Which Flag Flew?

Again the Flag question. We revisit this issue. What flag flew at Fort Loudoun Winchester VA?

  • We have no flag recovered at Fort Loudoun.
  • We offer two opinions.  There are those who are resolute on which one, but we are searching for the proof instead of a pronouncement.
  • There is a picture drawn by a contemporay eye witness of Fort Ligonier.

Fort Ligonier, Sketched on the spot – 30th June 1762 – Lt. Archibald Blane Delint, of the Royal Americans 

Sources of picture:

The chain of evidence, the provenance on the above picture, will come later.

Now the second opinion.

From this link http://www.motherbedford.com/BedFlag.htm is this excerpt on the iffy provenance:

“Whether the Fort Bedford Flag was ever actually flown at Fort Bedford cannot be known because of a scarcity of records on the matter. According to popular tradition, the flag was removed from Fort Bedford by a group of young men shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

The flag, according to a letter written on 21 October, 1922 by John M. Reynolds to Dr. Thomas L. Montgomery, the Librarian of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, was taken from the fort by Anthony Stiffler. It was kept in the possession of the descendants of Anthony Stiffler and traced to Hugh D. Moore, one of those descendants residing in Nebraska in the early 1900s. R. Ewing Stiffler, a family historian, claimed in the 1940s that he received a letter from a man residing in Bedford which stated that the flag had been in the possession of Elizabeth Catherine (Claar) Stiffler. This Elizabeth was the wife of (Jacob) Anthony Stiffler. A problem with this information is that there was no man by the name of Anthony Stiffler in Bedford County prior to or at the time of the American Revolutionary War. (In fact, this website’s owner, Larry D. Smith, is a descendant from Bedford County early settler, Jacob Stifler, and has researched the Stifler line from both Jacob and Peter, his brother; the only “Anthony” found to be a member of the Stifler/Stiffler families that settled in Bedford County was Jacob Anthony Stiffler who was born after the period of the American Revolutionary War.)

Family traditions of the Nawgel family of Bedford County claim that the flag was actually taken from the fort, not by a man by the name of Anthony Stiffler, but their ancestor, Anthony Nawgel. A man by the name of Anthony Naugel resided in Bedford County during the American Revolutionary War and served in Captain Samuel Davidson’s Company of Bedford County Associators in 1776. According to a letter sent by Mrs. W.H. Beegle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to the editor of the Bedford Gazette, the flag was taken from the fort by Anthony Nawgel, who kept and proudly displayed it at his inn, the Nawgel Tavern. Anthony Nawgel’s daughter married Hugh Moore, and the flag eventually passed into the possession of the Moore family.

According to his letter to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Mr. Reynolds stated that he was able to obtain the loan of the flag from Mr. Hugh D. Moore. On 14 June, 1917 he exhibited it at the Flag Day celebrations held at Lakemont Park near Altoona by the Blair County Historical Society. Subsequently, Mr. Moore contacted Mr. Reynolds to suggest that the flag be presented to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. The letter of 21 October, 1922 was accompanied by the flag, which was formally accepted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on 13 November, 1922 under the condition that it would be made available on loan for exhibition at Bedford during special occasions.

R. Ewing Stiffler attempted to track down the flag in the 1940s. He traveled from his home in Denver, Colorado to visit Mrs. Annie (Moore) Jensen at Sidney, Nebraska. According to Mrs. Jensen, she had seen the flag when it was in the possession of her grandmother, Mrs. (Jacob) Anthony Stiffler. Mrs. Jensen claimed that her grandmother sold the flag to a stranger for fifty dollars. When the rest of the family found out about the sale, Hughey Moore, then Sheriff, pursued the purchaser and rebought the flag. It was then kept by the Moore family, rolled up in a linen towel. It eventually passed into the possession of Hugh D. Moore, who took it with him when he moved to Sidney, Nebraska. According to Mrs. Jensen, the flag was kept in safe-keeping in a bank at Pittsburgh, but the name of that institution is no longer available.

In 1944, the flag somehow came to be in the possession of Major Simon M. Lutz, founder and first president of the Pioneer Historical Society of Bedford County. Soon thereafter, M. Fred Sammel, a descendant of the Moore family took Mr. Lutz to court for custody of the flag. The Court ruled that the flag was to be placed in the custody of Mr. Sammel and the First National Bank of Bedford. The right was also awarded at that time to the citizens of Bedford to have the flag displayed for patriotic events and celebrations.

The flag made an appearance in public in 1958 when it was presented “ceremoniously” to the then-current Duke of Bedford. A reproduction was produced and flown during the 1958 celebration. The reproduction, of course, would later cause confusion over the identity of the actual artifact. The Fort Bedford Flag was once more displayed in public during a fall foliage festival in 1969.

In 1988 the Fort Bedford Flag was declared to be a “reproduction British flag” by the Fort Bedford Museum management. It was insured for a mere $200 and was displayed at the Museum tacked on a wall.

Ten years later, in the summer of 1998, the flag was sent by Larry W. Yantz, as curator of the Fort Bedford Museum and on behalf of the Bedford Borough Council to the attention of Fonda G. Thomsen, director of the Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. at Sharpsburg, Maryland. As a result of her analysis, Ms. Thomsen’s conclusion was that the flag appeared to be the original 1758 construction and not a later reproduction. She also noted that the condition of the fabric suggested some, but not continuous, use. The creases evident in the fabric suggested that it had been folded for a long period of time in storage.”