My Arkansas, Then And Now

My Arkansas, Then And Now

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On This Date In Arkansas History

…Willie Kavanaugh Hocker died

Who was Willie Hocker? She was the designer of the Arkansas state flag, one of only two women in the United States credited with state flag designs. Willie Hocker was born on July 21, 1862 in Kentucky, the youngest child of William K. and Virginia Brown Hocker, who moved their family to Arkansas in 1870, settling in Dudley Lake Township near Wabbaseka, Arkansas.

Hocker’s design was “a rectangular field of red, on which is placed a large white diamond, bordered by a wide band of blue—national colors. Across the diamond is the word ‘Arkansas’”—placed there by request of the committee—“and the blue stars, one above, two below the word. On the blue band are placed twenty-five white stars.” The diamond signifies that Arkansas is the only state where diamonds are mined. The twenty-five white stars represent Arkansas’s place as the twenty-fifth state admitted to the Union. The three blue stars represent the three nations, France, Spain, and the United States, whose flags had flown over the state. The Arkansas General Assembly adopted this design as the official state flag in February 1913. The flag remained unchanged until 1923, when the legislature added a fourth star to the diamond to represent the Confederacy. At first, there were two stars above the name and two below, but legislation in 1924 positioned a Confederate star above the state’s name and the original three below it.

Hocker received honors and acclaim for the rest of her life for her design of the Arkansas state flag. In 1929, she represented Arkansas at the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs’ Pageant of Famous Women of the United States.

Willie Hocker died at her home in Wabbaseka on February 6th, 1944.

Reference: Encyclopedia of Arkansas

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