Where is the oldest authentic 13-star and stripes flag?

Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by NAVA1974, May 5, 2009.

  1. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    I have been collecting flags for nearly 40 years now and have never ever seen a 13-star, 13-stripe flag conforming to The Flag Resolution that could positively be identified with the time period 1777-1795 when they were the official flag of the United States of America. The silken Schuyler flag, and the wool bunting Brandywine flag, both in Philly, are probably 18th C vintage, but the Schuyler flag is of the eagle-in-the-canton design and the shield has 16 stripes, if I recall correctly, dating it to the late 1790's, and the Brandywine flag is red with a red/white stars and stripes canton. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the "Fort Independence Flag" in the 4-5-4 star pattern that they claim flew over the fort in the early days of our country's independence, but it is the size of a US Navy Boat flag of the mid 19th C, and I wouldn't bet my reputation on it's being an 18th c relic. The New London, CT, historical society has a silk 13 star flag but there's no provenance showing it existed in the 18th C.

    I am fortunate to own a half-dozen antique 13 star flags myself, but the oldest is clearly no earlier than the 1840's time frame. So, my challenge to the USA flags forum: Where is the oldest USA flag in existence? (the oldest flag IN THE USA in existence is probably the Bedford flag, supposedly carried at the battle of Concord on 19 April 1775, but it was a militia flag and not a stars and stripes.)
  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    A quick Google search for, "Oldest American Flag", brought up an interesting Google Books result for Page 33 of the book, "Stars & Stripes Forever: The History, Stories, and Memories of Our American Flag" By Richard H. Schneider, Dick Schneider.


    The author claims that when he called and talked to the curator (Mr. Chris Fox) of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum (where the "Schuyler Flag" was supposedly located) about the "Schuyler Flag", he was told that they "Schuyler Flag" was a "Myth".

    Gee! I don't know WHO to trust anymore! :eek:

    On a LESS serious note: I, Robin Hickman, just started a totally UN-sustantiated and UN-founded rumor out on the internet that the earliest known and oldest official and authentic Flag of the United States of America was buried with Betsy Ross after she passed away! Really! I swear to God that that rumor is totally, 100%, UN-substantiated and UN-founded! :eek: :D

    On a MORE serious note: I suppose that there are a number of "authentic" early American Flags in existence. I don't know if there is any "real" good way to figure out which one is the oldest. Each Flag's claim to be the "oldest" (or "earliest") would have to be based on its "provenance". It is my belief (an un-supported "hunch", actually) that not all "provenances" are created equal.

    Finally, I think that this thread will, hopefully, turn into one of the more interesting, entertaining, and informative threads in these forums!

    Robin Hickman
  3. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Sorry for the confusion but I meant the "Schuyler Flag" not the "Fort Schuyler Flag." Please see PDF Page 18 of 80 in Grace Rogers Cooper's book "Thirteen Star Flags - Keys to Identification" where Grace says that the flag may be the oldest known with 13 stars and 13 stripes. http://www.sil.si.edu/smithsoniancontributions/HistoryTechnology/pdf_lo/SSHT-0021.pdf

    However, as I noted above, it is a silk Eagle in the Canton color, not a plain old wool bunting stars-n-stripes.

    The search is on!
  4. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Lemme see here...

    My Mother's maiden name was Fowle. According to UN-substantiated Fowle Family rumors, Great-Great-Great Grandfather Jonathan Fowle made an American Flag by hand and in 1781 presented it to a harbor Fort somewhere in New England that flew it and after the Revolutionary War, an English man-of-war rendered it a 13 gun salute. IF it's still around, maybe it is the "oldest"? Nawwwwwww.......

  5. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    The "Fowle Flag" is the same one I referenced earlier as the "Fort Independence Flag" in Boston. See
    Historical Flags of Our Ancestors - American Revolutionary War Flags for an illustration of the unique star arrangement.

    I saw that flag at the Massachusetts state house in the mid 1970s before it was removed from display, so 'yes' it still exists, and it certainly is old, but without a forensic fabric analysis I can't say that the actual relic flag is any older than the mid 19'th century Navy Boat Flags with 13 stars and 13 stripes.
  6. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Here is a photo of the Fowle Flag, from Mastai's book.


    Attached Files:

  7. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Thank You, NAVA1974 !


    Thank You, NAVA1974 !!

    I appreciate your efforts to help "educate" me regarding the history and antiquity of the American Flag!

    I put Mr. Loeser's Flags page in my "Favorites" folder. Also, I bookmarked the "Terwilliger Collection" of the Mastai's flags.

