Historic Memphis N. B. Forrest Monument 
 The Complete Story
...Clippings, letters, photographs, articles from 1894 to 2013

 
 

This is a collection of letters, photographs, newspaper articles and entries made in the Forrest Monument Association Minutes Book.  The items are in chronological order, and pertain to the funding, design, execution, and installation of the General N. B. Forrest equestrian statue in Forrest Park. The funding for this sculpture began in 1894.  The design phase began with the awarding of the contract to sculptor Charles Henry Niehaus in 1901. Niehaus's tireless effort to create a statue befitting the "Wizard of the Saddle" is an interesting story, which is documented in this collection. Some pages of the minutes book are missing or were cut from the book, so there will be gaps in time. The Forrest Monument Association met for the first time in 1894 and the members agreed to purchase Masonic Temple Bonds.  From this meeting on, their major goal will be to raise funds for an equestrian statue as the  centerpiece for  Forrest

 

Park.   The Commercial  Appeal  reported on September 22, 1898,  that the Forrest Monument Association met to discuss the planned trotting race at Billings Park on September 29 to raise funds for the equestrian statue This complete collection of clippings, letters, photographs, and articles, would not have been possible without the contributions of many individuals who cherish history and art The Charles Henry Niehaus sculpture of General Forrest is recognized today as one of the three top equestrian statues in the United States.  It is a major sculpture by this important American sculptor.  The Forrest Monument Association Minutes Book is in the collection of the Memphis Public Library, and is available on line in their digital collection.

   

The original Forrest Park was designed by renowned national landscape architect George Kessler, as part of his "Grand Design for Memphis Parks".   In February 2013, Forrest Park was suddenly renamed by the city government.   The group who led this name change also wanted to move the equestrian statue and return the bodies of the General and his wife to Elmwood Cemetery.  They lost the round on that one, but it's on hold.  Perhaps reading this page which identifies many of the historic Memphians who were instrumental in bringing this important sculpture to Memphis - as well as the hardships of transporting it here - might provide new insight.  There are 254 pages to this "Minutes Book".  And there is also a great deal of additional information about the history of Forrest Park at the bottom of this page.

 


Click on small photos to see an enlargement .  Hold mouse over small photo and paragraph will appear describing the page. 


Cover

Sleeve

3 4 5 6 7

Most of the files are quite large.  PLEASE BE PATIENT WHILE THEY LOAD.

8

9 10 11 12 13

14

             
             

15

16 17 18 19 20

21

             
             

22

23 24 25 26 27

28

 
             

29

30 31 32 33 34

35

             
             

36

37 38 39 40 41

42

             
             

43

44 45 46 47 48

49

             
             

50

51 52 53 54 55

56

             
             

57

58 59 60 61 62

63

             
             

64

65 66 67 68 69

70

             
             

71

72 73 74 75 76

77

             
             

78

79 80 81 82 83

84

             
             

85

86 87 88 89 90

91

             
             

92

93 94 95 96 97

98

             
             

99

100 101 102 103 104

105

             
             

106

107 108 109 110 111

112

             
             

113

114 115 116 117 118

119

             
             

120

121 122 123 124 125

126

             
             

127

128 129 130 131 132

133

             
             

134

135 136 137 138 139

140

             
             

141

142 143 144 145 146

147

             
             

148

149 150 151 152 153

154

             
             

155

156 157 158 159 160

161

             
             

162

163 164 165 166 167

168

             
             

169

170 171 172 173 174

175

             
             

176

177 178 179 180 181

182

             
             

183

184 185 186 187 188

189

             
             

190

191 192 193 194 195

196

             
             

197

198 199 200 201 202

203

             
             

204

205 206 207 208 209

210

             
             

211

212 213 214 215 216

217

             
             

218

219 220 221 222 223

224

             
             

225

226 227 228 229 230

231

             
             

232

233 234 235 236 237

238

             
             

