BOONSBORO REFLECTIONS: How the Black-eyed Susan Became the State Flower

Posted on Apr 25, 2017


Harvey Bomberger is a famous son of Boonsboro, having served in the House of Delegates and the Maryland State Senate.  He was the co-founder and first chairman of the Washington County Historical Society and president of the Boonsboro Cemetery Association.  But the adoption of the black-eyed Susan as Maryland’s State Flower ranks as one of Bomberger’s more enduring accomplishments.   In 1898, the Maryland Agricultural College hosted a Farmers Institute “Round-Up” inviting farmers and their families from around the state to College Park for three days of instruction and entertainment.  A special “Woman’s Section” was planned for the female attendees and one of the agenda items was the selection of a state flower.  The Black-eyed Susan, the goldenrod and the daisy received 42, 28 and 1 vote, respectively, from the attendees.

But no legislative action was taken until two decades later when, in 1918, Senator Bomberger introduced a bill to make the black-eyed Susan the official symbol, arguing that the black and yellow flower matched the colors of the Calvert family crest, which were also colors on the state flag.  While some opponents promoted the goldenrod, Senator Bomberger and his supporters prevailed and Governor Harrington approved the bill on April 18, 1918.

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