Proudly placed on the front lawn of the Kiowa County Courthouse are two statues of a "Doughboy" and a sailor. Originally cast in 1929, these military figures had once stood as a war memorial on State Highway 9.
In February of 1969, Hobart resident, Vernard Holbrook, "found" the four bronze statues in storage in the top of a State Highway Department barn. They had been there since they were removed from each end of the bridge across the North Fork of the Red River. There were 2 "Doughboys" and 2 sailors with one pair being stored in the Hobart American Legion Building and the other pair in the town of Granite. The bridge had been designated the AMERICAN LEGION MEMORIAL BRIDGE on March 1, 1929 (House Bill #149), a gala event attended by Gov. Holloway and other dignitaries.
Each statue was badly vandalized. It took Vernard NINE years to find someone who could restore the bronze statues. Ironically, the man restoring them was James A. Pitt of Del City, OK, formerly of Hobart. The bronze statues were originally bought from The American Doughboy Studio at a cost of $5,460 total for four. Kiowa County and Greer County each paid $2,500.00 with the Legion Posts paying the difference. They were designed by an Indiana Sculptor, E.M. Viquesy. The restoration for only 2 of the statues, which are on the Kiowa County Courthouse Square cost $3,850.00 and at that time in 1978, it was learned EACH of the statues were worth $30,000.00. A drive to raise funds for the restoration was started in July 1978. The drive raised a few extra dollars which Mr. Holbrook used to build the six concrete benches near the statues. He mounted American Legion emblems into the seats. They were officially re-dedicated to honor "VETERANS OF ALL WARS" on Veterans Day, November, 1978.
In December 1979, they were again vandalized, with the rifle, bayonet and hand of the Doughboy being stolen. Once again Mr. Holbrook came to their rescue. He promised no charges would be filed if the PARTS would be returned. A week later the rifle was returned and the next day the bayonet and hand were also recovered. There is a time capsule in the granite base of one of the statues to be opened at a later date. The American Legion Post 117 did much of the work along with Vernard to get the statues mounted on the square to honor all Veterans, past, present and future. In addition, the statues would not have been restored without the generosity of many people.
Come visit us in Hobart, Oklahoma