- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2001

SUFFOLK, Va. (AP) A 19th-century museum's decision not to display a 94-year-old Confederate flag has angered a Civil War group. Museum officials said they did not want to offend black residents.

The guardians of the flag the local Tom Smith Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans want to have the flag restored, preserved and displayed at Riddick's Folly, a house and museum. A member of the Riddick family had presented the flag to a Civil War veterans group.

"That flag is very historically linked to that house and to this community," said William M. Richardson, commander of the group.

The Greek Revival mansion was built in the late 1830s and nicknamed "folly" because it was so big. Union soldiers seized the house during the Civil War.

Three years ago, the flag was found in a storage room at the clerk's office, along with a note that said the flag "was presented to the Tom Smith Camp, Confederate Veterans, on Jan. 19, 1907. Since this camp is out of existence by death of all veterans, this flag is now in custody of the Suffolk Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy."

The note says the Daughters placed the hand-stitched, 6-by-6-foot flag with the city clerk for safekeeping.

Anna Mary Riddick was president of the Daughters for 30 years. Mr. Richardson said she likely presented the flag to the veterans group at a celebration of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's 100th birthday.

The Sons want to see the flag on the third floor of the Riddick home, near a room where signatures of Union soldiers who stayed at the home are preserved.

The plan to preserve the flag was discussed at the last meeting of the museum's board of directors. The board voted not to display the flag.

"There was a concern that it may not be sensitive to the black community to have the flag in the house," said James E. Butler III, president of the board.

Two blacks are on the 30-member Riddick's Folly board. Juanita Barnes declined to comment. John Monroe said he wasn't at the last board meeting and could not comment.

Suffolk Mayor Curtis R. Milteer, who also is black, said, "I see it as historical. It wouldn't affect me either way. I wouldn't become unglued about it."

Mr. Richardson said he thinks the board fears losing funding if the flag is displayed. The museum received about $36,000 from the city last year.

Mr. Butler said that is not the case.

"I feel fully confident the city is going to back the board in whatever decision we make," he said.

Mr. Butler said the flag also has no place at the museum because it does not fit into the 1840s decor the board is trying to maintain.


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