Friday, August 21, 2015

The Taylor Flag, by Pat Kinsella Herdeg, with CB and Sue Kinsella

This past weekend some Taylor Cousins came a’cousining to visit Mom and Dad (aka Aunt CB and Uncle Jack) as well as Sue and me, and so we pulled out our newest treasure—our Taylor Flag!

Kathy Taylor Mills, Annie Taylor Catherman, Pat Kinsella Herdeg, Sue Kinsella, Charlie Hawkes

Mom was sent the flag by Tom and Joan Doran, son of Florence Taylor Doran, sister to the twins, Floyd and Lloyd. Family lore has it that our Taylor family created this large flag not long after the Revolutionary War ended—either in Westport, CT (where three generations of Taylor men fought—Josiah, Gamaliel and Thomassee blog story), or in Wolcott, VT where Thomas Taylor and his wife Mary and children snow shoed in as the first inhabitants of the area in 1789 (see story here). So, this flag COULD date back to about 1790.

Our flag stands out because of its thirteen stars and the fact that the white stripe tops the flag. Most flags begin with the red stripe.

We have had a textile specialist from the Rochester Museum and Science Center in Rochester, NY look at our flag and she says, “I feel the flag dates to 1825 or earlier.”  She identified the fiber of all the fabrics in the flag as cotton, and all the stitching as hand stitching. Exciting!

Thomas's son, Gideon Taylor, moved to "Woodlawn" (Taylor ancestral home outside Batavia, NY) in the later part of the 1820’s. We do know that the US Census of 1830 has Gideon Taylor in New York. We also have an 1830 letter mailed to Gideon’s wife Phebe in Batavia, NY from her sister in Vermont. The flag has traveled with Gideon and his family. 

Note Flag Hanging on the left-hand side of the House
West Bethany, NY--4th of July picnic, 1908-1910? LtoR--standing--Emma Jane Carson Taylor, Jane Livingston Carson (married to William) seated, back row--Edward Carson, George Carson, Jennie Carson, Floyd Taylor Bertha Carson (married to Ed), Clara Taylor, Bryant W. Taylor, Blanche Carson?, William Carson, Lloyd Taylor Seated--front row--Clayton Carson, Ruth Carson, William Carson (son of Ed), Florence Taylor, Irene Carson

In a 1908 Carson family photograph of a 4th of July picnic, the Taylor Flag is shown proudly hanging from the porch (Emma Carson married Bryant Waller Taylor, son of Gideon). When B.W. died, my grandfather Lloyd inherited the flag. His sister borrowed it, and now Lucille Taylor Kinsella has it. We’ll let you know when we find a home for our Taylor Flag, preferably where it can be preserved and seen by many for its uniqueness and rarity. (Very few post-Revolutionary War Flags from the 1700’s  exist.)

Taylor Flag in 1958, Lloyd and Ethel Taylor (top) and in 1968 (bottom picture)

But, for now, we are bringing together the cousinsto laugh, to tell stories, to eat good food and perhaps see some fireworks (of all kinds!)—just the kind of celebrations this flag is used to presiding over. If only flags could talk! Perhaps two hundred and twenty-five years have passed since it was hand-sewn by people who had just lived through a cataclysmic war. And, in the years since, it has hung for many a proud Fourth of July. May it have many more!


Tim Kinsella said...

Great story Pat. Thanks for tying it all together with the family history.

Susan Kinsella said...

It was wonderful to spend the day with my cousins! The detective work on the flag is fascinating - I hope we can establish a clear history for it.

MOM/CB said...

This is a fascinating journey, one that our whole family is working together on! We'll keep you up as we progress!

Judy said...

I agree, great story and pictures! Thanks for sharing.
I love this family blog

Evelyn Taylor said...

My daughter, Pam Crane, and I just recently viewed the flag and gently touched it. We were so thrilled to see it and hear its history.

I can just see the person or persons painstakingly designing it, and loveingly sewing it. They probably even wove the cotton cloth themselves.

What a family treasure!