Greenwood, Wisconsin's Peace Memorial

Transcribed by Stan & Janet Schwarze.


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The little town of Greenwood, Wisconsin bustles with activity these days as its citizens prepare for the unveiling of a beautiful statue, a memorial to Gold Star mothers, on Oct. 3, 1937. The statue is the work of a noted sculptor, Professor Ernest Durig, who with Mrs. Durig and their daughter, Rosemarie, has spent the past several weeks in Greenwood.

His work in sculpturing the statue is Professor Durig’s gift to Greenwood. Early in the summer, Mrs. Durig and Rosemarie went to Greenwood to visit at the home of Mrs. Durig’s brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Arbs. Later Professor Durig joined them, planning to stay only a week.

Death of Gold Star Mother, Kate Mike (1857 - 1937)


President and Mrs. Roosevelt, vice president Garner, a number of foreign diplomats, Senators F. Ryan Duffey and Robert M. La Follette, Congressman Merlin Hull, Governor Philip La Follette and other state officers, state American Legion officials and other persons of national prominence are being invited to attend the festivities. In addition to the formal invitation issued by the Greenwood Commercial Club, Mrs. Durig has written to Mrs. Roosevelt, telling her of the event. In reply Mrs. Durig received a letter stating that Mrs. Roosevelt is much interested. Since it has been reported that Mrs. Roosevelt is to be in Iowa the latter part of September, it is believed she may visit Greenwood at the time of the unveiling of the monument.


An Invitation to unveil the statue will be extended to President Roosevelt, and if he does not attend but Mrs. Roosevelt does, she will be asked to officiate. Should neither of them be present, plans are being made whereby the president could release the covering of the monument by pressing a button in Washington, Sunday afternoon, Oct 3 at 2 o’clock is the time scheduled.



 The Professor and his wife

The family liked Greenwood, as it reminded them of their native Switzerland. They enjoyed meeting and knowing the people and they delighted in the simple life the place afforded. They wanted to do something for Greenwood, and so Professor Durig agreed to design and sculpture the monument if Greenwood would provide the materials.

And so, the artist’s contemplated visit of one week has stretched to two months and will last a few weeks longer while he is completing the statue. The memorial represents the Gold Star mother, holding with one arm a fallen soldier and with the other hand holding high the American flag.

Mrs. Durig, who conceived the idea which her husband is so beautifully putting into a permanent form, explain that the mother’s chin is held high, representing courage to face the world, protect the flag, and while mourning those lost to encourage peace that there may be no more fallen soldiers. Mrs. Durig is a firm advocate of peace and to her the statue is a symbol of the peace for which the mothers of the world are striving.


The statue is being carved of a manufactured stone made of white cement and white sand. As far as is known it is the only monument made of this material in the United States. It is not new to Professor Durig though, for he has worked with this type of stone in Italy. When completed the state will be valued at $50,000. Cement and sand required to erect the slab cost $1000.

Standing near the center of the town, the beauty of the monument will be shown off to advantage. The statue itself is nine feet high and stands on a sturdy base, which brings the total height of the monument to 15 feet.

Across the base will be the inscription, “Dedicated to all the Gold Star mothers – erected by the peace loving people of Greenwood.”

The statue is now nearing completion, with the strength and courage of the ideal it represents becoming apparent as the stone assumes warmth, and almost life, under the chisels of the artist. Above the base of the monument is a wooden platform and enclosure about the stature and the plaster of Paris model which the artist consults as he carves the stone.

During the summer Professor Durig has also made plaster busts of many of the citizens of Greenwood. These, too, will be on exhibition at the time of the festival.


To Whom It May Concern:

The write-up of the statue erected in Greenwood, WI and sculptured by the famous Ernest Dung was well written. The initial construction, however was very vague. The reason was because no information could be found.

This article is to clarify this. It was built at its present site by a Greenwood cement contractor named George Caliebe. This is how it was built:

Beneath the surface of the ground is a 9 foot cube of solid concrete made from standard grey cement. On this is built the base of the statue. In this base was left a cavity. An elderly carpenter constructed a box to fit this cavity. In this box was placed the book entitled Greenwood, The Hub of Clark County, Wisconsin 1844 to 1934 compiled by members of the Women’s Club.

The statue also is monolithic. All appendages had to be constructed to leave the least amount of sculpturing for Mr. Dung.
The complete statue above ground was then covered with white cement. At no place could the white cement be less than three inches in depth. -So that at no place would the sculpturing tools reach the grey cement underneath. The white sand and cement was shipped in from Illinois.