239

240 241 242 243 244

245

             
             

246

247 248 249 250 251

252

             
             
 

253
 

254
 
 

Missing pages from the book These pages were recently found and acquired from an antique documents dealer in Little Rock, Arkansas

  <  Index  >

  Memphis wants to "clean up" the natural patina on the Forrest statue.. Pages  156, 231, 232, 238, 249
   
  Forrest Committee wants a shorter tail on the horse... Page 40, 198
   
 

Casting and Shipping the bronze to Memphis... problems with foundry, ships, trains, bridges ... Pages 89, 94, 96, 101, 113, 115, 116, 117, 118, 120, 121, 125, 127, 128, 134, 138, 141, 143, 144, 146

   
  Should the statue face North or South? ... Pages 95, 151, 233, 242
   
  Design of the pedestal for the sculpture ... Pages 90, 91, 92, 93, 95, 98, 99, 102, 103, 108
   
  Regina Niehaus, wife of the sculptor, and her Memphis connection ... Pages 24, 26, 27, 28
   
  A dispute over who owns the original Plaster model ... Pages 215, 214, 220
   
 

Niehaus proposes a larger sculpture or moving the smaller one to another location.  Memphis says 'No'.  Niehaus volunteers to pay the difference himself.  Pages 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 93. 199

   
  Forrest's sword is stolen... Pages 24, 245, 246, 247
   
Capsule History of the Forrest Monument Association ... 1887-1905

             

1887:  Ten years after the death of Nathan Bedford Forrest, efforts were begun to raise money for a statue to be erected in his memory. Three men, James E. Beasley, Col. W. F. Taylor and W. W. Schoolfield began asking for donations toward this monument fund. During the early years of their work, there were some small contributions, but in November 1891 the Forrest Monument Association was incorporated and the movement took off.

The following officers were elected to lead the Association. Gen. S. T. Carnes, President, Gen. George W. Gordon, Vice-President, James E. Beasley, Treasurer, and Judge John Preston Young, Secretary. Also named were thirteen Directors who represented the who’s who of Memphis at that time.  

Immediately following the incorporation of this unit, a fundraising benefit was given by the Lyceum Theater Stock Players. Other donations followed during 1892 and 1893. During 1894, a number of Confederate Veterans organized a drill team designated as Company A, UCV. Their first order of business was to challenge the Memphis "Chickasaw Guards" to a competitive drill. The cash prize of $1,927.45 was won by Company A and donated to the Forrest Monument Fund - their largest donation, to date. 

By January of 1900, the cash and signed pledges to the Association amounted to $14,000.  In June, the interested Ladies of Memphis formed an auxiliary headed by Mary Latham and deserve special mention for their work.  In October 1904, they turned over to the Association treasury $2,955.51 of solicited donations.

The cornerstone for the monument was laid during the May 1901 UCV Reunion in Memphis.   In August 1901, sculptor Charles H. Niehaus was contracted to produce the bronze statue of General Forrest astride his favorite horse "King Phillip." It took three years for the modeling of the statue and nearly nine months for the casting. The marble work for the base was done by the Ross Marble Co. of Knoxville and is of Tennessee marble.

The bronze casting of more than heroic size (one and one-half life size), weighs 9,500 pounds.  The height of the monument is 21 feet 6 inches, including the equestrian of 12 feet.  The height of the pedestal is 7 feet, and the terrace 2 feet 6 inches. The total cost of this magnificent sculpture was $32,359.53.

Casting for the bronze was done in Paris France at the well known foundry of E. Guret June. The statue was shipped by steamer to New York, and then to Savannah , and from there by rail to Memphis, arriving here on April 8, 1904. The Forrest Monument Association believed that the most appropriate place for the remains of General Forrest would be beneath the foundation of this splendid statue.  They obtained the consent of his son, Capt. William Montgomery Forrest and the bodies of General Forrest and his wife were re-interred from the Forrest family plot at Elmwood Cemetery to Forrest Park on November 11, 1904.

