Revolutionary War Monument, Damaged by Derecho, Back on Pedestal

SPRINGVILLE, Iowa — A deteriorating Revolutionary War monument, which was damaged even more in the Aug. 10 derecho, has been restored and once again sits on its pedestal in the Springville Cemetery.

For six years, local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution have been working to raise $44,000 to repair the 16.5-foot marble-and-granite monument. It stands in honor of Nathan Brown, one of two Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Linn County.

A dedication ceremony was held on Veterans Day at the Springville Cemetery, 748 First Ave. in Springville.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports the monument was first damaged by a tornado in 1977.

The Marion-Linn, Ashley and Mayflower chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Springville Historical Society have worked for six years to raise money, secure grants and find someone to do the delicate restoration work on the monument.

Work finally began the morning of Aug. 10. It was taken off its pedestal and propped up against 2-by-4 boards in the cemetery as crews began working to fix the deteriorating pedestal — until the derecho swept through that afternoon, toppling it and damaging it even further.

“It fell, and we were hoping it hadn’t knocked over any other monuments or grave stones,” said Beverly Franks, with the Marion-Linn Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and member of the Springville Historical Society.

“It didn’t, but the derecho took down about 125 grave stones. Our main concern was the Brown monument,” she said. “If we hadn’t taken it down that morning, maybe the derecho would have taken it down that afternoon.”

Recently, Franks sat in the cemetery in her lawn chair for six hours to watch as work on the statue was completed.

“Fantastic,” she said about seeing the monument standing tall again. “It was like a big load off my shoulders.”

A lot of life has happened in the six years since Franks began advocating for the restoration of the statue. Her husband died and this year she has been coping with the effects of the pandemic and the derecho like other Iowans.

“There were times when we didn’t know if we were going to get it done or not,” she said.

Hawkeye Weld Repair Inc. in Iowa City is one of the contractors that worked on the monument, and Keith Hemann said, “We can fix anything but a broken heart.”

However, some of the pieces on the monument were not fixable, Hemann said, and Hawkeye Weld welder Kyle Rich faced the challenge of welding new material to match the style of the late 1800s monument.

“It was interesting to see how it was built. We were trying to use what’s in today’s world to reconstruct it,” Hemann said.

Hemann was impressed by the “fine details” in the monument. “I don’t know how those guys did it back then, but it was very meticulous.” he said.

Brown was a Revolutionary War soldier who settled in Springville in the 1800s. The monument was commissioned by his son in 1886, and made by Krebs Bros. Co. of Des Moines.

Brown lived in Iowa for only two and a half years before he died Nov. 25, 1842, at age 81. His grave is marked by the monument _ the tallest one in the Springville Cemetery.

Brown was born in 1761 in White Plains, N.Y., and started training to be a soldier at 14. He enlisted at 16 and was one of seven of his siblings who fought in the Revolutionary War.

After the war, he lived in Pennsylvania and Illinois before settling in Iowa in Brown Township, which is named after him, where Springville is located. Iowa did not become a state until 1846, about four years after Brown died.