Business News Update: Elmer's Flag and Banner
While watching "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater on the night of April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head from behind by dissident John Wilkes Booth. Military physician Charles Leale and another nearby doctor helped Lincoln to the floor and used Dr. Leale's handkerchief to cushion Lincoln's head as it rested in actress Laura Keene's lap. Stage actor and manager Thomas Gourlay retrieved a 36-star flag, folded it, and placed it under Lincoln's head as he lay dying.
So, what then happened to the flag? When Lincoln was transported across the street, Gourlay recovered the blood-soaked flag. Upon his death he willed it to his daughter who moved to Milford, Pennsylvania. It was donated to the Milford Historical Society in 1954.
I grew up in Milford and attended a small elementary school there. As a treat for her "star pupils," my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. McKay took me and classmate Susan into an off-limits attic to show us something remarkable.
Inside an old trunk was a loosely folded, very old American flag. The stars were hand-cut and hand-sewn onto the blue field and, as she unfurled it, dark brown stains were revealed. We knew it was blood. Mrs. McKay had taught us about Lincoln's assassination, and we knew the story of the Lincoln Flag. Together Susan and I asked, "Is that the actual flag?" Indeed, it was.
Today, the Lincoln Flag is housed in the Pike County Historical Society. Though oral history can often be peppered with half-truths, Joseph E. Garrera, President of the Lincoln Group, has authenticated the flag.
Visit Elmer's Flag and Banner and let us show you our flags, though maybe not as remarkable as the one I saw as a child.
Elmer's Flag and Banner
1332 N.E. Broadway, Portland
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