A group of Nebraska City residents has a simple mission: Bring J. Sterling Morton home.
The J. Sterling Morton Statue Committee is organizing a fundraising drive that will pay the cost of transporting the statue of Morton from the U.S. Capitol around the middle of next year when he is replaced with a statue of Willa Cather that is being sculpted by Littleton Alston.
The committee would like to secure at least $5,000 in pledged funds before Dec. 31, when the group’s application to the Willa Cather National Statuary Hall Selection Committee is due.
The Cather group is seeking another organization to take ownership of the Morton statue before it leaves the U.S. Capitol to be replaced by Cather.
The Friends of Arbor Lodge has pledged $2,000 toward the statue relocation, and another citizen has pledged $100, said Pam Frana, who heads the committee.
The committee is looking at three possible sites for the statue: the west side of the Otoe County Courthouse, the Morton-James Public Library, or the Lied Lodge and Conference Center.

Frana said donations to the project can be made through the Friends of Arbor Lodge, which is a 501c3 organization.
Future fundraising plans may include penny drives at Nebraska City schools after the holidays or a GoFundMe account, said Frana.
The Morton statue stands almost 10 feet tall and weighs almost 3 tons. The statue is made of bronze, and its pedestal is Lynchburg marble.
Morton and another prominent Nebraskan, William Jennings Bryan, were immortalized in bronze in the 1930s by sculptor Rudolph Evans.
Bryan was replaced at the Capitol earlier this year with a statue of Chief Standing Bear by sculptor Benjamin Victor.
 The Bryan statue went to Seward, where it is on display at the National Guard Museum.
At the presentation of the sculptures on April 27, 1937, Evans said he felt as if “I were saying good-bye to members of my family.”
Evans knew Morton and credited his “kind manner and encouraging words” with making the sculptor’s job easier when Evans created a bust of Morton.
Evans also sculpted the Morton statue in Arbor Lodge State Historical Park.
In 2018, members of the Nebraska Unicameral decided to replace Morton and Bryan with Chief Standing Bear and author Willa Cather, who were the two most popular Nebraskans in a poll taken during the state’s 150th birthday in 2017.