The dedication ceremony took place on May 16, 1905 beginning at 2:30 p.m., with 30,000 Southerners from seven States attending. Following the various speeches, the little eight year old great granddaughter Kathleen Forrest Bradley, finally pulled the cord that unveiled the magnificent memorial. 

Complete list of contributions and expenses ... From the 1901 dedication booklet

    Some notable contributors to the Forrest Monument Association: 
 
George W. Gordon...$105 Commercial Appeal...$250 Lowenstein's...$100 John Overton...$105
Dr. D. T. Porter...$255 James S. Robinson...$150 Peter Van Vleet...$250 Gayoso Hotel...$25
Gerber Bros...$25 Fransioli Hotel...$10 O.K. Houck Co...$50 Mphs Steam Laundry...$50
Riechman-Crosby...$50 Napoleon Hill...$500 Queensware Co...$50 Pidgeon Iron Co...$50
Goldsmith's... $25 Sol Coleman... $25 William Floyd ... $25 Chicasaw Iron Works..$50
Goodman Bros...$25 Isele Bros...$25 Henry Loeb...$20 Orgill Bros... $50
Sturla Hotel...$20 Patterson Transfer...$25 John Gaston...$100 Ladies Mem. Assoc...$25
 
             

The Who's Who of Memphis that supported the Forrest Monument .  Almost every important figure in Memphis during this period supported the Forrest Monument by working with the committee or by their financial support.  There was a universal feeling that the city was doing something important.  These people were the "movers"  who cared about Memphis and its image in the world.  And they were frequently rewarded by having buildings, businesses, and streets named after them.   

Judge J. P. Young George W. Gordon S. T. Carnes Mary Latham Peter Van Vleet

D. T. Porter

           

William Floyd Lyceum Stock Co. John Overton Sol Coleman John Gaston

Napoleon Hill

Rev. Thomas Gailor Hunsdon Cary W. F. Taylor C. A. Stanton W. A. Collier

T. B. Turley     

J. M. Goodbar R. B. Snowden H. M. Neely Henry Luehrmann W. W. Schoolfield

Robert Galloway

C. H. Niehaus, The Sculptor . Memphis selected one of the best sculptor's in the United States for their equestrian sculpture of Nathan Forrest - sculptor Charles H. Niehaus.  He has eight statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. - a record for a sculptor.  And his work has consistently been praised as among  the best of the 19th Century American sculptors.  When Niehaus finished the Forrest piece, it was almost immediately rated as among the top three equestrian sculptures in the entire United States - and that hasn't changed.  .

C. H. Niehaus

Niehaus in Studio

Sculpture John Paul Jones

Original Contract with Memphis

George Kessler, The Landscape Architect .  In 1901, Memphis hired famed landscape architect George Kessler, the designer of New York's Central Park, to create a master plan for a parkway system like those in Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.   The city's original parks, Overton and Riverside were also designed by Kessler and connected by long green avenues (Parkways) in a formal pattern that preserved the green spaces.  As Memphis grew, so did the city-owned parks.  Kessler went on to design the Fairgrounds, Forrest Park, Confederate Park, and Gaston Park.  During his 40 year career, George Kessler prepared plans for 26 communities, 26 park and boulevard systems, 49 parks, and 26 schools.  His projects can be found in 23 states, Mexico, and China and in 100 cities.  The  parkway system  and most of these parks are now listed on the National Historic Register and have long been a source of great pride among Memphians.

George Kessler George Kessler George Kessler 1862-1923 Kessler's Overton Park plan

...Forrest Park plan  

Chickasaw Guards of Memphis  The Chickasaw Guards of Memphis had the reputation of West Point Officers in being the most perfectly drilled company of citizen-soldiers in the United States.    They traveled around the North as well as the South and participated in drill competitions which earned them great respect.

