100 Year Old Silk Flag Donated to the VMHA Collection
Patricia Millen of the Hunterdon County Historical Society in Flemington, New Jersey came across a silk flag that she generously offered to the Valdez Museum. The flag was long displayed with a label reading, “U.S. Flag of early period. Made of silk, by hand. Gift of E.Y. Taylor, Valdez, Alaska.”
E.Y. Taylor was Eva Taylor, the wife of Hiram E. Deats, one
of the Society’s founders. The flag is extremely fragile and deteriorates with
even slight handling. Its origins are something of a mystery. The blue canton
of the flag is embroidered with twelve gold stars, but other stars are drawn in
ink behind them, indicating that someone previously intended a different
design. Although the flag doesn’t seem to conform to any official U.S. flag
patterns, the total number of stars appears to have around 43 to 45 stars
altogether, which would put it in the chronological range of 1890 to 1908.
The condition of the silk supports that the flag may be over
100 years old, and Eva Taylor was a young woman when she married in 1893. We
don’t know if Taylor ever visited Alaska, but we like to think that the flag
may date to 1898 or shortly thereafter during Valdez’s gold rush era peak
years. Perhaps she purchased the flag as an early Alaska souvenir item, or was
given the flag as a gift from someone else who did.