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Wm. L. Todd, in a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Express, under date of January 11, 1878, gives the following version of the construction of the bear flag:

Your letter of the 9th inst. came duly to hand, and in answer I have to say in regard to the making of the original bear flag of California at Sonoma, in 1849, that when the Americans. who had taken up arms against the Spanish regime, had determined what kind of a flag should be adopted, the following persons performed the work: Granville P. Swift, Peter Storm, Henry L. Ford and myself; we procured in the house where we made our headquarters, a piece of new unbleached cotton domestic, not quite a yard wide, with stripes of red flannel about four inches wide, furnished by Mrs. John Sears, on the lower side of the canvas. On the upper left-hand corner was a star, and in the center was the image made to represent a grizzly bear passant, so common in this country at the time. The bear and star were painted with paint made of linseed oil and Venetian red or 'Spanish' brown. Underneath the bear were the words "California Republic." The other person engaged with me got the materials together, while I acted as artist. The forms the bear and star and the letters were first lined out with pen and ink by myself, and the two forms were filled in with the red paint, but the letters with ink. The flag mentioned by Mr. Hittell with the bear rampant, was made, as I always understood, at Santa Barbara, and was painted black. Allow me to say, that at that time there was not a wheelwright shop in California. The flag I painted I saw in the rooms of the California Pioneers in San Francisco, in 1870, and the secretary will show it to any person who will call on him at any time. If it is the one that I painted, it will be known by a mistake in tinting out the words "California Republic." The letters were first lined out with a pen, and I left out the letter I, and lined out the letter C in its place. But afterward I lined out the letter I over the C so that the last syllable of "Republic" looks as if the two last letters were blended.
Yours respectfully,

Wm. L. TODD.


As quoted at

on February 20, 2007.



February 20, 2007

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