This information was given by George Caliebe, contractor.



Famous as a foremost sculptor, Professor Durig has made models of many of the world’s most prominent persons. Beginning his work, when a boy, Professor Durig later studied for two years under the famous French artist, Rodin. He has lived and worked in many European counties and for the past nine years the family has resided in the United States.

Some of the world’s famous whose likenesses have been reproduced in stone or bronze by Professor Durig, include Pope Pius, Mussolini, Cardinal Hayes, Vice President and Mrs. Garner, ex-president Hoover, Will Rogers, Knute Rockney, George Eastman, Thomas Edison, Pola Negri, Floyd Gibbons, and Ruth Bryan Owen. In 1924 in Geneva, he made a bust of Haile Selaissie and he has also modeled Cardinal Fumusori Biondi, who Professor Durig says he believes will be the next pope. Roberto Farinaci, who is Mussolini’s right-hand man, sat for Professor Durig in 1922, and at another time he modeled Professor Max Huber, president of the international Red Cross and president of the world court at the Hague.

In Paris a few years ago Professor Durig selected Veronica Gedeon as an outstanding model and made a full figure statue of her. She was the model whom everyone heard of last spring when she was murdered in New York.


Nearly all of his work is done from life. Professor Durig feels that the only way to get a true model is from life. One of the few pieces which he has made without the models present was a bust of George Washington which he did and gave to President Hoover in 1932. In creating this bust Professor Durig did not use any one picture or bust of Washington, rather it was a representation of his idea of Washington from all he had seen and heard of him.

Professor Durig says that the famous of those who have sat for him were most friendly and simple folk. Of Mussolini, he says, “he was a good fellow.” Of the conversations which he had with Mussolini while sculpturing his bust, Professor Durig remembers that Mussolini once said to him, “if the people want to be free they must first obey the law.”


The Durigs are a charming and interesting family. Mrs. Durig, besides giving her husband many ideas which he executes in marble, writes poetry and has had a considerable amount of her work published in German. Some of her poetry is for children but behind all her work is her philosophy of peace, she says. Plans are now being made for the translation of some of Mrs. Durig’s poetry into English.

Rosemarie, the Durig’s seventeen-year-old daughter, is an accomplished harpist and has played for Mrs. Roosevelt and other notables. When the Durigs return east after the unveiling of the monument Rosemarie will enter school in Washington.


Members of The Greenwood Commercial Club--1937

Top row, L>R: Herbert Schwarze, Frank LaBonte, Harvey Flatz, John Wuethrich, Dr. Loren G. Giswold, Charles Varney, William Neuenfeldt, James Slauson, P. W. Gullord.
Second row: Tony Gasparich, Dr. Reginald L. Barnes, Morris Emerson, Henry Keiner, Orlando J. Amundson, George Hoehne, Rev. George Heilman, Elmer Johnson, John Snedic, August Herman Noetzel, Palmer Vinger.
Bottom row: Rev. E. G. Pfeiffer, Rev. John Trinko, Mayor Ed Buker, Prof. Ernst Durig, Rev. J. J. Novak, T. F. Schiller, Louis Arbs.  *Club History

The Durigs are enjoying the progress of the monument and they share with the citizens of Greenwood in anxiously awaiting the time of the unveiling. Preparations for the event are being made by the Greenwood Commercial Club, which is being assisted by other Greenwood organizations, including the American Legion post and its Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Woman’s Club and other groups. It is planned to have various American Legion posts in that vicinity and the Service company of National Guard at Neillsville take part in the festivities. There will be music by the Greenwood, Owen and Withee High School bands and by the Marshfield and Neillsville American Legion fife and drum corps. Initiations will be issued to 500 persons for the banquet, which will be a part of the event. Traffic officers from several surrounding counties have already offered their services in assisting with managing the traffic, as it is expected that several thousand people will attend the affair at Greenwood, which claims to be the smallest incorporated city in the United States.

It should be a colorful crowd. The people of Greenwood are hoping that the president and Mrs. Roosevelt will be there. Mrs. Durig says she feels certain that a number of foreign diplomats, many of whom the Durigs know personally, will be present. The Durigs are acquaintances, too, of the Roosevelts. A number of prominent Wisconsin persons have already signified their intention of being present.

Yes, October 3 is to be a great day for the peace loving people of Greenwood.

SOURCES: Greenwood City Library Historical Clippings, Lorraine (Schwarze) Ernst Album, Greenwood Gleaner

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