Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial

Sometimes referred to as the Black Angel, its actual title is the Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial. It’s dedicated to the wife of General Grenville Dodge and commemorates her death in 1916.

Location: 623 N 2nd St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503

What’s the story behind the Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial, why was it built?

Ruth Anne told her daughters about a dream. She walked along a rocky shoreline and through the mist could see an angel holding a bowl of water. The angel encouraged her to take a drink. This same exact dream happened three times to Ruth Anne. In the third dream, she finally accepted the drink and told her daughters that she felt transformed, but then soon died.

The daughters wanted to create a memorial for their mother and they want a memorial based on the dream.

Who built the Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial?

To create the memorial, the daughters hired Daniel French. At the time, French was working on his most famous piece – Abraham Lincoln’s sculpture for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Who was the model for the memorial?

It’s believed that Daniel French used Audrey Munson as a model for the sculpture. Audrey was considered to be the first-ever “supermodel”. In fact, Munson was the model for perhaps hundreds of statues and monuments around the United States.

Why didn’t they have a dedication for the memorial?

The memorial was originally scheduled for 1920. According to legend, it was to be a grand affair with nationally recognized figures including the sculpture Daniel French and the First Lady of the United States.

However, it appears that the dedication never happened. Nothing. Nada. It somehow went from a huge ordeal to nothing. It’s believed that the family may have been embarrassed about the statue or possibly the situation that Audrey Munson was involved in.

In 1919, Audrey lived in a boarding home in New York City with her mother. The man who owned the boarding home fell in love with Audrey. He then killed his current wife to make himself available for marriage. Audrey and her mom then fled New York. The man was charged, tried, and found guilty. There was then a nationwide hunt for Audrey and her mother and it’s believed that this took place when the Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial dedication was originally scheduled. For more details on the memorial and lack of dedication – check out the Accidently Historic audio files located on the Council Bluff Historical Society website.

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