Confederate Flag News

1. From Facebook, a graphic illustrating some proposals for a new flag for the state of Mississippi, in order to replace the recently-defunct Confederate-themed one. I like wavy with no wreath myself, but they’re all good designs, and historically meaningful to boot. 

Then there’s the Mighty Magnolia flag, which has even more designated meaning (click the link and scroll down).

The graphic, shared on the Facebook group Flags and Vexillology, includes the motto “In God We Trust,” because the state legislature made it a requirement of the new flag. But writing doesn’t make for a good flag and I hope that the new flag does not include it (quite apart from any questions about the separation of church and state that always attend the appearance of IGWT). 

2. From the Washington Post (hat tip: Tom Martin), news of a Confederate exile community in Brazil of all places:

RIO DE JANEIRO — To Marina Lee Colbachini, it was a family tradition. Each spring, she would join the throngs who descended on a nondescript city in southern Brazil, don a 19th-century hoop skirt and square dance to country music.

The theme of the annual festival: the Confederate States of America.

It’s one of history’s lesser-known episodes. After the Civil War, thousands of defeated Southerners came to Brazil to self-exile in a country that still practiced slavery. For decades, their descendants have thrown a massive party that now attracts thousands of people to the twin cities of Americana and Santa Bárbara d’Oeste to celebrate all things Dixie. The Confederate flag? Everywhere.

On flagpoles and knickknacks. Emblazoned on the dance floor. Clutched by men clad in Confederate battle gray. Decorating the grounds of the cemetery that holds the remains of veterans of the rebel army — the immigrants known here as the confederados.

In a country that has long been more preoccupied with class divisions than racism, the Confederate symbols, stripped of their American context, never registered much notice. But now, as the racial reckoning in the United States following the killing of George Floyd inspires a similar reexamination of values in Brazil, that has begun to change.

More at the link

3. Apparently some supporters of Ireland’s Cork County GAA like to wave Confederate flags at football and hurling matches, on the principle that Cork is in the “south,” and that red is the main Cork county color. I recall seeing a video playing at the GAA museum at Croke Park and being puzzled about the appearance of some Confederate flags in the stands. I guess Cork was playing! The county GAA board condemned the practice in 2017, and recently announced that it will confiscate any Confederate flags that supporters try to bring in. 

Pine Log and White

More local exploration:

The Rydal post office is located at the intersection of GA-140 and GA-411 in northeastern Bartow County, thus is everyone in the surrounding area denoted as living in “Rydal.” But the community to the northwest of the intersection is generally known to the locals as Pine Log, and the red star on the map indicates the location of Pine Log Methodist Church. 

Here is how the church appears as you cross under the railroad tracks. It gets its own historical marker, which states:

Historic Pine Log Methodist church, cemetery, tabernacle, and camp grounds, established in 1834. The oldest church in continuous use in Cass/Bartow County. This Church area is on the national register for historic district.

Another marker elaborates:

The church, built 1842; campground and tabernacle, 1888; and cemetery, begun in 1850, were listed in the National Register of Historic Places September 9, 1988. The Methodist organization was founded on this site by Stephen Elliot about 1834 in a community of recent settlers from Eastern Georgia and Pendleton District, S.C. The original meeting house was a log structure which doubled as a school. Many descendants of the first members still attend services here. Camp meetings are held for one week each August.

The size of the cemetery indicates that Pine Log Methodist has indeed been around for some time. And yes, there is a large “tabernacle” (i.e. a roofed but otherwise open building for preaching) behind the church, surrounded by a number of cabins.

The cabins were unoccupied when I walked by. I do not know what exactly they are used for. I have never before seen such an arrangement on a church campus. 

If you travel south of Pine Log on Olive Vine Road, you come to Olive Vine Baptist Church, marked with a blue star on the map. It too merits a historic marker. 

This historic church was founded for the glory of God and the furthering of the gospel on Oct 31, 1800 on land donated by Rev. Henry Green Berry Turner. In the original deed, Rev. Turner, who pastored the church for many years, stipulated that “two or more of the said members shall keep up the ordinance and the example of feet washing that belong to the house of God as described in the articles of faith and covenants entered into which the said church was organized.”

Over the years, the white wooden building has remained unchanged externally. The rafters are the original hewn logs.

According to church records, Rev. H.G.B. Turner preached in this building as late as May 7, 1921 when he was in his mid-80s. He died at his home on Feb. 15, 1923. His funeral was conducted in this church on Feb 19, 1923. At his request, he was given a Masonic burial on these grounds.

