Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Proud of that ragged old (1860) flag ...

Looks like it's going to be a great day, thank goodness, for the Lucas County Historical Society's ice cream social --- predicted high of 80, sunny skies. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., ice cream will be served from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Pioneer Barn and Civil War-era music begins on the patio at 7 p.m. All free.

Inside the Lewis Building, we've set up a special display of Civil War-related artifacts, including this grand old flag (I took these photos a couple of years ago; it's arranged differently now). It's a little raggedy, but you would be, too, if you were 155 years old. Because of its fragility, it's rarely on display --- instead, carefully wrapped in tissue paper and folded into its own archival box.

The year was 1860 and a Republican party rally was scheduled that summer in Chariton --- the exact date has vanished with time. Abraham Lincoln had been nominated as the party's candidate for president in Chicago during May. His election during November would give southern states the excuse they needed to secede, rend the union and set off the Civil War.

Each of Lucas County's townships would send a delegation to march in the rally parade and out in Liberty Township, five women were hand-sewing this flag of cotton and silk. They were Eliza (Dillman) Sydebotham, Sarah Hollingsworth, Elvira Bidlake, Mary Ferguson and Mary Curtis.

Their creation, which won a prize as the biggest flag carried in the rally parade by a township delegration, is 100 by 42 inches. Its 34 hand-cut stars were stitched onto a background of blue silk, arranged in two circles with one at each corner and a larger star in the center.

The stars and stripes have held up remarkably well --- the blue silk has not. It has faded and shredded and the stars are barely holding on. But it's amazing that it has survived at all. 

The flag was cared for until 1967 by Lucas County Republican Women, then passed on to the historical society. It will go back into safe storage later this week --- after we've carefully replaced the now-rusty pins inserted more than 50 years ago that hold some of the stars in place.

So come on out, if you can, to see the flag and other war-related artifacts, have some ice cream and enjoy the music on the patio by Sharon Seuferer and Carol Oliver, who have prepared a special program of tunes from the Civil War era. Sharon and Carol and friends perform widely, they've favored us with music during previous ice cream socials and we're really looking forward to hearing them this evening.

After Lincoln was elected during November of 1860, seven southern states seceded before his inauguration. The rest, as they say, is history.

No comments: