Archive for March, 2012
WE ASSURE FREEDOM TO THE FREE”. Abraham Lincoln
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Philadelphia By Hermon A. MacNeil was dedicated in 1927. Two 60 foot granite pylons mark the entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The period automobiles and newly planted trees line the Parkway. This beautiful boulevard leads from Logan Circle through the rolling Parkway Gardens on up the hill to the Philadelphia Art Museums.
The bronze “Pony Express” horse and rider galloping out of downtown Saint Joseph, Missouri, since 1940, is Hermon A. MacNeil’s immortalizing of “Pancho Villa.” The sculptor modeled the monument’s “glorious horse flesh” after an actual “outlaw” wild mustang from the North Dakota prairies, named “Pancho Villa” (after the Mexican outlaw). (See the original 1946 ‘Long Island Star – Journal” story below).
‘Pancho Villa’ put six rodeo cowboys in the hospital before he allowed Dr. S. Meredith Strong, a Flushing physician, to tame and ride him. The ‘cowboy doctor’ (as he was called) bought the animal after its last rodeo performance in Madison Square Garden, New York City. Originally, “Pancho Villa” was captured from the North Dakota prairie where he ran with a herd of wild horses.
Dr. Strong, who died in 1946 (see obituary below), was the National President of the American Rough Riders Association, a group devoted to the preservation of the wild mustangs. He traveled thousands of miles as a lover-of-horse-flesh seeking to preserve this western heritage. He and MacNeil must have had some interesting conversations. (The newspaper photo below shows Hermon MacNeil seated on the statue).
I am grateful to James E. Haas, (author, researcher, and Hermon-MacNeil-enthusiast) for this resource find. Jim has become this website’s “official research detective” and a true benefactor of history on Hermon A. MacNeil. Through his detective work over 150 digital sources have been given to me as webmaster. His books on College Point history can be found at his website. CLICK HERE (http://www.jimhaasbooks.com/).
In related news the National Pony Express Association will conduct its annual Re-Ride over the 1,966 mile route of the Pony Express National Historic Trail from California, through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas to Missouri, June 12 to 23, 2012. Like the statue, this annual event preserves this history that Dr. Strong and Hermon MacNeil so loved.