Monumental moment

Sunday, November 19, 2006
Local Historians Patrick Brophy and Terry Ramsey, were on site in Deerfield, Mo., to dedicate a roadside plaque that describes the Civil War Battle of Drywood. The plaque is one of 18 to be placed in strategic locations across the state of Missouri. Jim Denny, historian, Missouri Department of Natural Resources also was present, as well as local enthusiasts, and Prairie State Park employees.

* Battle commemorated with roadside marker.

By Colette Lefebvre-Davis

Herald-Tribune

Deerfield, Mo -- Local historians Terry Ramsey and Patrick Brophy braved the elements on Wednesday morning -- the wind whipped with a chill that no fleece or cardigan could protect against.

On a day when most people were staying inside, Brophy and Ramsey were outside, watching with anticipation as Jim Denney, a historian with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Prairie State Park employees were breaking ground.

Organizers and workers were gathered together to commemorate the placement of a commemorative roadside plaque placed in Vernon County, in honor of the Battle of Drywood.

"This is the 18th plaque placed (out of many to be placed) over all in the state." stated Denney.

The first plaque that the state of Missouri placed was located in Belmont, Mo. It's a ghost town now, but it wasn't in 1864. According to Denney, it was where a young Ulysses S. Grant fought his first Civil War battle.

These plaques are "just a way of telling the Civil War story of Missouri, getting it out." explained Denney.

Eldon Steward had relatives who participated in the Civil War battle, and it was he who first "got the ball rolling" toward commemorating the battle in some way.

Steward was so interested in this battle not only because it is located in his home town county, but his great-great-grandfather fought with the Confederates in the battle.

Brophy and Ramsey explained that this marker is part of a statewide initiative to mark and commemorate Missouri's role in the Civil War on the western borders for the sake of informing and entertaining visitors.

The project is slated to be completed just in time for the Civil War sesquicentennial in 2011.

The cold drove most of the historians inside, while Prairie State Park employees stayed outside, drilling holes to accept the poles that would support the plaque.

The plaque is located alongside U.S. 54 Highway, at what some know as Leon Emery's truck stop in Deerfield.

"If it wasn't for these folks we couldn't have gotten it done. Leon Emery donated his property that borders the highway, thereby making the sign visible for passers-by." Ramsey said.

The historians sat around a warm table in the truck stop, each with a coffee in hand, discussing the hurdles that they have overcome, on this project.

Many Nevadans and Vernon Countians have ancestors who fought in this Battle, with names like Thomas.

"This one sign adds to the whole of the tour, this historical marker shows a little of what has happened. So, it's a taste, and hopefully after visitors stop and read the sign they will say 'let's go to the Bushwhacker Museum and get the rest of the story.' It's another piece of the pie." said Ramsey.

"Nevada is not a tourism destination, but it is part of a story, and if we give visitors enough information to stay a few more hours, then they might get a meal, fill up on some gas and so on."

Ramsey believes that this one sign will add to the small tourism business that the area has; however, there are more battles in the area that locals want to see marked.

The marker enables visitors to visualize the site of the battle, two miles south of the marker's new home. It reads, "A state divided: The Civil War in Missouri."

It holds numerous media enhancements including a map of the battle, a visage of Lt. Col. Frederick W. Beneen and Col. James Montgomery.

Additional markers at other sites are slated to be in place by 2011.

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