The daughters of the American Revolution conducted a ceremony recently to raise an Arkansas Flag at 2801 Elm in Pine Bluff in front of the house where it was designed.
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington opened the meeting with greetings and remarks about the importance of the flag’s designer to Wabbaseka.
Claire Holmes, DAR historic Preservation Chairman, said that at age 7, Willie Hocker, along with her family, landed on the banks of the Arkansas River near Wabbaseka. Her father was a planter and she grew up on a farm. She attended the University of Virginia and the University of Colorado.
At age 25, she was certified to teach and began teaching in Jefferson County schools, becoming the principal of First Ward School in Pine Bluff. After two years, she returned to her home town of Wabbaseka, where she continued her teaching career for the remainder of her life.
Hocker was a member of Pine Bluff Chapter DAR, and when that group wanted to present an Arkansas Flag to the newly-commissioned battleship, the USS Arkansas, they learned the state had no official flag. They suggested to the Arkansas Secretary of State that he conduct a contest to design a state flag. A committee was named and designs were submitted. Hocker’s design was selected as the winner. She and Betsy Ross are the only two American women to have designed flags.
Assisting in this project were Lawson Love, owner of the property, who gave permission to cut encroaching limbs; Robert Weaver of Weaver Tree Service, who cut the limbs free of charge as a public service; State Senator Stephanie Flowers, who obtained the flag; and Pine Bluff firefighters from Station 1, who attached the rope to the flag pole.
The Arkansas Flag was raised by firefighters from Station 1, after which DAR Regent Sandra Poore led the group in a salute to the flag.