Ches McCartney Memorial to be furnished in Sigourney

Ches "Goatman" McCartney (1901-1998) was born in Van Buren Township in Keokuk County. Created by Dan Van Woert of Cedar Rapids. Photo submitted.

            Traveling preacher and wanderer Ches McCartney, known by the local population as simply “The Goat Man” will be honored with a mural in Legion Park after approval was given by the Sigourney City Council.

            Known through the United States, McCartney traveled mainly across the eastern half of the county in a wagon pulled by goats as he attracted admirers and press at each stop. Though he passed away in 1998, The Goat Man still has his fans, including the Ches “Goat Man” McCartney Memorial Foundation, who asked for permission to place the memorial in Sigourney, the home county of McCartney.

            Bob Steckel is a resident of Cedarburg, WI, but originally from Iowa City. Steckel and other members of the memorial foundation expressed interest in creating a memorial during a trip to Sigourney in 2016, where they discovered there were no memorials to McCartney, who was believed to be born in Van Buren Township in 1901.

            “We talked with some townspeople who knew of him and met him,” Steckel said. “We were disappointed that there wasn’t any recognition of McCartney and his travels. We wanted to commemorate his life and possibly bring in tourists, which is what brought us here in the first place.”

            The proposed location for the mural is the wall by the swimming pool at Legion Park. Members of the city council expressed concern with the mural being vandalized and of maintenance of the mural being thrown onto the city. It is also commonly believed that McCartney was born closer to What Cheer, making it more appropriate for a location such as the County Fairgrounds to receive the mural.

            “I know What Cheer has claimed ‘The Goatman’ for years,” Councilman Randy Schultz said. “I think there would a be place for display at the fair. We have got concerns about putting out art and graffiti, so I’d like to open a different door for that.”

            To address this issue, Steckel stated that the Memorial Foundation will apply a Rust-oleum Graffiti Shield over the finished mural, allowing the display to easily be cleaned and to remove any spray-painted graffiti. The Memorial Foundation would also maintain the mural “for a minimum of five years” according to Steckel.

            “This could lead to an annual trek for Mr. Steckel and his friends to come back and maybe even more tourists,” Councilman Ed Conrad said, motioning for the mural.

            Conrad’s motion was passed four to one, with Connie McLaughlin voting no due to continued reservations. All members of the Council stated they would like to keep What Cheer in mind still if a better location and price for Steckel presented itself in the future. According to Steckel, setup could take place this coming spring and would require several days.