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Subject: Colonel Ben Cleveland Statue

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Date Posted: Tue, Mar 02 2010, 19:20:52

Honoring Cleveland’s Founding Heritage

[Vikki’s Note: I received a request from the Colonel Ben Cleveland Chapter of the SAR to share with you details of their project to erect a statue of Col. Ben in First Street Park in Cleveland, Tennessee. The following information is from the brochure.]

Our goal is to commission a sculpture for the new First Street Park honoring Revolutionary War hero Benjamin Cleveland.

Cleveland, Tennessee, was established in 1837 as a county seat for Bradley County, which had been created the previous year. The town was named after Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a commander at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution.

Benjamin Cleveland (1738-1806) was an American pioneer and soldier. He is best remembered for his service as a colonel in the North Carolina militia during the Revolutionary War, and in particular for his role in the American victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780.

Benjamin Cleveland was born on May 28, 1738, in Orange County, Virginia. His parents were John and Elizabeth Cleveland. He moved to what later became Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1769. He built his famous estate, called “Roundabout,” near what is today Ronda, North Carolina. At various times, he worked as a hunter, trapper, farmer, carpenter, and surveyor. By the time of the American Revolution in 1775, Cleveland was probably the wealthiest and most prominent citizen in Wilkes.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Cleveland was appointed a colonel in the North Carolina militia. He was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons in 1778 and to the North Carolina Senate in 1779. Until 1780, the fighting in North Carolina consisted mostly of guerilla warfare patriots, or those colonists who favored American independence from Britain, and Tories, of those colonists who remained loyal to the British crown. A fierce believer in the patriot cause, Cleveland became known as the “Terror of the Tories” for his treatment of pro-British colonists.

In 1780, British General Lord Cornwallis led an invasion army into the Carolinas and won several victories over the American forces. When Major Patrick Ferguson, one of Cornwallis’s commanders, threatened to lead an army of Tories into the North Carolina mountains to crush patriot forces in the area, a group of mountain men from western North Carolina (including what is today Tennessee) decided to attack Ferguson’s section of the British Army on the North Carolina-South Carolina border.

Cleveland played a key role in the Battle of Kings Mountain. According to legend, Cleveland climbed atop Rendezvous Mountain in Wilkes County and blew his powder horn to summon over 200 Wilkes County militiamen to fight the battle. Cleveland led his men to the battlefield and was one of the primary American commanders in the battle.

In 1838 when the Tennessee State legislature designated the Bradley County seat, they chose to honor a man of valor and courage, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, but naming this fledgling community after him. A Revolutionary War hero who fought with Colonel John Sevier at the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina, Colonel Cleveland exemplifies the spirit of our country’s patriots, past and present. Yet today few men are aware of his significance to the naming of Cleveland.

A key part of the mission of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) is to preserve our country’s historical heritage. The Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the SAR is seeking to fulfill this mission while honoring the founding of Cleveland by finding donors to fund a statue of Colonel Cleveland. This statue will not only honor our city’s namesake, but also represent the patriotic values for which he and all American patriots stand. The statue will be created by Joshua Coleman and will be donated to the City of Cleveland for placement in the new First Street Park near Five Points.

We need your help to make this dream a reality. The projected cost of this project is $75,000. Currently we are in the early stages of our fund raising efforts, and your tax deductible contribution would be a tremendous boost to our efforts.

Thank you and we hope we can count on your individual or company support. For more information please contact Brian Webb. Phone: 423-584-2681. Email: bdwebb1@aol.com. You may make contributions at any Bank of Cleveland branch. Just specify the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Statue Fund on your check.

About the Sculptor

Joshua Coleman resides in his hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee, with his wife Noelle, son Nehemiah, and daughter Liliana. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture from the Atlanta College of Art in 2001. As an artist skilled in drawing, photography, and painting, Joshua’s most passionate medium is that of sculpture and design work.

Joshua has completed large-scale sculptures both nationally and internationally. These site-specific sculptures have been commissioned for hospitals, physician offices, businesses, schools, churches, and non-profit organizations in order to increase business and aesthetic appeal. Many of these sculptures involve the community through collaborative design and interactive castings.

Joshua creates life-size pieces and busts from various elements including bronze, iron, aluminum, wood, stone, and found objects. Through commissioned sculpture in the public realm, he strives to capture the themes and emotions of others. It is his goal to create interactive sculpture that everyone can enjoy.

For more information or to view Joshua Coleman’s current sculpture projects, please contact him at imagerysculpture@gmail.com.

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