Document: Jefferson City Council resolution to remove Sterling Price markerView
A controversial Civil War marker in Jefferson City will be removed, following an 8-2 vote by the Jefferson City Council on Monday.
Ward 4 Councilman Ron Fitzwater and Ward 5 Councilman Mark Schreiber voted against the resolution to remove the Sterling Price marker from Moreau Drive, while the rest of the council voted in favor.
The vote concludes nearly four months of discussion on the topic, including a previous council meeting, two council committee meetings and several city commission meetings.
The Sterling Price marker was dedicated to the city in 1933 by the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It reads: "Deciding against attack, the Confederate Army under Gen. Sterling Price turned from Jefferson City October 7, 1864."
In 1864, Confederate forces, led by Gen. Sterling Price, planned to attack Jefferson City to secure a possible victory and help turn the tide of the war, which at that point was leaning toward the Union, which eventually won.
The marker came under public scrutiny in July when it was brought before the city's Historic Preservation Commission and Human Relations Commission.
The Human Relations Commission wrote a letter in support of removal in August.
After discussion including public testimony, the HPC originally recommended the marker not be removed but contextualized. However, at a following meeting the HPC reversed their decision and also wrote a letter in support of removal.
Although neither of these commissions could make the decision, the letters brought the decision to the City Council.
On Sept. 21, the council was supposed to vote on a resolution which would have removed the maker. However, it was removed from the agenda, and the discussion was sent to two council committees — Administration and Public Works and Planning.
During both committee meetings, Fitzwater put forward an amended resolution which would leave the marker in place and suggested putting up additional markers to add historical context to the Sterling Price marker.
The amendment received no support during the administration meeting. During the Public Works and Planning meeting, it was seconded by Ward 5 Councilman Mark Schreiber but was voted down by the rest of the committee — Ward 2 Councilman Mike Lester, Ward 1 Councilman David Kemna and Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey.
The resolution was sent back to the council for the final vote Monday.
On Monday, Fitzwater once again put forward an amendment to the resolution which would keep the marker in place.
Fitzwater said he does not support the United Daughters of the Confederacy — which had ties to the KKK in the past — but keeping the marker and adding additional context would be a middle ground.
"I think this amendment gives us an opportunity to bring some healing to the community, allow us to address this very serious issue, put some education out and all walk away feeling we've had an impact on this critical issue," Fitzwater said.
The amended resolution was seconded by Schreiber but rejected by the full council with a 2-8 vote.
Several council members spoke out in favor of removal of the marker before the vote took place. Ward 5 Councilman Jon Hensley said the marker was placed with the intention of being misleading when it comes to the history of the event.
Hensley said the council had to listen to those who have spoken out against the marker because of ties it has to the Confederacy and feelings it creates, especially for Black residents.
"You have this attachment to admitted propaganda in historical clothing, and then you have people telling us about deeply rooted, generations-long hurt that — since childhood for them — this marker has represented," Hensley said. "I simply don't understand how you can put those things on an equal footing."
Hensley said he gave strong support to the removal of the marker.
"We have a responsibility to no longer promote the cause of the Confederate States of America by publishing their propaganda on ground that belongs to all of the residents of this community," Hensley said. "This marker has never been and can never be history. The boys in gray were wrong, and we shouldn't promote their cause any longer."
Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey said he supports the addition of other historical markers, but adding them along with the Sterling Price marker would not meet that goal. Hussey said the middle ground is to celebrate the city's Union forces, freed slaves and German immigrants.
"To me, contextualizing something that has already been in existence doesn't get us there," Hussey said.
Process of removal
Previously, Public Works Department Director Matt Morasch said the city's crews would most likely remove the marker if removal was approved.
Depending on how the marker and the base are reconstructed, the process could be easy or difficult.
The marker is estimated to be about 15 tons. The city doesn't have equipment to dig down and remove the entire marker in one piece.
Instead, the process would be to remove the plaque, support the rock and break down the concrete base until the marker comes free.
Morasch said they will remove the plaque beforehand to make sure it isn't damaged, and they would do their best to avoid damaging the actual rock during the process.
The rock and the plaque would then be placed in city storage until any other decision is made on it's future.
City Attorney Ryan Moehlman, on Friday, said the city has not received any formal offers to re-home the marker, but some residents have made offers during public comment at meetings.
Edith Vogel, who owns property which was previously the Union Camp Lillie, has offered to display the marker on her property at previous meetings.
No mention was made of when the marker will be removed.