Amid society-wide discussions about racism and the meaning of Confederate symbols, the City of Elgin and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) agreed to move a highway marker bearing the name of the Confederate president.
The marker, dated 1937, designated a piece of the Jefferson Davis Highway, a planned roadway sponsored by the UDC stretching from Virginia to California. The marker was brought to the community’s attention in September and sparked arguments for and against its removal.
The marker was within the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which gave the City of Elgin permission to move the marker if they wanted. During a city council meeting on November 5, the council voted 5-4 to remove the highway marker, with those opposed to the motion citing concerns about the city getting involved with TxDOT’s right-of-way.
“That wasn't a statement of resistance to move and the marker,” city manager Thomas Mattis said. “Their primary issue was the fact that it wasn't the city's responsibility.”
After the vote, the situation was “in a stalemate” as far as getting the city, TxDOT and the UDC on the same page about the highway marker’s removal, Mattis said. However, with recent events and more pressure on the city to follow through on the council’s vote, Mattis said he reached out to the UDC, and after a conversation, they agreed to authorize the city to move the marker with city staff.
Once the UDC signed off on the marker’s removal by the city on Thursday, the city removed the marker on Friday morning, storing it in a secure location until the UDC finds a place for it.
Mattis added that there is still an opportunity for potential conversations with the community about what could be done with the marker.
“If there's a consensus about placing it somewhere else in town in a different location, I think the (UDC) are open to that conversation,” he said. “What we did still preserves the opportunity to have that conversation, but for now we have accomplished our initial goal. It's still in one piece, it's in a secure location, so we can all get together if necessary. We're pleased with the outcome and interested to see where it goes from there.”
A video of the highway marker’s removal can be found on Facebook @CityofElginTX, or view the video below: