President of City Council Accepts Memorial for Jamestown as Tribute Paid to Civil War Governor: Jamestown paid tribute to the memory of one of its illustrious sons in Memorial Park on Independence Day when the bronze statue of Governor Reuben E. Fenton was dedicated with, appropriate ceremonies on the 115th anniversary fit his birth. Dr. Alexander C. Flick of Albany, New York state historian, was the principal speaker, expressing the official tribute of the Empire State to Jamestown’s outstanding citizen. Hundreds of persons attended the impressive exercises which began at 11:30 a. m., on the spacious lawn of the Fenton home” where lived the former Civil war governor and United States senator.
The bronze statue, the gift of Mrs. Lillian Hayden Fenton, widow of Reuben Earle Fenton. son of the governor, is the work of Bryant Baker, New York sculptor who participated in the program of exercises. The statue of Governor ‘ Fenton, showing him standing beside a pedestal with a manuscript in his hand, stands upon a bane of grey Vermont granite with the following inscriptions: Reuben Eaton Fenton, July 1819 to August 25, 1885 Governor of New York State 1865—1869 (The United States Eagle) United States Senator 1869-1875 (The United States Eagle.)
Representative in Congress 1853-1864 “During the Civil War he was affectionately known as “The Soldiers Friend,” told he, “your state thanks you and gives you pledge of her lasting gratitude.” “The people will regard with jealous pride, your welfare and honor, not forgetting the widow and the fatherless.” Major General Charles J. Bailey of this city, whose wife is a granddaughter of Governor Fenton, presided over the ceremonies in the Memorial Park formerly known as: Walnut Grove. He briefly explained the nature of the occasion while seated on the platform which had been erected especially for the occasion and which had been draped with the national emblem, were Bryant Baker, the sculptor; Dr. Alexander C. Flick, of Albany, state historian and special representative of Governor Herbert H. Othman; J. Niven Hegeman, grandson of Governor Fenton; Rev. Dr. Felix V. Hanson, Rev. Dr. John Connell, Council President Harry Lindholm, Rev. M. V. Stone, Civil war veteran; Congressman Daniel A. Reed and Mrs. Reed, of Dunkirk; State Senator Leigh G. Kirkland and Mrs. Kirkland of Randolph; Mr. and Mrs. William R. Reynolds and Barbara Fenton Reynolds and Mr. and Mrs. George Merz, all of this city; E. T. Powell and Raymond Beightler, both of Columbus, O., executors of the will of Lillian Hayden Fenton, and Mrs. Powell and Mrs. Beightler; Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Powell and Robin Powell and Peter Hayden of New York city. The program was formally opened with the playing of America by the Co. E, 174th regiment band. Members of the company marched from the armory to the park for the ceremonies.
Sculptor Speaks Rev. Dr. Felix V. Hanson, pastor of Lutheran Emanuel church gave the Invocation and the presentation of the statue WM made by Mr. Baker who spoke as follows: “It is my purpose in life as an artist to try to depict beauty. Sometimes it is beauty of form, and sometimes beauty of thought and subject. ‘When I was commissioned to execute a statue of Governor “Reuben Eaton Fenton. I was most anxious to read a little of his life and character and then let my subconscious mind visualize what would best convey to future generations the qualities that endeared him .to his fellow men, the man that had a noble sense of integrity, the man that had a deep concern and sense of duty towards the widows and orphans of the Civil war. the man that had the sorrow and concern of his time, a man that had almost the same rugged beginning as did President Lincoln and who, like Lincoln, rose to distinction both in his state and in the nation. And so my problem was one of portraying the character and likeness of a man of fine simplicity, yet revealing a quality of inner beauty and fine emotions, and furthermore, to make the whole monument a thing of beauty. “To try to analyze one’s artistic inspiration seems hopeless; In all ages artists have struggled to perpetuate the saints and heroes of their time, and thru the works of art they have left behind, they have enabled us to see their heroes as they saw them. ‘Truthfully, in our Inner selves each artist hopes that some of his life’s work may be well regarded by future generations as a work oi art and a contribution to our cultural civilization. “It is my earnest hope that I have made for you and future generations a faithful likeness and character study of Governor Fenton, the man who contributed much to the history of his time. “I want to thank Mrs. John Minturn and other members of the family who have helped me with photographs and talks, I want to thank the members of your town committee who described personal reminiscences of Governor Fenton and lastly my committee, representing the trustees to the will of Mrs. Hayden Fenton. They were at all times considerate and helpful. “I wish to say I consider it a great honor and trust to have been commissioned to make this statue. I hope you will like it. Thank you.”
