By Sterling McGinn
The Newton Township Historical Society of Gould City is making plans to honor their hometown heroes with a memorial stone and brick walkway.
Though Gould City does not currently have a memorial to veterans, an old banner with stars representing Newton Township WWII veterans hangs in the front room of the Newton Township Historical Society Museum in downtown Gould City. The historical society wants to establish a more fitting and significant tribute to honor WWII veterans and military personnel from all generations.
The flag hanging in the museum was made after WWII, and each blue star represents a veteran from that area. The three gold stars on the flag signify the three Newton Township veterans who lost their lives while serving in WWII.
A new memorial will be built next to the museum and will give Newton Township residents and friends the opportunity to honor their loved one by donating a brick for the walkway to the memorial.
The museum received a granite boulder to use as the center piece of the memorial.
“It’s about 15,000 pounds of granite and we have a local contractor with a piece of equipment who will bring it up here for us, and we will put a plaque on it,” said Newton Township Historical Society Vice President John Blanchard. “There will be some kind of archway saying ‘Veterans’ Memorial’, and it will be paved with bricks.”
Bricks purchased can be engraved with a name of an area resident, or someone connected to the township who served in the United States Military. Also included on the brick will be the branch of service they were in, and dates served, and honors received, like Purple Heart.
Walkway bricks can honor veterans from near and far.
“We didn’t limit it—we decided it could be anyone who has a connection here,” Blanchard said. “We have people who have hunted here for generations and never had a house here…but they feel a connection to the area.”
The society is working with a company called That’s My Brick!, which will handle the engraving.
While passionate about history, Blanchard is also a veteran, so the memorial is very meaningful to him. He has already purchased a brick for himself and is planning to honor other family members in the memorial. “I have relatives going back to the Revolutionary War that will be out here,” said Blanchard.
Those interested in participating can purchase an 8 x 8 brick through That’s My Brick! For $50 per brick.
“This is absolutely no profit to the organization—just the cost and a few bucks to lay the stuff. We will have all local contractors doing the work,” Blanchard said.
The deadline to purchase a brick is April 1, 2024. Fifty bricks have been purchased to date, Blanchard said.
People can order bricks at www.thatsmybrick.com/NTHS. Anyone with questions on the project can contact Blanchard at 906-430-4321 or Donita Flatt at 906-630-0237.
The historical society also has two other projects in the works.
The old bell from the Newton Township School has been restored and will be on display at the park in Gould City, where the school once stood.
The bell was cast in 1898 and was reinstalled each time the school moved.
After the school was closed and not maintained, the wood around the steeple rotted, causing the 350-pound bell to fall to the basement.
After the building was torn down, the bell disappeared for nearly 30 years until it was returned and given to the museum.
“We take a lot of pride in giving it back to the community,” said Blanchard. “It has been heard by every resident of this township 1,000 times.”
The society has constructed a display housing the historic bell, which will be dedicated on Sunday, October 8 at 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend.
The historical society is also working to clean up and make the Polley Family burial plot more accessible for viewing. Located on Polley Road, the burial plot was installed on the family farm and contains six small headstones. At least 10 people are buried on the property.
After being privately held for many years, the township now has ownership of the lot.
The field surrounding the plot and the plot itself contains poppies in the spring and summer and is the subject of many photo opportunities.
“The trick is that we don’t want to get rid of all the poppies,” he said. “We don’t want to change that, but we want to clean it up and make it a little cleaner.”
Though not much is known about the Polley family, they came to the Gould City area from New York and homesteaded the land. The Polleys eventually left the area.
A chain link fence will be placed around the plot and a bench will be installed later. The site will also be handicap accessible.