The initial step toward erecting a suitable monument to the soldiers, sailors, and pioneers of Butler County was taken on July 20, 1897. At a meeting of Wetzel-Compton Post, No. 96, G. A. R., in that year, Commander William Cordes appointed a committee of three to select a committee of fifteen, whose duty should be to devise some plan whereby to commemorate the illustrious, gallant services of Butler County men in the army and navy in their country's defense, and also the names and prowess of the makers of the West, the pioneers of Western civilization.
The project had been discussed and in quiet contemplation for some time but it remained for Wetzel-Compton Post to take it up and place it upon an active and successful basis. This committee of three consisted of W. C. Margedant. Joseph W. Myers and N.B. Tubbs and on July 26, 1897, they reported to the post the following names as the committee they had selected: W. C. Margedant, D. W. Fitton, James E. Campbell, J. J. McMaken, S. S. Wintersteen, Martin Betz, George T. Earhart, D. H. Hensley, N. B. Tubbs, L. P. Huston, J. H. Roll, M.D., James Nutt, James Fitton and Aaron Wesco. James Nutt and Martin Betz having resigned from the committee as first appointed, Joseph W. Myers and John R. Woods were selected to fill these vacancies and thus were among the incorporators.
The above committee met August 9, 1897, in the G. A. R. hall, Captain W. C. Margedant presiding and Aaron Wesco acting as secretary. The organization of the committee as perfected at this meeting was as follows: President, W. C. Margedant; Secretary, John R. Woods; Financial Secretary, Joseph W. Myers; Treasurer, N. B. Tubbs. In the succeeding month, September 25, 1897, the "Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers' Permanent Monument Committee of Butler County" was incorporated at Columbus, Ohio. The object as ,given was " to acquire title to real estate within the city of Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio, and to provide means to construct thereon a monument to perpetuate the memory of the soldiers, sailors and pioneers of Butler County, Ohio." On January 18, 1898, the city council of Hamilton passed an ordinance, the title of which is as follows: "To dedicate a portion of a monument, dedicated to the memory of the soldiers, sailors and pioneers of Butler County, Ohio." On April 25, 1898, the General Assembly of Ohio, passed an act through the efforts of Hon. Bert S. Bartlow, to create a monument committee, to be called the Soldiers', Sailors' and Pioneers' Permanent Monument Committee of Butler County, Ohio, to be composed of ten persons "who shall be resident electors of said county, to be appointed by the Governor of Ohio, and shall serve for a term of five years, or until the monument shall be completed." To this committee of ten was given the power to select a place for the proposed monuments and to have models and designs prepared therefore.
The committee was authorized if it so determined to erect one of the monuments on Monument Place, the name give by the city council, January 18, 1898, to the plot of ground that lies West of the continued line of the west side of South Water Street where it intersects High Street. By the legislative act of April 25, 1898, the trustees of both the gas and electric plants and also the water works are required to make all proper connections with the monuments at Hamilton and to furnish perpetually a supply of the product of each free of charge. The act further authorized and directed the levy of a tax of ten-twelfths of a mill on the dollar on all the taxable property of the county for a period of three consecutive years, the same to be collected annually. The distinctive purpose of the act was defined to be that of erecting two suitable monuments, one to be located in Hamilton, and one in Middletown, Ohio. The money collected was authorized to be placed in the county treasury to the credit of the monument fund, nine-twelfths of which sum should be used for the Hamilton monument and one-twelfth for the erection of a monument at Middletown; provided that the question of levying such tax should be submitted to the qualified electors of the county general or special election.
Upon the completion of the Hamilton monument, the committee, the act provides, shall turn the same over to the city, and it shall thereafter be taken care of by the city authorities. The committee having the erection of the monument in charge shall then cease to exist. All expenses necessary to maintain and keep the monument in repair, beautify the grounds and all other necessary expenses connected therewith shall be paid out of the general expense fund after the "monument fund" has been exhausted. September 1, 1899, the committee petitioned the Deputy State Supervisors of Elections to submit to the voters of Butler County the question of placing a tax of ten-twelfths of a mill on all taxable property of Butler County, the same to be collected during the following three consecutive years. The question was submitted to the voters of the county for settlement at the November election of 1899, and the official returns of the vote showed the following result:
Hamilton: majority in favor, 2,311
Total in County in favor: 5,856
Ground was broken for the monument in Hamilton on April 24, 1901. On May 2, 1902, the F.P. Stewart Granite Company of Hamilton was awarded the contract for construction of the monument, at its bid of $33,400.90. The cornerstone laying ceremony was held on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1902. On the interior walls of the monument were carved the names of all the Revolutionary War soldiers who died in the county and all of those from the county who served in the War of 1812, Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War. In addition, the names of those who lived in Butler County in 1803 and had the right to vote were inscribed.
Rudolph Thiem, a Hamilton artist, designed and constructed the fourteen-foot figure which looks out from the top of the dome of the Monument. The figure, known as "Billy Yank," is representative of a private in the Civil War.
Text prepared by the Butler County Historical Society