The idea for this monument arose in 1909 by a Missouri women wanting to acknowledge the “Santa Fe Trail” which had run through their state. In 1912 Rep. A.R. Borland of Missouri, introduced to Congress a name for that trail that our early pioneer ancestors traveled west on. The name became officially “The National Old Trail Road.” It begins in Maryland and travels westward on the Braddock Road, the National Road, the Santa Fe Trail and finally, the Oregon Trail.
In1912 the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution began to think of ways to highlight the pioneer women and their influence upon country. It was decided to place 12 statues from coast to coast. One monument in each state the National Old Trail passed through.
The design of August Leimbach was accepted in 1927 and he began creating twelve 18' statues of a pioneer mother holding two children and a rifle. Each statue cost $1,000. It has been said that the face of the pioneer mother was strong in character, beauty and gentleness is a woman who realizes her responsibilities and trust in God.
The first statue unveiled was in Springfield Ohio. The President of the National Old Trail Association was Judge Harry S. Truman, future president of the United States. During the ceremony Judge Truman said:
“They were just as brave or braver than their men because, in many cases, they went with sad hearts and trembling bodies. They went, however, and endured every hardship that befalls a pioneer.”
Mr. Truman would be present at all 12 unveilings. The Springfield monument has been recently refurbished and stands along Route 40, and she is looking westward.
August Leimbach was born in Kaltennor Germany in 1882 and moved to America in 1910. His statues were made from a composition of crushed granite, stone, marble, cement and lead ore. It is the Missouri granite that gives the statue the warm pinkest appearance.
August Leimbach died in 1965 and is buried in Germany.
Locations of the other “Madonna of the Trail” monuments
West Virginia, Wheeling
Kansas, Council Grove
New Mexico, Albuquerque
Pennsylvania, Washington County