In 1976, Hungarian-American sculptor Peter Toth erected a 25-foot wooden bust of an Indian warrior and donated it to the City of Wilmington.
Part of Mr. Toth’s “Trail of Whispering Giants,” series, the statue was to have been one of a series of 50, depicting native Americans in each of the states. It was carved from a single oak tree, shipped from Conway, S.C., by Army reservists.
For a while, the Indian stood near the boathouse at Greenfield Lake, near the park’s former Third Street entrance. In 1979, however, parks officials moved it to a grove of trees off a scenic trail near Lions’ Bridge. The move drew protests from Mr. Toth, who claimed it had been hidden from view.
By 1986, the Indian was showing signs of damage by termites and other insects, as well as carved initials. In that year, Wilmington’s City Council voted to loan the statue to the Waccamaw Siouan Indians, and it was moved to tribal grounds at Buckhead in Columbus County.
According to Beverly Tetterton, history librarian with the New Hanover County Public Library, the Mr. Toth’s Indian rotted after it was sent to Buckhead. Toth came back to Columbus County while in his 60s and sculpted two new ones, one for Buckhead and one for the N.C. Museum of Forestry in Whiteville. The one at the Forestry Museum still stands in front of the museum at 415 South Madison St.
Date posted: April 3, 2012
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