The official name of the statue is the J. Fitzhugh Thornton Memorial, and it was erected by J. Fitzhugh’s wife, Eliza Thornton, as a memorial to her husband after he died in 1907. The statue, on a high pedestal, was erected in a triangle (called Thornton Triangle, Cincinnati’s smallest park) in front of the Thornton home. The statue was dedicated on January 15, 1912.
The Sayler Park Indian at Thornton Triangle.
In the great flood of 1937, the statue was almost entirely submerged by the rising waters of the nearby Ohio River, and just three years later it was hit by a car and damaged. The Sayler Park Indian survived both ignomonious events, but according to Sayler Park resident Amy Searcy, when it was hit again by a slightly tipsy driver in the mid-1960s, the city felt it was beyond repair and sold it to an antiques dealer (some say a junk dealer) in southeast Indiana.
The people of Sayler Park rose up as one to protest the loss of their eponymous Indian, and according to Searcy, the city found the original statue and the community raised the funds needed to buy it back from the antiques dealer so it could be reinstalled in Thornton Triangle.
But the statue had seen better days, and in 2002, extensive repairs were needed, which led to the purchase of a new statue, recast in bronze, which was installed on the pedestal and dedicated in 2003. The original statue now stands in a corner of the Sayler Park Recreation Center.
June 9th, 2013
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