Surry mum on statue relocation

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Surry’s 30-day window for museums, historical societies and battlefields to express an interest in taking the county’s Confederate monument – formerly located in front of the county courthouse – ended Sept. 15.

But county officials aren’t saying whether they received any such requests, or what those proposals are.

“The County Board of Supervisors will evaluate proposals received at a future meeting of the Board,” said County Administrator Melissa Rollins, seeming to confirm that the county had received at least one such proposal.

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But when asked for details on how many responses Surry received and from whom, Rollins said that information was “not available at this time.”

Surry’s Board of Supervisors is planning to meet virtually Thursday, but a discussion of what will become of the monument isn’t listed on the agenda.

The Board voted unanimously in August to remove the monument from courthouse grounds. The statue depicts a Confederate soldier standing atop a stone base engraved with the Confederate battle flag and the inscription “Our heroes 1861-1865, to the Confederate soldiers of Surry County, that we through life may not forget to love the thin gray line, erected by the Confederate Memorial Association of Surry County A.D. 1909.”

Two days after the vote, a crane showed up to haul the monument away to an undisclosed location, where county officials say it’s being stored pending offers to take it.

Four triangular stacks of Civil War-era cannonballs, which stood alongside the monument, were also removed. At Isle of Wight County’s August Board of Supervisors meeting, Carrollton resident Albert Burckard, who had donated some of the cannonballs to Surry, informed the Board he had “formally requested these cannonballs be donated to Isle of Wight County,” specifically to the county’s historical society, for eventual display at historic Fort Huger, a Civil War-era fort in the county’s Hardy District named for a Confederate general.

Assistant Isle of Wight County Administrator Don Robertson, however, says the Board has not discussed nor authorized the placement of the cannonballs. At the Board’s September meeting, Burckard apologized to the board members.

“I guess it caused a little bit of consternation, a few inquiries at the county, that y’all had to deal with,” Burckard said. “I’ll try to be more careful in the future.”