Silver-Haired Men and Women Central Figures at Wandamere Celebration.



Silver-haired men and women—a pathetically small band—who had taken part in the long wanderings of the Mormon believers in search of Zion, were honored yesterday at the Flag Day celebration at Wandamere of the Nauvoo Legion, the Daughters of Pioneers, the Daughters of the Mormon Battalion and the Daughters of the Revolution.

Before the exercises in the dancing pavilion and at intervals during the addresses of the speakers, veterans of the Nauvoo Legion made “Old Sow,” the cannon which figures prominently in the history of the legion, “snort.”  Fifteen shots were fired in honor of the nation’s flag. The veterans who fired the salute were under the command of Captain George Tall. James Solomon was gun captain; Joseph B. Lyon and George F. Brooks were gunners; William Keddington was powder man, and John D. Airmet was standard bearer.

“That cannon was in the Revolutionary war,” said Captain Tall, between the roars, as the old gun belched forth its charges of grass and old newspapers.  “I have been asked if I am not afraid to set it off, but I am not a bit afraid. I tested the old cannon before bringing it out here.

“We call the cannon ‘ Old Sow’ because we had to bury it when the Mormons were ordered to disarm. An old sow uncovered it while rooting about for tidbits for her litter of little pigs. So we called the gun ‘Old Sow.'”

                                    Calls Picture a Burlesque.

Mrs. Emmeline B. Wells gave an unexpected turn to the exercises of the day by taking exception to the remarks of Mrs. Julia Farnsworth and by declaring that the picture of Joseph Smith used in the printed matter of the Nauvoo Legion was a burlesque.

Mrs. Farnsworth, in her address, gave a history of Flag day and then spoke of the appointment of George Washington to the command of the colonial troops, quoting Dr. Lathrop of Harvard, who said that the choosing of Washington was the grandest thing in history, after the story of Jesus Christ, contained in the gospels.

Mrs. Farnsworth descends from some of the men who took a brilliant part in the revolutionary period.

Mrs. Wells, in opening her remarks, said that she, too, had descended from revolutionary stock. Men of her family, she said, had taken part, not only in the Revolutionary war, but in the War of 1812, and in all of the other wars of the nation.

But, she said, the grandest sight she ever saw was on beholding the prophet, Joseph Smith, at Nauvoo. She thought that, after Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith was the chief figure in history.

Then she picked up one of the folders of the Nauvoo Legion.

“This picture,” she said, “which is supposed to be that of Prophet Joseph Smith, is a burlesque.”

At the time Mrs. Wells was standing upon a chair, supported by Mrs. Susan Young Gates, who presided over the exercises. Mrs. Gates had her arm about Mrs. Wells’ waist and, at the outspoken words, whispered something.

Mrs. Wells smiled sweetly, but there was a resolute look in her eyes.

The Battalion Flag.

“Mrs. Gates tells me that what I have said is perfectly terrible.” said Mrs. Wells.  “She has asked me to say something pleasant. But what I have said is true.  Joseph Smith never did look like that picture. It is a burlesque.”

And she lifted the offending picture in the air. In it the Mormon prophet was shown in a general’s uniform and mounted upon a prancing horse. His arm was extended in a gesture of military command.

Suspended in the pavilion were the flag of the Mormon battalion and the first flag ever made which contained the Utah star. It was from its flag that the Mormon battalion became known as the “rams,” or men who had offered themselves as a sacrifice, the suggestion having been taken from the picture of Abraham’s sacrifice. The first flag with the Utah star is the property of former Governor Heber M. Wells.

The exercises opened with the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” by Horace Ensign, the chorus being taken up by everybody present. As the chorus was sung small American flags were waved in the air.

Mrs. T.A. Clawson was the first speaker. She told the history of the Mormon battalion, which, she said, was composed of the “pick and flower of the Mormon people.”  She was followed by Mrs. Farnsworth, Mrs. Wells, and William Brown, secretary of the Nauvoo Legion.

Aged Survivors Rise.

A solo was sung by Miss Winifred Smith, accompanied by her sister, Miss Virginia Smith. Both are great-granddaughters of Amanda Smith of Haun’s Mill fame.

At the close of the addresses Mrs. Gates asked those to rise who were at Mount Pisgah in 1846, when the government call for the Mormon battalion was received. Out of the crowd stepped a few aged men and women. They were: Thomas Dunn, the only member of the original battalion present; Harrison Sperry, Samuel W. Richards, Henry Horn, Job Smith, Mrs. Emmeline B. Wells, Mrs. Sophronia Moore Martin, Mrs. Margaret Oakley Best, Mrs. Juliette Phelps Pratt and Mrs. Almira Lamb Hardy.

The exercises ended with a march around the pavilion by the pioneers and the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of the early settlers of the state.

[Transcribed by Shannon Devenport and Pat Bishop; Apr. 2012]

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