The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

June 9, 2007

The not-so-secret mystery of downtown’s Confederate flag

Historical Lewisburg

LEWISBURG , WV — Although historical Lewisburg’s abundant landscape of Civil War tales has been well documented, there is one chapter in its war-torn past that’s shrouded in mystery and continues to be embroiled in debate.

Unnoticed by many who live here is a white oval, approximately 6 feet in diameter, high upon the right-hand side wall of the two-story brick building located at 124 W. Washington St. And inside the oval is a red flag with criss-crossed blue bars flying from a post.

Greenbrier County historian Jim Talbert says the rendering is a depiction of a Confederate battle flag that most likely was painted there by a Confederate soldier named D.R. Thomas in 1897. Thomas was a veteran of the 14th Virginia Calvary, Bryan’s Battery.

Deed books show Thomas bought a wood-framed structure on that lot in 1884, but it burned to the ground, like much of downtown Lewisburg, in the great fire of 1897.

“The Civil War was over in 1865, and if he was going to show his loyalty to the Confederacy, then he would have painted a flag on the building out of tradition, but as far as a written record, we don’t have it,” Talbert said. “It’s entirely possible that he could have inherited the flag, but tradition says that D.R. Thomas painted the flag on his building.”

The absence of stars on the flag only adds to the enigma of how it got there in the first place.

“Probably stars were too hard to paint,” Talbert said.

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Since 1897, the building has been owned by three different families, Talbert said, and in 1965, two brothers, Edward and Munir Yarid, bought the building. Talbert said there exists only two documented instances mentioning Lewisburg’s not-so secret flag. The definitive, high-tech modern research tool — Google.com — revealed no information when queried about the flag.

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