Guards March Chickasaw Gurads-Armory Harpers - Guards Chickasaw Guards Competitive Drills
United Confederate Veterans . Company A

In 1894, a group of Confederate Veterans organized a drill team designated as Company A, UCV. Their first order of business was to challenge Memphis Chickasaw Guards to a competitive drill. The cash prize of $1,927.45 was won by Company A, who donated it to the Forrest Monument fund  - their largest donation, to date.

Article

Company A of the UCV in Memphis Drill competition

 
Confederate Hall . Memphis

Memphis had raised $80,000 to build the Confederate Hall on Front Street specifically for the United Confederate Veterans use for their 1901 Reunion.   Even Robert Church donated $1,000 to the fund to build the 18,000 seat hall.  After the reunion, the UCV's donated the building to the Forrest Monument Committee - who used it for several fund-raising events before it was demolished.  The Forrest Committee then sold the building for $2,550.00.   Pages 36, 38, 39.

 

Confederate Hall

 
 
 

The route from the foundry in Paris to Forrest Park in Memphis .   Niehaus had picked the Paris foundry, because it was one of the best.  But from the beginning there were problems, including the death of the owner.  When the statue was shipped to New York, it was held in Customs while they determined what "Fine Art" is.  The American trains had all fought for the honor of transporting the sculpture, but they began backing out when they realized that it was too large for their railroad cars and for many bridges along the way.  Eventually it made it to Memphis via a combination of Steamboats and trains.

 

Knoxville Marble Quarry

Ross Marble

Forrest Park Design

E Gruet June

Memphis Agreement

 

Sculpture in Savannah ...

Sculpture in Atlanta...

Railroad Bridge too low...

Dedication

   
 

Updates...


 
March 2009

Forrest Park has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  The park received the honorary designation this month from the National Park Service.  The Forrest Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans submitted the nomination to the Park Service.  According to the Park Service, " Since the park is owned by the city of Memphis, the city has the authority to rename it or have the graves moved unless the project involves federal dollars". 

 
 
 
Mid-year 2012

The known facts:   In mid-year 2012, the granite marker "Forrest Park" appeared on the Union side of the Park.  During the week before Christmas 2012, the 13 feet wide slab disappeared.  The sign was purchased and paid for by  Forrest Camp 215 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  George Little, CAO of Memphis City Government ordered the sign hauled to a city storage area, where it remains.  The unknown facts:  The Sons of Confederate veterans say the city gave them permission.  Mr. Little says there is no record in city files of permission.

 
 
 
February 2013

USA Today, Feb 6, 2013:  Memphis changes names of 3 Confederate-themed parks  "The Memphis city council has hurriedly renamed three Confederate-themed parks, including one named after the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, to head off an effort by some state legislators to block such name changes.  The council on Tuesday passed a resolution to immediately rename Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park in downtown Memphis and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, which lies just a few miles away. The vote was 9-0 with three members abstaining.  ...  "The parks are changed. It's done," said Councilman Lee Harris, "We removed controversial names and named them something that is less controversial."  The new names may be only temporary until more permanent names are chosen, the Memphis Daily News reported.  Council members made no secret of their attempt to vote for and finalize the move, which normally would require three hearings, in order to beat an attempt by two state lawmakers in Nashville to block such name changes.  The city council even voted to approve its minutes Tuesday to prevent the measure from being reconsidered at its next meeting".

 
 

       

Historic-Memphis website editorial  .   2013

FACT: There was an American Civil War. It was all about slavery. Changing some names of Memphis Parks won't change that. No matter what new name is applied to these parks, there will always be a footnote about the original names that stood for over a hundred years. Renaming these parks will not erase the South's greatest shame. What the city council has done with this 2013 ruling creates an even greater divide in Memphis racial relations. As offensive as some find Confederate symbols, those symbols do represent Memphis history. That history should not be denied. It is part of the South's good, bad and ugly, as well as the nation as a whole. To change names that are historically relevant is an attempt to change the course of history. For a city government to attempt to bury the past by pretending it didn’t exist is a total exploitation of power. Will the burning of history books be next on their agenda?