This Mr. Turner seems quite the fellow. I’m glad that Primitive Baptists were allowed to join the Freemasons. His own grave merits another historic marker, which reads in part:

Rev. Henry Green Berry Turner was born Jan. 5, 1836 near Spartanburg, South Carolina and moved to Cherokee County, Georgia with his father when he was 10 years old.

At age 35, he was ordained a minister of the gospel, and for more than 50 years served as pastor of from two to four churches. He was commissioned as tax receiver in neighboring Pickens County, Georgia on Jan. 18, 1873. He moved to Bartow County and settled in Pine Log in 1876.

He was a founder of Olive Vine Baptist Church in 1880 and was an influential minister here for many years. He was known as a strict disciplinarian….

Rev. Turner died on Feb. 15, 1923 at age 87. According to his obituary printed in both the Bartow Tribune and the Cherokee Tribune, “too much could not be said about the great work that he accomplished while working among the people of Bartow County.” In his eulogy, Rev. H.H. Popham said that “the life of Mr. Turner has been one well spent and worthy of emulation by everyone; a life that was full of good works, and about which there were no regrets.”

He certainly left a large brood (twelve children, according to the sign), whose descendants regularly gather at Olive Vine Church for family reunions. 

A little further to the south, on Old Tennessee Road, is Vaughan Cemetery, which is marked with an orange star on the map.

The cemetery does not seem to have been associated with a church, but was simply the Vaughan family plot – if the names on many of the headstones are any indication.

As you can see, some of the Vaughans fought for the Confederacy, hence the government-issued grave marker of the sort noticed at Silverdale

Then, further to the south, one encounters the embarrassingly-named City of White. It too has a post office, so many people in the area, beyond the city itself, are designated as living in White. As one of those people, I have had to endure innumerable jibes over the years suggesting that my town is racist. 

But it’s really just named after its first postmaster, James Alexander White, who was exercising this function by 1890 and whose portrait used to hang in the White post office. (I took this photo a few years ago with my first digital camera, which wasn’t very good and which I didn’t quite know how to use, thus the poor quality of the image.)

According to the Etowah Valley Historical Society, mining operations to the south at Aubrey (manganese and iron ore) plus the completion of the Etowah Cartersville New Line Railroad in 1906 allowed the place to thrive. It was incorporated in 1919, with one Dr. W.B. Vaughan appointed mayor by the Georgia General Assembly (surprisingly, he does not seem to be buried in the Vaughan Cemetery, unless he is William J. “Guinea Will” Vaughan, 1863-1928). Not long afterwards, in 1925, a fire broke out in Harry Woodall’s store, which quickly spread and destroyed most of the business district. But White rebuilt, and this is reflected in the city emblem.

Note the town on fire on one side, the resurrected town on the other (complete with power lines and automobile!), all under a symbolic phoenix rising from the ashes. Plus two rolls of toilet paper. 

But equally destructive was the Great Depression and the closing of the mines at Aubrey. The construction of GA-411 in the 1930s caused the business district to shift from the west side of the tracks (where it used to line Old Tennessee Rd.) to the east side, but the construction of I-75 in 1977 meant that the major north-south traffic artery now bypassed White entirely. 

Yet the city abides. It is currently the home of White Elementary School, Cass High School, J’s Simply Soul, Wes-Man’s (both of which I recommend), several churches, the Toyo Tire factory, the North Georgia Mercantile, and Old Car City. Of course, as with many small towns, the police can be somewhat corrupt on occasion, but that problem seems to have been put behind us for now.

Heraldic Bookplates

To amuse myself during this time of lockdown, I created a bookplate based on my coat of arms (granted in 2006 through the Canadian Heraldic Authority). It’s somewhat Germanic in style, with the crest becoming the mantling. 

This is one of the things that I’ve always loved about heraldry: as long as you follow the blazon, you can depict a coat of arms in any style you wish, the whole thing or only part of it, and with any number of other decorative features. I admit that this is not my first heraldic bookplate! 

This one was drawn for me by Daniel Mitsui in 2014. I love his birch tree, and his mastery of detail in general. 

He also did this drawing for me, which I’ve had put on a stamp, for those paperbacks that don’t quite merit a full bookplate. It consists of the charges from my arms removed and shown on their own, as though they compose a heraldic badge.

Mr. Mitsui also did bookplates for my two daughters, with the shield moved to the side of the tree, and a cadency mark placed on the other side for balance. In Canadian heraldry, a heart denotes the first daughter, and an ermine spot the second. 

