5482. The Bedford Flag. [^1]
In several articles under this number allusion has been made to the “Bedford Flag” and it seems proper to state what is believed to be its history; [*1] the claim made by the citizens of the town is that the flag was carried to Concord with the Minute Men from Bedford, April 19, 1775, by one of their townsmen, Nathaniel Page, Jr. [*2] The idea that the flag was that of the Three County Troop did not originate in Bedford, and a personal examination, this summer, of the record in the British Museum, referred to, has proved that while there is some resemblance between the two flags the “Bedford Flag” is not the Three County Troop flag there described. [*3]
The history of the flag, as received and believed in Bedford, is based on the following facts and words of mouth. The facts are: John Page of Bedford was Cornet according to birth records, in 1739, 1741, 1742, 1750 and 1751. [*4] This would account for the standard or flag being in possession of the Page family. Nathaniel Page, son of the above John, was called “Jr.” in his marriage record, 1774, and in birth records 1775 and 1777: that is, while his uncle Nathaniel was alive; [*5][^2] after the death of the uncle in 1779 Nathaniel, son of John, appears without the “Jr.” in the birth records. Nathaniel Page, Jr., is found in the list of Bedford Minute Men, as sworn to by the lieutenant.
The words of mouth are from two persons: the daughter who was thirty-one years old when her father died, and the grandson, who was eighteen at that time; [^3][*6][*7] and these persons both said they received the information from the bearer himself and they both told practically the same story to persons now living. [^4]
The story of the grandson of the above Nathaniel Page (Jr.), Captain Cyrus Page, who presented the flag to the town, Oct. 19, 1885, was that it was carried to Concord by his grandfather, Nathaniel Page (Jr.); that after the Bedford men arrived there and were helping remove the stores, the boys “played soldier with it.” [*8][*9] Nathaniel Page (Jr.) died 1819; Cyrus Page was born 1801 and was therefore eighteen years old: old enough to have heard the story many times. [^5]
The account of Mrs. Ruhamah (Page) Lane, the daughter of the same Nathaniel Page (Jr.) was similar to that of Cyrus Page, but she added that her father left his newly married wife and child. [*10] Mrs. Lane was born in 1788 and was therefore thirty-one years old when her father died and could have heard the story from him in his prime. The records bear out the assertion concerning the newly married wife, as Nathaniel Page (Jr.) was married Dec. 15. 1774.
The flag is now in the custody of the Bedford Free Public Library Corporation and for its more complete preservation and protection has been encased between glass plates and secured in the fireproof vault of the town, where it can be seen on application to the trustees or the Librarian. [*11]
C. W. J.
- Charles W. Jenks’ “Notes and queries” answer (1908) [ no scan ]
in The Boston evening transcript (11 January) Part Three: p 7
- [ paragraph break ]
- 1777: ∨ 1777,
- persons: ∨ persons,
- time; ∨ time,
- old: ∨ old,
- cf. “Rockingham attacks the Flag” (2000) [ no scan ]
in McDonald’s The Bedford Flag unfurled pp 77-82
- “Nathaniel Page, Jr.”: b. 1742 – d. 1819 (BHB) II: p 26
NB: Nathaniel was the fourth of his name in Bedford.
- The idea was spread at the MA Historical Society.
cf. Appleton’s “The Bedford Flag” (January 1886)
in Proceedings of the MHS: Volume II (SS) pp 199-200
- “John Page”: b. 1704 – d. 1782 (BHB) II: p 26
- “his uncle Nathaniel”: Nathaniel Page: b. 1702 – d. 1779 (BHB) II: p 26
- “the daughter”: Ruhamah (Page) Lane: b. 1788 – d. 1882 (BHB) II: pp 22 and 27
- “the grandson”: Cyrus Page: b. 1801 – d. 1887 (BHB) II: p 27
- “stores”: stores of ammunition
- cf. Jonathan F. Stearns’ “Historical discourse” (1879)
in Bedford sesqui-centennial celebration p 23
- “and child”: [ an error for ] with child
- The Bedford Flag “remained in the basement of the Town Hall”. (BFU) p 86
Now known as Old Town Hall: 16 South Road