1896 B. F. Dewell Statement---
As the speaker closed, two of these survivors of the Bear Flag party, B.F. Dewell and Henry Beeson -- the others, Harvey Porterfield, of Napa county, and Thomas Knight, of San Francisco, were absent -- attached the tattered old flag to the suspended halyards and slowly hoisted the synbol to the top of the staff. The act was greeted by continued cheering. (PP.7, 8)
Mr. Dewell answered a few days ago the questions propounded by Bancroft, to-wit: "Who furnished the cotton? Who the flannel? Whence came the red paint? Was the cloth new or old? Had the flannel graced the undergarment of a fair and patriotic lady, or had it filled a humble station as a part of a man's red shirt?"
Mr. Dewell's answers describe the flag graphically. "The pioneer does not remember who furnished the cotton, but cotton was plentiful. Red flannel was very scarce, however. Mrs. J. Grigsby and Mrs. W. B. Elliott furnished the red flannel. The latter supplied all she could from a petticoat, and then from the leathern-shirted throng a committee of one was chosen to call upon Mrs. Grigsby for the remainder." It happened that the lady was in the act of cutting up red flannel for an expected baby Grigsby. She yielded, however, to the exigency of the hour and denied herself and her unborn babe that the flag might be completed.
"The flag was made," said Dewell a few days ago, "in the front room of the barracks, just at the left of the doo, and most of the sewing was done by myself. 'Bill' Todd painted the bear and star with black ink. The colors --red, white and blue-- were used because they were the colors of the United States flag. The bear was selected as representing the strongest animal found in that section of the country. The language of the flag was: 'A bear stands his ground always, and as long as the stars shine we stand for the cause.'"
Mrs. Dewell, who was a daughter of the petticoat-sacrificing Mrs. Elliot, remembers the flag well. She says it consisted of nine or ten stripes alternating in white, red and blue, with a blue square in the upper corner next the staff, a black star on the first white stripe, and a black bear on the second white stripe. Underneath the bear were the words, "California Republic." The bear and lettering were in ink. Thomas Cowie helped Dewell in the sewing, as they were both saddlers by trade.
January 31, 2007
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