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Big Country EC News

Old Glory Has Seen Better Days, but Its Flags Still Fly

A small Texas town reaches its 100-year milestone

Last summer I read a great article about Old Glory, Texas, and thought, “Wow, this would be great to share in Texas Co-op Power. I have always loved the stories of the communities that dot the Big Country—those that, as my mother would say, “Blink and you miss them.”

As population signs are replaced with names of towns that once were; possibly, too, as I age and get more sentimental, hearing the stories that live on makes me smile. Not to get political but, with all the unrest in our government and society today, reading this story last summer painted a mural in my mind of a much simpler time. Even though there were plenty of goings-on domestically and overseas during Old Glory’s prime, the immigrants were proud of both their German roots and their future as Americans and chose to honor both. It’s what’s beautiful about Old Glory and fitting to celebrate them along with our nation’s independence this month. Many of Old Glory’s residents are longtime, active co-op members.

May Old Glory always stand and wave proudly!

—Sarah McLen

A sign on U.S. Highway 380 sports the colors of the flag.

Larry Zelisko, Abilene Reporter-News, August 9, 2018

Old Glory has faded over the years.

The town, that is—not the patriotism shown by its few remaining residents.

Though businesses are shuttered, and many houses are empty, red, white and blue, reflecting the patriotic name, can be seen throughout the Stonewall County community about 60 miles north of Abilene.

Thursday is the 100th anniversary of Old Glory. Before that, the community was known as Brandenburg, or New Brandenburg.

Carroll Macon, an Old Glory native now living in Rowlett, called the Abilene Reporter-News about the milestone.

On the eve of the anniversary, it was hard to find anyone in Old Glory who knew the significance of Aug. 9 to the community. It’s hard to find people in Old Glory, period.

The population is estimated at about 100, but that is stretching the community a few miles in each direction.

A vacant store sits on U.S. Highway 380 in Old Glory between Haskell and Aspermont.

Larry Zelisko, Abilene Reporter-News, August 9, 2018

This area was settled by German-Americans. By 1904, a town had been laid out 2 miles southeast of here called Brandenburg, according to the Texas State Historical Association’s online handbook.

In 1909, when the Stamford and Northwestern Railway built from Stamford to Spur, the Swenson Land and Cattle Co. provided land for a townsite, and the town moved to the railroad and became known as New Brandenburg.

According to A Short History of Old Glory by Bernice Dippel White, the outbreak of WWI left many people conflicted between their loved ones in Germany and their allegiance to their new country. When the sons of the community went off to war, the people decided to make a statement of loyalty to the U.S.

A petition was circulated to change the name to Old Glory. On Aug. 9, 1918, the Brandenburg Post Office became the Old Glory Post Office.

The post office in Old Glory in the mid-1980s

Reporter-News file photos

Emma Carr is credited with suggesting the name.

Anita Dozier, 92, a local historian, said she remembers Mrs. Carr as “a feisty little lady. I can still see her.”

Dozier said she did not remember that Thursday would be the 100th anniversary of the name change until Macon reminded her.

Nothing is planned to celebrate. The big topic Thursday will probably be the change in the weather, with relief from the heat and a chance for rain.

The usual second-Thursday senior citizen dance at the community center has even been canceled because the main musician’s wife is ill, said Mattie Dunham. Dunham said she is not much of a historian because she has lived in the community only since 1969.

She noted that the second-Thursday dance and the fourth-Sunday musical are popular attractions at the community center, where family reunions are held.

The sign from Old Glory High School was placed in front of the community center when the school was torn down in October 1985. The center was the school’s cafeteria.

Larry Zelisko, Abilene Reporter-News, August 9, 2018

The community center is all that’s left of Old Glory High School. It was the cafeteria. After the school was closed in 1985, the building quickly deteriorated and was demolished by that October.

Kenny Spitzer, a 1963 graduate, oversaw the demolition.

His mother, sister and brother also graduated from the school.

“It was kinda sad, really.” He said, of watching the school come down. “The building was getting to be a hazard, the roof had blown off the gym and rain was getting in. There was skunks and rattlesnakes. It was a hazard.

“Everyone had memories of the school, but those won’t go away.”

Dozier said the school closing had a great impact.

The Class of 1981 at Old Glory High School numbered two. In 1983, it was one. The school closed in 1985.

Reporter-News file photos

“When the school closed, it seems like it took everything away,” Dozier said. Even then, she said, graduates weren’t coming back to Old Glory because there were no jobs.

“Most of who live here are retired. If they work, they work out of town,” she said. “Those that are left are old.”

Old Glory did have its glory days, she said. The basketball team went to state and so did some tennis players.

The only “business” in town is the post office, and it’s open only two hours a day. It might be the newest building in town, being dedicated in 1999. Stamp collectors can still get an “Old Glory” cancellation, a postal spokesman said.

The old post office in Old Glory looks much the same as it did when it was in use. The new post office opened in 1999.

Larry Zelisko, Abilene Reporter-News, August 9, 2018

Fred Douglas, who has lived in Old Glory since 1976, said that for a few years a parade was organized for the Fourth of July, complete with an honor guard from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. Standing in his yard with a good view of the community, he pointed out buildings and where buildings used to be.

“Those houses belong to hunters. That house is empty. There used to be a filling station there,” Douglas said.

And that is Old Glory today, after 100 years.

–Reprinted with permission from the Abilene Reporter-News, August 9, 2018.