The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, May 12, 2022 1:00 am

May 14, 1922: Dedication of David N. Foster statue at Swinney Park

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

The bronze sculpture of David N. Foster at Swinney Park was dedicated 100 years ago this week. It stands at the West Washington Boulevard entrance to Swinney Park.

The statue, designed by Chicago sculptor Frederick Hibbard, was unveiled to a crowd of several thousand people on May 14, 1922. A story in The Journal Gazette the next day noted it was a beautiful day to pay tribute to the Civil War veteran who played a prominent role in Fort Wayne's parks system.

Foster was at the ceremony, surrounded by family and friends. His granddaughter, Maxine, pulled the cord to lower draped flags and unveil the monument.

Speaker Capt. W.A. Kelsey, a representative of Civil War veterans, said the statue " will be an imperishable marker, pointing to our children, their children and all who come after us your great civic and philanthropic work to make our city a better place in which to live."

Foster made brief remarks that included, "We of the park board have not been building simply for today or for this generation, but for all the centuries to come. From the depths of a proud and grateful heart I want to thank every man, woman and child in the city of Fort Wayne whose contribution is represented in this testimonial which has just been unveiled."

Excerpts from the May 15, 1922, Journal Gazette story are below.

Foster was born in 1841 and died in Fort Wayne in 1934 at age 93. He is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery.

There is also a memorial stone to Foster and brother Samuel M. Foster at Foster Park. The family donated the initial 100 acres of land for that park.

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"Fort Wayne Pays Tribute To Father Of Its Parks," by Howard C. Smith (May 15, 1922)

Hailed by speaker after speaker as "the foremost citizen of Fort Wayne," Colonel David N. Foster, gathered among his family and friends, yesterday afternoon witnessed the unveiling of the magnificent bronze statue of heroic size erected in his honor by public subscription by the citizens of Fort Wayne. It was an event unique in the beauty of tis setting and even more in the occasion – the paying to a living man of such extraordinary honor.

The statue, the work of Frederick Cleveland Hibbard, of Chicago, one of the foremost sculptors in America, and pronounced to be a remarkable study, is located in what is probably the most effective setting in all Fort Wayne's parks. Standing upon the crown of a little hillock in a delta within the fork of the drive just within the Washington Boulevard entrance of Swinney Park, the monument, with the bronze of the figure and the gleaming brightness of the marble pedestal, is set off wonderfully by the green of the grove of catalpas faintly in bloom in the background, by the fresh grass and the flowers and shrubs at its base, and the glint of the St. Marys to the left.

Several thousand people witnessed the ceremonies of the unveiling of the monument, "which will be," in the words of Captain W. A. Kelsey, the principal speaker of the afternoon and a representative of the veterans of the Civil War, addressed to their comrade-in-arms, "an imperishable marker, pointing to our children, their children and all who come after us your great civic and philanthropic work to make our city a better place in which to live." The day was idea. Birds called. Trees stirred gently. Unsubstantial white clouds floated lazily in the shining sky. As Mr. Hibbard, the sculptor, said, "the day represents what Colonel Foster seems to me to be – a man of the sunshine."

While the community chorus, under the leadership of O.E. Richard, sang "America," to the accompaniment of the General Electric band, directed by John L. Verweire, Miss Maxine Rabe, the youthful granddaughter of Col. Foster, pulled a cord which unloosed the beautiful American flags draped about her grandfather's statue. As the flags parted and were drawn back, revealing the heroic figure of the Civil War veteran, businessman and public-spirited citizen, the crowd rose to its feed and burst into applause.

With something of diffidence and with a glow of pride at the tribute thus paid to him, Col. Foster spoke briefly. Saying that his remarks had been limited to two minutes, he declared that he was going to extend his appreciation for "what you have done of me through all the years that may yet to remain to me to live with you as fellow citizens. Simeon of old said, 'Lord let now thy servant depart in peace.' I do not feel that my work is yet accomplished. With perfect health, with undiminished strength, with my love of work still strong within me, I want to go on and continue the work I have been able to do among you.

"I find it difficult to understand why I should have been singled out for such distinction as you have conferred on me. There are many men more fitted for this distinction than myself – and some of them around this platform. We of the park board have not been building simply for today or for this generation, but for all the centuries to come. From the depths of a proud and grateful heart I want to thank every man, woman and child in the city of Fort Wayne whose contribution is represented in this testimonial which has just been unveiled."

E.F. Yarnelle, president of the D.N. Foster Monument association, presented the monument to the city of Fort Wayne "on behalf of the citizens of Fort Wayne, of the park board and of the Monument association." Mr. Yarnelle related the history of the movement to erect the statue and of the hearty response made by the people to the city to the idea, which was conceived in 1921. He paid particular tribute to the part played by the children in the project and to the "accomplishments of this our outstanding and foremost citizen." The monument was accepted on behalf of the city by Abe Ackerman, for eight years a member of the park board.

The program opened with a number of selections by the General Electric band. The invocation was pronounced by Rev. Robert Little, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, of which Col. Foster has for years been a member.

Charles H. Worden, president of the First National Band and long a friend of Col. Foster, presided. He said that Col. Foster "has devoted himself in loyal service, in glad service, in wholesome service to Fort Wayne. The colonel doesn't need any monument to commemorate his memory. But we want not only the men of today but men of all succeeding generations to know what sort of man he was. Let us hope the example Col. Foster has given to us of unselfish service may be followed by all of us."

Short appreciations of Col. Foster and his work were spoken by Rev. Paul H. Krauss, of the Trinity English Lutheran Church, and by Rev. Thomas M. Conroy, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Rev. G.W. Doege, of the Trinity Lutheran Church, and Rabbi A.L. Weinstein, of Achduth Vesholam temple were unavoidable prevented from being present. Mayor William J. Hosey was called out of the city and could not attend.


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