By JEFFREY POWELL
Current visitors to the Walton County Courthouse must enter the building from the east. This allows everyone entering to be screened by security personnel. This entrance also routes citizens away from two war monuments that sit on the courthouse’s south lawn. One of those monuments honors Walton County soldiers killed in battle after the American Civil War. The other honors those killed during the American Civil War. The Civil War monument sits on the western edge of the property and has a unique history of its own.
Shortly after the Civil War, a group of Walton County women, led by Jennett McCullom, felt the need to have a monument dedicated to those men that had perished during the conflict. The group was able to raise enough money to have a New Orleans artist sculpt the monument and have it delivered to the Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church which was the center of activity during that time. Shortly after the monument arrived several men in the community suggested that the monument should sit next to the Eucheeanna Courthouse a couple of miles west. This of course caused quite a stir in the community. The men prevailed and the monument was moved, for the first but certainly not the last time.
Florida Constitutional Convention Delegate John Morrison had lost two sons and a nephew during the war. He had also contributed generously to have the monument built and placed, so he believed, at the church. After the monument was moved he hatched a plan to bring the monument back there. He and his son took this upon themselves and moved the stone under the cover of darkness.
After the Supreme Court of Florida became involved the monument was ordered returned to the Eucheeanna courthouse. The monument remained there until moved to DeFuniak Springs, the new county seat.
Today, the much traveled monument is in need of restoration and the replacement of an urn with a skyward pointing hand that once adorned the obelisk. No one is quite sure what happened to the original obelisk cap. The repairs will cost approximately $3,500 with GLMCO donating some of the services.
“Restoring this monument will be good for the city, county and state,” said Walton County Heritage Association President Diane Merkel. “Many of the names on the monument are still names that can be found among the citizens of Walton County. This was the first Civil War monument in the state of Florida and it honors those men who died while serving for their state and defending their homeland. This project is purely about history and heritage and is by no means a political statement. It is imperative that we preserve the history of Walton County.”
Those interested in donating to the restoration can contact Merkel at (850) 951-2127.