To the Soldiers of Florida
The impressive monument in Hemming Park was erected in 1898, and donated to the State of Florida, by Charles C. and Lucy Key Hemming. Hemming had served with the Jacksonville Light Infantry during the Civil War, and later became a successful businessman in Texas.
The construction contractor for the monument was Mr. George H. Mitchell of Chicago, and the monument itself may have been furnished by the Muldoon Monument Company of Louisville, Kentucky.
Hemming personally selected what was then St. James Park in the center of Jacksonville's downtown for the location of this 62 foot-tall monument; the park was renamed Hemming Park in 1899 to recognize his generosity.
Although the Hemmings did not attend the dedication of the monument on June 16, 1898, many U.S. soldiers camped in town did attend. These soldiers were drawn from all over the country and were assembled in Jacksonville waiting to embark for the Spanish-American War. With these soldiers in attendance, the oratory of the day is said to have commented on the reuniting of North and South due to the onset of war with a foreign power.
Only a few years after its dedication in Hemming Park, in May of 1901, a fire began in Jacksonville that would before the end of the day burn 146 city blocks and 2,638 buildings, including most of downtown. The Confederate monument in Hemming Park was one of the few landmarks of Jacksonville that survived.
(Information courtesy of the Kirby-Smith Chapter of the SCV and the Florida Memory Project of the Florida State Archives)