Descended almost entirely from German immigrants with zero investment in slavery, today’s Town Liners have no idea why their forefathers sided with the Southern States in the Civil War one fateful day in 1861.
Though the documents were lost long ago, the town has gone down in history after its 80-45 vote to secede from the United States along with the South in 1861. Perhaps intentionally, no names were attached to the votes themselves, so retracing the steps through family lineage remains all but impossible today.
According to New York: A Guide to the Empire State (Federal Writers’ Project, 1940), the dissenting minority referred to the town as a “nest of Copperheads,” threatening them with arrest under charges of sedition and even lynching. Nonetheless, according to oral history, at least five members of newly-Confederate Town Line headed south to join the Army of Northern Virginia, even as twenty residents stayed put and fought for the Union Army.
When the war ended, the tiny hamlet’s rebellion was easily forgotten; consequently, their repatriation went undealt with, also. Residents participated in life as normal under the reunified United States, paying taxes as if nothing had happened. It took until the end of World War II for this lost bit of history to once again resurface, at which point the nation – and President Harry Truman – petitioned the Town Line to “rejoin the Union.” Votes were recast and at a tally of 90-23, Town Line acquiesced.
The town continues to celebrate its conflicted heritage as the Confederacy’s last holdout. One such case was in 2011, at the 150th anniversary of Town Line’s secession, which saw townspeople in historical dress donning rebel greys to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in front of both the U.S. and Confederate flags, before lowering the latter.
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