Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles about the 150th anniversary of the “Man on the Monument” statue in Urbana.
In 1866, as group of Urbana citizens planned what was called “the Soldiers Monument,” but there was objection. Henry Weaver, owner of Weaver House, was opposed to the monument from the beginning and tried various ways stop the project (Weaver House was located on the northwest corner of the square where The Peoples Savings bank now stands).
In August 1870, Weaver attempted to stop the completion of the monument when he offered to donate two acres of land that he owned south of town, if the City Council and the Monument Association would move the monument out of the Square. By this time, the foundation had been completed and the granite blocks were ready to be lifted into place. Nothing came of the offer.
On November 14, 1870, Weaver submitted a petition to the City Council opposing a tax to raise money for a fence to enclose the monument base because vagrants were congregating around it, eating, and leaving trash. Weaver and twenty-six other people signed the petition. Nevertheless, the Council voted to fence in the monument and plant grass around it. A four-foot high fence was erected in December.
Again, in July of 1871, Weaver and his followers tried to stop the monument project by objecting to the removal of an original city water pump which stood where the monument was to be placed.
However, the pump was removed, so he led a group in favor of replacing the old pump. Weaver spoke to a crowd gathered in the Square and insisted that a new pump be installed where the old one had been. As soon as two of the men began to dig, Weaver and several others were arrested. Weaver paid the $300 bond, and during the night, a group of men succeeded in installing a new pump. He obtained an injunction against removing the new pump, but the injunction was dissolved by the County Pleas Judge. City Council then decided that a new well would be dug on the west side of the Square and the pump would be located there.
In spite of all of Henry Weaver’s objections, the monument to Champaign County’s Civil War veterans was dedicated in December of 1871.
(Information from the Urbana Citizen and Gazette 1871)