Happy Flag Day, June 14, 2019!
In honor of Flag Day we are featuring a 38-star flag from the Pope County Museum collection. The flag was donated
to the museum by Wencil Kalina of Lake Reno without a lot of detail. However, in the history of flags, the 38-star flag turns out to have a cool local story! Read on:
From the Glenwood Herald, Thursday, June 19, 1919
Local School Has First Flag. Glenwood School Board Buys Flag For School September 3, 1889, First in State. An article about the flag in the schools of Minnesota appeared in the last Sunday’s issue of the Minneapolis Tribune, were Glenwood is mentioned as the place where the public school board first procured a flag for its school house in Minnesota. The article mentions Mr. Luth Jaeger as the man who first began the agitation for flags and flag staffs for every public school in Minnesota. Mr. Jaeger began the publication of a weekly newspaper called “The North” which was to circulate, as the Tribune says, “largely among the readers of Scandinavian blood with a view to interpreting American ideals to them.” Mr. Jaeger began an agitation in this newspaper for a flag for every school. He wrote some very strong editorials advocating this move, but as far as Minneapolis was concerned it produced no results. But Glenwood was awake and became the first village in Minnesota to follow the advice. We quote the following from the Tribune: “The editorial produced no immediate result in Minneapolis. The Board of Education of the time sat tight. However, communities around the state were interested. Glenwood and Anoka led off with fair promptness in supplying their schools with flags. The Glenwood school board voted on September 3, 1889, to buy a flag for the high school.” It would have been interesting to know who the members of the Glenwood school board were at the time, but we have been unable to get their names.
Pope County Museum research reveals the following school board members for the 1889-1890 school year: J. Crozier, chairman; Tory Thorson, Treasurer; M.A. Wollan, Clerk; J.E. Gillman, Supt.
It was M.A. Wollan who brought attention to the action of the Glenwood School Board with an editorial to Luth Jaeger of The North:
To the Editor of The Journal. In your issue of yesterday you mention Anoka as being the first city in Minnesota to adopt the suggestion to display the star and stripes on its school building. This may be true, and it may not. At a meeting of the board of education of this city, held Sept. 3,1889, a resolution was adopted ordering the purchase of a flag for the high school building, and a few days later the stars and stripes were seen floating in the breeze over the school building. Unless the board of education of Anoka can show that it did at an earlier date order up the flag, this city will claim the honor of being the first.
M. A. WOLLAN, Glenwood, Oct. 29, 1889
The United States flag added the 38th star with the entrance of Colorado to the union on August 1, 1876. This flag remained the official flag until 1890 when the 43-star flag was adopted. Four states joined the union in November 1889: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington. Statehood was pending in Idaho by the end of 1889 so a 42-star flag was not produced. Instead, the 43-star flag was officially adopted with the entrance of Idaho to the union on July 3, 1890. This apparent “abundance of caution” may have stemmed from production of a 39-star flag in 1889 anticipating statehood of South Dakota, but when five states joined the union in close succession, the 39-star flag was not officially adopted. Happy Flag Day, and congratulations to Glenwood (and Anoka) for leading the state in displaying the flag at our public schools!