Speak for Executors E. T. Powell, speaking for the executors of this will of Mrs. Kenton, said: “Lillian Hayden, a charming and intellectual young girl of Columbus, OH., was married to Reuben Earle Fenton, at her family’s home in Alexandria Bay, New York. Within four years, Reuben Fenton passed away in Naples, Italy. On his death bed he told his wife everything belonged to her but that he had only one request—that she provide in her will for a statue in memory of his father. “ “Ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to dedicate that statue. By the terms of the will of Lillian Hayden Fenton, when she passed away, she directed was as executors of her will to erect this statue. I am here today to accept the statue. Mr. Baker, we accept this splendid piece of work. Your Pioneer Woman is one of the finest pieces of work in the country but from now on this statue will be ranked as one of your crowning achievements. “It is indeed fitting that Governor Fenton’s grandson should be here today to present this statue of our Civil war governor to the city of Jamestown, a statue of which it may indeed be proud. I am referring to Mr. Niven Hegeman who will present it to the city.” Grandson Gives Talk: J. Niven Hegeman, grandson of Governor Fenton spoke as follows in presenting the statue to the city: “It is regretted that Governor Lehman, as well as Senator Copeland, the mayor of our city and some other public officials, on account of a previous engagement for the National holiday, are unable to be present. The Fourth of July was Governor Fenton’s birthday. He was the war governor of our state and was widely known as ‘The Soldier’s Friend.’ So it seems to be most fitting to have selected such a date for the unveiling and dedication of this statue to his memory. “Reuben Eaton Fenton, while his official duties-carried his temporary residence to Albany, Washington and Europe, lived and made his home for his entire life here in Jamestown and the immediate vicinity. He was born in the nearby town of Carroll, where he spent his younger days and there married Elizabeth Scudder. They moved to Frewsburg, where they lived for a time before coming to Jamestown, building here this home, the grounds whereupon now is erected to him this statue. Retiring in 1881 from his long association with public duties, Governor Fenton spent the’ four remaining years of his life in Jamestown, still keenly interested in local affairs and accomplishing in many ways the advancement and prosperity of this city and section. His life was so intimately connected with the people, their activities and welfare here and in this district that it is most appropriate this memorial should stand here in the grounds of his old home among the people he so ably served in the state an? nation, “He was nearly always addressed and referred to as Governor, although following his term as chief executive of the Empire state he served six years in the United States senate. But his greater popularity was achieved as war governor of New York during those trying years of the Civil war and the adjustment of the delicate problems arising thereafter, and as ‘Governor’ he was generally known. “Governor Fenton had three children. His two daughters, Josephine and Jeannette, were born before his family moved to Jamestown. His only son, Reuben Earle, was born here in this home. Reuben E. Junior married Lillian Mai Hayden of Columbus, O., and while they were traveling abroad he died at Naples at the age of 29. It was young Mr. Fenton’s desire to have erected a bronze statue to his father, and it is due to this generosity of his widow in carrying out this wishes of her husband that we are indebted for this memorial, standing not only as a lasting monument to a distinguished citizen, but as a splendid gesture of loyalty and devotion from the late Lillian Hayden Fenton, “Edward T. Powell and Mr. Beightler, who are with us today, were the executors of Mrs. Fenton’s estate, and under the terms of her will providing for the statue she directed that Stephen Bonsall, her nephew, together with Cecil Fenton Minturn, a granddaughter of Governor Fenton, should have charge of the arrangements for the execution of this memorial. “One of our foremost sculptors, Bryant Baker, who has just briefly addressed you, was selected for the task of designing and modeling the statue, this artistic merits of which have already been judged one of the finest of the many memorials in the country executed by Mr. Baker. And among those here who knew Governor Fenton, they will, I know, with us of his family, pronounce this status in both features and pose a remarkably faithful resemblance to him whose likeness is now perpetuated in bronze. “And such a memorial Is not placed here in vain. Among other monuments in America erected to the memory of the statesmen and patriots who so faithfully served their country this one, too, will stand as an example and inspiration to these who will follow us. looking back as we may now and in our posterity, to those who labored for and guided this republic through this most critical stages of our history: an example of courage, Integrity and devotion to the duty that lay before them. “From those who had the supervision of the planning and erection of this monument as well as on behalf of the descendants and family of Governor Fenton, I have the honor to present to the city of Jamestown, through you, Mr. Mayor, this memorial statue of Reuben Eaton Fenton.” Accepts Statue Harry C. Lindholm. president of City council, accepted the statue on behalf of the city In this absence of Mayor Leon F. Roberts spoke as follows: “Monuments are not erected, nor are memorials voiced to provoke resurrection of life Rather, their purpose Is to remind the living of human greatness and goodness. To remind them of exceptional people, who in their brief span of mortal existences, wrought meritorious accomplishments in fields of important endeavor; accomplishments that have the power and the glamour to inspire youth to glorious emulation. Thus monuments that bespeak this lives of great men and great women, are beacon lights that guides the footsteps of ambition to the heights of achievement, and as well, imperishable evidence that ‘the good men do, is not always interred with their bones.’ Thus monuments symbolize the advancement of civilization, and are a proud affirmative that all progress is made according to patterns bequeathed to posterity, by men and women who while they lived had hearts that were aflame with the fire of genius. “The purpose for which we are gathered here today, is in keeping with this understanding and appreciation of propriety in paying tribute to greatness, as it found expression in the good works and in the noble efforts of a man whose name is indelibly inscribed, not only in the history of our city, but also on the pages of this history of the great state of which our city is a part. A man whose memory well deserves to be perpetuated in the hearts of -our people. “Jamestown has been the birthplace and the developing place of many men and women, who by Divine guidance and prudent exercise of exceptional talent, have found it possible to carve their names on the imperishable rock that lines the chambers of this Hall of Fame. “In almost every field of human endeavor their labor has borne rich fruits and the story of their lives are bright pages in the history of our city. From Prendergast to Broadhead, and Dahlstrom from Foote to Anderson, the roster of our population is replete with names that are synonymous with success. Not the success that comes with inherited riches, nor that, which comes as a gift of chance, but rather, the kind that is wrested in sweat and in toil, from the reluctant hand of fortune. “Triumphs In science and Invention; triumphs in finance, commerce and industry; triumphs in the field of arts and letters have been inscribed in the book of human accomplishments by these intrepid earns. They willingly braved ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ that a hamlet m the wilderness might grow to a city known throughout the land for products of its industry; they gave of their brain and brawn for the good of their fellowmen; they labored long and hard that posterity might thrive in community; rich in opportunities. “As we scan this raster and analyses the human merit it embraces, we seek among this names there inscribed, this one who above all others is truly the patriarch, the one who sought fame more than any other thing; who valued a grant name more than riches and whose legacy to the city was an endowment in perpetuity of great and lasting pride. Looking thusly, we find that this name of Reuben E. Fenton looms before the vision, as though written in letters of fire. “Reuben E. Fenton. I will not dwell on his accomplishments, nor will I turn the pages in this book of his life to pick here and there an episode, with which to point a moral. We have with us today a man skilled in dealing with historical and biographical fact and his has performed nobly, I will leave biography with him, and content myself with discussing the value Reuben E. Fenton’s name and reputation has to offer our city. This after all Is a paramount in importance. « “If our youth, as they view the status we are unveiling today, find impulse to thoughts on self-development; if, and to emphasize the thought, I want to paraphrase a verse from Longfellow’s Psalm of life— Fenton’s life may remind them They can make their own sublime. And, departing leave behind them Footsteps on the sands of time— the erection of this monument to his memory will find everlasting justification, and posthumous reward for a life well lived will be manifested in expressions of gratitude that will surpass in worth any tribute given to Reuben E. Fenton, in time contemporaneous with his greatness. This, perhaps, will be true attainment of ‘life immortal.’ This will be tangible proof that ‘good deeds never die.’ It may be in the years ahead another citizen of Jamestown may! be selected for the Governorship of the great state of New York. A man, perhaps of lowly birth, who in some hour of boyhoods happy days, found the ambition and the inspiration that led him to prominence, as he reclined at the base of this statue and thought on the career of the man it honors. “If we let our imagination dwell on the possibilities associated with super-natural life, it is easy to assume that the spirit of Reuben E. Fenton, whispered in his ear the talismanic phrase, ‘He can who thinks he can. Prepare yourself for great accomplishments. Go forth and conquer.’ By the same token, we can assume that this spirit of Reuben E. Fenton will abide always by this tribute to his memory—ready always to whisper words of hope and Inspiration to those who come within the bounds of its shadow. This would be characteristic of the man for in his upon earth, who went about doing good. This is how his memory and this monument will become Jamestown’s most priceless to accept this statue on behalf of the City of Jamestown, is both a pleasure and a privilege, a pleasure, because its presence la this park win be a fount of unending inspiration to our people; a privilege because this sermon is an episode that a great man’s life, even though its occurrence postdates his mortal existence. The donor, Mrs. Lillian Hayden Fenton, who was the wife of Reuben Earle Fenton, a son of the man whose memory we honor today, has performed a great service to Jamestown in this expression of generosity. Great, must have been her appreciation of his worth to this world and equally great should be our appreciation of her thoughtfulness in perpetuating his memory in lasting bronze. She in truth, has shown philanthropy in one of its finest expressions. In these times of strain and stress, when conceptions of values, ones considered good, are being scrapped in favor of unproved theories, it is nice to have this monument to remind us of many things pertaining to government and economic life; things that must be universally reaffirmed, if order is to be restored in a topsy turvey world. “It will be a constant reminder of stern and purposeful virtues and their reward. It will be a constant affirmation that industry and application arc the keys to success and that’ man finds his greatest happiness in creative work and- advancement” Barbara Fenton Reynolds, great-great granddaughter of Gov. Fenton unveiled the statue and Robin Powell, grand-niece of Mrs. Reuben Earle Fenton placed a wreath at it with a band playing the Star-Spangled Banner and Rev. Dr. John Connell, pastor of the First Presbyterian church pronounced the benediction Following the ceremonies General and Mrs. Bailey entertained guest* at their horns at an informal affair. General Bailey announced receipt of letters of regret from Gov. Lehman, and United States Senator Royal S. Copeland and Robert F. Wagner of New York city who were unable to attend the exercises. They all expressed tribute to the memory of Gov. Fenton both as a public official and a private citizen of Jamestown.
*Please note that this article was added in its original form and has not been altered