Winnebago Co. wants replica of cannon for courthouse

Published 9:50 am Monday, April 8, 2013

By Sam Jefson
For The Mason City Globe Gazette

FOREST CITY, Iowa — In 1942, Forest City donated a 2,070-pound Spanish American War cannon made out of solid brass for a World War II scrap metal drive.

More than 70 years later, Winnebago County Veteran Affairs Director Jack Caputo envisions bringing a replica of the cannon back to the courthouse square.

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Caputo has talked to the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors about the project and is also contacting area organizations about grant possibilities.

“This has been on my mind for almost 10 years,” Caputo said. “After restoring the tank and union soldier the timing seems right to bring the cannon back.”

An exact replica would cost $28,246, according to an information packet handed to county supervisors and Caputo hopes to have it in place by Veterans Day 2013. A bronze plaque would accompany the replica detailing the history of the cannon.

The cannon barrel replica would be cast in bronze and weigh 400 pounds.

The original cannon was on the north side of the courthouse square until it was scrapped and hauled away in September 1942.

The Spanish-American War cannon was one of two that sat on the courthouse square. The other was a 75 millimeter rifle barrel of no historical significance, according to a 1942 Summit story.

Forest City resident and Civil War veteran David Secor obtained the Spanish American War cannon barrel from the bureau of ordinance in Washington, D.C., in 1899.

It was commissioned by Queen Isabella of Spain in 1869 and captured at Fort San Felipe, in the Philippines during a crucial battle.

A story published in the Sept. 17, 1942, Summit said many members of the community cared deeply about the Spanish American War cannon.

“Many in town hated to see the old Spanish cannon go as long as there was still such a large quantity of scrap in the country not yet collected,” the Summit story said.

A September 1899 edition of the Summit details the cannon’s arrival. For its debut, the cannon stayed at the county fairgrounds which is now Pammel Park.

The cannon was fired once when on display at the county fair.

According to reports in the 1899 Summit, the concussion made by the discharge of the blast jarred dishes and displays from shelves in the Flax Palace, which was near the fairgrounds.

After World War II, Forest City American Legion Commander Bud Totten petitioned to get something in return for the donated cannons.

The government gift was the Sherman tank that sits in the courthouse square today in Forest City.

World War II veteran Dave Anderson of Forest City remembered the scrap drive that resulted in the removal of the Spanish cannon.

“There was a pile of iron on the courthouse square,” Anderson said during a July interview about the tank. “People were just doing what they could.”