The great Gordon Macpherson did this one for me in 2007, consisting only of my crest (and helmet and mantling) and motto (which means “Fight the good fight,” from 1 Timothy 6:12). 

I did this one for my wife in 2003, illustrating her arms from the Bureau of Heraldry in South Africa. 

Gordon Macpherson drew this one in 2007. I quite like its neoclassical design. Technically heraldic impalement (i.e. two coats of arms side by side on the same shield) suggests the wife, as though she is “Mrs. Jonathan Good.” But in these times, I see impalement as representing a partnership and thus both people equally. So this one goes into books that are “ours”!

Anthropomorphic Maps

If there is one custom that needs reviving, surely it is that of the anthropomorphic map?

Cartographers… created these distinctive representations by taking continents, countries, and physical features of the Earth and then turned them into human forms. In other words, they alter maps and give them human qualities and characteristics. Similar to political cartoons, these maps are molded and shaped to make some sort of statement about a country, continent, or situation. Finding the purpose behind these maps can often be deduced by the look of the map or how people are portrayed. 

Click the link to see some examples. It occurs to me that I posted one before:

Here is another example, from Wikipedia:

More at Zoom-Maps

Symbolism

Two recent news items.

Wikipedia.

1. From Huffpost Canada:

Canada’s Coat Of Arms Needs Redesign To Include Indigenous Peoples: Petition

Randolph Shrofel, a retired educator from Manitoba, says it’s “just one more piece of the puzzle.”

TORONTO — Randolph Shrofel isn’t exactly sure where he was when he first took a good look at the front of his passport, only be struck by what was missing.

The retired high school guidance counsellor from Sandy Hook, Man. travels a lot these days with his wife Ruth, a former elementary school principal. Like many Canadians, Shrofel suspects, he never paid much mind to the golden coat of arms on the front of those ubiquitous leather booklets.

The emblem is one of nine official symbols adopted by the government of Canada to spark national pride. It can be found everywhere from official government documents and buildings to the prime minister’s plane and the rank badges of some Canadian Forces members.

“Over a period of time, I noticed there is no Indigenous content in the coat of arms at all,” he told HuffPost Canada. “And that started to make me think.”

In early December, Shrofel launched an electronic petition calling on the federal government to revise the coat of arms to “include representation of the Indigenous peoples of Canada (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) as co-founders of Canada.”

The e-petition is being sponsored by Manitoba Liberal MP Robert Falcon-Ouellette, who hails from the Red Pheasant Cree First Nation and was a leading voice pushing for Indigenous languages to be translated in the House of Commons.

Ouellette suggested going the route of a grassroots petition, Shrofel says, where 500 valid signatures over a period of 120 days will trigger an official government response.

I agree with this, although I did not include this critique in my short history of Canada’s coat of arms. The shield should be reduced to the maple leaves alone, but I’m in favor of retaining the banners of the Union Jack and the arms of France on each side, since they represent past sovereignty. But that means that we really should acknowledge Native sovereignty too. What to do? Would one pan-Indian symbol suffice? (Does such a thing even exist?) Or do we need to acknowledge every tribe in Canada? (This would get pretty aesthetically unwieldy.)

I would not be against changing the supporters to being native fauna – say, a moose and a polar bear, and I would not be against these creatures wearing collars and pendant badges referring to Indians and Inuit, in as inclusive a manner as possible. I would not be in favor of a stampede whereby every discrete group in Canada demands the right to specific acknowledgement in the coat of arms.

2. From the Washington Post:

A new Mississippi flag has a surprising champion: A segregationist’s grandchild

 Things are slow to change in this Old South bastion. The brass bird cage of an elevator in the Mississippi State Capitol that Laurin Stennis used to ride as a 6-year-old coming to see her daddy was still operated by hand when she stepped into it one day in early January, a 46-year-old coming to shake things up. Or at least nudge things along.

“Ground floor, please, sir,” she said to the operator.

But some things have changed. The lawmaker who greeted Stennis in the grand marbled lobby below was an African American woman, something unheard of when Stennis’s father, John H. Stennis, was a member of the nearly all-white, all-male state legislature and her grandfather, John C. Stennis, was a legendary champion of segregation in the U.S. Senate.

“I’ve already filed your bill,” state Rep. Kathy Sykes said after hugs. “I’m just waiting on the number.”

