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Bear Flag Related Statements from History of SONOMA COUNTY, republished 1973
by Charmaine Burdell Veronda.

Thomas C. Lancey letter appearing in The Pioneer during the year 1878

      Mr. Thomas C. Lancey, the author of several interesting letters on this subject, which appeared in The Pioneer during the year 1878, remarks:--

      “There have been so many questions raised during this year (1878) in relation to the date of the hoisting of the ‘Bear Flag,’ who made it and what material it was manufactured from, as well as the date of the capture of Sonoma, and the number of men who marched that morning, that I shall give the statements of several who are entitled to a hearing, as they were actors in that drama.

        “The writer of this (Mr. Lancey) was here in 1846, and served during the war, and has never left the country since, but was not one of the ‘Bear Flag party,’ but claims from his acquaintance with those who were, to be able to form a correct opinion as to the correctness of these dates.  Dr. Robert Semple, who was one of that party from the first, says, in his diary, that they entered Sonoma at early dawn on the 14th of June, 1846, thirty-three men rank and file.  Wm. B. Ide, who was chosen their commander, says in his diary the same.  Capt. Henry L. Ford, another of this number, says, or rather his historian, S. H. W., of Santa Cruz, who I take to be the Rev. S. H. Willey, makes him say they captured Sonoma on the 12th of June, with thirty-three men.  Lieut. Wm. Baldridge, one of the party, makes the date the 14th of June, and number of men twenty-three.  Lieut. Joseph Warren Revere, of the U.S. ship ‘Portsmouth.’ who hauled down the’Bear flag’ and hoisted the American flag, on the 9th of July, and at a later date commanded the garrison, says, the place was captured on the 14th of June.”

        So many accounts of the manufacture of this insignia have been published that we give the reader those quoted by the writer in The Pioneer:

        “A piece of cotton cloth,” says Mr. Lancey, “was obtained, and a man by the name of Todd proceeded to paint from a pot of red paint a star in the corner.  Before he finished Henry L. Ford, one of the party, proposes to paint on the center, facing the star, a grizzly bear.  This was unanimously agreed to, and the grizzly bear was painted accordingly.  When it was done the flag was taken to the flag-staff, and hoisted amid the hurrahs of the little party, who swore to defend it with their lives.”


January 31, 2007

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