In 1918 America was at war and many Daviess County boys were overseas fighting for our nation’s freedom. On the home front, it was near the years of many bank failures and the many dry harvest years of the Great Depression. During this time of strife, a few local people decided something patriotic should be done. Some thought a large flag should be erected, a flag that could be seen from a distance.
Naturally, there was some disagreement as to where the new flag should be located. Some believed it should be on the courthouse building; others wanted a flagpole so that the flag could rest or flutter in the breeze. A new flagpole would allow the raising or lowering the flag by ceremony whereas a flag on the courthouse building would not. Governor Dockery felt that erecting a steel pole would be best, but whatever the choice, he offered a small donation to help initiate the project.
Finally, the decision was made to erect a flagpole in the courthouse lawn near the south side of the sidewalk at the east entrance to the courthouse. The pole was to be 75 or 100 feet tall. The expense was estimated at $150. The pole was to be set in a large block of cement at a depth of 8 to 10 feet in the ground. Donations ranged from 25 cents to $25 until the sum of $157 was tallied — and then the estimated cost for the project increased to $175.
The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) contributed an 18’x20′ flag for the pole. Preparations were made for the first flag raising on May 21, 1918, but the ceremony was later postponed until Independence Day, July 4th.
Excitement that day was tinged with remorse over a few of Daviess County’s soldiers who couldn’t be in attendance. Many patriotic songs were played by a band, and people sang with the music. A highlight was a reading of “Who Named Old Glory” by an 8-year-old girl. Prior to the flag raising, over 300 children — each carrying a small flag — marched around the square. Once the crowd reassembled, the pastor of Gallatin First Baptist Church presented the flag and the crowd sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
This event attracted one of the biggest crowds to Gallatin in many years. People came from great distances to witness the flagraising. There was an estimated 500 cars competing for parking spaces around town. The cars were parked three deep in places, and the public square and side streets were so packed that the traffic congestion made problems for pedestrians to walk down streets.
— researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin