One of 12 identical statues depicting white pioneer women migrating along 19th-century western trails. Commissioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), they were dedicated in 1928-29 in 12 states stretching from Maryland to California.
In 1911 the National Society, Daughters of the American
Revolution (DAR) set out to mark the “Old Trails Road” stretching from Maryland
to California. Initial plans called for painted mileage markers throughout the
route. Those plans were later abandoned in favor of pioneer mother
National DAR Commission chairperson Arlene B. Nichols Moss
was inspired by Portland, Oregon’s 1905 Sacajawea
monument to commission Madonna of the
Trail statues to be placed in the 12 states through which the “Old Trails
Road” passed. Sculptor August Leimbach envisioned a scene in which she is
looking for her husband whom she believes to be in danger. Like other Pioneer
Mother statues erected during the late 1920s, the 12 DAR statues balanced strong,
active roles for women with softer maternal symbolism.
One Madonna of the
Trail statue was erected in each of the states through which the National
Old Trails Road passed. The statues were cast from algonite (a form of cast
stone produced from a mixture of crushed marble, Missouri granite, stone,
cement and lead ore) at the cost of $1,000 per statue. The statues were placed along key white
migration routes, such as the early-19th-century National Road (later U.S.
Route 40) and Santa Fe Trail (later the infamous Route 66). But the precise
location of the monument within each state was selected based on both the
site’s historical significance and the influence of local DAR chapters.
The Springfield, Ohio, location was chosen to emphasize the
importance of the old National Road (later U.S. Route 40), which was built between
1811 and 1834 to connect trans-Appalachian settlements to the eastern United
States. The toll road reached from Cumberland, Maryland, to the Ohio River. Text
on its base also highlights General George Rogers Clark’s nearby defeat of the
Shawnee Confederacy in 1780, which helped open the Northwest Territory to white