 

In 2001, the world's two largest standing Buddhas - one of them 165 feet high, were blown up by the ruling Taliban Regime in Afghanistan in defiance of international efforts to save them.    The rulers issued a decree ordering the destruction of all statues in Afghanistan.  The great Buddha statues had stood for 2,000 years, but since the Taliban leaders found them to be offensive, they were destroyed.  Is there a difference?

 

Buddha - Before and After

Destruction 2001

 
 
 
May 2013

Nine Memphis residents and a group called Citizens to Save Our Parks filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the city's renaming of Confederate Park, Forrest Park, and Jefferson Davis Park.  The lawsuit names the City of Memphis and the City Council as defendants.  It claims the council had no legal authority to rename the parks and prior to April 1, only the mayor had the sole authority to rename the parks.    It cited a 2005 newspaper article quoting Council Attorney Allan Wade as saying that the mayor’s administration has authority to name or rename parks, not the council.  

 

The suit also asks for a declaratory judgment declaring the city’s removal of the Forrest Park stone marker in January to be illegal and invalid. It said the marker was installed in the park last May, after approval of the Park Services Division, and “illegally and surreptitiously removed” by the city without notice.  The Memphis lawsuit also alleges that the city’s actions have “damaged Memphis” because of its “invalid attempts to erase and eliminate a significant part of the history of the city of Memphis.” It noted that the parks’ original names are featured in the state’s official Tennessee Civil War Trails program’s brochures and maps. 

 
 
 
June 2013

The city of Memphis is challenging a lawsuit that alleges officials acted illegally when they renamed three Confederate-themed parks.  Lawyers for the Memphis City Council filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Shelby County Chancery Court .

 
 
 

September 13, 2013

The Nathan Forrest Statue was vandalized between night and early morning.  It was marked with two large red blotches of red paint.  In between the blotches was written an anti Klu Klux Klan message (It has been removed in this photo).   A power-wash removed all the graffiti.

 
 
 
July 7, 2015

The Memphis City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to remove the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest.    They're also moving ahead with plans to remove the statue of Forrest, even looking at selling the statue to anyone who want it.

To be continued...

 
 

 

The newest name of Forrest Park "Civil War Park".  Oops!  They changed their mind.  It's now "Health Sciences Park"

 
 
 

 
 
 

Vintage Post Cards and Memorabilia of Forrest Park

 

1905

1906 1907

1909

       
  

1909

1910 1905       ...     C. 1960

Vintage Lily Pond

 

Vintage

1890 T. B. Turley check

1907

Flowers

 

Forrest Park Souvenir Stein

Forrest - Later Forrest Birthplace Lily Pond
 
 
 
 


 
 

Credits

 

The Historic-Memphis website does not intentionally post copyrighted photos and material without permission or credit.  On occasion a "non-credited" photo might possibly be posted because we were unable to find a name to give credit.  Because of the nature of our non-commercial, non-profit, educational website, we strongly believe that these photos would be considered "Fair Use.  We have certainly made no monetary gain, although those using this website for historic or Genealogy research have certainly profited.  If by chance, we have posted your copyrighted photo, please contact us, and we'll remove it immediately, or we'll add your credit if that's your choice.  In the past, we have found that many photographers volunteer to have their works included on these pages and we'll  also do that if you contact us with a photo that fits a particular page. 

 

The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commission, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

We do not have high definition  copies of the photos on these pages.  If anyone wishes to secure high definition photos,  you'll have to contact the photographer  or the collector.  (To avoid any possibility of contributing to SPAM, we do not maintain a file of email addresses for anyone who contacts us).

 

 
 
 

 Please visit the website that sponsors this page

   Historic Memphis Website