Here in Georgia, between the Savannah and Broad Rivers sits the little city of Elberton, which also goes by the title of the “Granite Capital of the World.” 45 area quarries extract enough of the “Georgia Blue” and “Georgia Grey” granite to produce 250,000 granite headstones and monuments annually. In 1898, with the sluggish post-Civil War economy still plaguing most southern states, Elberton was a boomtown, with craftsmen, artists, and stone sculptors moving in for the numerous carving jobs. One of the artisans, Arthur Beter, was commissioned in the 1890s to erect a Confederate memorial in the town square. The problem was, as a recent immigrant from Italy, Beter had never seen a Confederate soldier. His process of not letting anyone inside his studio for months as the work was being completed further complicated things.
On July 15, 1898, Beter’s monument was unveiled in Sutton Square. Prominent, the sculpture came in at 7-foot tall and stood upon a 22-foot pedestal. The negative response was both swift and hilarious. The criticism was evenly divided between the soldier’s style of dress – Beter depicted him in a Union Army uniform and a kepi hat – and the expression on his face. The statue was mocked for appearing as “a cross between a Pennsylvania Dutchman and a hippopotamus.” This led to the nickname “Dutchy.”
Dutchy never stood a chance up there. Children would point and tease his cartoonishly googled eyes, old people would throw rotten vegetables, and the heathen Dutchman was an embarrassment.
On a dark night on August 14, 1900, a mob of drunken young men took it upon themselves to topple the statue from its pedestal. Weighing about 3,000 pounds, he hit the ground hard, the figure breaking at the torso and feet. They buried Dutchy face down in a pit in the square for nearly a century.
In 1982 the Elberton Granite Association dug him up and thoroughly cleaned the statue at a nearby car wash. Today Dutchy lives in a small, wood-paneled room at the Elberton Granite Museum. He is surrounded by newspaper clippings and an old answering machine that relies on this tale.