On the evening of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Fords Theater, WashingtonD.C. The following morning, April 15, 1865, at 7:22 A.M., the President died of his wound.
In the preparation of the President's state funeral, the U.S. Treasury Department telegraphed Annin & Co flag company with an order for thirty-seven (37) flags with thirty six (36) stars to be used in the Lincoln funeral. Why 36 when at this time only 35 states? Nevada was to be admitted in July of 1865 and the Treasury Department requested the flags to represent the total states including Nevada. Somehow the manufacture miss read the telegram and made 36 flags with 37 stars. In addition, the flags that were made were what the manufacturer calls "hasty flags". These are flags that are not meant to fly as they only have stars sewn on one side and the stars sewn on are of different sizes and are made to either drape the coffin or to be hung with the correct stars showing. Of the 36 flags made of this design, only three are know to exist at this time. The Museum of Southern History is proud to have in its collection the only one of those flags to still be intact. It is known as the "Applegate Flag".
Major Lewis Applegate was a surgeon with the 102ndN.Y. Infantry Regiment. The Applegate Flag is dated April 15, 1865, the date of Lincoln's death. Exactly how Major Applegate came into possession of this flag is not known. What we do know is that several documented articles mention that in Philadelphia, one of the flags used during Lincoln's viewing had 37 stars instead of 36.
President Lincoln was the first president to be embalmed. In fact, the fluids were changed daily during the 20 days of his official state funeral. Was Major Applegate one of those who assisted in the embalming of President Lincoln? This we are not certain of but what we do know is that the flag was passed through the family as follows: Louise Applegate Worthington (1890), Maggie R. Worthington (1926), Gloria Worley Conway (1942), Mrs. Barnwell Daley (1977) and the Museum of Southern History (1993). All these individuals with the dates are written on the hoist side of the flag except the final one, the Museum of Southern History.
The flag has been authenticated by several well known collectors. The Annin & Co. flag manufactures are still making flags for the U.S. Treasury department.
The following is taken from an article that appeared in the Civil War Times Illustrated magazine in 1990:
"Among the many flags on display is the one that hung over Lincoln's body when it lay in state for a day in Philadelphia's Independence Hall. It is unlikely that anyone who filed by the slain president's coffin that somber day paused to count the stars on the flag ... for if they would have been surprised to find 37, instead of 36 as there should have been. In the haste to fashion a new flag especially for the occasion, someone added an extra star".
The Museum of Southern History proudly displays this flag for the public to view and to learn of its unique place in our nation's history.