Sandburg's Hometown

September 15, 2014

Mother of the Illinois Flag - Ella Park Lawrence
Ella Park Lawrence holds the original Illinois state flag, ca. 1915.

Mother of the Illinois Flag

by Barbara Schock

Carl Sandburg wrote about the family who lived at 590 North Prairie Street in his autobiography, Always the Young Strangers. He delivered the Galesburg newspaper there and had watched the very large sandstone house as it was being erected in the early 1890s. He had heard the house cost $80,000 (equal to more than $2 million in today's money), the most expensive house in Galesburg up to that time.

George A. and Ella Park Lawrence lived in the house with their family. They had five children, but only one, Rebecca, lived to adulthood. George was an attorney and supervised the thousands of acres of farm land his wife had inherited.

In 1890 a woman's patriotic lineage society was organized in Washington, DC. It was named the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Mrs. Lawrence had eight ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. In 1901, a chapter was formed in Galesburg. It was named after one of Mrs. Lawrence's ancestors, Rebecca Parke.

Mrs. Lawrence became regent of the chapter in 1906 and served for five years. The members of the chapter felt she was very capable and campaigned to elect her as regent of the state organization. She was elected in 1911 and served three years.

Mrs. Lawrence was always very patriotic and loved the American flag. She presented flags to schools and organizations for memorizing “America” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

On September 16, 1913, Mrs. Lawrence, as State Regent, dedicated a flagpole from which an American flag and DAR pennants flew on top of Starved Rock. This limestone promontory on the Illinois River in LaSalle County has special significance in early Illinois history. It was used by Indian and French explorers as a fort and gathering place. It is a unique feature in the geography of the state.

Only two years before, the State of Illinois had purchased the land for a park. It was the second state park established after Fort Massac in southern Illinois. Thousands visit Starved Rock every year to enjoy the scenery and unusual geologic features.

During her term as state regent, Mrs. Lawrence attended NSDAR's Continental Congress in Washington, DC. She observed there was no flag representing Illinois on display in Constitution Hall at the national headquarters. Upon her return home she asked permission from the current state regent to conduct a campaign to secure an Illinois state flag. She began writing to the DAR Chapters in the state and public officials. A contest was held for an appropriate design for a state flag. A member of the Rockford Chapter submitted the winning design. On July 6, 1915, the General Assembly approved a bill creating an Illinois flag with the state seal on it.

Original Illlinois State Flag - Knox County CourthouseThe prototype of the flag is now displayed in the Courthouse in Knoxville, Illinois. Mrs. Lawrence became known as the mother of the Illinois flag.

On September 18, 2014, Pamela Petersen Bork, the State Regent of the Illinois DAR, will dedicate a new flag pole on top of Starved Rock. Power from a solar panel will illuminate the United States and Illinois flags.

Note: The word “Illinois” was added to the flag in 1969.


Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
Sept 15, 2014 Mother of the Illinois Flag
Sept 8, 2014 The Scissors Grinder
Sept 1, 2014 Baseball
August 25, 2014 Howard K. Knowles, Capitalist
August 18, 2014  Alcoholic Beverages
August 11, 2014 Soda Water
August 4, 2014 Sweet Corn
July 28, 2014 Marching Through Georgia
July 21, 2014 The Knox County Fair
July 14, 2014 The Panic of 1893
July 7, 2014 The Rev. T. N. Hasselquist
June 30, 2014 The Knox County Courthouse
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013  Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013  Lace Curtains 
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity