BRISTOL - While holiday decorations will soon be placed throughout the Bristol Township Center park, a Civil War marker placed there 150 years ago this fall is a lasting tribute to the township residents who died in that war.
The marker ,located in the center of the park, was officially erected and dedicated in October 1863.
Bristol resident and local historian Wendell Lauth said the marker was the first in Ohio to be placed honoring fallen Civil War soldiers from the township.
To make note of the historical significance, a Ohio Historical Marker was placed near the marker in 2005. This was the 21st Ohio Historical marker in the state at that time.
Lauth wrote the text for the marker, which includes the names of the 14 soldiers form Bristol who died during Civil War battles, including the Battle of Chickamauga, Battle of Shiloh and Battle of Perrysville.
"These are the 14 soldiers who died during that war up to the time that the monument was commissioned," he said.
It was originally to be dedicated in July 1863 but the Monument Works Company in Cleveland had a major fire which delayed their work on it.
The work was put off and later completed in October 1863.
Lauth said while there were other Bristol soldiers who died in battle after the monument was commissioned in 1864 and 1865 their names were not placed on the marker.
"The community then did not do anything at the time. They didn't add the names for some reason." Lauth said, noting other makers at the center have all the names from the battles.
He said Mesopotamia and Farmington also have Civil War markers done after Bristol did theirs, which list soldiers who served in the war from their community.
"We were the very first not only for the county but the entire state," he said.
Lauth said on a recent tour of Montpelier, the guide who met with the Bristol group had done his homework.
"He walked in when he saw us and said. 'You are from Bristolville, Ohio, and I understand you have the first Civil War marker in the state,'" he said, noting the guide had checked the Bristol website to prepare himself to be with the Ohio visitors.
Lauth noted the marker has undergone some repairs over the years including fixing the funeral urn with a wreath on it on top that had been knocked off. The local grange covered costs for the repairs.
The monument has words inscribed on it which are still readable "Defenders of the Union: Defenders of the Faith." Also inscribed on it is "Erected and dedicated to the memory of our honored dead."
Also on the 10-foot high marker are images of a cannon, sword and other emblems.
The first soldier killed was Jacob Kagy, who died at age 29 in April 1862 in Shiloh.
In April 2012, Lauth took a local group on a tour to Shiloh, Tenn., to see the battlefield where some of the local soldiers named on the monument had died.
"We decorated their graves when we went there," Lauth said.
Township trustees have said the marker is a draw for the area and is always enhanced at the holiday season with lighting.