Myths, Lies and History—Myth No. 3 The Historic Flagpole
Prominently displayed on the wall, framed and under glass, in the hall of Peddler’s Alley just outside the restaurant that originally was Don Buckhout’s Smedlap’s Smithy is the tale of the historic flagpole. The story is that several young former employees at his Maumee restaurant The Plantation Inn, were at the site of the old British Fort Miami watching a huge ice jam on the river force huge blocks of ice seventeen inches thick up the hill above the river. One such block gouged a six inch deep furrow in the top soil and pushed aside an old millstone. Under the stone they discovered a deep, old dry well and peering into the well they saw an old moss-covered rounded pole. They covered up their find and told their former employer. Later, under the cover of night the boys and Buckhout pulled the thirty foot flagpole from the well, loaded onto a boat trailer and hauled it back to Waterville. The pole was stored several months, cleaned up, and varnished and fitted with pulleys and cable. The pole was erected with a concrete base on Thursday May 26, 1977 and Saturday morning a beautiful new 5’ x 8’ flag was raised. The story then suggests that when the British abandoned Fort Miami about 1814 they thought they might return so they hid the garrison’s pole in the well. The story notes, to make it more realistic, that there is (was) a hole near the top made by a small cannonball.
Great story! A piece of American history prominently displayed in front of a Waterville restaurant. Could this be true? Let’s check a few facts. The river at Fort Miami is deep, wide and well beyond the rapids above Maumee. Does anyone recall an ice jam pushing cakes of ice ashore at that location? Would even Don Buckhout steal a historic artifact from a historic site and brag about it? Would the British dig a well 30 feet deep in front of the river? Would a well that deep be dry? Would a wooden pole last 150 years in a damp if not wet hole? As for the cannon ball hole, I don’t recall in the history of Fort Miami that it was ever fired on. Fort Meigs is a couple of miles upriver and fired at the British cannon just across the river in present day Maumee. Could it be that Mr. Buckhout may have been pulling our leg to promote his restaurant?
Author’s note: Does anyone remember this flagpole? When was it taken out and where did it go?