Poland Center, Mahoning Co., Ohio was as prominent a place in the year 1868. The reason was that it was located near the center of Poland Township, and all township elections were held there, making it the political center of the district and a popular and general meeting place. It was also an educational center. The Public School, a brick building, containing two rooms, was located on the North-East corner of the Public Square and employed two teachers. Some of the most prominent men of the State and Nation received their early education at this little brick school house. During the winter term all the children up to eighteen years of age, within a radius of two miles, attended this school.
It was also a Church center. The United Presbyterian Church, organized in 1804, stood on the South-East corner of the Public Square, across from the Cemetery, and was considered the religious center of the community. On the South-West corner of the Public Square was the famous “Magill Tavern” dating back to around 1800. Early in the 1860’s it was purchased by Sarah Lowry and her son Robert and used by them as their residence. On the North-West corner of the Public Square was the residence of William Stewart Lowry. He operated a meat market, was the Squire. The Post Office was located in his residence and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Lowry, was the Post Mistress.
At the time of General Grant’s first election to the Presidency in 1868, Canfield was the County Seat of Mahoning County, Ohio. At an organization meeting of the Republicans of the County, held at Canfield, it was decided to hold a Republican rally in Wick’s Grove, Youngstown, Ohio, near where the First Presbyterian Church now stands on Wick Avenue. A large mounted eight by twelve foot flag was offered as a prize for the best delegation to that rally. Poland Center got up a very spectacular delegation and won the large mounted “Silk Flag”. They had a long wagon with high sides, seating thirty-eight (38) ladies. Each lady representing one of the thirty-eight (38) states of the United States at that time. The names of the thirty-eight (38) ladies representing the different states were:
Martha Nesbitt Martha McNabb Jennie McCombs Julia Truesdale
Nancy Slavin Rebecca Smith Margaret Davis Rachel Anderson
Laura Dupes Agnes Stewart Mary Ann Smith Marion Sturgeon
Kate Lowry Rachel Cowden Alice Cracraft Margaret Guthrie
Mary Quine Della Ralston Mary McConnell Elizabeth Dobbins
Nancy Nesbitt Lida Cavett Mary Jane Robb Elizabeth A. Lowry
Emma Reed Marie Guthrie Betsy Sullivan Mary Moore Stewart
Emma Cole Cecile Reed Mary Ann Slaven Sadie Moore
Mary McNabb Rebecca Moore Margaret Strain Margaret Arrel Pence
Jennie Brenneman Kennedy Mrs. Andrew McClurg
The ladies were dressed in full black skirts, white garibaldi waists, blue hats with red merino scarf over the right shoulder and on each scarf under the left arm in large letters of gold was the name of one of the states. The gold letters were cut out of silk, and sewed on the scarf by hand. The ladies also made a large banner flag out of red, white and blue merino cloth, on which were sewn the gold letters giving the name and date of the celebration. The “Banner Flag” was mounted on a pole attached to a roller located in rear of wagon, the roller being used to lower the banner flag in order to get through the covered bridge. The roller device was operated by William S. Lowry.
The wagon was drawn by five (5) span, ten (10) coal black horses. The driver was James Nesbitt, assisted by Trues Cowden, both veterans of the Civil War and in full army uniform. The Marshall of the delegation was John Cavett, mounted on a big black stallion, assisted by the Rev. T.W. Winter, mounted on his dancing chestnut sorrel horse, which had been used and trained by Major McClelland in actual service in the Civil War. The Reverend Winter, can be remembered by his long curly yellow hair, showing from under a broad brimmed hat, his horse keeping time and step with the music. The rear guard was composed of Captain Cos. Whetstone in charge of a company of men in full regalia uniform, guarding the commissary wagon and the rear of the delegation. They made a fine and spectacular appearance.
In 1872, at the time of General Grant’s second election to the Presidency, the old flag was worn out. The ladies of the community made a new flag, eight by fifteen feet. This was the same year that a political rally and celebration was held at Poland Center. A new flag pole was made and raised near the corner of the school yard, under the supervision of the Nesbitt Brothers. This pole stood for many years and the flag was raised on it on all flag days and notable occasions. The music for all these celebrations was furnished and conducted by Robert Lowry and his famous Glee Club.
The flags were never to leave Poland Center. They were in the care and custody of Mrs. Elizabeth A. Lowry and her daughter, Mary Elizabeth Lowry Davis, until they moved from Poland Center in 1884, at which time the large flag was left at the home of John Cavett and was still in existence in 1934. It is in the custody of some of the Cavett family. The original Silk Banner Flag was left with Trues Cowden