The People's Tribune

Confederate Flag To Be Featured At Louisiana Museum Opening

A highly anticipated exhibit will help the Louisiana Area Historical Museum kick off its silver anniversary season May 27.

A preserved Confederate battle flag, once owned by a Civil War soldier from Pike County, will go on permanent display along the south wall of the museum’s main room. The “First Flag of the Confederacy” will be featured with a 33-star U.S. flag from the same era.

Museum Board President Judy Schmidt, who took the reins from Martha Sue Smith after  Smith’s quarter-century of service, spent three years researching the flag’s history and taking steps to keep it intact for further generations.

“The museum is dedicated to preserving and displaying all artifacts, especially those with a local connection, so that historically significant relics can be studied and enjoyed by our visitors,” she said. “The flag and its accompanying exhibits tell the story of a young man’s four years of service, and how the conflict affected his life and life in Northeast Missouri.”

The flag has been preserved as is. It is called the ”First Flag of the Confederacy” because it features the original of three successive Southern flag designs – 12 stars in a circle with a larger 13th star in the middle, representing the Confederate States of America.

Missouri and Kentucky, the last two states that declared allegiance to the South, are represented. The stars were cut from a pattern and glued on.

The restoration began May 25, 2016, and took about four months. It was professionally done by John Martin, owner of Creative Art Services in St. Louis.

The flag was straightened flat on museum-quality linen and each single stitch was sewn through an old existing stitch, knotted through the backing, and thread ends taped down. It was single-tacked every inch or inch and a half. Archival framing was added.

The ensign was donated to the museum by former Louisiana resident Dan Strode of New London. He bought it from the estate of Edna McDannold, who was the granddaughter of Confederate soldier Samuel O. Minor.

In 1862, Minor enlisted with Company D of the 1st Northeast Missouri Cavalry under the command of Col. Joseph C. Porter.

Union forces considered Porter’s men traitors and guerillas, but the 1st Cavalry gained a lot of sympathy from Northeast Missouri residents – many of whom emigrated from the South or were related to people who had. Battles fought by Minor’s outfit and other recollections can be found in Joseph A. Mudd’s 1909 book “With Porter in North Missouri,” which is available free online at www.archive.org.

The Confederacy used the first flag until 1863, when the more commonly recognized St. Andrew’s Cross pattern featuring stars and bars was adopted. In battle, the original sometimes caused confusion because it looked too much like a Union pennon.

Minor brought the cotton flag home with him to Pike County after the war. It was taken off its staff and hung upside down, a sign of distress or surrender.

Minor passed along his own recollections of military service in a Louisiana newspaper article on Aug. 4, 1931, three years before he died.

A grant from the Missouri Humanities Council in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as local donations, paid for the work.

Only a handful of people have seen the refurbished banner, which is 34 inches tall and 58 inches long, so excitement is building in advance of its display at the museum.

As part of winter renovations, additional security has been added at the museum, 304 Georgia Street. A public reception is planned from 2-4 p.m. May 27. Museum admission is free, but donations are always welcome.

Schmidt looks forward to the celebration and hopes others will look into what the past can offer families today. After all, such searches can lead to new discoveries.

“Most of us have a family history from the Civil War,” she said. “One ‘captured informant’ from Knox County was released because all his captors enjoyed playing euchre with him. My family from Knox County has played euchre for generations. I have enjoyed very much following the side stories.”

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