Floyd County officials are working on a plan to move the Abraham Lincoln statue at Stanville to the Middle Creek National Battlefield in Prestonsburg.
Floyd County Judge-Executive Robbie Williams reports that Jerry Flannery, the owner of Four J Development, recently bought the statue and property previously owned by disbarred attorney Eric C. Conn. He said Flannery agreed to donate the statue for use on the battlefield.
The donation has not yet be finalized and the project has not been publicly discussed or approved by the Floyd County Fiscal Court, but Williams sought — and received —approval of funding from the county tourism commission to move the statue.
Conn commissioned the statue, which was erected in sections and dedicated outside of his former law office in Stanville in November 2010, reporting at the time that it cost $500,000.
The Abraham Lincoln portion of the statute is six feet tall, and, with its current base, it stands 19 feet tall. Williams said only the upper portion of the statue will be moved. A concrete base will be poured at the battlefield site, he said.
Williams said he reached out to the federal government after Conn’s property was seized in an attempt to obtain the statue and adjoining property for economic development. The federal government, however, could not donate it, so Williams said he reached out to Flannery after he bought it.
“There was a couple of people that put a bid in on it and Jerry Flannery, he ultimately bought it and I contacted Jerry and asked him if he’d donate it to the county,” Williams said. “I just said, I think that would be a great addition at Middle Creek battlefield, and he said, yeah.”
He commended Flannery, calling him a “good person” for agreeing to donate the statute. He said if the deal is finalized, it will improve the battlefield and increase tourism.
On June 6, the Floyd County Recreation, Tourist and Convention Commission approved its 2019-2020 budget, which includes $30,000 for “Moving Abe,” with Commissioner Dawn Slone voicing opposition.
“I don’t think it’s in good taste, in my opinion,” Slone said. “I think it will be better placed at the courthouse somewhere.”
She said a statue of the former president would “stick out like a sore thumb” at the battlefield.
Commissioner Mickey McKinney told her, “We are a tourism committee. We’re trying to do things that, believe it or not, people will drive 100 miles just to look at the daggone thing.”
Misha Curnutte, who volunteers with the commission, said tour groups “are amazed” when they pass the statue in its current location. She said having it at the battlefield will give tour groups something else to do when they visit and increase interest in the battlefield, which is privately owned by the nonprofit Middle Creek National Battlefield Foundation.
Slone said her concern is that there will be “negative talk” about the statue being located there, but Curnutte said she believes otherwise.
“I think it would be negative if we lost the use of it,” Curnutte said.
Treasurer David Tackett and Williams told commission members that Prestonsburg Tourism will pay half of the cost of moving the statue, while Floyd County tourism will pay the other half.
Prestonsburg Tourism Director Samantha West said that statement, however, was not accurate.
“We have not discussed voted or made any arrangement or discussions to have any payment on that,” she said.
She said Prestonsburg Tourism, however, is “certainly open” to having a discussion about the possibility.
Williams said the statue needs cleaned and a concrete foundation added at the battlefield, but the specific location has not been determined. He said Frank Fitzpatrick, president of the battlefield foundation, is working with an architect to determine the best location for the statue and its foundation.
Williams is looking forward to seeing the statue at the battlefield.
“I travel a lot … I tell people, I’ve never seen nothing like this, with everywhere I’ve been,” he said. “Can you imagine coming into Prestonsburg and you’re going to see an Abe Lincoln statue that big at a Civil War battlefield?”