Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 24

Hoist the Colors!

Idenduciis maxima volutet volor alitia quas et que in nonsequ
untissin ne maio. Nequod que
excea parum voluptatus.
Ken and Sue Molzahn's driveway doubles as a lesson in the history
of flags during the American Revolutionary War.

Collins couple turns home into high-flying flagway
by Zach Smith | zsmith@ruralmissouri.coop

T

he flags were just a teaching aid for high school
history teacher Ken Molzahn, a few replicas he
could trot out for his students at the Menominee Tribal School when covering the area's role
in the French and Indian and the American Revolutionary wars. It wasn't until years later, after marrying his wife, Sue, and moving to the southwest Missouri town of Collins that the flags were unpacked.
An idea that appealed to the retired educator inside
of him sparked, a drive-by lesson in America's past
was in the making and the rest is history.
"It got to be an obsession, really," Ken says. "But
I'm from the generation where seeing it and touching it makes it real."
A Green Bay, Wisconsin native, Ken's intention
was to honor the area's past with a dozen flags lining the driveway. He started with the Osage tribal
flag to represent the people who called St. Clair
County home before the arrival of European settlers, worked his way through French and Spanish Colonial control and ended with the present-day
American and Missouri flags. Strong winds brought
the flags down last spring, but instead of breaking Ken's resolve the storm only encouraged him to
raise the bar 10 times higher.
Now the Molzahn's drive is a 130-flag course in
the American Revolutionary War. The "flagway", as
Ken calls it, showcases American Colonial protest,
regimental and militia flags plus those of the patriots' American Indian and European allies. Weatherproof vinyl banners with backgrounds depicting
scenes such as the Boston Massacre or the Battle
of Bunker Hill are organized by year from 1775
through 1781 and tell visitors which flags are represented in each group. No flag is used more than
once, and Ken only flies those that he can prove
through research are accurate to the time period.
Only a few are excluded due to lack of historical
records of their appearance, as is the case for the

24

RURAL MISSOURI | JUNE 2019

Overmountain Men who participated in the Battle for the south fence line to fly another 45 flags representing Missouri's journey from statehood through
of King's Mountain in 1780.
"There are probably 15 that I won't have flying," secession and up to the present-day state flag. MisKen adds. "They are either too complex to make or souri's Union flags will fly on the opposite fence.
Ken also has plans to eventually add a collection of
they are questionable as to when they originated."
flags from the Crusades.
In addition to copious readOn the north fence line, far from the roiling
ing on the subject, Ken contacted
seas but with land in sight, flies the Jolly Roger
researchers with the Smithsonian
and other black sails that require less explaInstitution, National Park Service,
nation. Here, 25 flags make up what Ken
battlefield parks, reenactors, nationcalls, "Caribbean Pirates versus Europe's
al and state archivists and both the
Royal Navies," where Blackbeard's disDaughters and Sons of the American
Collins
tinctive calling card flaps in the wind
Revolution in his quest for a comalongside the ensigns of Spain, Britplete and accurate record. The Molain, Portugal, the American Colonies
zahns also contacted Guinness World
and the Dutch West India Co. Ken
Records.
calls the piracy-era flags a project of
"They told us, 'you will have the most
whimsy born from childhood fascination
American Revolutionary War flags flying
in the world, but we don't really have a category with his favorite book, Robert Louis Stevenson's
for that, so we're not interested,' " Ken says with a "Treasure Island."
The flags have made an impression on visitors
laugh. He also has started a GoFundMe site to help
from Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois, and Ken has
with the costs of maintenance.
A seamstress and fan of period clothing, Sue a presentation prepared for school groups and civic
sews some of the simpler flags with an eye for detail organizations who want to learn more about their
on historical fabrics. One description of George significance. But beyond simply being a colorful
Washington's cousin's flag describes a woman giv- view on a windy day, their value as a teaching tool
ing him the curtains from her house. For the rep- or even Ken's passion for history, there's a more sollica Sue managed to find a piece of similar drapery. emn and personal reason behind the flagway.
"It's going to sound corny, but 90 percent of the
Other pieces receive lettering, additional stitching
and embroidery. The educational benefit of the time when I put up a flag I say a prayer because I know
flags became apparent to the Molzahns when their there are people who died under it, even though mine
granddaughters, neighbors and other members of is just a replica," Ken says with tears in his eyes. "I
think of all those souls who gave us our freedom,
the community began asking about the project.
"If someone who doesn't have a clue about what and the flags are just a simple way to honor them."
it is drives by and sees all these pretty flags waving
Ken and Sue Molzahn's flagway is located along
in the wind, they might want to learn more about
it," Sue says. "It is our hope that maybe some of the Highway 54, three miles west of the Highway 54
and Highway 13 intersection at Collins. For more
schools will stop by to do a field trip."
After talking with friends in the area about local information email Ken at molzahngb@gmail.com.
history, Ken became fascinated with St. Clair Coun- To support maintenance on the project, visit www.
ty's role in the American Civil War. He devised plans gofundme.com/5dw3es8.


http://www.gofundme.com/5dw3es8

Rural Missouri - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - June 2019

Contents
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Contents
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 4
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 5
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 6
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 7
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 8
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 9
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 10
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 11
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 12
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 13
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 14
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 15
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 16
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 17
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 18
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 19
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 20
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 21
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 22
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 23
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 24
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 25
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 26
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 27
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 28
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 29
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 30
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 31
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 32
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 33
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 34
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 35
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 36
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 37
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 38
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 39
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 40
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 41
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 42
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover4
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