Treasure of the Month

“Such a library as ours would not only contain books and current periodicals,
but there would be…articles of historic, scientific, and artistic interest.”

~ Frank C. Patten, Head Librarian of Rosenberg Library, 1904 – 1934

The Library accepted its first museum piece shortly after it opened in 1904. Since then, thousands of rare and interesting objects from around the world have been added to the collection. Displayed in these pages are the Library’s “Treasures of the Month.”

May 2021 “Treasure of the Month”
Galveston’s World War I Memorial
Pins like this one were distributed to Galvestonians who donated to the World War I monument fund on Tag Day, May 1, 1926 (gift of Frank Patten, 79.169).

Pins like this one were distributed to Galvestonians who donated to the World War I monument fund on Tag Day, May 1, 1926 (gift of Frank Patten, 79.169).

Photo from the formal dedication of the World War I Memorial, November 11, 1927 (image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library).

Photo from the formal dedication of the World War I Memorial, November 11, 1927 (image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library).

During the month of May, Rosenberg Library will display a souvenir pin-back button from a 1926 fundraising campaign to erect a World War I Memorial in Galveston. The memorial monument was placed in Menard Park near the corner of Seawall Boulevard and 28th Street in 1927.

On May 1, 1926 the George Washington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution organized a fundraising event called a “Tag Day.” The group was seeking financial contributions to erect a memorial to the seventy-five (75) Galvestonians who lost their lives while serving in the First World War. Volunteers were stationed on street corners throughout downtown Galveston and solicited donations for the project. Donors were “tagged” with metal pin-back buttons which bore the phrase “Lest We Forget.” Nearly $4,000 was collected on Tag Day.

Members of the American Legion stand in front of the newly unveiled World War I Memorial, November 11, 1927 (image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library).

Members of the American Legion stand in front of the newly unveiled World War I Memorial, November 11, 1927 (image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library).

The War Memorial Committee, headed by Mrs. Edward Randall, selected Charles Ott of Ott Monument Works to design and erect the memorial. The memorial was erected at a cost of $4,500 (nearly $70,000 in today’s dollars) with Ott donating his design and labor fees. Texas red granite was selected for the piece which included a central structure on a terraced base flanked by benches on either side. The central portion included a bronze Honor Roll plaque with the names of the seventy-four (74) men and one (1) woman from Galveston who lost their lives in service to their country. Four (4) of the men — G.M. Alston, William Blake, James Bates, and T.P. Perkins — were African-Americans and are listed separately as “colored.”

The memorial was formally dedicated on Armistice Day (now Veteran’s Day), November 11, 1927. This date marked the 9th anniversary of the end of World War I. An invocation was given by Rabbi Henry Cohen followed by a benediction by Rev. Marius Chataignon (who himself had served as a military chaplin in France during the war). Miss Ethel Hilton, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas, unveiled the monument, while Daniel J. Wilson, Assistant City Attorney for Galveston, accepted the gift on behalf of the City.

On November 11, 2017, the George Washington Chapter of the D.A.R. held a re-dedication ceremony at the World War I Memorial in remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the Great War. For more than nine (9) decades, this monument has served as a reminder of the selfless patriotism of the seventy-five (75) brave Galvestonians who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Galveston’s World War I Memorial is located near the McGuire-Dent Recreation Center at 28th and Seawall Blvd (image courtesy of Galveston.com).

Galveston’s World War I Memorial is located near the McGuire-Dent Recreation Center at 28th and Seawall Blvd (image courtesy of Galveston.com).

The Treasure of the Month is located on the Library’s historic second floor near the East Entrance. It can be viewed during regular library hours, 9:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, please contact the Museum Office at (409) 763 – 8854 ext. 125.