The name and story of one of Monroe County’s founding fathers won’t be lost to history as so many others are, thanks to the efforts of the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter.
Their decades of work resulted in the installation of a monument to William Whiteside Jr. outside the historic Shoemaker Schoolhouse at the intersection of South Main Street and Gall Road just off Route 3 in Columbia. It was dedicated Sunday, on a picture perfect early autumn afternoon.
“Today’s marking is the culmination of over 30 years’ worth of time and effort,” current chapter regent Barb Buchanan.
The Whiteside Station Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was established Sept. 23, 1986, and named after William Whiteside Jr. From the beginning, members wanted to get Whiteside recognition for his role in helping shape northern Monroe County and Columbia.
“It’s taken (32 years) to accomplish our goal,” Buchanan said.
In fact, the quest to give Whiteside his due has been a family affair. Chapter member Florence Mulligan’s mother, Mary Ella Gober, was the first regent of the newly formed DAR chapter.
“I think it’s wonderful we were finally able to get everything together,” Mulligan said following Sunday’s ceremony.
William Whiteside Jr. was a Revolutionary War veteran from North Carolina. He and his brothers all fought in the celebrated Battle of King’s Mountain.
After fighting the British, William settled with his family, including brothers Thomas and John, in 1792 on 400 acres in northern Monroe County.
Eighty-three relatives would come to stay there over the next several years, according to Whiteside biographer and ancestor Kevin Kaegy.
They built a fort, called Whiteside Station, to protect family and friends, as well as those traveling along the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail, from marauders and attacking Native Americans. William was even elected colonel of the St. Clair County militia and held that office for many years.
When peace was reached and the threats ceased, William turned to farming. He died at his residence in 1815.
Whiteside’s 400 acres is estimated to have encompassed the current location of the Monroe County YMCA and the former location of the Shoemaker Schoolhouse before its eventual relocation north into Columbia. The fort was believed to have been located somewhere between Granny Lane and Asselmeier Estates just east of Route 3.
Whiteside and his brother Thomas are believed to be buried in that area. John Whiteside is buried at Moore Cemetery in Waterloo.
Shortly after the forming of the Whiteside chapter, Gober tried to get state approval for a marking near the original location of the fort. There were plans to widen Route 3, however, so the idea was set aside.
The monument at Shoemaker Schoolhouse is a five-ton stone with a plaque honoring Whiteside for his accomplishments. Coincidentally, Sunday’s dedication took place on the 32nd anniversary of the local DAR chapter’s founding.
Attendees of the reveal included national, state and district DAR members; the Columbia American Legion Post 581 Color Guard; Brent Neumeyer, who played a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes; and dignitaries State Sen. Paul Schimpf, Monroe County Commissioner Delbert Wittenauer and Columbia Alderman Mary Ellen Niemietz.
A reception followed the ceremony at Christ Community Lutheran Church, where DAR members and ancestors of William Whiteside Jr. gathered to share history and celebrate the efforts that culminated in his lasting monument.