Granville Then & Now – Braymer Monument a symbol for 90 years

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

Braymer Monument sits on the side of the hill to the west of the village of Granville. This monument has intrigued many tourists and residents alike over the years. People wonder about the origin and reason for the monument. The short answer is that the hillside was once owned by Bert Braymer, and that he built the monument. However, there’s more to the story.

Albert “Bert” Braymer was born in Hebron, the son of Alfred and Mary Nelson Braymer. He grew up there, and as a young man, he moved west to the Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma. There was lawlessness around Braymer. He crossed paths with some of the famous outlaws of the time. He saw the saloons and the gambling establishments, enough to form strong opinions on them, which he held for the rest of his life. While Braymer was exposed to gambling during his time out west, it is unclear if Braymer himself actually gambled.

Bert Braymer returned to Granville around the turn of the 20th century. He married May Durhman and they had a son, John D. Braymer. Bert owned a farm on the west end of Mettowee Street, which also encompassed grazing area on the side of the mountain to the west of this part of the village. He later built the Braymer house on North Columbus Street.

Braymer was rather blunt with his opinions and predictions. One such prediction he made was in 1927, when the stock market was booming. A prominent Granville businessman was talking with Morris Rote-Rosen. Braymer asked him about how well he was doing on the stock market. “We made ten thousand dollars this week and we stand a chance to double it next week,” the man replied. After a moment, Braymer asked: “Are you getting the cash of your investments or are you talking about paper profits?”

The man did not reply, and silence followed as Braymer continued, “Let me give you a tip. Cash in your investments now and stop gambling. If you don’t you will be wiped out like the other suckers by those squint-eyed wolves on Wall Street. It’s coming, one can see, and it is as plain as a Billy goat’s tail going up a hill. When the Wall Street crash comes, and it won’t be long now, and you are holding the bag with a lot of worthless papers in your hand, you won’t have a pair of pants left nor a roof over your head. Take a tip,” said Bert, “get out while the getting is good.”

The man laughed off Braymer’s prediction. When the stock market crash of 1929 occurred, the prominent businessman lost everything including the house, and his wife was left penniless. Braymer did not live to see it happen, but his prediction turned out right. It was predictions like this that made Braymer a disliked figure by those who frowned upon him.

In 1926, there was activity on the hillside that Braymer owned. Braymer regularly visited the village clerk’s office, and one day clerk Morris Rote-Rosen asked him about the activity. Braymer responded that he was “going to have a monument erected there… when [it] is through I will have something to be remembered by.” Rote-Rosen then asked why he was erecting a monument to himself. “I want to be remembered after I am gone,” said Braymer, “I want to people to inquire whose monument that is.”

Braymer continued, “I have no religion but I never took one penny from the widows or orphans nor did I ever take advantage of the working man like some of the leaders in Granville. They are church members and they claim to be religious, they run to church on Sundays and rob everybody they can during the other days of the week.”

“These men are hypocrites, liars and cheats,” he said. “When I meet them on the street they don’t know me. They look the other way. I am not good enough for them. But, after we have all passed on they will be long forgotten while people will talk about me and still mention my name.”

Several men and a team of horses hauled materials up the hill to the monument, the work being led by Anthony McDonough. The monument was finished within a year. Standing about 30 feet tall, it was painted white, with a plaque about a third of the way up, reading “Albert Braymer, born Sept. 8, 1863.”

Albert “Bert” Braymer died July 1, 1928, aged 64. He was survived by a widow, May Durhman Braymer, and a son, John. After Braymer’s passing, his body was cremated, and his ashes reportedly scattered on the mountain. A missing space in the plaque was filled with the date of passing.

The farm operated into the 1940s. The part of the Braymer farm within the village limits was eventually partly developed in the 1960s into Berkowitz Drive and Troy Terrace. The farmlands west of the village and Indian River began to return to the forest.

As early as 1965, there was interest in keeping the Braymer monument in view. Granville’s Boy Scout troops cleared out the area in the immediate vicinity in the fall of 1965, so that they could use the area as a campsite. By the late 1980s, the area had become overgrown again; it had not been used as a campsite for some years.

In 1995, Scott Shaw, a Boy Scout with Granville’s Troop 44, decided on cleaning up the Braymer Monument as the community service project he would oversee on his pathway to becoming an Eagle Scout. Shaw’s father had heard of a desire to repair the monument and reclaim it at a Rotary Club meeting. The monument was in disrepair, trees had grown up around it, and the path leading to the monument had become overgrown. With friends from high school and football players, as well as other members of his scout troop, Shaw managed his team as 80 hours of work was put into the effort.

In the intervening 25 years the area around Braymer’s Monument has grown in again. Longtime Granville Village DPW employee Dan Williams expressed interest in doing so upon his retirement in the fall of 2017. Some clearing work has been done since then. While it was reported at the time that the property had been sold to local interests, this is not the case; Susan Braymer, wife of John Braymer, sold the property in 2011 to Mark Jensen of New Jersey.

Bert Braymer predicted when he built the monument that people would ask about the monument long after he and his contemporaries had passed away. More than 90 years after his passing, people continue to ask about the monument on the Braymer hill. At one time the monument could be seen for miles.

Braymer’s Monument and its site have over the years been periodically maintained, and at other times left to fade away. The Braymer Monument is a part of Granville’s history. Hopefully, another group of local residents will take interest in fixing up the monument, and clearing the immediate area of trees and brush, improving the visibility of the monument from Granville.

Granville’s Main Street is moving along. The 13 East Main building has been renovated by its new owners. The upstairs apartment is now ready to be rented out. Work is also being done on the first- floor space.

Another real estate opening has appeared on Main Street. The 6-10 Main Street building, presently owned by Compu-Design USA, is for sale. The building is in decent shape and has been worked on in recent years; the building has a new electrical system. A new owner would have a couple of modernization projects to do, most importantly the replacement of the obsolete air conditioning system. After these repairs are made, along with any other wanted changes, the building would be ready for use, hopefully bringing another business to Granville’s Main Street.

If a new owner desired to demolish the 6-10 Main building, coordination would be required with the Village of Granville. The village owns the historic Memorial Clock on the property, has a long-term lease on the right of having the clock’s pedestal on the property, and the master clock mechanism controlling the Memorial Clock is inside the building.

Erik Pekar

Town Historian