After 92 years of surviving winter’s ice and cold, and summer’s searing heat, the statue of Maj. Gen. James B. Steedman finally met its match — the automobile.
While General Steadman was standing guard at the entrance to Riverside Park, a car failed to negotiate the sharp curve into the park on June 18, 1979, hit the granite pedestal, and knocked the bronze general to the ground. This photo was taken by Blade photographer Herral Long.
The 30-foot monument to the Civil War hero was first dedicated in downtown Toledo May 26, 1887. The statue was located in a triangular area at the intersection of St. Clair, Erie, and Summit streets.
William J. Finlay, a successful brewer who was befriended by General Steedman when he first came to Toledo, paid $25,000 for the statue as a tribute to “Old Chickamauga.” The nickname resulted from the fact that General Steedman led Union troops at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia. He was known for his heroism during that Civil War battle. At one point his horse was shot from under him as he led a charge. President Lincoln rewarded him by promoting him to Major General.
Born in Pennsylvania and trained as a printer, General Steedman settled in Napoleon in 1838 where he founded the Northwestern Democrat newspaper. He became involved in the digging of the Wabash and Erie Canal, served in the Ohio legislature, and held various other public offices before the war. He was the Toledo police chief at the time of his death in 1883.
After issues with vandalism and revitalization work downtown, the Steedman statue was rededicated at the entrance to Riverside Park, 2000 Summit St., on July 4, 1920, and stood watch there until the traffic accident that knocked the statue from its pedestal.
The statue languished for four years in city storage until a local metal working firm donated its services to make repairs. It was dedicated for the third time on June 2, 1983, after it was relocated to a safer area of Riverside Park.
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