Very Large 42 Star Flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by Coral, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. Coral

    Coral New Member

    I have had this flag for several years and finally dug it out of storage to research it. It is quite large, over 30 feet long and 20ish feet high. It is patched in quite a few places. I had heard that the man whos name is sewn on the flag was based in Alameda CA but have found no support for that. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated!


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  2. Dexter Cole

    Dexter Cole Member

    Nice flag Coral, 42 star flags flew around 1890. I like the straight stitching on the stars making it clearly early, as opposed to zig-zag stitching. Any other markings on the rope edge?
  3. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Coral!

    Welcome to the USA_FLAG_SITE Forums!

    It's kind of difficult to get an accurate count of the Stars with all the "hills & valleys" and such in the material. I think I counted about bits & pieces of about 40 Stars, or so. Are you sure there 42 Stars in the Flag's Union? The reason why I asked is because the United States never had an "official" 42-star Flag. With the addition of the state of Colorado as the 38th State, the U.S. Flag had 38 Stars from July 4th, 1877 to July 3rd, 1890. The Flag went up to 43 Stars on July 4th, 1890 with the addition of five new States to The Union: Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington. The 43-Star Flag was official until the 44th Star was added on July 4th, 1891 for the addition of Wyoming.

    Not to "muddy" the waters a bit, but there have been many times throughout our history where people made "unofficial" numbered-star Flags to "unofficially" celebrate their territory becoming a State. This usually happened when a territory became a State but before that State's Star being officially added on the July 4th following that State's inclusion in the Union. When you get two or more States being added in one year, the "competition" could be fierce!

    As near as I can tell, the stitching on the appliqued Stars is "straight line" and not the more "modern" zig-zag style. A patent for a "Zig-Zag" sewing machine was granted in 1873, but it took a number years more before it was in wide-spread use, I believe. Mid-to-Late-1890's, maybe?

    I see at least three sets of double rows of stitching running across the blue Union, and across some rows of Stars too. Some kind of reinforcing, perhaps?

    I can see in one of your pictures that there is, what looks to be, a sisal rope sewn into the canvas header (hoist). If that is so, does it have metal (steel or brass) ring at one end and a wooden "toggle" at the other end? If so, then your Flag might have been used on a military or civilian ship, or possibly a yacht club.

    Although you mentioned Alameda, California, you didn't say where you were actually located. The name "Charles L. Gelan" could be the name of the owner and, if so, the Flag might have been a "presentation" piece. Maybe when he retired from a business, or the military. If it does have a ring and toggle for mounting to a halyard, it might have been a Navy Flag, or a shipping company, or a ferry boat line, or a yacht club. Alameda (City & County) is located on the east side of San Francisco Bay so it could have been any one of those.

    But... What if Charles Louis Gelan was born on October 19, 1873 in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States of America? Have you met his wife, Marie? What if he died on August 13, 1958 in Redwood, Sonoma County, California, United States of America?

    Some U.S. Census Entries :
    1920 - Berkeley, Alameda County, California, USA
    1930 - Berkeley, Alameda County, California, USA
    1940 - Monte Rio Duncan Mills Road Redwood, Sonoma County, California, USA

    What if there are listings for him in Berkeley between 1920 and 1940? In Redwood City, Sonoma County 1940 to 1958? Would you be able to check the City Directories on Could he be a caterer found on page 805 0f POLK'S 1927 Oakland/Berkeley City Directory? Or on Page 723 of Polk's 1925 Oakland/Berkeley City Directory? GO LOOK !!!

    Where is Charles Louis Gelan buried?

    Find-A-Grave :

    Or, you could always google him...

    Here is a simple Google search for "Charles L. Gelan" :

    Hell, it's almost 3:15 am and I'm going to bed!

    Good Night!

    Robin Hickman
    "Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.


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