Did you know that one of Ohio’s largest Confederate statues is located just west of Cedar Point?
If not, it’s time for a short history lesson.
Located on Johnson's Island, connected to Marblehead via a private causeway, is the Confederate Stockade Cemetery. It’s the final resting place of more than 200 Confederate soldiers captured during the Civil War.
But why here? Let’s take a look back.
In 1861, half of the island was leased by the U.S. government from a private owner for $500 a year. That portion of the island was used as a prisoner of war camp where captured Confederate soldiers were sent. It was secluded and well-protected.
Over the course of the war, more than 12,000 prisoners were confined to the island. Of them, 239 died, a relatively low number considering the harsh winters.
The cemetery where prisoners were buried, not the Confederate Stockade Cemetery, was half a mile away from the prison.
When the war ended in 1865, the prison was shutdown.
Four decades later, the Robert Patton Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the cemetery property and an adjacent lot from private owners. Mary Patton Hudson was the chapter’s leader at the time.
Hudson helped raise funds to erect a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier in 1910. She continued to help upkeep and beautify the cemetery until 1920 when she died. In 1931, the United Daughters of the Confederacy donated the land to the U.S. government.
So that’s the history of how the statue got there. But should it stay? Visitors to the cemetery say yes.
“I think this monument is appropriate for where it’s located,” said Genevieve Spera. “The young men who gave their lives -- they still thought they were doing what was right. And they still deserve honor for that regardless of whether their efforts were right or wrong.”
Sandy Laine agreed, saying “it’s something that people should look back on and learn from your mistakes. It’s a part of history that should be here forever.”
Most visitors believe you shouldn’t get rid of history.
“This place is as much a part of American History as Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Shiloh,” said Kathleen Cody. “And it’s important to understand all sides of history.”
There are no plans to remove the statue from the cemetery. But with the changing sentiment toward Confederate statues across the country, there’s always a chance that could change.
Cody hopes this piece of history remains.
“You have to have reminders.”
WATCH: Brandon Simmons gave us an up-close look at the Confederate Stockade Cemetery on Johnson's Island on a WKYC Facebook Live: