Confederate Soldiers Monument, Sylva
This monument depicts a Confederate infantryman standing at parade rest. The copper soldier stands atop a tiered stone base in front of the old courthouse building. The thick bottom tier of the monument is finished with rough stone, which gives way to graduated smooth stone steps inscribed to the heroes of the confederacy. Above the steps rises a square column with a colored confederate flag in bas-relief. The top of the column features the Confederate States of America design between the start and end dates of the Civil War. From this dignified base, the soldier looks out over the town. There is a plaque on the back (west) of the monument dedicating the monument to all those involved in the war.
Images: In 2020 base inscriptions were covered | Rear view, April 2021 | Vintage postcards: View of monument from base of courthouse steps: Postcard 1, Postcard 2.
Back (west), plaque: TO OUR VALIANT FATHERS:- / CHAMPIONS OF RECONCILIATION WITH / JUSTICE, OF UNION WITH MANHOOD, / OF PEACE WITH HONOR; THEY FOUGHT / WITH FAITHFULNESS, LABORED WITH / CHEERFULNESS, AND SUFFERED IN SILENCE. / TO OUR HEROIC MOTHERS:- / SPARTAN IN DEVOTION, TEUTON IN / SACRIFICE, IN PATIENCE SUPERIOR TO EITHER / AND IN MODESTY AND GRACE / MATCHLESS AMONG WOMANKIND.
Front (east), plinth: 1861 CSA 1865
Front (east), base: OUR HEROES / OF THE CONFEDERACY
September 18, 1915. Rededication: May 11, 1996
35.373780 , -83.227640 View in Geobrowse
"Illuminated Fountain at foot of Jackson County Court House, Sylva, N.C." in North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
"Our Confederate Monument," Jackson County Journal (Sylva, NC), August 29, 1919, (accessed January 30, 2015)
"Unveiling Monument," Jackson County Journal (Sylva, NC), August 27, 1915, (accessed January 30, 2015)
"Unveiling of the Confederate Monument," Jackson County Journal (Sylva, NC), September 24, 1915, (accessed January 30, 2015)
"Wanted," Jackson County Journal (Sylva, NC), August 27, 1915, (accessed January 30, 2015)
Butler, Douglas J. North Carolina Civil War Monuments: An Illustrated History (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2013).
Kayes, Holly. “Commissioners Vote to Keep Sylva Sam, With Some Changes,” Smokey Mountain News (Waynesville, NC), August 5, 2020, (accessed August 23, 2020) Link
Kracher, Frank. “Town Wants County to Remove Sylva Sam,” WLOS.com, (Asheville, NC), July 27, 2020, (accessed August 23, 2020) Link
United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Nineteenth Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Held at Charlotte, North Carolina, October 6, 7, 8, 1915 (Wilmington, N.C: Wilmington Stamp and Printing Company), 86, (accessed January 30, 2015) Link
United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Held at Winston-Salem, North Carolina, October 25, 26, 27, 1921 (Gastonia, N.C.: Brumley-Walters Printing Co.), 99-100, (accessed January 30, 2015) Link
United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Held at New Bern, N.C., October 13, 14, 15, 1920 (Charlotte, N.C.: Queen City Printing Company, 1920), 139, (accessed January 30, 2015) Link
“Historic Courthouse Images.” The Sylva Herald, (accessed February 10, 2015) Link
“Jackson County Confederate Monument - Sylva, NC,” Waymarking.com, (accessed January 30, 2015) Link
“Jackson County Confederate Monument, (sculpture).” Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museum, SIRIS, sirismm.si.edu, (accessed January 30, 2015) Link
“Jackson County Court House, Sylva, N.C.,” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
Bronze, granite, copper
Fifty years after the Civil War ended, the monument was unveiled with a series of grand celebrations. More than 3000 people from the town and surrounding area were in attendance. There was a parade commanded by Captain Frederick Rutledge of the Governor’s Horse Guards, a speech by General Theodore F. Davidson from Asheville, and music by First Regiment Brass Band from Asheville. The event also included children singing patriotic Southern songs and a “living flag” comprised of young women wearing red, white, and blue, as well as free dinner and special rates on transportation.
In the mid-1990s, the statue was removed, refurbished, and then rededicated on May 11, 1996.
This monument was built to honor the 164 soldiers from Jackson County who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and all the citizens who helped with the war effort.
The statue was made by the W. H. Mullins Company, which was a large manufacturing company in Salem, Ohio. At least eight other statues in the state of North Carolina are known Mullins’ products, including one from 1924 in Asheboro, N.C., which is identical except for the placement of the soldier’s backpack. Six statues are parade rest models dating from from 1911 to 1925 (including one monument in Albemarle and one in Greenville).
Following the massacre of nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015 by white supremacist Dylann Roof, Americans, especially southerners, have reflected on and argued over the historical legacy of slavery, the Civil War, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. Monuments have been a particular focus of these debates and controversies, especially after the death of a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 and after President Donald Trump expressed his opposition to the removal of Confederate memorials. Despite laws in many southern states intended to prevent or impede the removal or relocation of historical monuments, protesters and local community leaders have removed or relocated controversial monuments associated with slavery, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. The pace of the removal of controversial monuments accelerated sharply in 2020, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Against the backdrop of protests against police brutality and white supremacy across the nation, local authorities in many communities in North Carolina removed and/or relocated monuments that were the focus of civil unrest.
On July 27, 2020, by a 3-2 vote the Sylva Town Commission requested that Jackson County remove and possibly relocate the statue known as “Sylva Sam.” On August 4, 2020, Jackson County Commissioners rejected that request by a 4 to 1 vote. In a compromise the commissioners did agree to modify the monument. Changes would include the Confederate flag etched into the base being covered with a plaque giving a brief history of Jackson County’s role in the Civil War. The words “Our Heroes of the Confederacy,” which appear below the flag, would be removed. The compromise did not settle the issue as members of Reconcile Sylva vowed to continue efforts to have it removed. Supporters of keeping the memorial in place also acknowledged they expect efforts to have it removed would continue.
The monument stands halfway up the steps to the old Jackson County Courthouse building, which is now the town’s public library. The steps begin at the intersection of W. Main St. and Keener St. in Sylva, NC. War Memorial Fountain and the Jackson County Veterans Memorial are located at the bottom of the staircase. The Jackson County Founding and Time Capsule marker and the Jackson County Armed Forces Memorial stand right to the left corner of the old Jackson County Courthouse building.
The monument is surrounded by stone steps and the green, landscaped grounds of the library. It overlooks the hilly downtown area to the east.
June 23, 1921 there was a ceremony during which wreaths were placed on the monument by the B. H. Cathey Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy.