When I think about communities that were staunchly committed to Old Dixie, places like Vicksburg, Richmond, and Atlanta all come to mind… which makes it even more fascinating to learn that the last American town to call a truce with the US government following the Civil War was located in the State of New York and that they didn’t officially do so until after World War II.
Located in Erie County, just a handful of miles from the Canadian border, Town Line, New York, seems about as an unlikely community to have sided with Jeff Davis and the Confederacy as one could possibly have found in the opening days of 1861, but that’s exactly what happened.
Though the locality voted for Lincoln in the November 1860 election, the German farmers of the community were adamantly opposed to the new President’s call for 75,000 to wage war against South Carolina the following year and the refused to comply.
In the face of a very unpopular draft, the 125 of the townspeople gathered inside a schoolhouse in the fall of 1861 and considered adopting a resolution to secede from the United States.
After much deliberation, the informal meeting passed by a margin of 85 to 40 a resolution to secede from the United States.
Following the vote, several members of the German-American community fled to Canada, while five residents crossed the Mason–Dixon line to fight with the Confederates in the Army of Northern Virginia.
For nearly a century, the town remained at odds with the United States government, refusing to officially call an end to the war and “rejoin” the Union they never really left.
World War II, however, changed the mindset of the townspeople and in the closing days of the war, the citizens of the Erie County community felt a renewed patriotism for Old Glory.
The community organized a reconstruction committee and wrote to President Harry S Truman detailing their town’s plight.
Truman humorously responded, “Why don’t you run down the fattest calf in Erie County, barbecue it and serve it with fixins, and sort out your problems.”
The town did just that in December 1945, however, they were unable to reach a consensus as to whether or not they should rejoin the Union.
The following month, on January 24, 1946, the town held an official vote inside the same one-room school house town leaders had gathered in 85 years — with the Stars and Bars still defiantly flying in western New York.
Ballots were placed in a wooden box atop a schoolhouse desk on which articles of secession were signed late in 1861.
The final count revealed a vote of 90 to 23 in favor of rejoining the Union.
The Confederate Battle Flag was then hauled down and the Stars and Stripes were again ran up the pole.
A crowd of over 500 sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Who would have ever imagined the last 23 rebels of the American Civil War were all yankees from New York?
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