Here are some facts about the monument, courtesy of the Barton County Historical Society:
The Rifleman stands guard on the north side of the Barton County Courthouse Square in Great Bend to honor Civil War veterans, both black and white, who fought for the preservation of the Union. The artist was Frederick C. Hibbard, who cast the sculpture in 1915 at the Florentine Brotherhood Foundry, Chicago, Ill.
It was dedicated Nov. 19, 1915.
The 8-foot-tall bronze soldier statue, at arms rest, is mounted on a granite base.
An inscriptions on one bronze tablet reads: “Erected and Dedicated By Ira D. Brougher - Department Commander To Pap Thomas Post No. 52 - Grand Army Of The Republic - Department Of Kansas - Veterans Of The War Of 1861-1865 - A.D. 1915 - “Lest We Forget.”
Other tablets list the names of GAR members, department officers and post commanders.
The base is approximately 8.5’ x 5.5’ x 5.5’ and weighs 1,500 pounds.
A nice size crowd came out for the Centennial Celebration for the Rifleman on Saturday.
The day started with a welcome to the crowd and a mention of the sponsors that made all this happen. After the welcome, Boy Scout Troop 184 posted the colors and Karen Neuforth research coordinator of the Barton County Historical Society sang the National Anthem.
“This monument represents the heart of the settlers,” Neuforth said. “Not to mention the proud military history of this city.”
After the singing of the National Anthem, the former Major of Great Bend and WWII veteran Robert Parrish gives a speech to the crowd and ends it with a poem.
The sponsors of the event include: the City of Great Bend, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Barton County Historical Society.
The Rifleman was commissioned by Great Bend resident Ira D. Brougher, Commander of the Department of Kansas, Grand Army of the Republic, and a former member of the Kansas House of Representatives. It was created by prominent Chicago sculptor Frederick C. Hibbard, who produced more than 70 major sculptures in his lifetime, including the monumental equestrian statue of General Ulysses S. Grant, which overlooks the battlefield at Vicksburg, Mississippi, as well as the Confederate Monument at Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee, commissioned by the Daughters of the Confederacy.