Chainsaw sculptor Gary Keenan, of Des Moines, was brought on to carve the stump into a solider. Keenan said he mostly does residential trees, and most of the trees he’s carved in his 13 years of business have been wildlife, though he sometimes gets asked to do other things.
The weather will greatly impact how long the project will take. According to Keenan, he works until it gets too cold for him to go outside, so as long as the rain stays away he will be carving.
“[The tree] won’t look like much for a few days,” he said. “It will take about a week to finish.”
According to Hellige, the tree was such an iconic part of the cemetery that they had to find some way to memorialize it. Having it carved will help show the artistic side of Ottumwa and will help memorialize the tree and soldiers it represents.
So when you see a Civil War soldier in Ottumwa Cemetery in the next few weeks, it isn’t a Halloween costume. It’s a 220-year-old oak tree.
— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh