The Hastings Pioneer Room (located in City Hall) has an unusual flag on display. It is a GAR flag, dating from the 1880s. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was one of the country’s earliest …
The Hastings Pioneer Room (located in City Hall) has an unusual flag on display. It is a GAR flag, dating from the 1880s.
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was one of the country’s earliest veteran’s organizations, forming in 1866. It was initially composed of veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Hundreds of local community posts formed across the nation and at its height it had over 400,000 members who promoted certain political goals.
The GAR was a big supporter of the establishment of Memorial Day (initially called Decoration Day), a day established to pay tribute to war casualties, missing-in-action and deceased veterans. Local units would also pursue local objectives such as the establishment of the Soldiers and Sailors Cemetery in Hastings. Soldiers and Sailors Cemetery, located across the street from Lakeside Cemetery, is a half-acre plot purchased in 1905 by Peller Post 89 GAR (Hastings) for the burial of soldiers and sailors of the Civil War and the Spanish American War.
In Hastings, a local post of the GAR was organized on Sept. 7, 1866 with 31 charter members.
Membership in the GAR began to swell in the mid-1880s, reaching their peak membership by 1890. In 1884 the local unit reorganized and over 100 members enlisted. At that time the unit was named in honor of John Peller, a recently deceased veteran who served in Company A of the First Minnesota. Peller Post #89 of the GAR held regular meetings and even published a newsletter, The Bugle Call, beginning in January 1886. The Pioneer Room has xerox copies of the membership sign-up sheets in their records.
The GAR Flag in the Pioneer Room is framed under glass; it measures approximately 40”x19”. It is partially printed and partially hand painted. At the top of the fabric panel a black and yellow eagle is printed; at the bottom of the panel is a circle with “Grand Army of the Republic 1861 Veteran 1866” printed with four human figures at the center of the circle. An American flag with 13 stars is painted in the center of the panel. The flag is yellowed overall and there are various discolorations throughout the flag. A fabric conserver was consulted for an estimate of what steps would need to be done to reduce the yellowing and preserve the flag. Because the flag contains printed and painted sections this will impact what techniques can be used on the flag. After its refurbishment it needs to be archivally framed to increase circulation and prevent further damage. The conserver’s initial estimate was close to $2000 which did not include the actual frame. An estimated additional $500 would be needed for an archival frame.
The Pioneer Room is accepting tax-deductible donations for the preservation of this textile. Checks can be made out to Pioneer Room and mailed to City Hall at 104 East Fourth Street, Hastings, 55033.
The GAR was dissolved in 1956 at the death of its last member, Albert Woolson of Duluth, MN.