Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Houston History Mystery #2: The case of the missing flagstaff

In 1919, Houstonians had a reason to be festive.

On May 13, throngs of residents welcomed home 151 men of the 117th Supply Train, part of the 42nd Infantry Division, at Union Station.

“When the first blast of the train sounded as it hove into sight mothers, wives and sweethearts, of their own accord, took the arrangements in their own hands. They stormed the barricades set up by the police and with one grand, mad onslaught they thronged through the gates and into the enclosure where the train had stopped. And thereupon a wild rush of greeting ensued,” Houston Post reporter J.F. Carter Jr. wrote.

The men of the 117th Supply Train were part of the Texas National Guard, mustered into federal service on August 5, 1917, to fight in World War I. As part of the 42nd Division, the men fought in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and in the Argonne.

From Union Station, the soldiers were led on a parade down Crawford, then Capitol, then Fannin, north to Franklin, then Main, down to Texas Avenue and finally stopping at the city auditorium.

“The route of the parade was strewn with roses and national colors were conspicuous on almost every business establishment and residence. Traffic for the while was suspended and every point of vantage, whether it was in a tree or on the housetop, was occupied with onlookers,” Carter wrote.

Three months later, thousands showed up to mark the dedication of the Victory Flagstaff, erected in honor of World War I veterans.

“No greater response could be asked, and no more patriotism shown than when the vast crowd cheered and sang,” according to a WWI booklet (available here, PDF) from 1919.

The base of the flagstaff reads:

“Erected in recognition of our heroes who served in the world war for liberty, 1914-1918”

The booklet makes no mention of where the flagstaff was erected. One presumed location was Camp Logan, or where Memorial Park is now. But an official with The Memorial Park Conservancy says the flagstaff isn’t located there.

Maybe it was placed outside City Hall, where Market Square is today?

If anyone knows where it is located, please share!

Meanwhile, the search continues in our other missing piece of Houston history.



At 9:22 PM, Blogger Jason said...

It was probably demolished like every other landmark here.

At 10:11 PM, Blogger J.R.G. said...

I wouldn't be surprised. I can't understand why someone would want to toss a memorial flagstaff, though.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Subdude said...

I think this might have been set up in the middle of Main St. A few years ago when the light rail was under construction, a large concrete block was found when Main was being dug up. It was a mystery what the block was for, but as I remember it was eventually found to be the foundation for a large flagstaff. Obviously, due to the location the flagstaff itself did not remain in use for very long.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger J.R.G. said...

I remember that. Some speculated that it could have been some kind of traffic device. I didn't know it was a foundation for a flagstaff. Well, speculating that it was the WWI memorial flagstaff, it still doesn't answer the question as to what happened to it!

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Bill Morris said...

Out in the middle of Main Street, at the Texas Ave. intersection, sat a raised, concrete platform, on which stood a City of Houston Police Officer, directing traffic.


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