Sentinel of Solace

The Civil War monument honors those who served.

The E.B. Gibbs Post of the Grand Army of the Republic was formed in late 1883 and officially chartered the following May. The group chose the name Eugene B. Gibbs to honor the Civil War veteran who served as the captain of a regiment out of California and made his post-war home in White Bear.  

By 1912, only five of those original Grand Army members still remained. Through their urging, a Soldiers’ Monument Association was organized and funds were sought to erect a monument to honor those connected to White Bear who fought in the Civil War nearly 50 years earlier.

A public campaign was held and funds were quickly raised. A white bronze statue was selected, and the base was designed to list the names of the members of the E.B. Gibbs Post, along with the battles in which they fought. The goal was to have the monument erected in time for a Decoration Day dedication in 1913. Beginning in 1868, May 30 of each year was designated as Decoration Day. In 1971, the commemoration became a federal holiday and was celebrated annually as Memorial Day on the last Monday of May.  

The most significant impediment faced by the Soldiers’ Monument Association was the placement of the statue itself. While several possible parks were suggested, the committee settled on the first oval on the boulevard along Clark Avenue quite early. Not all of the neighbors were pleased with this proposal and felt the monument would create a cemetery-like ambiance. A compromise was reached, and the monument was placed slightly closer to the lake near the center of Clark Avenue in time to be dedicated on May 30, 1913. In 2004, however, to be more visible, the monument was relocated to its present site.

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society