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Raise the Flag (1908-Present)

Welcome back, Monroe history lovers. This week’s history is both educational and patriotic in nature and takes us to all seven districts in Monroe. They are: Monroe Centre, East Village, Walkers Farm, Elm Street, Cutlers Farm’s, Birdsey’s Plain and Stepney. In our earliest days of formal education, each aforementioned district maintained their own schoolhouse. We’ll start our journey over in Birdsey’s Plain, which for those of you who may be unaware, is referred to today as Upper Stepney.

In the early 1900s, Americans were enjoying a wave of patriotism, which was considered a very high priority in their children’s education. It was during this era that each of Monroe’s district schoolhouses was fitted with a proper flagpole, either on the school property or affixed directly to the schoolhouse. Raising the Stars and Stripes above the schoolhouse was a celebrated event for the entire class. Our town’s schoolhouses also doubled as meeting places for public patriotic events, religious revivals, and temperance meetings.

Today’s supporting article from 1908, tells of a patriotic Civil War veteran named George Coley, and his generous donation of a flag to be flown above the Birdsey’s Plain schoolhouse on Hattertown Road. This schoolhouse still stands today as a private residence. The first supporting vintage photograph shows this very schoolhouse and the flagpole that was installed to fly Old Glory in 1908. I’ve also included vintage photographs of the schoolhouses at Walker’s Farm, Elm Street and Monroe Center. These were selected to highlight the variety of their flagpoles.

Today, the society’s one-room schoolhouse, located on Wheeler Road, was transplanted to its current location from its original home in East Village. Restored by a group of dedicated society volunteers, it was opened to the public in 1973, the year of Monroe’s Sesquicentennial celebration. For over 50 years, this early schoolhouse experience has delighted young and old, allowing them to step back in time for a day and experience an education from yesteryear. That experience has always included the honor of the teacher and children raising our flag over the schoolhouse. I have my own fond childhood memories of this experience and I’d bet many of you do as well.

Recently, it was discovered that the tapered upper portion of the flagpole has broken away and our flag can no longer be raised. The flagpole appears to be made from a skinned evergreen tree. It has served us well for over a half century but is now in need of replacement. Do any of you have the resources and skills to help us replace it, either by donating your time and materials, or by presenting us with a formal quote? We are very interested in replacing the pole with a similar rustic design. Although much easier and convenient, we’re not interested in installing a modern metal flagpole as it wouldn’t suit the c.1790 era of the schoolhouse. Please contact the society if you can help us in any way. Thank you.

I hope you enjoy this week’s spotlight on the history of patriotism and flying Old Glory at Monroe’s schools. Of course, every school today has a flagpole but it’s nice to learn when this tradition first took place in our town. If you have a fond memory of our one-room schoolhouse, please share it in a comment. We’d love to hear about it. Also, Please share this important Monroe education and patriotic history with your family and friends. As always, thank you for your continued support and interest in Monroe’s rich history. And, if you can, please help us raise the flag once again. Until next time, I pledge allegiance…


Kevin Daly
Historian, Monroe Historical Society
Our Past is Always Present

1 - Coley Flag 1908-09-04.jpg
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