News / USA

Northern Town Celebrates Status as Last Confederate Holdout

Town Line, New York marks the 150th anniversary of its secession from US

The people of Town Line, New York dressed up recently to mark the 150th anniversary of the town's secession from  the United States.
The people of Town Line, New York dressed up recently to mark the 150th anniversary of the town's secession from the United States.

Multimedia

Audio

The firefighters in Town Line are one sign of the New York hamlet's unusual history. Sporting a Confederate flag on their uniforms, they're known as the “Last of the Rebels."

That’s because this town near the Canadian border seceded from the United States at the start of the Civil War in 1861. One hundred and fifty years later, the town is still trying to figure out why.

The only church hall in town was filled past capacity recently for a party marking the 150th anniversary of this northern town's decision to side with the South during the Civil War. Cannons sit in the parking lot. Ladies are in elaborate dresses while gentlemen swelter in woolen soldiers’ uniforms.

Brandon Adkins, who has strapped on an authentic battle sword, likes to tell people he’s a natural-born Confederate from upstate New York.

“One guy, he was calling me a Yankee. And I says, ‘Excuse me, I’m from Town Line, I’m a Confederate. We were Confederates for the longest time.’ He said, ‘If that’s true, I’ll kiss your rear end in front of everybody to see.’ He looked it up and I guess he believes me now that we were the last of the rebels.”

Town resident Brandon Adkins describes himself as a natural-born Confederate from upstate New York.
Town resident Brandon Adkins describes himself as a natural-born Confederate from upstate New York.

Many in Town Line, like history teacher Ray Ball, also find it hard to believe. “I was very surprised when I first heard it 10 years ago. I thought, ‘No way. Come on.'”

As the story goes, townspeople gathered at the local schoolhouse just after war broke out and voted 80-45 to secede from the Union. Shortly after, according to Ball, five local men headed south and joined the Confederate Army.

“The country was literally coming apart at the seams," he says, "and the seams tore much farther north than most people realize.”

But locals are still unsure why Town Line, just minutes from Canada, took such a dramatic step. Ball points out that residents supported Abraham Lincoln for president just the year before. Most were German immigrants without connections to the American south.  

“They had nothing to do with slavery here," Ball says. "So it had to be something beyond that, why they voted the way they did.”

Karen Muchow, who runs the local historical society, has researched the story for years without finding the answer. But, she says, after the Civil War ended, Town Line’s secession from the Union was conveniently forgotten.

“I think it was embarrassment, on some parts, that it happened," says Muchow. "There are no records that we know of. There could be in someone’s attic. Or were, and (were) destroyed. So there’s no names. Which may have been on purpose.”

Life went on. Residents paid federal taxes and opened a U.S. Post Office. Then, in 1946, right after World War II, a local newspaper unearthed the story.

This 1945 letter from President Harry Truman encouraged Town Line residents to rejoin the union.
This 1945 letter from President Harry Truman encouraged Town Line residents to rejoin the union.

Word spread around the country. Telegrams flooded in, hounding the town “rejoin” the Union. Even President Harry Truman wrote an open letter, urging residents to roast veal as a peace offering. Bowing to pressure, the town scheduled a vote.

Back at the 150th anniversary celebration, the crowd watched grainy film footage of long-dead relatives dropping ballots into a box and then lowering the town’s rebel flag, which had flown, on and off, for 85 years.

As an act of unity, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator leads the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance while facing both U.S. and Confederate flags in the front of the church - a salute to Town Line's self-proclaimed status as the “the last holdout of the Confederacy.”

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid