Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Lexington Flag Case, Reidsville Monument Updates

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 17, 2013

Oral arguments were held Wednesday in the Virginia SCV’s appeal to reinstate their lawsuit against the City of Lexington, that had been dismissed by the district court last year. There are several news items about this, but the only one I’ve seen that describes events in the courtroom is this item from the Washington Post and the AP:

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The Southern heritage group contends the city snuffed its speech and violated a 20-year-old court order when it enacted an ordinance in September 2011 banishing its flags from holders on dozens of city light poles, other than the city, state and U.S. flags.
 
The three judges of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which seemed skeptical of the appeal, typically rule in several weeks or more.
 
The group is appealing a decision last summer by a federal judge who concluded the ordinance did not violate a 1993 consent decree, which blocked the city’s attempt to ban the display of the Confederate flag during a parade honoring Jackson.
 
The 2011 ordinance does not restrict the flying of the flag elsewhere in the city.
 
You can still march down Main Street with the flag? Judge Robert King asked.
 
“You can still do that,” replied Thomas E. Strelka, representing the SCV.
 
Strelka argued, however, that the ordinance had “closed a public forum” and the city’s action appeared to be directed at the group.
 
Jeremy E. Carroll, representing the city, said Lexington has the right to say who can used city-owned light poles and the regulation “treats everybody the same.” Local colleges that used to use the poles to fly their banners are also prohibited from using the poles.
 
City officials adopted the ordinance after they received hundreds of complaints after Confederate flags were planted in holders on light poles to mark Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday in Virginia.
 
The flags were provided by SCV, and the city authorized them to be flown on the city poles. The SCV also paid for city workers to install the flags on approximately 40 poles.

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My earlier thoughts on why the Virginia SCV is probably going to lose this one are here.

In other news, it looks like the Reidsville, North Carolina monument knocked down in an automobile accident two years ago is finally being restored, this time in the Confederate veterans’ plot at the local cemetery, owned by the UDC. The question of who owned the monument itself has been central in the dispute over whether to restore at its previous location or move it to the cemetery, as the UDC wanted to do. Over time, though, challenges to ownership of the monument seem to have fallen away:

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The UDC claimed ownership of the monument shortly after it fell. The city searched for records saying otherwise and never found any.
 
Traveler’s Insurance Company, who represents Vincent, paid the UDC $105,000. The UDC said it planned to use the money to recreate the soldier for the monument and use the original base as the platform.
 
City officials helped the UDC find a new location for the monument. The city deeded a plot of land in Greenview Cemetery to the UDC years prior. The plot houses the body of Confederate soldiers.
 
The Confederate monument continues to be a controversial issue in the community. After the 2011 earthquake, a group, the Historical Preservation Action Committee formed to ensure the monument returned to its original location in the South Scales and West Morehead Streets intersection.
 
In December 2011, the UDC made an announcement it planned to move the monument to the cemetery.
 
HPAC filed a lawsuit against the UDC and the city to stop the monuments removal. The lawsuit included the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources as well.
 
HPAC dropped the city and the UDC from the lawsuit. Davidson County Superior Court Judge Mark Klass dismissed the case citing the organization lacked standing to bring it forward. Rockingham County Judge Moses Massey dismissed the case as well.

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Naturally, the usual crowd is furious about this development, in the comments section. But there’s also this little gem of information, that I hadn’t been aware of before:

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It remains unclear when the soldier might be installed. In a February interview, Ezell said there wasn’t a timetable to install the new soldier. She did add that this soldier would have a Confederate uniform. The previous monument’s designer outfitted the soldier in Union attire.

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You really can’t make this stuff up.

__________

GeneralStarsGray

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14 Responses

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  1. Rob Baker said, on May 17, 2013 at 9:25 am

    What a relentless waste of the tax payer’s money.

    • Andy Hall said, on May 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

      I somewhat disagree. These things have to get sorted out under the law, and this is part of that process.

  2. Jimmy Dick said, on May 17, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Help me out here. The Reidsville monument is a confederate monument but the soldier on it was in a Union uniform? Is that the way it was in the original before it was hit by the van?

