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Iowa History Daily: November 18 - Dixie Cornell Gehardt & the Iowa Flag

Iowa History Daily: On November 18, 1866, Dixie Cornell Gebhardt, “Mother of the Iowa Flag,” was born in Knoxville. Designer of Iowa’s state flag during World War I, Dixie Cornell Gebhardt’s design endures to fly over Iowa today.

Born to American Civil War infantryman and Knoxville physician, Dr. Norman Riley Cornell, Dixie May Cornell grew up in the seat of Marion County. Although one year of education took Dixie to Ottumwa for education at the Visitation School for Girls, she attended Knoxville Public Schools for the majority of her youth and graduated in 1885.

After a brief stint teaching, Dixie Cornell got involved in the community before marrying George Tullis Gebhardt in June of 1900. An important officer of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, and Red Cross, Cornell Gebhardt helped establish the Mary Marion Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1917 while also serving at the state-level in the DAR.

When Iowa Governor William Harding commissioned a contest for a state flag design in May of 1917 in the hopes of establishing a regimental flag for Iowa Guardsmen serving in World War I, Gebhardt collected ideas from DAR chapters throughout Iowa while spending eight years in determining the final design featuring an eagle clutching a banner which reads “our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain” on a field of red, white, and blue. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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