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Clarkston patriotism on display



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Toni Smith, director of Clarkston Heritage Museum, with the centerpiece of a new museum exhibit, a July 4 celebration broadsheet from 1873. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
January 05, 2011 - With a name like "Independence," township residents have always taken patriotism seriously. Clarkston Heritage Museum's latest exhibit shows how much.

"People expressed love of country in everyday objects," said Kelly Kolhagen, Clarkston Community Historical Society. "The spirit of patriotism permeated nearly every facet of early American life, from festive Fourth of July parades to children's toys to the Christmas tree."

The society sponsors "Clarkston Salutes: Patriotism & Parades" in Clarkston Heritage Museum.

The exhibit, which runs through May, includes historic photos and artifacts celebrating the Clarkston area's patriotism and its ability to put on a great parade.

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"Clarkston has a long reputation as a parade town, but most people don't realize how far back it goes," said Toni Smith, Clarkston Heritage Museum director.

Other items in the exhibit include an 1880 Clarkston Silver Coronet Band uniform worn by Butler Holcomb and an 1839 Independence Township Registry of Male Voters. American women did not have a Constitutional right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Kolhagen said.

The star of the exhibit is an 1873 Fourth of July celebration broadside poster. Originally designed to be pasted on the side of a building, the six-foot-high broadside was donated to the historical society last year by Dorothy Smith, who found it while moving after her husband Ray died. Ray was a 1945 Clarkston graduate and relative of Samuel W. Smith, orator and reader at Clarkston 1873 Fourth of July celebration (also see "Patriotic piece of local history restored," page 1B, July 7, 2010).

The poster was professionally restored and framed to preserve it for future generations, Kolhagen said.

"For anyone interested in history, the poster is an absolute jewel – a masterpiece – and this is the first time it has been on display to the public," Smith said.

The Clarkston Heritage Museum, located in the Independence Township Library, 6495 Clarkston Road, is open during regular library hours. Call 248-922-0270 for more information.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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