married at age 27 in 1936. He supported his wife, her mother, and their
baby daughter with his job as a collector and meter reader at the gas
company, and a second job of refinishing and selling antiques to dealers
in Gettysburg and York, Pa.
Thus his love of
history served him well in tracking down antiques as he entered homes as
a serviceman for the gas company. He acquired many of his antiques
through these ordinary entries, and inquiring if the owner would sell a
piece. He also regularly attended Crawfordís auctions held at their
auction room on Carlisle Street, as well as many other auctions.
In 1943 he was
drafted into the Navy, one of the older draftees at age 35. He was sent
to Great Lakes for training and later shipped out to an island in the
Pacific Marianas, Tinian. There he was part of a small select unit that
worked on assembling the atomic bomb. He flew on the Enola Gay during a
practice mission. 8 months of his 2 years in the Navy were spent on
Tinian. He spoke very little of his war time experiences or the bombing
of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 which initiated from the island of Tinian.
Returning to Hanover in December of 1945, he continued working with the
Willís love of
history also led him to explore the history of Hanover, along with the
historic buildings and lay-out of the town. Many families in Hanover had
their roots here, and he would speak to these local people and gather
historic backgrounds. He was an extremely humble man, smiling, and kind.
He was never a wealthy man, but always known for his generosity.
He was an avid
reader with what, I think, might have been a photographic mind.
Hanoverís connection to Gettysburg and the Civil War in our area became
another hobby. Soon he was called upon to give private tours of this
area to historians visiting at Gettysburg. At about this time, the
Hanover Area Historical Society (HAHS) was being formed by a small core of
interested citizens. The HAHS. honored him with the presentation of
their first membership card.
contributions that Will had made to the community, one was in
recognizing the historic value of the Forney Farm property during the
Civil War. When this farm home was sold and dismantled in 1961 to make
way for a supermarket- Will, by himself, took down the interior paneling
from the home, restored it in his garage workshop, and placed it in the
Hanover Public Library where it stands today.
In the Ď60's, he
also commissioned two young artists in Hanover to paint several oil
painting of scenes in Hanover during the Civil War. He donated these
paintings to the library and they are still hanging there. One of those
artists went on to become quite renowned in the Chesapeake Bay Area- the
late, Reuben Becker. The other, Raymond Dubbs, is a Hanover businessman.
As Will visited
homes in the area, he began an extensive collection of historic
photographs. He was encouraged by Amelia and Fischer Ehrhart. Later that
collection became the basis of an ever-growing collection at the public
library and at the Historic society.
Hanoverians will remember Will for his Flag Collection which appeared in
many programs, displays, articles in the Evening Sun, and parades in
Hanover. This collection was gifted to the Hanover Historical Society
upon the death of his wife, Harriet Clausen.
Clausen Flag Collection In the mid 1960's, the flag faced some of its
most trying challenges. Aroused by both domestic and foreign issues,
some Americans denounced, defaced, and burned the flag. It was in
response to this flag desecrating that Will Clausen conceived, and began
his positive response in 1965.
He felt if
people understood the history behind our flag, there would be fewer who
would desecrate a flag, and many others would raise theirs higher. Will
felt that if more people could visualize the role which flags have
played in our nationís history, there would be no question of its value
as a symbol of human dignity and liberty.
of 78 hand-made reproductions of historical American flags offers an
opportunity to view American history in an exciting and unique way.
The flags trace
the important periods and events in American History:
Exploration Period from the time of the Vikings.
Period and a carving of the nation from the wilderness.
The Civil War.
The War of 1812
and Growth of our country to 50 states.
The Hanover Area
Historical Society (HAHS) came into being in 1965, having been originated by a
small group of individuals with a keen interest in history. Willís goal
was to create a display for the Hanover Heritage Days. Heritage Days
began in 1965 to celebrate the bicentennial of the founding of Hanover,
and the final celebration was in May of 1966. Between September of 1965
and May of 1966, he researched and reproduced 27 flags at his home at 8
N. Penn Street in Hanover, Pa. Will was 58 at that time.
To make his
flags, he found the earliest book references to that particular flag. He
then used an opaque projector at one of the public schools to project
the picture on to a large sheet of wallpaper to get an accurate design
of the flag, and any lettering on it. The pattern that was thus created
was then pinned to cotton material and cut out. Kressís Bargain Barn on
Pleasant St., Hanover, Pa. ordered the materials. Many times materials
were ordered from other parts of the country.
It is to be
noted that Will used cotton in all his reproductions. However, the
original historic flags were made from a variety of materials. Also
Willís replicas were not the exact sizes as some of the originals which
are still in existence and which can be viewed in museums around our
the talents of 2 Hanover ladies to do the machine sewing. Mrs. Elizabeth
Botterbush of 1 N. Penn St., and later Mrs. Lily (Ralph) Wherley of 26
George St., Hanover, Pa.. Some original flags had hand-painted designs,
and Willís reproductions were also hand-painted by him.
miniature photos-and-paintings of each flag were created and lettered by
Richard B.Garrett of Stevens Circle, Hanover, Pa. Diller Wierman, whose
business was at 20 W. Park Ave., Hanover, Pa. made the sign holders.
Richard Bair at the Hanover Scrap Processing Company provided the bases
and aluminum tubing to Will, who then made the flag poles. A company in
Littlestown made the balls which topped the poles.
display was set up around the then Hanover Square and was seen by the
Congressman from the 19th District of Pa., Congressman Neiman Craley. He
asked that the 27 flags be displayed in Statuary Hall in the United
States Capitol in Washington, D.C. for June 14th,1966, the 50th
anniversary of Flag Day.
By June of 1967,
the collection had grown to 44 flags, and, again, it was displayed in
Statuary Hall at the request of then Congressman George Goodling and
Speaker of the House, John McCormack. The display remained for several
weeks and viewed by thousands. Will and his displays in the Capitol had
been mentioned twice in speeches published in the ĎCongressional RecordĒ
of 1966, and 1967.
two programs achieved national fame, Will Clausen spoke to groups both
small and large- from young children, scouts, school groups to senior
citizens, and civic groups. His flags were displayed in the town square,
in schools, and in public halls. A few of his reproductions have flown
over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and over Ft. McHenry in
Baltimore, Md. Twelve were autographed in 1967 by state governors.
His goal of 200
flags for the 1976 Bicentennial was severed by his untimely death from
cancer in 1972, just 22 days before his 64th birthday, and 4 years
before the Bicentennial celebration for our country at which time he had
set a goal of 200 flags. The 78 reproductions provide a colorful and
impressive memorial to the Stars and Stripes and to Wilfred Clair
After his death,
his wife, Harriet, loaned the collection many times to groups, in
particular displays at the capitol of Pa. in Harrisburg. His daughter,
Carolyn, and her husband carried out his wish to use the flags during
the Bicentennial in 1976. In cooperation with Adelphi- Dowling College
on Long Island, NY, and several of the public schools on Long Island,
the flags were exhibited in programs and displays . After the death of
Mrs. Clausen in 1992, the flag collection was donated to the Hanover
Area Historical Society.