To commemorate the 1936 Texas Centennial, it was decided to erect statues to nineteen Texas heroes. Noted sculptor Allie Tennant was chosen to sculpt the statue of James Butler Bonham, and she personally supervised its placement on the courthouse square in Bonham on December 10, 1938.
On Sunday, December 18, 1938, on a bright sunny afternoon, the statue was first unveiled in an elaborate ceremony to which, according to newspaper reports, thousands were in attendance. Several distant relatives of James Butler Bonham were there, as well as dignitaries from Austin, Dallas and Sherman. Allie Tennant was in attendance. Congressman Sam Rayburn made the dedicatory address. The Bonham High School Band played patriotic songs, and school children from the James Duncan and Bailey Inglish schools sang "Texas, Our Texas" as the covering over the statue was removed. [Read about the dedication in the Bonham Herald, December 19, 1918.]
After almost seventy-five years of weathering, the statue was in dire need of cleaning and a new coat to prevent further deterioration. So the Fannin County Historical Commission made this their project for 2013. The Commissioners’ Court approved, and efforts to obtain the approximate $20,000 for that began. With more than half donated by local citizens, businesses, and former Bonham citizens, and a generous grant from The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the James Butler Bonham statue was removed and taken for refurbishing on Saturday, December 16. It has now been refurbished and reinstalled.
The re-dedication was held on Friday, November 21, 2014 on the courthouse square. Read more about the re-dedication and see photos.
The following article appeared in the Bonham Daily Favorite on January 31, 1939.
Child Writes Poem About Col. Bonham
Joy Mae Bicknell, 11-year-old daughter of Mrs. Bob Bicknell, route 1, Ivanhoe, has composed a poem about Col. James Butler Bonham, which is very good. The child wrote this poem after viewing the new statue of Col. Bonham erected on the southeast corner of the courthouse square.
James Butler Bonham
If you ever go to Bonham,
Look on the courhouse square,And you will see the statue
Of James Butler Bonham there
It's made of bronze, this statue,
It stands so straight and tall,
Mr. Bonham was a great man,
And was kind and true to all.
He was born in South Carolina,
In eighteen hundred and seven,
He died in eighteen thirty-six
And now his soul's in Heaven.
Mr. Bonham came to Texas
In eighteen thirty-five,
But he lived here only one year
Until he bravely died.
He died in the Alamo,
He died for his fellow men,
And so we built this statue,
In rememberance of him.
At the dedication of the statue in 1938, the Bonham Herald stated:
"It is our monument, where we were born in Texas, or have adopted this state as our own - with that adoption goes our claim to an interest in Col. Bonham, and the splendid statue made by Miss Tennant, which will be where it is, barring earthquakes, for ages, if not longer. No cyclone is liable to throw it down; no tornado can blow it from its foundation, and no political upheaval is liable, whereby it might be pulled down - it is there for all time. Let us cherish it and keep the grass green about its base, and teach our children that we are a liberty-loving people, who gladly honor our patriots who have given us the priceless boon of freedom - presenting their lives a living sacrifice, that liberty might not perish from the earth."
The above photo is of the refurbished statue.
The photo below is of the statue before it was refurbished.