Generations & Restoration: Civil War banner returns to rightful place at Green Lake American Legion Post 306

by Maic D’Agostino

A rare piece of history returned to Green Lake’s American Legion Post 306 this month.

Generations of Legionnaires and visitors have walked past the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) banner that hung in the post’s former building, a home purchased in 1955.

But the banner fluttered above the heads of Green Lake veterans long before gracing the entrance to the post.

In fact, it predates the Legion chapter and Green Lake itself.

Post Commander Mark Kramer, left, and Legion member Harley Reabe discuss details on the Grand Army of the Republic banner, featuring thread-work reading “Dartford” and the stylized letters “Wis,” standing for “Wisconsin.”

Gold thread-work on  the banner’s blue velvet reads “Dartford, Wis.,” the former name for the village that became the city of Green Lake.

It’s been a part of the post’s collection since the Harry Randall Post 202 of the GAR became the Willis Chapel Post 306 of the American Legion in 1928.

“That banner hung in here, in the old building … It was in a case with all the other Civil War memorabilia,” Post Commander Mark Kramer said. “And we never really paid a lot of attention to it.”

When the post began discussing the construction of a new building, members noticed the banner was in need of restoration.

The seven remaining members of the Harry Randall Grand Army of the Republic Post 202 gather on Memorial Day 1913. According to notes on the back of the photograph, they are, front row, from left, Augustus Palmer, H.B. Lowe, C. Brown; back row, Joe Taylor, David Wilson, Lester Clawson and F.M. Spencer. Behind them hangs the group’s parade banner, which has been passed down through the generations to Green Lake’s current American Legion post.

“The red velvet and the blue velvet, you’d touch it and it’d just dust off,” post member Harley Reabe said. “The silk … was in shreds hanging down.”

The process of finding someone to restore the more than 130-year-old fabric was trickier than some might have imagined.

Read the full story in the Jan. 26, 2017 edition of the