Monday, April 29, 2019

American flag that flew over Lincoln mourners in 1865 dedicated at Ohio Statehouse

The flag is 22 feet long and 9 feet high (Ohio Statehouse)
A large US flag that was among several that flew over Ohio’s Capitol Square during the April 1865 repose of President Abraham Lincoln was dedicated Monday morning in Columbus.

The family of David Nevin Murray of Portsmouth, Ohio, whose foundry and machine shop produced cannon balls for the Federal army, donated the 22 feet by 9 feet banner to the state in 2016. Murray was presented the flag for his contributions to the war effort.

The dedication in the Ohio Statehouse rotunda was held on the 154th anniversary of the eight-hour repose of Lincoln’s remains following his assassination. The Statehouse was draped in black crepe on April 29, 1865, when thousands filed by the president's coffin.

This 36-star flag, made of wool bunting, was among several that flew in the square in Columbus for the solemn occasion. It will return for further conservation after its display for several hours Monday.

Burt Logan, executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection, told the audience that the flag is an important part of the state's history. But it saw happier times following the national mourning. In subsequent years, the family would allow the banner to fly at special events and be used in parades.

Conservators said 22,000 stitches were used to stabilize the massive flag.

Columbus was along the route of the Lincoln funeral train that left Washington, D.C. and passed through seven states, culminating near his Springfield, Illinois, home on May 4 for burial, according to NBC4.

"It is estimated that 50,000 mourners turned out at Capitol Square for the repose of Lincoln," Chris Matheney, historic site manager at the Ohio Statehouse, told the station.

This banner is one of the five depicted here (Library of Congress)
Mary Van Tilburg and other descendants of Murray donated the flag to the Ohio History Center. It had flown during numerous events following Lincoln's death but ended up in a Tyson chicken cardboard box in Oklahoma for 45 years before the family decided to have it returned to Ohio.

“I am just so grateful that it is OK and back home in Ohio where it belongs,” Van Tilburg said in 2016, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Conservators said at the time that the flag was in remarkable shape, though it needed some repairs.

Emma Lou Normand, a great-great granddaughter of Murray, spoke Monday on behalf of the family. "This beautiful Old Glory ... I think of family. Family that have gone on before, that are here today." She said David Nevin Murray came from Scotland and worked hard at his foundry and machine shop. To old to go to war, Murray "wasn't too old to serve."

The 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery A, a group of Civil War re-enactors, will provide an honor guard in the rotunda for a replica of Lincoln’s casket from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday.

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