    If the monument was 100% confederate I think placing it in a confederate cemetery is very appropriate. I notice in the original article the HPAC was working with the SCV so basically this is a really a fight over where this monument will stand between the SCV and UDC.

    So it is true! Evil (I’m only kidding so don’t flip out) does turn on itself!

    • Andy Hall said, on May 17, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Many, many Confederate monuments, especially in small towns with limited resources, were bought through companies that offered standardized monuments with customizable details. These companies offered similar monuments for the GAR. My guess here is that there may have been some sort of mix-up, and figure delivered was one originally intended for Union monuments. I never noticed that before, but in his original form he really doesn’t look very Confederate:

      It’s an odd uniform all around. Doesn’t really look like a Yankee to me, either, but some generic military figure.

    • Andy Hall said, on May 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Here’s the story about the dedication of the monument from a 1910 issue of the Confederate veteran magazine:

      Two things to note: (1) either the uniform issue was not noticed, or perhaps politely not discussed, at the time, and (2) there is no question that this was a UDC monument from the start, so any other claims of authority over it should require significant documentation.

  3. Billy Bearden said, on May 20, 2013 at 8:15 am

    The Reidsville affair was a ego trippin power struggle that saw the then NC UDC President Aileen Ezell win (almost, as final judgement is not yet in, but there is still hope)

    After the monument was struck, instead of repairing/replacing the demolished soldier, the town’s Mayor Festerman decided to hold a “Town Meeting” to seek input from citizens to see if it should, in fact, be repaired/replaced. Overwhelmingly, the citizens spoke in favor of making it as it was, but for a few black citizens.

    Mayor Festerman went with them, and decided to move it. Ezell joined with Festerman in the belief and effort to move it.

    All this time, the Reidsville majority wished it to be restored as was, and the Reidsville area UDC and SCV were leading the effort for restoration. Ezell removed the local UDC Chapter Pres and VP for wishing it remain, and stated in the NC UDC Newsletter that the NC SCV was trying ‘to take control of all NC UDC monuments’

    Many bits of hypocrisy with Mrs Ezell. Initially a professional stated the monument could be restored, but he was ignored by Ezell. Then it was stated the base was too damaged to use. Then Ezell wanted the city to give her (the UDC) deed to the land the statue sat on or else move it. But now, the original base will be reused, and the land it will sit on is once again not UDC property.

    Via FOIA:

    From: Ted Monnich [mailto:tmonnich@fibrant.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 9:24 AM
    To: Michael Pearce
    Subject: Damaged monument
    Mr. Pierce,
    I was asked to contact the City of Reidsville by a member of the UDC regarding the damage to
    the town’s confederate monument.
    I am a professional art restorer based out of Salisbury, NC, a Professional Associate of the
    American Institute for Conservation of Art, and the Chief Conservator at Brookgreen Gardens
    near Myrtle Beach, caring for a collection of over 800 sculptures. I am on the list of restorers for
    the Sons of Confederate Veterans, having dealt with similar situations such as yours in the past.
    I’m sure I could of assistance in the restoration of your monument. Please feel free to visit my website,
    and call me at any time.
    Best regards,
    Ted Monnich
    http://www.sculpturepreservation.com
    803-466-8223

    From: Michael Pearce
    Sent: Friday, June 10, 2011 3:05 PM
    To: Ted Monnich
    Subject: RE: Damaged monument
    Ted:
    It has been a long week, but I don’t believe that I got around to sending you pics of the monument that
    held the statue. I am attaching these pics about 5 at a time. Look forward to hearing from you on the
    statue.
    Michael Pearce

    From: Ted Monnich [tmonnich@fibrant.com]
    Sent: Friday, June 10, 2011 4:32 PM
    To: Michael Pearce
    Subject: Re: Damaged monument
    Thank you. I will be in touch ASAP with an estimate.
    Ted Monnich

    From: Ted Monnich
    Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 11:29 AM
    To: Michael@ci.reidsville.nc.us
    Subject: Damaged Monument
    Michael,
    Thank you for all of the good photographs of the damaged monument.
    I believe that the monument can be restored, and displayed in it’s original outdoor location, on
    the town square.
    My initial estimate for the restoration of the monument, based on your photographs, for labor,
    materials and associated expenses.is $28,000.00.
    The process will involve cleaning with enzymatic solutions, and repair of the monument using
    natural marble, pinning, and marble-specific adhesive resins. It will also involve reseating the
    base and pedestal prior to replacing the soldier.
    I’m afraid that I do not know of a source for new Confederate monuments.
    Best regards,
    Ted Monnich
    Conservator
    http://www.sculpturepreservation.com
    803-466-8223

    From: Michael Pearce Manager
    Sent: Monday, August 08, 2011 3:07 PM
    To: aeje@charter.net
    Subject: Reidsville’s Monument
    Aileen:
    I am forwarding a press release to you for your review and comment. We need to tell the public what is going on.
    Please let me know if you have any changes or additions to this release.
    Thanks
    City Manager
    230 W Morehead Street
    Reidsville} Ne 27320
    Michael Pearce Manager

    From: Aileen Ezell [mailto:aeje@charter.netJ
    Sent: Monday, August 08, 2011 5:41 PM
    To: Michael Pearce Manager
    Subject: Re: Reidsville’s Monument
    Hi, Mike,
    A change I would like is to remove the sentence that we are considering repairing the soldier. I have
    the opinion of three specialists who say it cannot be repaired and we are working with the Traveler’s
    Insurance on replacement costs. I have submitted an estimate for replacement of the soldier and also
    the base with the insurance company. The base can be repaired but the damage will show so this has
    to be decided. It is my hope that when the citizens learn the soldier cannot be repaired, some of the
    talk will become more reasonable. Please replace that sentence.
    Otherwise, I approve heartily of the article.
    I just had a call as I was writing this saying that if we allowed the monument to be moved, the safety
    of the Mayor would be compromised. I am stunned. What is going on??? I do not appreciate feeling
    threatened and think you need to know, altho it is probably some stupid ranting.
    and before I could I hit “send” just now, I got another call telling me what the citizens will do if it is
    moved. They insist you(the city) have strong armed me and I am running scared. Obviously they do not
    know me very well.
    Aileen

    From: Michael Pearce Manager
    Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 8:39 AM
    To: Aileen Ezell
    Subject: RE: Reidsville’s Monument
    Aileen. Sorry this is getting ugly. I hope you know that I haven’t given your number out except for the City
    Attorney, who I am sure would not pass it along. I have amended the paragraph regarding the repair or
    replacement of the statue and have included it in the attachment I am sending this morning. The Mayor has
    heard the same things about the City pushing you around, and we have actually laughed at that thought. Those
    of us who have worked with you know better that you are not one to be strong armed into doing anything you
    don’t want.
    I am so sorry this has happened on your watch, and mine. This is a tough pill for some our citizens to swallow.
    Some will react more maturely than others. I hope you don’t mind that I forward your previous email along to our
    Police Chief to put everyone on notice about how upset some folks are getting.
    City Manager
    230 W Morehead Street
    Reidsville} Ne 27320

    From: Aileen Ezell [mailto:aeje@charter.net]
    Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 9:37 AM
    To: Michael Pearce Manager
    Subject: Re: Reidsville’s Monument
    Mike, Samyria King and her friends have contacted the President General (National) of the UDC and
    got her all upset. I replied and suggested to her she call you if she needed verification of my position.
    Her name is Martha Van Schaick (pronounced Van Skike) so please take her call is she chooses to do
    so. I am being besieged with crank calls and I understand they have posted info on Facebook that they
    will give my number to anyone who wants it.
    Aileen

    From: Michael Pearce Manager
    Sent: Thursday, August 11, 201111:25 AM
    To: Aileen Ezell
    Subject: RE: Reidsville’s Monument
    I will be glad to talk to Ms. Schaick. I was just talking to the Mayor about the day of May 23 when the accident
    occurred. Samyria and a couple of friends came to my office to find out what was going on and if the City had any
    plans. They told me on that very first day that I needed to contact and work with Aileen Ezell. They gave me your
    phone number and when I called you, you confirmed that you were the one that the City should deal with. There
    has been no change in that position from the local group that I have been made aware of until we had the press
    release this week
    JUicIiael [j>eaJtCe
    City Manager
    230 W. Morehead Street
    Reidsville) NC 27320

    From: Aileen Ezell [mailto:aeje@charter.net]
    Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:32 PM
    To: Michael Pearce Manager
    Subject: Re: Reidsville’s Monument
    I did not know there had been a change in command since the press release. What am I
    missing? I will be the person to deal with unless replaced by the President General and I do not
    think she can or will do that.
    I had a call this morning from an aide in Senator Bergen’s office asking what was going on. I
    explained that it was decided the UDC owned the monument, the city owned the land and that
    we were asked to move the monument and we agreed.1 gave him your number to call if he
    wished to verify this. I told him everything else was one of their figments. He asked if I was sure
    the city owned the property and I said that was the legal decision and I thought he would find
    that to be true. He said it if it was State property, they would have an interest in it and I said to him
    that if they found it is city property the State had no interest what so ever. He agreed. I heard they had
    called several legislators but I have heard from no one else.
    Aileen

    From: Michael Pearce Manager
    Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:44 PM
    To: Aileen Ezell
    Subject: RE: Reidsville’s Monument
    I’m sorry Aileen. I don’t think I expressed myself well enough. Nothing has changed. I was just
    commenting on your remark that the local level had contacted Ms. Schaick and that the local level of the
    UDC seemed to want me to work with you until things did not go their way. You are the person that I
    have been working with from the beginning and will continue to work with. Regarding the State, that
    intersection had been a NCDOT for years, but about 2 years ago they gave control of all of the downtown
    streets to Reidsville. Therefore, we own the ground. I had heard that folks here were contacting Senator
    Berger’s office and Representative Jones’ office, but I can’t figure out how the state would have any
    interest in this. I keep telling people that it is a simple matter that the State UDC owns the statue and they
    have said they don’t want to put it back in the circle. Our agreement to help you find a place for the base
    and replacement and help moving it still stands.
    Midiaef g>eaJtCe
    City Manager
    230 W Morehead Street
    Reidsville, He 27320

    From: Aileen Ezell [aeje@charter.net]
    Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:49 PM
    To: Michael Pearce Manager
    Subject: Re: Reidsville’s Monument
    Good enough!! One of my funnier comments recently is that I should give control to Samyria
    and let her deal with it . I would not do that to you!
    Aileen

    From: Michael Pearce Manager
    Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 2:56 PM
    To: Aileen Ezell
    Subject: RE: Reidsville’s Monument
    Aileen:
    Hope you are doing well. Sorry it took so long to give you a definitive answer to your question regarding
    ownership of the round-about. This is both an easy and hard thing to answer. Its easy because the intersection
    has always been a part of our street system as far back as our records go. Its hard from the stand point of the
    lack of records. Usually we would have a plat to refer to that shows a public dedication of a street, but this street
    has just existed since time began in Reidsville. However, it has been a public right-of-way and part of the State
    Transportation System. However, in June 2009, the NC Board of Transportation, at the City’s request, approved
    the transfer of maintenance responsibilities to the City of Reidsville and abandoned the street from the State
    Highway System. This means that the intersection is a City street, maintained and controlled by the City of
    Reidsville. I can have Angela scan the letter from the State if you need it.
    MicIiae€ [feaJtCe
    City Manager
    230 W lvlorehead Street
    Reidsville) NC 27320
    Michael Pearce Manager

    From: Aileen Ezell [mailto:aeje@charter.net]
    Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 5:04 PM
    To: Michael Pearce Manager
    Subject: Re: Reidsville’s Monument
    Michael, thank you for the article regarding the old Courthouse/museum, and thanks to Joan
    for suggesting you send it to me. I had a call a few weeks ago from Jeff Sykes, suggesting we
    place the monument on the grounds at the Old Courthouse. He also suggested we give the
    monument to the Historical Society. I explained that placing it there was an option but we
    must own the land it is placed upon and there was no way it would go out of our ownership.
    He said he had talked to several of the County Commissioners and Historical Society members
    and on and on and I suggested he draw up a proposal for me to consider and mail it to me . I
    have heard nothing from him since.
    The insurance company has not made an offer for a settlement so we have not made a decision
    as to what materials we will use to replace the soldier.
    I need to know how long you have been City Manager as I want to mention how long it has
    been since any use was made of the monument ,other than the lOOth rededication. Can you
    give me an estimate of how long it has been since any type of ceremony involving the UDC has
    been held at the Monument?
    The calls and e-mails have dwindled to a trickle and we can once again answer the telephone. I
    realize we still have to decide on a place to reposition the monument and we will be
    considering that in the near future.
    Thanks for all your help.
    Aileen

