Family concerned over fate of confederate ancestor's bust in Mem - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Family concerned over fate of confederate ancestor's bust in Memphis park

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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – If one thing's for sure, it's that people feel extremely passionate about the naming of Memphis City Parks.

In one instance, a family is concerned about a bust of their confederate civil war relative.

The bust of Captain J. Harvey Mathes is in what is now Memphis Park, even though the sign still reads Confederate Park. His descendants are worried about the future of his bust now that the name of the park has changed.

"I just don't want it thrown away or turned into scrap metal," Reverend Ben Mathes said.

Reverend Ben Mathes from Georgia fears the bronze bust of his great grandfather in what was known as Confederate Park might be in danger.  Captain J. Harvey Mathes was a journalist.

"He was the war correspondent from Atlanta at the Battle of Atlanta back to Memphis," Mathes said. "We have his columns back from the war."

The Mathes family became concerned when the Memphis City Council changed the names of three parks, Forrest Park, Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis park.

The bust sits in the park along with a statue of Jefferson Davis, the President of the confederacy, cannons, the Ten Commandments, and other historical markers. The Mathes family has suggested moving the bust to Elmwood cemetery where Captain Mathes is buried.

"Maybe offer it to Nick Vergos at the Rendezvous, let them put it in there or bring it to my home and put it in the backyard," Mathes suggested.

Mathes says Vergos is a friend.

At this point there does not appear to be any plans to remove statues or busts from the three parks. And if that is the case the Mathes family is fine with the bust of Captain Mathes staying right where it is.

"It was a piece of family history I would hate to lose it," he said.

A spokesperson for the city of Memphis said since a committee will decide about the name changes and the full council will vote, right now there is no reason for anyone to worry about anything. And again there are no plans to remove statues no matter what the parks are ultimately named.

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