John Milburn Davis erected this memorial to "the sacred memory" of his wife, Sarah. After she died in 1930, he almost immediately commissioned the work to begin.
In every sense it was a monumental task.
The lifesize Italian marble statues of the Davises were striking in their detail and their accuracy. The cost of the memorial, estimated at $200,000, was staggering in a small town during The Great Depression. The stubbornness of Davis toward his project in the face of public criticism was prelude to a legend.
"They hate me," Davis said. "But it's my money and I spent it the way I pleased." What is not as widely known is that he secretly gave away tens of thousands of dollars to the needy, a few hundred dollars at a time.
Said the pastor in defense of John Davis: "All of us have peculiarities."
The irony is that the Davis Memorial has benefited the community. Every year tens of thousands of visitors come to Mount Hope Cemetery to view the statuary and hear the story of the memorial's eccentric creator.
Hiawatha Chamber of Commerce
602 Oregon / Hiawatha, KS 66434
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