    I can NOT verify anything from the Fowle side of the family as they have all passed away and I do not believe there were any written papers left behind (Flag-related or otherwise). I used a three-day FREE pass on Ancestry.com to trace my mother's Father (my Grandfather) back to Wisconsin and Iowa. And, IF I remember correctly, I was able to trace my Great-Grandfather Fowle back to New York (I think). I was trying to cover an awful lot of unknown ground back then in those three days so I'm not very sure about who & when. I always thought that the "Fowle Flag" story (what little I remembered of it) was kind of "neat", but I was just a kid then. There is NO WAY on God's green Earth that I could tell you what the Flag looked (or looks) like, as I'd never seen a picture of it. In other words, I am a totally UN-reliable "witness", or maybe I'm a "witless witness"?

    As to whether the "Fowle", or as it is better known, "Fort Independence" Flag is the "oldest" "Stars & Stripes" type of American Flag, I couldn't tell you. As far as I know there is no "certain" scientific or forensic way of dating a Flag to a specific year. I think everything back then was pretty much hand-spun, hand-woven, hand-sewn, and "hand" everything else.

    Anyway, Thank You, again, for helping to educate me regarding the early history (and maybe, "mythology") of the American Flag !!!

    I hope others are learning from this thread TOO !!

    Robin Hickman
  8. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    I know that this is "off-subject" and I apologize for it !

    Since I couldn't quite remember what I'd found out about the "Fowle" side of my family and it started "bugging" me, I decided to try to figure it out.!

    It's been quite awhile since I did the 3-day free pass thing on Ancestry.com, and I did quite remember my "Fowle" family discoveries correctly. Of course, I'm not even very sure of my "detective" skills as I know (or knew) absolutely NOTHING about genealogy.

    I went to Ancestry.com to check the family tree that I had constructed a few years ago. It took me awhile to access it because I'd forgotten my "Log-In" name and/or password!

    Anyway, Here's what I found (right & wrong) "

    Grandfather Leonard I. Fowle : born 1884 in Iowa.
    Great-Grandfather Leonard I. Fowle : born 1844 in Wisconsin.
    G-G-Grandfather Samuel Fowle : born 1801 in Massachusetts.

    I wish I'd been able to go farther back and in more detail regarding my entire family tree, but I didn't know what I was doing and I only had three FREE days to do it in!

    Sorry for going "off-subject".

    FWIW : I was able to maybe "clear up" my memory a little AND I've been able to remember my log-in name & PW at Ancestry.com !!!

    Robin "Who, Me?" Hickman
  9. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    You said "G-G-Grandfather Samuel Fowle : born 1801 in Massachusetts." Well that certainly places your branch of the Fowle family in the right state at the right time, since G-G-G-Grandmother Fowle was VERY likely to be there at the same time Samuel was born!And maybe even a little before that. Interesting info.
    Nick "genealogical records were probably purged by Stalin" Artimovich
  10. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Nick !


    I'm still stumblin' around trying to figure out what-the-heck happened way-back-when!

    So far the ONLY thing I know FOR SURE... is that there were a LOT of "Fowles" in the New England area "back-in-the-day" !!!

    But... So far... NO known connection between GG-GF Samuel Fowle and Jonathan Fowle. I think I've lost my way...

    Robin "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep..." Hickman
  11. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

  12. Captgio

    Captgio New Member

    Greeting's Nava 1974,

    In regards to the Authentic 13 Stars and Stripes flag in New London. The Shaw flag is the real deal, look at the flag itself! The flag was unfinished, no hoist, no top tassel section. Did you know Capt. Nathaniel Shaws wife did not even finish her husbands needle point work of his family coat of Arms. The silk needle point showing her unfinished work because she died. Giving her life to save and aid Amerian POW's just off the NY prision ships. The document exists from the the family saying Lucretia Shaw made the flag for Shaw.

    Shaw owned many ships in the Rev War. You should check out the accuate documented paintings showing his ships that are flying his PERSONAL 13 Stars and Stripes like the one in New London.
  13. Captgio

    Captgio New Member

    The New London Shaw flag is authentic NAVA 1974! The family document saying Lucretia Shaw did make the flag and the society has that document. The Shaw flag is unfinished and so is the Silk needle point she was working on for her hubands coat of arms. The coat of arms that shows 3 urns. I am sure you saw that in New London. Have you ever seen Rev War documented paintings of Shaws personal ships/privateers showing the same exact flag flying off the top mast. In the 1789's Shaws brother just happened to have another commissioned painting showing the same flag flown on a shaw ship!
  14. Vexman