It was the start of a new legislative session, and Sykes, a Democrat from Jackson, had once again introduced legislation to replace the Mississippi state flag — the last in the country that still incorporates the Confederate battle flag — with a design widely known as the “Stennis Flag.” It features a big blue star on a white field, encircled by 19 smaller stars and flanked by red bands.

It’s graphically pleasing and increasingly popular. If the Stennis Flag eventually replaces the old banner — its supporters aren’t expecting much to happen this year, with state elections looming — the banner might help alter the view the world has of Mississippi, a state with a brutal history of Klan murders and racial oppression. It could alter the reputation of one of the state’s most famous political names, as well.

A great design, both aesthetically and symbolically (the big star represents Mississippi, the nineteen smaller ones represent previously admitted states to the Union). I confess that I still prefer the Magnolia flag, though.

UPDATE: I am in favor of getting rid of the current Mississippi flag, but I feel compelled to state that I object to such sentences as this, which come so easily to journalists at the Washington Post:

the banner might help alter the view the world has of Mississippi, a state with a brutal history of Klan murders and racial oppression.

I can think of a few “views” that Group A might have of Group B, which to the mainstream media cannot possibly be the fault of Group B, but can only be the result of stereotypes held by Group A and are thus streng verboten. I’d also like to point out that, for example, Illinois, the Land of Lincoln himself, also has a brutal history of Klan murders and racial oppression.

More Indians on Seals

According to Campus Reform, by showing a white explorer being guided by a Native American, the seal of Marquette University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, constitutes a microaggression. According to one professor, Fr. Jacques Marquette, who is depicted on the seal and after whom the school is named, “took advantage of an economic disparity to have a Native American as his guide.”

Wikipedia.

Native people on seals is somewhat of a theme here at First Floor Tarpley, but so is good design. Personally I don’t see much wrong with Marquette’s seal from a symbolic perspective. He hired a Native guide, and the seal acknowledges this! Surely this is better than erasing Natives from the picture entirely, something that has certainly happened before.

But from the perspective of design, this is a train wreck. Why can’t people criticize it on account of that?

Dartmothiana

Veselin Nanov examines “The Evolution of Dartmouth’s Visual Identity” in The Dartmouth. I’m pleased that my article remains influential.

UPDATE: Scott Meacham’s Dartmo also remembers my proposal for a coat of arms for Dartmouth.

UPDATE: From the Valley News, a depiction of Dartmouth’s new primary logo, and prescribed typography (with the old combination below):

The new “D-Pine” logo is simple, recognizable, and appropriate to Dartmouth – all good things. Some though have noticed that it bears a remarkable similarity to Stanford’s athletic logo, a pine tree growing in front of a cardinal-colored athletic-font capital “S.” If I have any problem with it, it’s that – it looks like something that might appear on a sports jersey or football helmet, and any university that uses athletic symbols as its primary symbols has misplaced priorities.

Here is a collection of all the seals of the Ivy League:

And here is a collection of its coats of arms:

As you can see, five Ivy League universities (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, and Cornell) have seals featuring coats of arms, and it is no big matter to extract those arms, colorize them, and employ them on their own. Columbia and Penn (the two on the lower left) have allegorical seals, and so had to contrive proper coats of arms, which they did very well: Columbia’s crowns refer to its original name of “King’s College,” and Penn features references to the arms of Ben Franklin and William Penn. Dartmouth (lower right) is an anomaly: its seal shows an allegorical scene of Indians being drawn from the woods towards a college building by the light of God – but this is rendered on a shield, with supporters. So when Dartmouth got around to designing a coat of arms in 1944, it just used a simplified version of that shield. As a consequence, Dartmouth’s arms are not really heraldic: they too depict a scene, which has only ever been shown in outline. Furthermore, the subject matter is somewhat unpalatable to our current sensibilities.

Thus my proposal for a heraldic coat of arms for Dartmouth, which would look nice and would make the College the symbolic equal of its peers. Here is Scott’s rendition of it:

Of course, I was about seventy years too late propose such a thing. The meta-message of a coat of arms – essentially, “I am in a formal European tradition extending back to the thirteenth century” – is not really popular these days either.

UPDATE: More from Dartblog, and Brand New.

Whitesboro, N.Y.

A followup to a post from 2015: the village of Whitesboro, N.Y., has modified its seal as of this past summer. The seal still illustrates the wrestling match between Hugh White and an Oneida chieftain, although it now shows the two as evenly matched; it does not show White actually winning. The landscape is also more interesting, and the clothing more historically accurate.

Wikipedia.