Steuben County to Honor Namesake

By Eric Olson

February 3, 2012 Updated Feb 3, 2012 at 11:15 AM EDT

ANGOLA, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Angola Indiana, the Steuben County seat, boasts many tributes to its historical past; the fabulous Civil War monument capped by Lady Columbia and the county courthouse modeled after Boston’s famous Faneuil Hall. But nowhere is there a monument to this great county’s namesake, Frederic Wilhelm Augustus, Baron von Steuben, a German immigrant who would become one of the great heroes of the American Revolution.

Von Steuben took a ragtag jumble of undisciplined American volunteers at Valley Forge and whipped them into a deadly fighting force. He taught them how to march, use bayonets and follow orders. Von Steuben essentially built the American revolutionary army.

“He organized them, he developed a new sense of confidence,” says Steuben County Commissioner Ron Smith, “and he helped them to understand that they could stand and fight a British organization and could defeat the enemy.”

Smith says when Steuben County became a county in 1837, settlers who came here from back east chose the name to honor the Baron. Now Smith and other locals are devising a monument to him. Indianapolis sculptor Lou Ann Lanagan, a former Angola resident, has created a bust of von Steuben. volunteers are raising money for a pedestal and if all goes as planned, the monument will be placed in front of the courthouse sometime this summer, giving, finally, a true American hero his due..

“To think that a man would leave Europe and come and put his face and name and his body on the line knowing he too could be killed over here,” Smith says, “it just inspires me to honor that man.”

Eric Olson reporting, out in Your Country.

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