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Committee forming in hopes of erecting new Stow’s Square monument

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LOWVILLE — A local group is working to replace a historic marker at Stow’s Square that was removed a couple of years ago.

“The idea is to replace the monument as close to exact as possible,” Lewis County Historical Society board member James R. “Hamish” Davey said.

“It’s about time to do something about it,” said Patricia L. Homer, historian at the First Presbyterian Church.

An organizational meeting of the Committee for the Restoration of the Stow’s Square Monument will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Lewis County Historical Society headquarters, 7552 S. State St.

“We plan on talking about the whole situation and fundraising,” Ms. Homer said.

The original monument, off Route 26 a couple of miles north of the village, was erected in 1899 by the Presbyterian Society in Lowville on the step stone of the former Stow’s Square Church.

However, another church group, Grace Chapel, purchased the land surrounding the monument in 2008.

Then, much to the chagrin of some local Presbyterians and historical society members, the group removed the marker in 2012, purportedly believing that obelisks — which were used in ancient Egypt to worship the sun god, Ra — should be destroyed.

The base remains but has been relocated several yards to the front, while a cross was erected at the original monument site.

Since then, some local residents — such as Mr. Davey and Ms. Homer — have been hoping to erect a new marker, citing its significance as a reminder both of the former church and of the once-thriving community that now consists only of farmland, a cattle auction barn and a farm machinery dealership.

“It was really marking the town,” Ms. Homer said.

The Lewis County Historical Society has collected some funds for that purpose, but advocates hope to obtain further funding through the Northern New York Community Foundation as well as other organizations and individuals.

While the original monument cost $60 back in 1899, Ms. Homer said a new 8-foot-tall marker is expected to cost about $6,000, based on a preliminary estimate from Artisan Engraving, Sandy Creek.

The society also is poised to obtain an easement, subject to Steven and Marcia Nortz’s final approval, to locate a new monument on the southwest corner of the Nortzes’ farm adjacent to the original memorial site, according to Attorney Edgar S.K. “Ned” Merrell, who is handling the project on the organization’s behalf.

The move would give the historical society the legal right to erect and maintain a new monument without fear of its removal.

“We don’t want this ever to happen again,” Ms. Homer said.

A church was organized at Stow’s Square in 1803, and the new settlement’s congregation, after electing to become Presbyterian in 1818, constructed the building under the leadership of its second pastor, Daniel Nash. The church stopped hosting worship services in the 1840s and was demolished in 1864.

Mr. Nash, who was renowned for later conducting revival meetings with Charles Finney throughout Northern New York, is buried just north of the site.

The Presbyterian Society in 1899 raised money both to place a headstone at the Nash grave site, which had been unmarked, and to erect the obelisk as a public memorial to the original church and in honor of Mr. Nash’s contributions.

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