The Dubuque County Historical Society recently welcomed a donation of archival materials relating to Lillian Clark Cary, a prominent Dubuque woman known for her civic engagement and patriotism in the early 20th century. The donation consists of two scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings of Lillian Clark Cary’s poetry and coverage of current events and her civic endeavors.

Lillian Clark Cary was born in 1873 in Lyon, Iowa. Her father played a pivotal role in her life, as his status as a veteran of the Civil War undoubtedly inspired Lillian’s devotional patriotism that she made the main work of her life.

Among her many accomplishments, she gained local and national prominence in the Ladies auxiliary of the G.A.R, an organization for widows or kin of Civil War veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. She served as president of the local Dubuque chapter, held the title of National patriotic Instructor for Ladies of the G.A.R. for many years, and served two terms as the national president of the organization. The list goes on and on.

Throughout her life, Lillian focused on promoting Americanism, an idealistic patriotism that focused on loyalty and service to the country, and the importance in creating good citizens. For Lillian, the ideals of America were best symbolized in the country’s flag, to which she devoted much of her writing and speaking, such as this 1917 poem:


The Prophecy

“O Nation’s Flag! What will thy colors mean,

When blazoned in the hours that lie beyond?”

From out the stars that ever shine and gleam,

The only answer to the years is found

“My glory lies in all that’s just and true.

‘Twill ever wave within my folds of light.

You make me everything I mean to you –

A noble act of love – a life upright.

What shall I be to you in years unseen?

When golden moments paint my folds so fair

You’ll look beyond the earther where starlight beams,

And say, with pride and peace and joy, “Still There.”

I am the standard you have dared to raise,

The shining symbol of the well-fought fight.

And in the distant future’s mist and haze,

The Stars and Stripes uphold the cause of right.

I am your hope, your aims, your dreams come true,

I am your labors in a cause divine.

Whatever you would have me be to you,

Thou makest me, -- a lie, or truth sublime.”