“It was in 1861. I was the manager of the German Turner Hall at Lexington, Missouri. The sentiments for and against the Union clashed bitterly in the border states. Lexington was at fever-heat. On the 3d of May 1861, a pro-Union meeting at the court house had been called. With others, I went to attend the same, and soon the hall was crowded. Several speakers had made their appearance to address those present. As soon as the first orator began to speak, he was interrupted by noise and hisses, and suddenly all the lights were extinguished. Pandemonium reigned. A mob thronged to the rostrum and seized the Union flag which had been placed there. Quickly I rushed between the men and took the flag from them. I tore it from the staff and hid it under my vestcoat. During the melee I was shot in the leg and beaten over the head. While I was being taken to my home two old citizens knocked me again over the head with their canes. The next morning, six men, heavily armed, came to my residence and ordered me, in the name of Jefferson Davis and the Southern Confederacy, to leave town at once. My faithful wife told them that my condition did not allow my leaving home. The men answered that I would be hung on the nearest tree, if I should be found in town the next morning. What could be done? Early the next day friends brought me across the Missouri river, and, accompanied by Captain Fred Nest, I took a train of the Hannibal & St. Joe for St. Louis. Here I found a good position in the war relief office. In 1865 I returned to Lexington where I have lived ever since, for the last twenty-five years retired from business. By-gones are by-gones. I always was a peaceable citizen, and I bear no hatred or grudge against my enemies of those days. They now count among my best friends. I have forgiven. The little flag — we do not see the like today, the stripes sewn together and the stars fastened upon the cloth — is still in my possession. A battered and torn little flag, of no value to others, but priceless to me. I have saved its honor; it shall be with me as long as I live, and it shall lie with me after I am dead.”
Posted on the Facebook page I remember when . . . Lexington, MO by Bill Sellers. Many thanks to him for bringing us this great story in Nicholas Haerle’s own words.