|CIVIL WAR PERIOD APRON, MADE IN CAMBRIDGE, OHIO IN 1861 BY 12-YEAR-OLD LAURA HAYNES, WORN BY HER AT BENEFITS FOR THE U.S. SANITARY COMMISSION, PREDECESSOR OF THE RED CROSS, THAT STAFFED, FUNDED, AND MODERNIZED CIVIL WAR HOSPITALS
|Frame Size (H x L):||31" x 35.75"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||22.25" x 27"|
|Laura Haynes was born on the 17th of June, 1847 to Vincent and Sarah (Dillon) Haynes of Westland, Ohio (southeast of Columbus and due south of Zanesville). Vincent was listed as a physician in the 1850 U.S. Census, then as a lawyer in 1860, apparently having pursued both fields. It stands to reason that that during the Civil War (1861-1865), the Haynes family, being of means and with Vincent involved in the medical profession, might become involved in philanthropy to benefit Civil War hospitals.
Made of plain weave cotton, this patriotic apron features 18 white, appliquéd, hand-sewn stars on a blue ground, cinched at the waist, with a blue belt incorporated below, followed by 13 vertical stripes, alternating red and white, likewise cinched, so that top and bottom have opposing triangular profiles. Aprons of this period did not generally have a loop or tie that went about the neck, to keep the breast portion up, but were rather pinned in place. All of the construction was accomplished by hand-stitching. One can see in the more crude stitching of the stars, how much more difficult it was to perform appliqué work than it was to hem fabric, especially for a 12-year-old girl.
While the count of 18 stars may have had no purpose other than to fill the available space, to create a patriotic display, it may just as likely have been selected to reflect the number of states that were felt to be loyal to the Union at the time. Until July 4th, 1861, there were officially 33 stars on the American national flag. This, less the entire complement of 15 Slave States, would arrive at a count of 18. President Abraham Lincoln urged the nation not to do this, desiring not to give credence to secession, with his goal of keeping the Union together. But there were no flag police and people did as they wished, creating versions of the Stars & Stripes in both the North and the South that removed those the respective maker(s) deemed loyal to the opposition. Although rare, a number of American flags of the Civil War era are known that display 18 stars, likely to reflect the removal of 15 Southern States.
In the upper center of the striped portion of the apron is a fraternal ribbon, made of blue satin silk, with a white metal brooch at the top and a gold button with an eagle below. This is decorated with a printed 13 star flag ribbon (applied), and with gilded text that reads: “The Women and Girl Workers of the Civil War; ’61-’65.” Next to this is the membership badge of the Women’s Relief Corp, which served as the women’s auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, the primary organization for Civil War veterans. Below these, a hand-lettered exhibition tag was adhered, that reads as follows: “Made in 1861 at Cambridge Ohio by Laura Haynes; Age 12 Years; and Worn at Benefits for the Sanitary Commission [The Red Cross of 1861-5],” Followed by “Laura H. Green; Hotel St Mark; Oakland Calf.” Along the bottom of the tag is a brief title: “Flag-Apron of 1861-5,” with a circled item number “27.”
The Sanitary Commission was founded in the Spring of 1861 by private citizens in New York City, who were appalled by the Army’s lack of medical supplies and sanitary conditions in the care of Civil War soldiers. Officially sanctioned by the War Department on June 9th of that year, and approved by Abraham Lincoln on June 13th, the chief planner and organizer was Boston-born writer and Harvard-educated clergyman, Henry Whitney Bellows of New York (b. 1814, d. 1882). Bellows modeled the organization after the work of Florence Nightingale in the British Sanitary Commission of the 1850’s, and brought with him a force of volunteers belonging to an organization he led called the Woman’s Central Association of Relief of New York. In 1863, Bellows would become one of the four founders of the Union League Club of New York, with fellow Sanitary Commission leaders Frederick Law Olmsted (the designer of Central Park, considered to be the father of modern landscape architecture,) plus George Templeton Strong (American composer, painter, lawyer, and prolific diarist), and Oliver Wolcott Gibbs (Harvard professor, chemist, and physician). The goal of the Union League Club was to join like-minded and influential, moneyed men with the cause of both the Commission and the Union in general. In 1881, Sanitary Commission nurse Clara Barton would carry the torch forward, expanding upon the concept to form the Red Cross.
Sanitary Fairs—large, fundraising events held to benefit the Commission—were held in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere. The Northern Ohio Sanitary Fair was almost certainly attended by Laura Haynes, 16 years old by that time, who is likely to have worn the apron there. Held in Cleveland from Feb. 22nd – Mar. 10th, 1864, the fair was opened by Major General James Garfield, future President of the United States, who, it is said, was extremely well received.
About 3 years later, on June 11th, 1868, Laura married Robert M. Green of Cambridge, Ohio (northeast of Westland), who shared her June 17th birthday. Born 2 years prior to Laura, in 1846, Robert enlisted as a Corporal with “A” company of the 85th Ohio Infantry, a 3-month unit, on May 27th, 1862. Mustering in on June 10th, I Columbus, at Camp Chase, the 85th was assigned to guard Confederate prisoners at the garrison. He mustered out on the 23rd of September.
By 1880, Robert & Laura Green had relocated to Oroville, California (Butte County), north of Sacramento. This area was known for a population with Unionist sentiments, at a time when much of California remained Southern-leaning. Listed as a druggist and a homemaker, respectively, in the 1880 Census, Robert passed in 1920 and Laura in 1923. The ribbons on Robin’s apron demonstrate her involvement in the “Women & Girls of 1861-5,” a local group, and the WRC, which was extensive and national. A local newspaper article, in 1893, shows that Lauraalso served as an officer in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The apron’s exhibition tag was probably created for displays presented by the Women & Girls of 1861-5 group at reunions, fairs, and/or museums/historical societies.
Though extraordinarily rare, other aprons of this sort are known. I previously owned one example. Several survive in museum collections, including a Confederate version that is among the holdings of the American Civil War Museum at Richmond, Virginia (formerly the Museum of the Confederacy). It’s especially unusual to have the specific history of use present here.
Mounting: The apron was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags, banners, and other related textiles and have framed thousands of examples.
The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The substantial, mahogany veneered, antique molding has a bull nose profile and dates to the 1890-1910 era. To this a modern, silver gilt molding, with a flat profile, was added as a liner. A shadowbox was created to accommodate the textile. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.
Condition: There are groupings of small tears with associated fabric loss in all three portions of the apron. There is significant fading of the blue fabric, though the resulting shade is especially attractive and the original shade was almost certainly far lighter in color than what would expect in a modern Stars & Stripes flag. There is only minor fading in the red stripes. There is minor to moderate soiling throughout, accompanied by moderate soiling towards the end of the belt, on the wearer’s proper left, and several instances of moderate to significant soiling in the striped area, on the same side. The exhibition tag was adhered to the fabric, almost certainly by Laura herself in her later years. The extreme rarity of the apron, and it’s beautiful, endearing presentation, well-warrant any and all condition issues, effectively rendering them mute with regards to value.
|Collector Level:||Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1861|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1861|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|