    From: Michael Pearce Manager
    Sent: Friday, September 16,2011 1:06 PM
    To: Aileen Ezell
    Subject: RE: Reidsville’s Monument
    Attachments: image001.gif
    Aileen:
    I have only been the City Manager for only 8 months, but have worked here as the Director of Community
    Development for over 19 years before that. I asked Angela, our City Clerk, if she had any memory of
    anyone using the monument for any kind of memorial service. Neither of us have any memory of that,
    other than the 100 year service.
    Micftael [feaJtCe
    City Manager
    230 W. Morehead Street
    Reidsville, NC 27320

    Michael Pearce Manager
    From: Aileen Ezell [aeje@charter.net]
    Sent: Friday, October 21, 2011 11 :51 AM
    To: Michael Pearce Manager
    Subject: monument
    Michael, it was nice to speak to you this morning.
    In thinking of our conversation, I need to add that if the city should decide to allow restoration
    of the monument in its’ original location, the UDC will have to ask that we be given ownership
    by some legal means to the land under it. I cannot ask any president who should follow me to
    go through what I have endured the past few months. Surely you would agree.
    Aileen
    Michael Pearce Manager

  4. Billy Bearden said, on May 20, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Also, one thing that has always bugged me about the whole situation in Reidsville:

    The Monument was of 5 pieces, The Foundation, the Base, The Decorative balls, the Shaft, and the Soldier.
    The accident only damaged the soldier, the rest – base, shaft, balls and foundations were intact – only the base was slightly twisted and it has a chip and tire marks on it.

    So after the accident, the only real thing that needed immediate attention was to have the base turned back in line with the foundation, and the soldier replaced/restored. The monument itself was still there in excellent condition.

    Only Festerman and Ezell and a handful of citizens to agree to remove all of it, subjecting the city to lawsuits and $$$ in moving and relocation expenses.

    Why not just go ahead and do the right thing – twist the base back and restore the soldier?

    • Corey Meyer said, on May 20, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Billy,

      Just how many more times would the monument be hit? How many more times would it need to be repaired? Isn’t it much safer in the cemetery?

      • Andy Hall said, on May 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm

        There’s no way to know if or when it would get hit again. It’s essentially a random event. It could be another hundred years, or tomorrow. The only thing for sure is that the likelihood goes up as the town grows and traffic increases.

        But the bottom line is that it’s the UDC’s monument, and they get the final say. I was struck by one person who suggested that “ownership should have been given to the local SCV.” Who, exactly is supposed to “give” ownership, and under what legal theory?

        • Ken Noe said, on May 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

          While I would have left it where it was, what most stands out to me in that correspondence are the sad reported threats to Ms. Ezell and to the mayor. There’s no good excuse for that.

          • Andy Hall said, on May 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

            The Confederate heritage movement is very tolerant of threats and violent rhetoric being directed at people it disagrees with.

            • Ken Noe said, on May 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

              As you well know. As other friends of mine well know. It’s nothing to be proud of.

      • Billy Bearden said, on May 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm

        Corey,
        It was hit one time in 101 years. That is extremely safe.
        However, the cemetery to which Ezell has mandated it go
        is the home to numerous drunks and druggies. Graves are
        regularly subject to tipping, breakage or vandalism there.

  5. Billy Bearden said, on May 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Update
    The once Reidsville Confederate Statue is now by Ezell edict
    the “Rockingham County Confederate Statue” via bronze plaque
    bearing her name. The good folks in Reidsville are livid….


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