Wheeling’s Doughboy monument is back and better than ever. After a longer than expected stay at Venus Bronze Works in Detroit due to COVID-19, the 89-year-old monument has been returned to its home at Wheeling Park. The Doughboy’s journey began in November 2019 when it was sent out to receive some much-needed restoration work, which included a new rifle that’s been missing for decades.
This effort was made possible by The Wheeling Doughboy Restoration Committee members Margaret Brennan, Sean Duffy, John Hargleroad, Kevin Duffin, Bob Joseph (Post 1, American Legion), Nat Goudy, Erin Rothenbuehler, and Wheeling 4th Ward Councilman Ty Thorngate.
The restored Doughboy statue being returned to its home in Wheeling Park.
Check out these fast facts about Wheeling’s Doughboy prepared by the team at Archiving Wheeling, an online community designed to showcase the local and regional history collections of the Ohio County Public Library and its heritage partners. Sean Duffy and the rest of the team at Archiving Wheeling have prepared an in-depth look at this monument’s history and restoration journey.
The monument was commissioned by the Service Star Legion, a women’s organization made up of mothers of WWI veterans.
Wheeling’s Doughboy was created by designer and sculptor Ernest Moore “E.M.” Viquesney.
The design is called “The Spirit of the American Doughboy.”
The monument is dedicated in honor of all who served in World War 1917 – 1918.
Wheeling’s Doughboy is named Lester after a real Wheeling Doughboy, Lester Scott. Lester was a mule team driver killed in action by German artillery.
Subscribe to Weelunk
The Wheeling Doughboy is made of pressed sheet bronze, approximately 10% tin.
Originally, there were as many as 300 Doughboy monuments nationwide. Now, our Doughboy is one of only 140 that still exist nationally, and one of four in West Virginia.
The monument was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1931, at Wheeling Park before a crowd of 3,000; a 16-piece band; Raymond J. Falland master of ceremonies; Service Star member Mrs. H. E. McConkey unveiled the statue while Mrs. Virginia Hall Donnelly sang the “Star-Spangled Banner;” Hon. Otto Schenk of the Wheeling Park Commission accepted the monument on behalf of the city; speakers included William J. Gompers and C.B. Montgomery of Post No. 1, American Legion.
In 2011, the monument inspired a feature-length film featuring multiple local sets and actors.
There are multiple Doughboy statues throughout the Ohio Valley, including Martins Ferry (a cast bronze from the “Over the Top” series designed by Viquesney’s rival, sculptor John Paulding), one in Bridgeport (designer unknown), and one in Bellaire.
Visit all of the area’s Doughboy monuments by checking out the map below.