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$12K still needed to restore Revolutionary War monument in Springville

Daughters of the American Revolution chapters trying to save Nathan Brown marker

A monument to Revolutionary War soldier Nathan Brown, photographed Thursday, is the tallest grave maker in the Springvil
A monument to Revolutionary War soldier Nathan Brown, photographed Thursday, is the tallest grave maker in the Springville Cemetery. Local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution are trying to raise the last $12,000 needed for a restoration. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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SPRINGVILLE — A deteriorating Revolutionary War monument will be restored this summer if local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution can raise the last $12,000 toward their $44,000 goal.

The 16.5-foot marble and granite monument, in honor of one of two Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Linn County, is being held together with wire, and the concrete base is deteriorating quickly.

“There are some people who say, ‘Let’s just let the monument go down’ but ... it’s something we should be proud of,” said Beverly Franks with the Marion-Linn Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and member of the Springville Historical Society. “It’s a part of our history and our inheritance.”

The monument was built in honor of Nathan Brown, a Revolutionary War soldier who settled in Springville in the 1800s. It was commissioned by his son in 1886, and made by Krebs Bros. Co. in Des Moines.

Three local Daughters of the American Revolution chapters — Marion-Linn, Ashley and Mayflower — along with the Springville Historical Society — have worked for six years to raise money, secure grants and find someone to do the restoration work on the monument, a price tag of $44,000.

Brown lived in Iowa for only two and a half years before he died Nov. 25, 1842, at 81. His grave is marked by the monument — the tallest in the Springville Cemetery.

Brown was born in 1761 in White Plains, N.Y., and started training to be a soldier at 14. He enlisted at 16 and was one of seven of his siblings who fought in the Revolutionary War.

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After the war, he lived in Pennsylvania and Illinois before settling in Iowa in Brown Township, which is named after him, where Springville is located. Iowa did not become a state until 1846, about four years after Brown died.

The monument was damaged by a tornado in 1977.

“If you look at the thing and saw what bad shape it’s in, the thought goes through your mind, ‘Something’s got to be done.’ The second thought that goes through your mind is, ‘Who’s going to do it?’” said Mary Carroll, with Daughters of the American Revolution Mayflower Chapter in Cedar Rapids.

A mission of the Daughters of the American Revolution is to preserve the headstones of soldiers, Carroll said.

“People should pay attention instead of tearing down historic sites. They need to keep them built up,” Carroll said.

Not only that, but Carroll is concerned whether it’s safe for the monument to stand as is, especially since it’s starting to lean.

“It needs attention or it’s going to fall over, and hopefully it doesn’t fall over when people are around it,” Carroll said. “It would take up quite a bit of real estate if it fell.”

Karen Wilson, also with the Daughters of the American Revolution Mayflower Chapter, said it will be a relief to get the monument restored.

Wilson, who has been heavily invested in grant writing for the project, said it’s important to restore history, especially “when we find something like this beautiful monument in Springville that is in such terrible condition.”

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A bid has been accepted from Memorials by Michel in Solon. If the rest of the funds are raised, organizers hope to see the monument restored this summer.

Donations and grants to the project include $26,000 from the Mayflower Chapter, including a $7,469 Linn County Historical Preservation Committee grant; a grant from the Iowa Sons of the American Revolution for $2,500; and $6,900 raised by the Springville Historical Society.

The local Daughters of the American Revolution chapters are waiting to hear whether they will be awarded an $8,000 grant from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Anyone interested in donating to the restoration can give to the Nathan Brown Monument Fund at Exchange State Bank, 253 Broadway St., Springville, IA 52336, or contact Karen Wilson at (319) 560-0203.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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