SYCAMORE – Michael Kraus was pleasantly surprised to see the state of the DeKalb County Civil War monument, although he still has work ahead of him.
Kraus was commissioned by the local Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War group to restore the monument on the courthouse lawn, which features three soldiers but is missing a sword and a musket, both of which disappeared years ago. The statue was erected in 1896. Kraus, creator and preserver of many monuments across the country, has an interest in the Civil War which also drives his passion in his work.
He was featured at a meet the artist event Thursday at the Sycamore Depot, 475 DeKalb Ave., to help raise funds for the project. It also gave Kraus a chance to see the monument he will create pieces for, since he is from Pittsburgh. It is anticipated that the pieces will be completed by spring.
“I love these projects,” Kraus said. “They are so important to small towns and their heritage. It’s a sacred thing to be involved in and I think preserving it is a good mission to have.”
Kraus was intrigued by the misspelling of Antietam on the monument. However, it’s not something that will be fixed, as he will only create a new sword and musket.
“I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before,” Kraus said. “But it doesn’t surprise me. Once it’s etched in stone, it’s there forever.”
James Locke Lyon, commander of Illinois’ Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, said about $6,500 has been raised to restore the monument – the group’s goal is $10,000. However, he said the efforts to raise money will not slow down. The group also works to preserve gravestones for Civil War veterans throughout the state, which is a goal they’d like to tackle with any extra funds.
“If we exceed the goal, that money will go to other projects,” Lyon said. “We have many more things we’d like to do.”
Lyon said he hopes to unveil the restored monument sometime next summer. He said with the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War next spring, it may be difficult to schedule re-enactors, presenters and other groups for a spring celebration.
“I’m very honored to be a part of this project,” Kraus said. “I’m the right guy for the job, because I look at this as not just a job. I look at it as a piece of history.”