Ramrod straight


August 24, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Here’s something to crow about.
The 215 grave markers in the veterans section of Highland Cemetery now are lined up straight as a string with a plumb bob at the end.
Over the past several years the city has accumulated donations for the cemetery and also found some grant money to make the improvements, done by Terry Ellis and friends at Williams Monuments.
They pulled gravestones out, poured new concrete bases — complete with holes for metal markers and flags — and when they were done, the rows are a miniature version what you’d expect to see at a national cemetery. They would past muster by the most critical of drill sergeants.
City Commissioner Bill Shirley, a veteran himself, delights in showing off the improvements.
During a visit to the cemetery Monday afternoon he noted light stains on some stones, which indicated how far they had sunk into the ground, and said he looked forward to seeing the white stones accentuated by green grass that will spring from recent sowing, expected to sprout soon with moisture and cooler weather.
Upgrades at Highland Cemetery won’t be re-stricted to graves of veterans.
Next up is much the same treatment for family monuments scattered throughout, starting with older graves where weather and age have taken a toll.

WHEN all stones at Highland Cemetery are straightened, city officials should dispatch a troop to perform restorations in Iola Cemetery, the older of Iola’s two municipal graveyards.
Many markers there beg attention, including some dating to before the Civil War.
Most Iolans may not realize what a prize we have in the Iola Cemetery at the west edge of town.
A special section at the north end holds the remains Civil War soldiers. Watching over them is a soldier standing solitary guard on a pedestal. He was fashioned from zinc, sometimes referred to as white bronze.
The statue is a rare feature.
Erected more than 100 years ago, it is one of just four zinc Civil War statues in Kansas made by J.W. Fiske, a New York sculptor. Enhancing the statue is Fiske’s signature.
The old soldier is a resolute figure. He has survived all sorts of weather extremes, floods and vandalism, but only once, a few years ago, has the statute had any overt attention — when it was sent to a Topeka foundry for a $3,000 facelift.

— Bob Johnson

November 8, 2021
September 12, 2017
June 14, 2017
February 8, 2012