Georgia Signers’ Plaque Restored to Monument

In August 2023, President General Nancy McBride Wark received an email through the DSDI website from Erick Montgomery, Executive Director of Historic Augusta, Inc., seeking help. He reported that he was in possession of a bronze DSDI plaque honoring Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence, one of more than 20 other commemorative and historical markers that had been stolen and recently recovered by police. He wanted to return the plaque to its rightful place at the base of the Signers’ Monument in Augusta, Georgia.

The Signers’ Monument is an impressive 50-foot-tall granite obelisk reminiscent of the Washington Monument, erected in the middle of Greene Street in front of City Hall. It was dedicated in 1848 to Georgia’s three Signers of the Declaration of Independence: Lyman Hall, George Walton, and Button Gwinnett. Hall and Walton lie at the monument but Gwinnett, who died in a 1777 duel in Savannah, is generally believed to be in Savannah’s Colonial Park Cemetery. Unfortunately, none of these signers have descendants today. Years ago, DSDI placed a granite marker and plaque at the base of the monument, and that was the plaque now being offered to DSDI.

The President-General conferred with Dr. Shirley Hunter Smith, who researches the placement of DSDI memorial plaques, and it was decided that this would be best left to Atlanta resident and current Georgia DSDI Governor Weston Croft. Weston and his wife, Ouida, traveled to Augusta in September to meet Montgomery, claim the plaque, and sign some release paperwork for stolen property. Montgomery gave them an impromptu history lesson at the base of the monument about the Signers and the monument itself. They returned to Atlanta, cleaned the plaque, and took it to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to display at the fall meeting.

Finally, on the way to the spring meeting in April in Charleston, they stopped in Augusta to reinstall the plaque and to present a DSDI Jefferson Cup to Erick Montgomery in grateful appreciation for his efforts.

If you are in the area, make the effort to visit this gracious town with its 175-year-old memorial to Georgia’s Signers.

Weston and Ouida Croft return Button Gwinnett’s plaque to the Signers’ Monument in Georgia.
Weston and Ouida Croft return Button Gwinnett’s plaque to the Signers’ Monument in Georgia.