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The Souvenir of Western Women/Raising the Flag Over a Northwest Schoolhouse

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Raising the Flag Over a Northwest School House

By DR. N. J. A. SIMONS

THE WAR was at an end. We were a school of patriots. The Fourth of July was coming. I conceived the plan to purchase a flag and have it raised over my school house that day. I wrote out a subscription paper, and in a short time I had $40, with which we bought a nice, large bunting flag ready for the celebration. The following is a copy of the subscription paper:

"We do hereby promise to pay to the bearer the sum of money we affix to our names subscribed herein for the purpose of purchasing a flag for the Delta school house, to be held as its property."

The glorious Fourth of 1866 came. The sun rose in all his glory; a stiff breeze was blowing and it would not be a hot day. The people were full of the spirit of patriotism. The purchasing of the flag had aroused them, and for the first time in the history of that little valley they were to celebrate the Fourth of July.

I had secured Rev. H. H. Spalding, who was passing through that part, to act as chaplain on this great occasion. Father Spalding, as he was familiarly known, was sent out thirty years before as a missionary to the Nez Perce Indians by the Presbyterian Board of Missions. He had written out his prayer on separate sheets of paper, and while he was offering the petition the wind whisked one of the sheets away out of reach, but the prayer went on, and we felt sure the Lord knew the blessings asked for on that piece of paper, and we doubted not that they were answered.

Our schoolroom was small, so stakes were set in the ground near by on which rails were laid and then a covering of fir boughs. This arbor covered a space large enough to accommodate all the friends who came. Including my pupils, 150 people were present. My little melodeon served as an instrument to accompany the singing, and it was as grand to the assembled people as if it had been a pipe organ.

The order of exercises held on the Fourth of July, 1866, at the raising of the flag over the school house by pupils of the Delta Academy, under the direction of the teacher, Mrs. N. J. A. Simons, was, in part, as follows:

Prayer by Rev. H. H. Spalding.

Singing, "America," by the young ladies.

Raising the flag, by the teacher and pupils.

Reading of Declaration of Independence, by Mr. Looney Bond.

Singing, "Star Spangled Banner," by the school.

Reading, "History of the Flag," by Melissa Cox.

After the exercises were over we had a picnic dinner under the arbor. I doubt not that some of these children, now gray haired and heads of families, can recall this glorious Fourth and repeat the story to their children of the raising of this flag, the first to wave over a school building in the Pacific Northwest.

(Mrs. Simons, the leading spirit and chief actor in this little drama, well worthy to be chronicled as a part of our Northwest history, is yet living, bright and active. Though for years totally blind, upon the walls of her memory glow the pictures of the past and in her heart, still sing the same sweet songs of love for country, God and humanity. Her days are full of work and helpfulness, though sightless her eyes. Through a device of her own inventing she is enabled to write very legibly, and wrote with her own hand the foregoing article. She also does wood carving and makes portfolios of leather. Not the least of her helpfulness is her sunny, contented spirit, which surmounts her affliction and radiates into the heart of every one who finds way into her delightful presence; to these she is a lesson and a benediction.—M. O. D.)


ROBERTS BROTHERS' DEPARTMENT STORE

Souvenir of Western Women 0124 Roberts Brothers.png

The marvelous growth of this house speaks volumes for the possibilities of Oregon and the Northwest. In the short space of fourteen years this firm has grown from a very small beginning to one of the leading department stores of the Pacific Coast. Their new store building on the corner of Third and Morrison streets occupies a central position in the city, and is one of the most modern equipped in the West. Their method of doing business has won the confidence of their patrons, and their large and commodious quarters are always filled with buyers.