BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – The great-granddaughter of a Confederate soldier made a cross-country trek to advocate for the relocation of a nearly 5-foot tall stone marker in front of the Polk County History Center.
“I just feel this sense of responsibility,” Maggie Macaulay told 8 On Your Side about why she traveled from New Mexico to Bartow recently for a chance to address the Polk County Historical Commission for five minutes.
In 1982, she attended the unveiling of the historical marker, which she thinks should be referred to as a monument, with her family.
Her great-grandfather was part of the regiment it commemorates, which marched from that site to Gainesville.
Seventy nine of its members died, not including Macaulay’s great-grandfather.
“I don’t think it belongs in front, definitely not in front of a courthouse, or even a building that was a courthouse, a place of justice,” she said.
Her idea is to move it to Oak Hill Cemetery, where her relatives are buried.
“It is a thin white slice of history,” she told the Polk County Historical Commission.
The county is in the process of covering the rebel symbol on the stone.
“As far as moving it, I’m not for that,” said Bill Braswell, a county commissioner who also sits on the historical commission. “[The Civil War period has] lead to, for 170 years now, a lot of anger and hate and animosity that’s never done anything good for this country. That said, it’s still our history.”
In a meeting last month, the commission heard from members of the public who voiced their concern with the marker.
“All confederate monuments represent a very dark history in the lives of African-Americans,” said Shirley Hayes, a pastor at the St. James African Methodist Church.
Clifton Lewis, who runs the L.B. Brown House in Bartow, spoke in support of creating a monument alongside the existing one, to commemorate the end of slavery.
“That’s what’s missing right now – education, education, education,” he said. “Tell the whole story side by side, if in fact there were 2 monuments, beautifully landscaped so when the kids came through they could get an understanding of both sides of the issue.”
The county is in the process of researching the idea. Any plans will have to be approved by the commission.