Polk County WWI Doughboy, Columbus
A uniformed World War I infantryman holds the barrel of his rifle with both hands in front of him. The butt of the rifle rests on the base. A knapsack is slung over his shoulder and a bayonet is attached to his belt. He leans on the stump of a white oak tree. The figure is mounted on a base of field and river stones that features an imbedded, inscribed, marble panel. The monument is approximately 5 feet high, with the base approx. 7 x 4 x 4 ft.
On marble panel on front of base: THIS MONUMENT MARKS / THIS HIGHWAY THAT WE / DEDICATE TO THE MEMORY OF / LEVI BUTLER / JESSIE LEWIS / WALLACE LANKFORD / ZIBO WILSON / LAWSON WILLIAMS / RALPH WALKER / COLUMBUS CONSTANT / WHO PAID THE SURPREME / SACRIFICE FOR THEIR / HOME AND COUNTRY AND / ALSO ALL THOSE WHO / SERVED IN THE WORLD / WAR FROM POLK COUNTY / NORTH CAROLINA. / THIS MONUMENT WAS / ERECTED BY THE SCHOOL / CHILDREN AND PATRIOTIC / CITIZENS OF THE COUNTY.
On lower panel on front of base: THIS MONUMENT IS THE RESULT / OF THE UNTIRING EFFORT AND / PATRIOTIC DEVOTION OF / W.A. CANNON – BY HIS FRIENDS.
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"Columbus Tables Plans for Courthouse Square Improvements," Tryon Daily Bulletin (Tryon, NC), August 29, 2008, (accessed June 26, 2014) Link
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"Historic Places," polkcounty.org, (accessed June 25, 2014) Link
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Bennett, D. William. Polk County, North Carolina History (Tyron, NC: The Association, 1983), 38
Folder 1228: Columbus: Polk County Courthouse, circa 1910s-1930s: Scan 1, in the North Carolina County Photographic Collection #P0001, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Link
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Howard, Stanley and Terrie Howard. “Polk County World War Memorial,” The Historical Marker Database, hmdb.org (accessed February 2015). Link
Marble and stone
W. A. Cannon
According to Polk County, North Carolina History, the year that W. A. Cannon completed his fund drive to establish the monument is unknown.
It is constructed of local materials.
In 2008, the town of Columbus considered altering the traffic flow around the courthouse in order to maximize the number of parking spaces. Concerned citizens spoke out against the plan, which would have required moving the monument. The town decided to leave the monument in place.
The monument is oriented so that the soldier faces the White Oak Mountains on a small, triangular median at the corner of East Mills Street and the southwest corner of Courthouse Square. It is within walking distance of the Veterans Park, Stearns Park, and the House of Flags Museum, the only one of its kind in the United States.
Several other memorials stand on or near the courthouse grounds, including Polk County Bicentennial (Veterans) Memorial, Howard Monument: Battle of Round Mountain monument, Polk County War Memorial, Dr. Columbus Mills memorial and a Green Ashe tree memorial to veterans of World War Two.
The median in which the monument stands is landscaped with flowering plants, maintained by local garden clubs.
A farmers' market takes place on Saturdays on the street behind the monument. Once a year, the Columbus Farm Festival is held there as well.