Cannon with Cannon balls

The cannon

The cannon in LeRoy Kiwanis Park – over the years hundreds of thousands of children have played on and/or sat on the cannon.
The exact history of the cannon in City Park (now Kiwanis Park) has not been documented, but information seems to point to its arrival prior to 1904. It is said to have been placed there by Wesley M. Owen. Mr. Owen and his twin brother, Leslie J., were lawyers in LeRoy for many years. Their office was in the J. Keenan Bank with entrance on S. Chestnut Street, on the west side of the building. The J. Keenan Bank was located where the Old Bank Inn is located.
The cannon seems to be the first adornment to grace City Park. The cannon was surplus property at a fort and was never fired until the Bicentennial. It was not usable in the army because there were flaws in its structure.
At first it rested on two wheels. Later, when Clark Smith was mayor of LeRoy, it was placed on the concrete base. Supposedly the cannon balls were placed in a dry oil well on the Pfitzenmeyer farm southeast of town across from what is Brickyard Park today.
According to another source the cannon is a Spanish-American war relic and is said to have been a gift of the government to the town of LeRoy. It was said to have been used to defend Ft. Wadsworth, Massachusetts during the Civil War and also was used many years before the war.
The LeRoy Sesquicentennial Committee chose to make a souvenir cannon bank as a fundraiser for the event. A wooden version of the park cannon was made and Richard Johnson of Ceramics by Alberta found a ceramic mold maker. Once the molds were made, Mary Lou Flegel of Flegel’s Ceramics, poured the banks and with a team of volunteers cleaned the greenware pieces, painted, fired and glazed and fired the piece again. A commemorative decal was fired onto the bottom. One of the banks is in the archives of the Empire Township Historical Museum.
The Jaycees fired the cannon off in the 1980’s during Old Settlers Days. LeRoy legend says a little too much powder was used and the boom rattled windows and shook houses in a several block radius and broke glassware at some of the booths at the flea market. It was the only time the cannon was fired in LeRoy and not too long afterwards the city council voted to have the barrel sealed.

P.O. Box 102, LeRoy, IL 61752 • 309-468-8409 • Legal
405 East Center Street, Le Roy, Illinois 61752 East Side of Library Ground Level

Designed by Lynn Amacher