On March 27, 1879, George G. Meade Post 19, Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Nebraska, was founded in Sutton by twenty former Union soldiers. The G.A.R. was a national fraternal organization created to provide for the welfare of Union veterans of the Civil War, their widows and orphans, and to keep alive memories of wartime sacrifices. The G.A.R. held annual encampments and reunions, organized Memorial Day ceremonies, and was active in politics.
By 1890, 448 Union veterans lived in Clay County. In 1894 the Union Soldiers' Monument and Memorial Association of Sutton was formed to erect a monument to veterans. The association petitioned the government for surplus cannon and received two 24-pounder flank howitzers cast by Cyrus Alger and Company of Boston in 1863. The howitzers arrived from Fort Montgomery, N.Y., in 1900. In 1909, a granite base was laid that included the names of area Civil War veterans, but the monument was never finished. In 2001 a bronze statue of a Civil War soldier, commissioned and paid for by community members, completed the monument.