At the September 5, 1919 meeting of the Kissimmee City Council, it was voted to purchase “a beautiful drinking fountain for Broadway in memoriam for ‘Billie’ Makinson and ‘Nat’ Carson, who sleep in the Argonne. The idea was presented by S.L. Lupfer, Jr., with the suggestion that the city bear half the cost and citizens who wished to honor the memory of these young men, raise the remainder of the fund.”
On February 26, 1920, the fountain arrived from Rundle-Spence Manufacturing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was made of bronze and other metal and contained “tablets bearing the names of the two young men and the battles in which they lost their lives”. Neither the exact site on Broadway, nor the date for ceremonies were determined but would possibly coincide with the opening of the Dixie Highway through Kissimmee. A committee was appointed to select a site and arrange a program for the occasion.
Headlines in the November 11, 1921,“Kissimmee Valley Gazette”, read – “Memorial Fountain Has For Two Years Lain In City Barn”. Covered with hay and other miscellaneous items, the fountain was moved to a vacant room in an adjoining building. The newspaper article stated “Its weight is supposed to be something under nine hundred pounds. It may have been precisely what was ordered – and there are none to deny it; but it is a fact that the recipients were ashamed to erect it. There were three sections, presumably when it was unpacked: the base, the shaft and the cap. There was nothing wrong about it – except the fact that no member of the council at that time had the temerity to have it erected as a ‘memoriam’ [sic].” Up to that point there was no record of contributions made, so month after month passed and it remained stored in the barn until a bill for $228 from Rundle-Spence was received in November and the fountain was unearthed.
The heavy base required four men to move it and when completed it was to stand nine feet tall, but the crown was not located. There were two special drinking founts on the opposite side of the base, raised wreaths and decorations at several points; the third side bore other wreaths and emblems. Upon the fourth side was the six inch by twelve inch plate with the inscription in raised letters:
Although it was planned to remove the nameplate, paint the area where it was attached and contact the company to send the remainder of the “memorial”, there is no further indication that an appropriate location in the city park was ever found, or the fountain erected. And there was no mention of private donations made to assist the City, as originally agreed to in 1919.
After making contact with Rundle-Spence Manufacturing Company in Milwaukee, still in business since 1871, Dave Spence, owner graciously located an image from their 1915 catalog, which is close to the description of the fountain given in the newspaper accounts. Thank you to Mr. Spence for sharing this with us.
Sources: “Kissimmee Valley Gazette”; City of Kissimmee meeting minutes; Rundle-Spence Manufacturing Company
Photo Courtesy: Rundle-Spence Manufacturing Company Catalog 1951