    Vexman New Member

    Nick is right, although there is nothing known about the Fort Independence flag that would preclude it from being authentically from 1781. The oldest DATED stars and stripes in the conventional sense is the canton of the flag of the Pewterers Society used in the Federal Grand Procession on 23 July 1788. The original is at the New York Historical Society. The banner is quite complex but the canton is the good old Stars and Stripes, having 13 white stars on a blue canton arranged in a circle of 12 with one in the center. The stars have various numbers of points ranging from 5 to 8, apparently 3 five-pointed, 3 six-pointed, 5 seven-pointed and 2 eight-pointed. The canton extends to the 6th stripe and "rests" on a R stripe. The stripes are 13 R-W, 7 R and 6 W, as in the present flag. See my web page "THE 13 STARS AND STRIPES: A SURVEY OF 18TH CENTURY IMAGES" at THE 13 STARS AND STRIPES: A SURVEY OF 18TH CENTURY IMAGES
  15. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    I'd like to exend a very warm welcome to my colleague, friend and fellow-former-NAVA-President, Dave Martucci. Dave is a font of knowledge on historic flags and flag identification and collecting. If you haven't already, please take a look at his web pages (see links in his posts) -- there's lots of great information there. In particular, his on-line catalog of 18th century flag images is a key primary resource for anyone interested in the early history of the US flag.

    Best to all,

    Peter Ansoff
    (Forum Admin)
  16. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    What is the date of the family document that connects the flag to the 18th century?
  17. Captgio

    Captgio New Member

    Here is the breaking story on the ONLY Proven Authentic 13 Stars and Stripes, The Nathaniel Ames flag.

    The Day - Historic flag could find its way back to Groton | News ...

    Nov 27, 2010 ... Groton - Nathaniel Ames, born in 1761, joined the New London County militia ... For centuries, the Stars and Stripes-style flag was passed from ... In 2007, he traced back the history of a 13-star flag on display at the ...
    The Day - Historic flag could find its way back to Groton | News from southeastern Connecticut=

    Connecticut Revolutionary War Patriot's historical 13 Stars and Stripes Flag resurfaces after 200 plus years. Further research will show that Rev. Nathaniel Ames who is recognized as one of the few last living Revolutionary War veterans who lived his remaining years of his life in Wisconsin has direct birth ties to Killingly, CT.

    Ames was born in 1761, where it is believed that his birth or church records exist identifying Ames as being born in Killingly. Ames in his last recorded words stated that he was born in Situate, just over the boarder in Rhode Island? Where maternal and paternal families both resided and owned land.

    Ames had brothers and sisters documented as being born in Killingly and also Norwich that has confused family historians since the time Ames had died in 1863, after living to a ripe old age of 102. Ames maternal grandfathers John Waldo, Edward Waldo and Cornelious Waldo established themselves in Scotland, CT. since the early 1700's.

    Ames family records state Ames at the age of six was given to his mothers father Deacon Cornelious Waldo and moved to North Stonnington until the Revolutionary War broke out. Ames was a teenager who joined the New London County Militia under Ledyard, who served as a guard in Groton, Stonnignton, where Ames help build Fort Griswold. Ames then joined the Connecticut Continental Army serving with Washington's Army until 1781 having endured the harsh winter at Morristown. Ames then returns to Groton where he joined one of the last Connecticut Privateers ships that returned to Connecticut at the wars end, the "Marquise De Lafayette" serving under Capt. Elisha Hinman. Venturing on a two year long cruise that took him to Rhode Island, Virginia, West Indies and Holland. The ship had been delivering correspondence to none other than our Nations Second President John Adams, one our nations founding fathers of the Navy. Adams mission was to secure Dutch support to the newly formed United States, working to secure a large money loan that the Lafayette may have transported back to the United States. Ames and Adams, through the Waldo family share the same direct great grandfather to Samuel Adams.

    The Lafayette returned in August of 1783 several months before the War was officially over. Nathaniel joins a merchant ship that historians have no documentation of the ships name or history except that in the fall of 1783 it went to the West Indies. On its return voyage to New London the ship was captured and Ames was a prisoner for three months. Ames then may have been impressed into British merchant service for three more years at sea, sailing all over Europe and the Mediterranean, including the West Indies.

    Historical evidence, textile and forensics studies point to the fact that Ames, while a prisoner in Bermuda on March, 12th 1784 had signed and dated his personal 13 Stars and Stripes flag nearly a few months before the official end of the American Revolution. Today the surviving flag is now recognized as the only proven authentic period Revolutionary War 13 Stars & Stripes flag known to exist in United States History. No period 13 Stars & Stripes in US history has ever been proven authentic with solid evidence and documentation authenticating such a relic. The Ames flag because it is signed and dated, makes the flag a document itself, placing the relic in American history as the single most historically important textile ever discovered in American History.

    The flag was tracked down by Milford, Connecticut's maritime history researcher Gary Gianotti, who was searching to find the lost symbolic identity to New England in association to the Star and Stripes origins, associated to the descendants of the pilgrims of Connecticut and Massachusetts. The flag is key to solving many forgotten and lost national mysteries that can rewrite history as we know it in preserving New Englands National Identity to the Church, Military and Government origins.

