Cleveland was preparing for the Fourth of July celebration — instead, the community planned funerals and memorials for Steed and his two traveling companions, John Hardwick and William Marshall.
The three were headed to New York, then to Paris to view the new Eiffel Tower, then onto the Holy Land. It was going to be an ambitious adventure for the three young businessmen, but they left Cleveland July 1, 1889, never to reach their destination, or to return.
Marshall and Hardwick were consumed by a fire which raged that stormy night after a culvert washed out beneath Engine 30, Train No. 2 of the Norfolk-Western Railroad.
On Wednesday, Debbie Riggs, author of “The Day Cleveland Cried” cut the ribbon re-dedicating the monument at 8th and Broad streets that was placed shortly after the trio’s deaths. It has been a Cleveland landmark for over a century, but was recently damaged during a car crash.
The obelisk that sits atop the memorial stone bearing the three men’s names and the short story of the cause of their deaths tumbled, breaking into three pieces.
It was repaired and replaced last week.
Local author and historian Debbie Moore told the abbreviated version of the reason for the monument and tragic train wreck.
A crowd of approximately 50 people attended the ceremony at the Historic Branch of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library, prior to the ribbon cutting.
The scars on the obelisk are visible where it was repaired.
“It was interesting hearing this history of Cleveland,” said Cleveland State Community College President Bill Seymour, who recently took the position at the campus.
“My sister Amy (Banks) called and I left an important meeting when I found out,” said local businessman and history preservationist Allan Jones.
Jones went to the monument site the day of the crash. He took photos of the fallen monument as a continuing documentation of its story.
Jones said he was well aware of the history behind the monument and worked with the city of Cleveland to find a company to make repairs.
At one point in Cleveland history, around 1911, the monument was dismantled and laid on the ground. The Daughters of the Confederacy wanted to build a memorial to the Confederate soldiers.
Hardwick’s brother wanted to move it to the city cemetery (Present-day Fort Hill) as a memorial.
The Marshall family rejected the idea.
Lawsuits ended up in the Tennessee Supreme Court before Hardwick conceded and allowed the monument to be re-erected on the site where it had stood until the recent crash.
Plans to clean both the Confederate and Memorial monuments are in the works.