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William Harvey Gibson Monument
[Photo courtesy of Charles Wolf]
William Harvey Gibson

General William Harvey Gibson

Born in 1821, in Jefferson County, Ohio, William Harvey Gibson moved with his parents to Seneca County, Ohio, that same year. He attended school in Eden Township and later entered the Ashland Academy. In 1842, Gibson began the study of law in the offices of Rawson and Pennington in Tiffin, Ohio. Although a highly successful trial lawyer, Gibson was attracted to politics. He helped organize the Republican Party in Ohio and was elected Treasurer of the state of Ohio in 1855.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Gibson was commissioned colonel of the 49th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He commanded the regiment through 42 battles and was commissioned brigadier general for distinguished service. Following the war, Gibson returned to the practice of law. In 1871, he laid out the town of Gibsonburg in Sandusky County. Known as the "silver-tongued orator," Gibson gained statewide and national recognition as an eloquent speaker for the Republican Party and the Grand Army of the Republic. After retiring from the practice of law, Gibson was appointed adjutant general of Ohio and served on the Ohio Canal Commission. Three years before his death, General Gibson was appointed postmaster of Tiffin. Gibson died at Fort Ball in 1894.

General William Harvey Gibson Monument

The William Harvey Gibson monument is located on the grounds of the Seneca County Courthouse in Tiffin, Ohio. Conceived and created by master sculptor James B. King of the Hughes Granite and Marble Company, the monument stands nearly thirty feet high and features a twenty-foot base of Barre granite. Royal mortars carved from granite adorn the base's corners. Bronze candelabra are set in granite pillars. The ten-foot tall bronze statue of Gibson stands atop a pedestal with the scene of William McKinley delivering the eulogy at General Gibson's funeral. Imbedded in the stone tablet are bronze plaques. Executed in bas relief, the tablets depict Gibson delivering his famous speech at Melmore, Ohio, in 1843, the Battle of Stone's River, and Gibson's four homes.

Private as well as state funds paid for the monument. Among the stories recounted by A. J. Baughman in his 1911 history of Seneca County is this one:

Many touching letters were received as the contributions were sent in. One old soldier, lying on his cot in the hospital of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Sandusky, took out from an old well worn pocketbook two silver half dollars and said: I want these two half dollars to be placed in the Gibson monument. They have a history. One of them I secured on the day that I cast my first ballot for a president, and that was for old Abe Lincoln. This half dollar has been in my pocket ever since. The other half dollar bears the date of my enlistment in the army; it was a part of my first month's pay that I received from the government. These half dollars went with me all through the war and have been in my pocket ever since, and I know of no place that I can put them where I would rather have them to be than in Gibson's monument. These coins were melted and cast in the bronze statue of Gibson.

[Quoted in History of Seneca County Ohio: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests by A. J. Baughman, Chicago-New York, 1911]

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