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Theodore H. Hittell HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA, Volume II (1885), page 432.

            As soon as Merritt and his party had gone off, leaving Ide and his companions in possession of Sonoma, the idea of a declaration of independence suggested itself to the latter.  One of the first things needed was a flag.  It did not take long to produce one.  A piece of coarse white cotton cloth about two yards long by a yard wide, probably the material of an old sack or bag with the seams ripped, was procured and along the lower edge of it was sewed a narrow strip of red woolen stuff, said to be flannel or merino from the back of one of the men.  A pot of red paint was found, and William Todd, an immigrant who had come from Illinois, offered himself as artist.  The whole party seems to have assisted in choosing the design and doubtless stood by to see it executed on the canvas.  First Todd painted a large single star and next to it a small figure supposed, with some stretch of the imagination, to represent a grizzly bear.  Underneath these figures in large Roman letters were painted the words “California Republic.”  The flag was then turned over and the same designs and letters painted on the other side.  As soon as it was completed, it was run up on the flag-staff, where theretofore had floated only the Mexican colors.  All took place on the same day, June 14, 1846; and such were the origin, composition and raising of the bear-flag of California.

            The original bear-flag was subsequently given to the Society of California Pioneers and deposited in their Hall at San Francisco.  In after years it was frequently carried in procession on occasions of celebration and attracted much attention.  The merits of the artist may be judged from an incident that took place on one of these occasions.  Two street boys of the genus “hoodlum” were looking at the procession.  One shouted to the other: “Hello, Bill, what’s them comin’ yonder?”  “Don’t you know what them is?  Them’s the Butchers and Drovers — don’t you see the figur’ of the stuffed pig?”

January 31, 2007

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