Cenizo Journal Fall 2021 - Page 27

HB51 , as it ’ s known , is unlikely to get Senate approval . Previous efforts to make Puerto Rico a state have also failed . A number of prognosticators , however , suggest that by the end of this decade , our flag will have fifty-two stars . Imagine what that blue field might look like .
Interestingly , the Overland Trail Museum has a replica of an older version of the Stars and Stripes worthy , in its own right , of recognition . This is the 40-star period ( or parade ) flag of 1889 , recognized by historians as the second most rare of all U . S . flags ( Amazon lists its least expensive original at $ 1700 ). Called “ America ’ s Dakotas ” flag , it was designed to celebrate the addition of North and South Dakota into the Union . Very few of these flags were made and fewer survived because it was the “ official ” flag for less than a week .
Prior to November 2 , 1889 , our nation ’ s flag design had 38 stars , one for each state as established by an earlier Congressional act . Citizens of various territories awaiting admission to the Union assumed the movement toward that end would be slow and gradual , but Congress decided to expedite matters . Grover Cleveland signed legislation to begin the process to admit four territories as new states . The expectation was that the Dakotas would come in as one state , so production of a 39-star flag was well underway . Politics got in the way , though , as both territories wanted autonomy . So on that November date , then-President Benjamin Harrison signed the entry of two states , South Dakota first by the luck of the draw although the order was never recorded . Suddenly , what had been a 38-star flag became a 40-star one .
But the drama wasn ’ t over . Six days later Montana came in , followed in three days by Washington ; as of July 4 , 1890 , the official entry date of new states to the Union , the flag would have fielded 42 stars . But on July 10th
Benjamin Harrison approved a bill admitting both Wyoming and Idaho . Within a little more than six months there existed the possibility of five different U . S . flags based on the addition of stars .
But back to that 40-star flag . In the room at the Overland Trail Museum that was County Judge Nick Mersfelder ’ s courtroom hangs a 40-star replica made to near-exact specifications . It measures 6 feet by 12 feet but otherwise has correct proportions . Its existence is attributed to Adelaida ( Adalinda ) Morales Fernandez , stepdaughter of W . H . Tinkham and wife of Otis Keesey . She was well known as an exceptional seamstress . Upon the couple ’ s divorce and Otis ’ s death , the flag became the property of Harold Thompson , executor of the Keesey estate , who later gave it to the Fort Davis Historical Society . But not before a mini-scandal of sorts . The top right-hand corner of the flag has an 8-inch by 12-inch replacement sewn into the stripes area . Its red color is definitely brighter than the color of the original stripes . The story goes that two of Thompson ’ s daughters wanted remnants to make doll clothes . Their mother had scraps of material in a burlap bag . Another burlap bag beside it held the flag . Does anything else need to be said ? As a side note , each of the girls blamed the other , and the culprit was never named .
Visit the Museum and take a look at this near-forgotten part of U . S . history .
Also on display is a Spanish language Bible with the interior page inscription , “ Otis Keesey married to Adelaida Fernandez August 22 , 1872 , Fort Davis ,” perhaps suggesting that it was a wedding present to Adelaida .
Cenizo Fall 2021