    The flags existence was brought to Gianotti's attention a few years ago by his close history researcher associate Mr. Claude Harkins of Missouri. Harkin's a modern day patriot who collects historical Americana and shares history with the public, found a New Jersey antique appraisal shows bulletin paper showing the flag as a relic belonging to Pennsylvania resident Mr. Donal Maloney. The show appraiser had no clue what Mr. Maloney had placed before him that day, when Mr. Maloney began his work to identify the historic flag from the scientific point of view. The flag was passed down to him from his great grandfather Michael Patton, historical flag collector and building flag decorator for historic events in the early 1900's.

    Gianotti, contacted Mr. Maloney in the efforts to work on the research and identification of the flag that has been an on going project for more than three years. The flag still has a good deal of research work to finish the documentation and Mr. Maloney has agreed to loan the flag to Connecticut's Revolutionary War Park Museum at Fort Giswold. Ames from a couple of family branches are bloodline to the Winthrops who's English manor is named "Groton" origins to the City name Groton, CT and MA. In the efforts to help support the park that needs public support to keep the Park running during these hard times. The loan is pending if the CT State Parks DEP division allows the flag to go on display at Fort Griswold, when the park reopen's next memorial Day. The exposure of the flag on public display can also be used to encourage the public with any documented information of the Ames history to bring it forth publicly. You may be one of those few persons nationally who may help in the efforts of saving thousands of Ames descendants lost documented history and flag history.

    The Ames family and flag has many priceless secrets that may shock the history academic world, especially when it comes to the identification of Nathaniel Ames, direct grandfather David Ames also Spelt Eames. Gianotti has been working closely with the Ames Society President and Nathaniel's most direct descendant grandson, Mr. Robert Nathaniel Ames of Lexington, KY. Who has given his DNA in the efforts to unravel the 300 plus year Ames family mystery.

    A very real mystery that may prove that Rev. Nathaniel Ames is a direct descendant to the famous Theologian Dr. William Ames. Dr. Ames is recognized as one of the single most important English ministers who United the Dutch and English churches. Ames at the time of the Puritan movement was one of the most important influential educators in the the Dutch and English Churches. Dr. Ames teachings influenced the church origins of the New World and the evolution of the churches in America that made a major impact of the creation that is the United States today.

    If the history is proven that Nathaniel and his direct family is descended from Dr. Ames, son John who is said to have gone back to England where he is buried not far from his brother William. We can save thousands of families lost identities associated to the Ames families in every US State.

    Right now there is enough documented evidence, forensics and textile evidence that proves the Nathaniel Ames flag is a National Treasure Relic that is one of the only relics that can be as historically important as the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, Articles of Confederation and the Great Seals of the United States.

    Gianotti quotes that the flag as a teaching tool is historically more important than our nations great documents because the history and families histories associated teach orgins of the Church, Military and Government to the first days of the founding of America and English history to family members who were Lords of southern England. Grandparents to Nathaniel who were Lords that were a direct part of the founding of the New World, Royalty, Church, British and Dutch East India Companies who are associated in the origins of where our Red and White Stripes flag originated for our Nation Flag. Including the five pointed star history associated to first usage in the American Colonies and New England associated to the Stars & Stripes.

    Any one in the public that has documented evidence of this history of Nathaniel and His family is encourage to present their documentation. You never know that you may have a priceless piece of history worth more than all the tea in China, that will associate your name to this history for the next 250 years.

    Best Regards,

    Gary Gianotti
  18. Captgio

    Captgio New Member

    The Perkins Daughter who donated all of the Original Nathaniel Shaw documents to Yale. Had left a document with the flag saying "The Shaw flag was part of the Shaw US Navy Office Collection made by Shaws wife" the flag and document was found by one of the New London Historical Society directors or past Presidents. Think dated in the 1870's! You would have to talk to her, who happens to be associated to both the Revoltionary War Parks in New London and Groton, today.

    Having a persons account of a relic is much differnet than having one signed first hand, period to the Revolution.

    Gary Gianotti
  19. AmericaHurrah

    AmericaHurrah Member

    That document proves nothing. It's simply ancestor hearsay, i.e., verbal history. The flag may be 18th century. It certainly does appear to be what I would expect to see if it were 18th century. But it is not proven, just as the article states. Gary is a bit over-zealous, presumptuous, and I am afraid that his cart may have passed his horse on the way to the finish. I hope he is correct, and it's a beautiful flag, but as of today more research is needed.
  20. Captgio

    Captgio New Member


    You must have went to 18 century flag school, you got me off guard. Should I maybe go to goverment archives and find records of such on Ames? Any ideas where I should start since you went to 18 century flag school and are an expert?

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