Alamo's Pennsylvania flag donated to museum

September 10, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A Pennsylvania flag that stood inside the Alamo Mission in San Antonio for more than 50 years was presented to the Pennsylvania State Museum by a Greencastle man who had it in his possession since 1976.

The flag was one of 22 in the historic mission representing the states of the 189 defenders who died at the Alamo in 1836 in Texas' war for independence from Mexico.

Dave Stewart, director of the Alamo museum, said Monday that 14 Pennsylvanians died in the 13-day struggle.

"Research over the years shows that more than 250 defenders died in the Alamo, but we've only ever been able to verify the names of the 189," Stewart said.


Richard Walck, 73, of McClanahan Road, Greencastle, owned Pennsylvania's Alamo flag for 26 years. He donated it to state museum in memory of his wife, Dorothy, who died in April. She was a Texas native, he said.

State Rep. Pat Fleagle, R-Waynesboro, helped Walck with the donation. It was presented in a brief ceremony.

Walck said he first saw the flag on a visit to the Alamo with his wife in 1975. "It was tattered and the gold braid was loose," he said.

When he returned to Greencastle following his 1975 trip he told then-State Rep. William O. "Bill" Shuman of Greencastle about the condition of the flag and Shuman sent a replacement to the Alamo.

In 1976, Walck was a scoutmaster in Boy Scout Troop 90 in State Line, Pa.

Shuman gave the flag to Walck during a surprise presentation at a Boy Scout Court of Honor ceremony in 1976. He said he has treasured it since.

"I kept it in a box and only took it out two times to fly it over Camp Sinoquipe (Boy Scout reservation)on July 4," he said.

Walck said he often wondered over the years what he would do with the flag. He said he gave three flags to the Allison-Antrim Museum in Greencastle, including a 45-star, 48-star and a Pennsylvania flag.

He decided to give the Alamo flag to the Pennsylvania State Museum and called Fleagle for advice. "I never knew that there were Pennsylvanians at the Alamo," Fleagle said.

Fleagle called officials at the museum. "They jumped at the chance to have a commemorative flag," he said. "It's the prettiest flag I've ever seen. It was all hand-embroidered. I can't begin to think how much it would cost to have a flag like that made today."

Jack Leighhow, the museum's chief of education and operations, said the flag will be kept in storage.

"We'll take it out for special occasions," he said.

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