The Civil War Monument in Oak Hill Cemetery
He has stood for almost 100 years on Oak Hill, one of the hills that overlook the city of Bradford, and his granite eyes have seen many changes take place in our town. At his feet are the graves of those men who fought for the Union in the Civil War and although most people have never seen him, he still stands, dedicated to the memory "of the deceased soldiers of Bradford, Pennsylvania and vicinity" who had fought in the "War Between the States".
Bradford has few statues, but one of the most interesting and symbolic is that of the Civil War Soldier who stands guard over the graves of nearly 375 Union Soldiers in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Erected in 1907, the statue was designed to honor veteran soldiers. Interestingly enough, it was erected forty years after the Civil War ended. The man behind the monument was Frank W. Davis, a local businessman and entrepreneur, who had also erected a building in 1881 (which still stands) on the corner of Main and Pine Streets. Davis, a Bradford native, who enlisted in the war at the age of 17, had served in the War with Co. F, 58th Volunteer Infantry, a Pennsylvania regiment. After the war, he became President of the First National Bank in Bradford in 1888. As Davis grew older, and perhaps more reflective on life, he began to envision a lasting monument to the memory of those men who had served the nation. Consequently, in 1906, Davis and a few close friends who had also served in the Civil War, formed a monument committee. Those other men were E.R. Sherman, C.E. Harrington, S.D. Heffner, H.W. Tracey, and J.L. Andrews. On August 1, 1906, they chose a design for the statue.
It was decided that the monument should be of Barre granite, and 14 feet high from the bottom of the base. The statue would consist of a heroic figure of a veteran soldier, typical of the survivors of the war of the rebellion. It would consist of six parts, joined as a whole, and weigh 14 tons. The man would be six feet in height and would represent an American soldier in uniform with his musket resting against the left breast, and with a wreath of laurel in his right hand. Davis pledged $1275 for the project.
The statue was unveiled and dedicated on Memorial Day 1907. The Bradford Era wrote: "the sun broke through the clouds and lightened up scenes of patriotism and beauty - the monument was unveiled with fitting ceremonies at Oak Hill Cemetery - Col. Ned Arden Flood, orator of the day, delivered a stirring address on the story and lessons of the war."
"In the morning at 9:45 AM, the John S. Melvin GAR Post 141 with a Company C firing squad and the Boys' Brigade, proceeded to Oak Hill and there conducted the regular Memorial Day exercises, after which the graves of deceased soldiers were decorated according to the beautiful custom of the veterans. En-route to the cemetery, flowers were thrown upon the waters of the Tuna in memory of those who died battling for their country on ships." The program followed with speeches, music, and the traditional firing salute, followed by the unveiling. At the conclusion, E.J. Jones, a Bradford lawyer, formally presented the monument to the Mayor of Bradford, Fred Winger. Following a musical selection "They Saved the Flag", and "America", taps were played and the benediction given.
Frank W. Davis, originator of the statue, lived 14 more years, dying at the age of 74 in 1920. He is buried with his comrades, beneath the soldier's statue, in Oak Hill.