(L-R) Jeremy Linville, Ryan Melton and James Hayes, with the Grounds Guys of Mattoon, work on planting trees at the Civil War memorial site in Mattoon on Wednesday. (Photo credit: Kevin Kilhoffer, Journal Gazette/Times-Courier)
Story by Rob Stroud
MATTOON — Local businesses donated goods and services to start landscaping work this week for the planned Mattoon Civil War Memorial Ellipse.
A crew from The Grounds Guys of Mattoon planted 18 emerald green arborvitae trees on Wednesday along the circular walkway at the memorial site, located near the east end of the city’s athletic complex on Shelby Avenue.
Wolke Nursery of Sigel provided these evergreens, and De Buhr’s Seeds & Feeds of Mattoon provided peat and other planting materials for the landscaping project.
Steve Thompson, a member of the Ellipse Project Steering Committee, said donations of goods and services have been essential to creating the Mattoon Civil War Memorial Ellipse.
The memorial will honor the five infantry regiments organized at the Camp Grant recruitment site that was located in this part of Mattoon.
In addition, the memorial will honor the camp’s namesake — Ulysses S. Grant, who served in May 1861 as the site’s captain. He subsequently climbed through the ranks to lead the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy and later served as president.
Grounds Guys franchiser Jeremy Linville said he was happy to assist with the memorial project after Thompson and steering committee member Sandra Graven asked him to help.
“Being a veteran myself, I thought this would be a great project for us to be part of here,” said Linville, who is a Marine. Linville said he looks forward to seeing how the “bare bones” of the early stages will help form the completed memorial, adding that he plans to help with other landscaping there.
Thompson said he hopes to have the memorial’s six granite markers, crafted by Adams Memorials, in place later this fall and then hold a dedication ceremony there. He noted that The Upchurch Group of Mattoon has donated engineering and surveying services, and Ratio Architects of Champaign has donated planning services.
Once the markers are in place, Thompson said the steering committee’s efforts will focus on raising funds for the “Last Sentry” Union soldier sculpture that will be the centerpiece of the memorial.
De Buhr’s owner Bernie De Buhr said the memorial site looks great so far and he looks forward to seeing the project take shape. De Buhr said he is glad to be able to help with the project’s efforts to record and promote local history.
“There is a lot of history in Mattoon. I would hate to see it forgotten,” De Buhr said.
Donations for the Mattoon Civil War Ellipse Fund are being taken through the nonprofit Mattoon Area Community Foundation, which is a member of the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. More information about donating is available by calling the Southeastern foundation at 217-235-2500.