Dayton in Montgomery County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Montgomery County Civil War Memorial
Montgomery County to her Soldiers.
Dedicated July 31, 1884.
"The Federal Union
Must and Shall be Preserved"
The Republic Rests on the
Virtue, Intelligence and Patriotism
of its Citizens.
"Liberty and Union,
Now and Forever, One and Inseparable"
Erected 1884 by Citizens of Montgomery County.
Location. 39° 45.786′ N, 84° 11.567′ W. Marker is in Dayton, Ohio, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Main Street (Ohio Route 48), in the median. Touch for map. Monument is on Main Street, between Monument Avenue and 1st Street. Marker is in this post office area: Dayton OH 45402, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Newcom Tavern (within shouting distance of this marker); Steele High School (within shouting distance of this marker); Josephine and Hermene Schwarz (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Victoria Theater (about 400 feet away); Paul Laurence Dunbar (about 600 feet away); "The History of the World is the Biography of Great Men" Charles F. Kettering (about 700 feet away); The Birth of Aviation (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dayton.
More about this marker. Monument dominates Main Street, being several stories tall.
1. Private George W. Fair, model for the Montgomery County Civil War Memorial
A Memorable Selection, Daytonians Pick Soldier for Monument
Dayton Daily News May 16, 1946
No item of Dayton history is more intriguing than the selection of the Union private soldier who has commanded the vista of Main St., from atop the Soldiers’ Monument since 1884.
An account of the selection in a special historical section of The Daily News in 1923, commemorating the landing at Dayton in 1796, was said to be the first “based on history and narrations of survivors who were active in securing the design.”
As reported in the first installment of this series, a figure representative of the Goddess of Liberty was authorized initially. The Carpenter firm had been awarded the contract and arranged for the marble figure to be purchased in Carrara,
The Old Guard association protested vehemently, however, and passed a resolution requesting commissioners to substitute the Union private soldier. It was contended every memorial to the warrior should be of his likeness or symbolize a deed in battle.
The commission assented, if not too late to make the change.
THE ITALIAN SCULPTOR was notified by cable, the Old Guard paying the $18.75 bill. He responded quickly, asking that the soldier be selected immediately so modeling could begin.
Two commissioners were named to make the choice, who was to be “some broad shouldered, military-looking private soldier who would meet the ideal of the heroic sentinel.”
The quest was unavailing until the name of George Washington Fair, a bricklayer and an ex-Union soldier, was called. The commissioners, C. M. Hassler and Henry Kissinger, hurried to his home on W. Fifth st.
It was only after his wife’s aid was enlisted that Fair consented to pose for a photograph. A quick visit to the governor of the soldiers’ home secured a No. 4 size uniform, the army’s largest issue.
The commissioners rejoined Fair at the C. H. Miller photograph studio on Main St.
Writer John Tomlinson described the ensuing events this way:
“IT WAS A STEAMING hot day when Mr. Fair, wearing a heavy soldier’s
“The picture gallery was like a furnace room on that sweltering day, and the ordeal undergone by the soldier thus clad in heavy clothing as if for mountain picket duty in mid-winter was almost as trying as facing death on the battlefield
“Like the good soldier he was, however, he faithfully performed the task. Mr. Fair was a modest and unassuming gentleman and wholly indifferent to the notoriety or fame that would forever attach to his name by reason of the event.
“It was without any concern on his part, therefore, but simply to accommodate the committee that he thus posed for a sculpture’s marble subject, which, when finally fashioned into seeming life and placed in its commanding position would be imperishable.
“The sentinel is said to be a perfect likeness of him who thus typifies the Union private soldier.”
GEORGE W. FAIR was a native Daytonian and the youngest of 13 children. There were eight boys. Three of the six sons in Union service were casualties.
The parents were Charles and Elizabeth Fair. The father was born in England of French descent. He emigrated to America and settled near Patasco Falls, Md. The mother, whose maiden
The couple married at Hagerstown, Md., July 28, 1808, and moved to Dayton in 1823. George W. Fair was born May 22, 1834.
Foundation of the monument, built of Dayton stone, was completed Nov. 22, 1883. The granite was quarried at Hallowell, Me. The first four carloads arrived in Dayton April 19, 1884, the remainder late in May.
The granite blocks were hauled by traction engines from the depot to the monument site.
“The stones, it is claimed, that entered into the construction of the monument, are the largest in the world,” an old report declares.
The stones were hoisted into position by two derricks, one towering 100 feet.
ONE OF THE DIES holds a roster of the names of soldiers and sailors of Montgomery county. The south die bears the legend: “The memorial of Montgomery county to her soldiers.”
On the east die is written: “The republic rests upon the virtue, intelligence and patriotism of its citizens.”
On the west die; “Liberty and union, one and inseparable, now and forever.”
The shaft reaches 85 feet to the base of the sentinel.
The white marble statue left Leghorn, Italy, in the ship Alsatia, April 15, 1884, arrived in New York, May 27, and five days later reached Dayton.
The statue was completed and shipped two weeks earlier than the contract time. In the event it had not left Italy until the specified date it would have been shipped on a vessel which, when it left Leghorn, never again was reported.
The Soldiers’ Monument had survived the first threat to its existence. Others would follow.
— Submitted March 1, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 1, 2009, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 857 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 1, 2009, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. • Close up photo of the figure • Can you help?