The Steed-Hardwick-Marshall memorial was re-set in 1911, after a court battle over where it should be placed, according to findings by Debbie Riggs, author of “The Day Cleveland Cried.”
According to Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel, a cost estimate has not been completed regarding damage to the damaged memorial structure.
It has been sent to Baston Monuments in Elberton, Ga., for an inspection and assessment to repair the marble shaft.
The monument, essentially a grave marker, has a colorful background and its removal at one point, “just about divided the town.”
Riggs researched and wrote about the history of the marble monument. What now remains of it is located at the intersection of Broad and 8th streets.
The monument is essentially a marker memorializing the deaths of three Clevelanders who were killed in a July 2, 1889, train crash in Thaxton, Va.
William Steed, William Marshall and John Hardwick had left Cleveland on an adventure to New York, then to the Paris Exposition. Heavy rains washed a section of train tracks away.
As the locomotive approached in a drenching downpour, it went into the washout and the engine reportedly exploded as sleeper and passenger cars began to pile into the ravine. Some of the passengers drowned. Others were consumed by the fiery explosion and flames which reduced the heavily fortified wooden cars to their iron skeletons, according to Riggs’ findings.
A fourth person, George R. Stuart, had also been invited on the trip, but stayed in Cleveland as the three young residents departed.
Marshall was the city recorder and secretary/treasurer for Marshall’s Planning Mill. Hardwick was with the Cleveland Stove Foundry and Steed was a partner with his brother at Steed’s Pharmacy, which was in downtown Cleveland.
They had boarded the train well into the evening of July 1.
Hardwick possibly had a premonition of the three’s upcoming fate.
According to Riggs’ writings, Hardwick stated, “To tell you the truth, I feel like backing out. I’ve dreamed for three nights in succession that we were all killed. It has been the same dream on each occasion and I dreamed it last night with greater vividness than on the first two nights.” He reportedly made his remarks as the three men were departing and being wished luck on their journey.
Riggs wrote the train traveled slowly, due to the heavy rains. The engineer had to stop in places to clear mud from the tracks. Riggs noted there were scant details of the crash published.
Seventeen people died that evening of the crash and dozens were injured.
The driving rain and deep waters made rescue attempts harder.
At the light of day, the mangled piles of iron and steel were submerged, but a few cars had survived the calamity.
Steed’s body was recovered and returned to Cleveland. Hardwick and Marshall’s bodies were believed to have been totally consumed by the fire and their remains were buried along with the others who had perished in Virginia.
An association of residents began collecting funding for a monument in the three young men’s honor. Concerts and the Cleveland Opera House and other functions were employed. In February 1890, the monument to the three was placed.
A few years later, the United Daughters of the Confederacy representatives of the Jefferson Davis Chapter approached the City Council and made a request for a 12 foot-square plot of ground a few feet north of the memorial that had been placed at the intersection of Lea and Pine Streets (Broad and 8th, present day).
The monument was to be dedicated to the Confederate veterans of the Civil War.
An iron fence around the monument was removed, then later, the memorial was completely dismantled and laid to the side of the roadway as construction of the Confederate monument was ongoing — thus resulting in the division of the community and the placement of the memorial marker.
According to Riggs’ research, J.H. Hardwick, at the request of his mother, gave reasons for wanting the monument relocated to the city cemetery.
“He felt as years passed and the family members of the train wreck victims died, no one would bother to care for the monument and it would be destroyed. He also stated the new Confederate monument made the older monument look ‘insignificant’ and that the old monument would look better at another site. Pressed further in his testimony during one of the legal battles, Hardwick admitted, ‘I never wanted it there, for I did not want my brother’s graveyard almost in my front door,’” according to Riggs.
The Hardwick Family resided 200 feet from the site (now a part of the Cleveland Public Library).
Mary Marshall, mother of William Marshall, disagreed with the removal of the monument.
Residents joined in the lawsuit, somewhat dividing the town.
Eventually after taking the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court and other filings in the lower courts, “before it was heard, he (Hardwick) agreed to drop the case and allowed the monument to be re-erected on the original site,” according to Riggs.
“Perhaps the site is physically crowded, but it is also crowded with memories of people and events that make up the history of Cleveland,” Riggs summarized in her publication.