Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College will unveil the newly restored Middletown Flag and its new exhibit, Our Cause is Just: The Hawes Family during the Civil War on February 12.
The new exhibit features the Hawes Collection, an impressive collection of correspondence written by the Hawes Family during the Civil War and preserved for generations before it was donated to Lincoln Heritage Museum in 2012 by James and Joanne Hawes of Atlanta, Illinois.
The 112 letters contained in the Hawes Collection provide first-hand accounts from numerous battles, including Fort Donelson and the Siege of Vicksburg, as well as family gossip from back home, and the family’s thoughts on Abraham Lincoln, General Grant and several other significant figures. The letters are filled with emotion; they relay the joy of Lincoln’s re-election in 1864, and the shock of his assassination. The exhibit also contains artifacts from the Civil War, including a Union jacket, and a sword-cane originally belonging to a Confederate soldier and later presented to one of the Hawes soldiers.
The restored Middletown Flag will also make its debut on Lincoln’s birthday. The Middletown Flag was hand sewn by women from Middletown, adorned the Atlanta, Illinois Wide Awakes parade float during the August 8, 1860 Wide Awakes rally for presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. Upon commencement of the parade, the flag was stored in a horse stable at the Illinois State Fairgrounds where a group of men came across it while preparing a buggy for candidate Lincoln. The Middletown Flag was then draped across Lincoln's seat and over his shoulders as he made his way across the fairgrounds to speak to the crowd.
The Lincoln Heritage Museum acquired the Middletown Flag in 1993. In 2020 the Flag was restored by Textile Conservation Services in Indianapolis, IN. In order to display the large flag, local artist and furniture maker, Jason Hoffman, built a massive display case for Lincoln Heritage Museum. Hoffman and his crew from Hoffman Design Studios custom built the case based on the Museum’s specifications. The fabric backing of the flag, added by Textile Conservation Services, was then secured to the display case by the Logan County quilting guild, Quilters at Heart.
“The Middletown Flag was prepared for display in the same way that it was created in 1860, by a group of Logan County women sitting in a circle, discussing current events and gossip while working together to complete the sewing project,” Interim Lincoln Heritage Museum Director Olivia Partlow states. “Having local, Logan County women take part in the preservation of the Middletown Flag was truly the perfect ending to this restoration project.”
Lincoln Heritage Museum is open Tuesday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information please visit Lincoln Heritage Museum’s website at https://museum.lincolncollege.edu/.