soldiers who fought in the Civil War to keep slavery in the south.”
The Daughters of the Confederacy, old veterans, and other residents gathered for the dedication. NCpedia states that Colonel Risden Tyler Bennett, congressman, and superior court judge, “declared that the monument had the greatest likeness of a Confederate soldier in uniform of any monument in the South.”
Reportedly, the soldier was modeled after John Randle Richardson, an “Asheville native and Civil War veteran who was a member of the 2nd Regiment, Company A North Carolina Troops.”
The Wadesboro newspaper reported beautiful weather for the unveiling ceremony. The dedication began with a march from the library to the courthouse by more than 100 old Civil War veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The exercises were held in the courtroom where Maj. William A. Smith of the Anson Camp of Confederate Veterans presided over the ceremony. Gen. Robert E. Lee’s favorite hymn was reported to have been sung, and Dr. William C. Power, a chaplain of Col. Risden Tyler Bennett’s regiment, gave an address followed by an address by Bennett of the 14th North Carolina Volunteers.
“I am curious as to whether the community was going to take a stand to take it down,” Clemmons queried.
According to an Aug. 16 article in the New & Observer, “former republican Gov. Pat McCroy signed the law that prevents removing, relocating, or altering monuments, memorials, plaques and other markers that are on public property without permission from the North Carolina Historical Commission.”
Despite the law signed by McCroy, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is fighting to get all confederate statues removed.
“Having served as North Carolina Attorney General for 16 years, I am too familiar with the racism, bigotry and full-out white supremacy that exist in the corners of our society,” Cooper said in a statement. “But it was shocking to watch these elements displayed so publicly — venom and hatred shamelessly spewed in epithets.”
Cooper went on to say, “We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.”
Clemmons said that Wadesboro should be a part of this movement, and recalls how life was for African-Americans decades after the statue was placed in front of the courthouse.
“I grew up in a time where I couldn’t walk up the street and look at a white girl,” Clemmons said. “The statue had been there for almost 50 years.”
Clemmons said that with all the uproar of the removal of Confederate statues, he is curious as to whether Wadesboro will follow suit.
“We need to be in compliance all across the state,” Clemmons said. “I think people should be aware of Anson County history, and how it relates to what’s going on in the state and in the country.”
The Anson Record reached out to several county officials, but did not receive comment before press time.
“I’m concerned about what’s going on,” Clemmons said. “We don’t want to sit there with our eyes closed and our hands in our lap, while everything is going on around us. At least be aware of its existence, and what it means.”
Reach Natalie Davis at 704-994-5471.