Liberty Pole stood tall in old Almont
|Almont’s historic Liberty Pole once stood at corner of N. Main and E. St. Clair streets downtown.|
March 31, 2010Last week's column mentioned that, "July 4th of 1865 was the grand one for the
village's history, for on that day the splendid Liberty Pole was raised and, no village or
state ever contained a handsomer one." This week is the story, "Raising the Liberty
Pole," as told by Ernie Force for the Aug. 11 Centennial Issue (1955) of the Almont
Times Herald and contained in Hildamae Bowman's first book, "The History of Almont," and her fine red, hardcover book, "ALMONT THE TALE OF THEN AND NOW."
"It was the Fourth of July, 1865, and a gala day in the village of Almont. The Civil War had ended and, although the troops had not yet been mustered out, many had been allowed to come home on furlough.
"At the crowded gathering in the streets were many commissioned officers in
their gold braid and chevrons, their wide hats with their tasseled cords, and privates with the Union blue uniforms and caps. These were the heroes of the day, for a large wooden flag pole was to be erected in their honor.
"The pole had been made from two white pine trees, which had been brought down, one at a time from Black's Comers northwest of Imlay City. A six-horse team was used and hitched to a high-wheeled truck, such as were used in the woods in those days..
"These trees, upon the arrival in Almont were score hacked and hand hewed to the correct size, bolted together with large countersunk bolts, and then planed and painted. The lower log, when completed squared two feet at the base was eighty feet long and squared one foot at the top.
"The upper log squared more than a foot at the base, was fifty feet long and
squared six inches at the top where it terminated in a pylon. The top of the lower part and the base of the upper part were halved for a distance of ten feet to make the splice, giving the pole a total length of one hundred twenty feet. About sixteen feet from the base, there
was a hand carved moulding at which point the pole was reduced about four inches in
size and from this point extended to the top, a smooth shaft.
"A hole had been dug in front of the Ferguson Bank, (now the Almont Pastry
Shop) which was on the comer of N. Main and E. St. Clair St., three feet in diameter and eight feet deep to receive the pole. A bandstand about sixteen feet in diameter was planned and was later added. Many band concerts were heard through the years, from this bandstand.
"The pole in its bright coat of paint, lay on a series of blocks to facilitate raising.
The base was chained to stakes driven in the ground, so that it could not move ahead when being raised.
"So picture if you will on this memorable day, the soldiers in uniform, the older
men in stovepipe hats, long coats and fancy boots, the women in an ensemble of
matching parasol, bonnet and hoop skirts, amid band playing and great fanfare, With as many around the pole as there was room for, and with the help of the pike poles and a hearty "heave ho" the pole was raised. Soon Old Glory, to many hurrahs, was floating in the breeze. Voices were muted and heads were bared when the band played the "Star Spangled Banner."
The old Liberty Pole, its stately head high among the clouds, watched over its
people dignified and deliberated for many a year. Its clean, lean, trim and prim figure pictured the high type of Almont's founders. It filled its duty and passed on. Nothing could be done to better preserve the glory of early Almont than to restore our fine, old Liberty Pole, but it can not be done. Such timber does not now exist.
— Country Cousin
Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.