Based on a review of legal documents and other evidence, the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy “more likely than not” own the “Our Confederate …
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Based on a review of legal documents and other evidence, the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy “more likely than not” own the “Our Confederate Heroes” monument in downtown Pittsboro, according to Chatham County attorneys.
The memo to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners — drafted by the county’s law firm Poyner Spruill and dated May 3 but made available August 19 for public consumption — outlines the potential steps the county could have taken and features language used by county commissioners to explain their vote to terminate the agreement between the county and the UDC for the monument’s placement.
The memo states that the original “order” issued by the 1907 board of commissioners states the monument “may remain in the care and keeping of the said Daughters,” referring to the Winnie Davis Chapter. It also says that Barbara Pugh, president of the chapter, cited a compiled history of the group that says the monument was “the gift of the Chapter to the county as a memorial to the Confederate Veterans, living and dead.” That history, Poyner Spruill writes, “is the only document we have seen which purports to support the claim that the Monument is owned by the County.”
Based on documents available, the statement concludes, “it appears to us more likely than not that the Monument is still owned by the Daughters.”
The question of ownership has been a significant one in the recent discussion. If the monument was owned by the county, the commissioners would have had their hands tied, as state law says an “object of remembrance” cannot be removed from public property unless it is owned by a private property and is “subject to a legal agreement governing its removal or relocation,” according to the attorney’s memo.
Poyner Spruill’s memo included 10 possible outcomes with the monument, and the county followed up on some of them. Among the recommendations:
The Commissioners did not discuss anything related to the monument during their September 16 regular meeting. The UDC has an October 1 deadline for submitting a plan for removal of the statue to the board, and if a plan is not given, the county will declare the monument a “public trespass” on November 1.
Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.