Thanks to 2nd
Lt. James McGahey of the Lynchburg Volunteers, we have a first-hand
account of the making of the Lone Star flag.
McGahey, in a Galveston News article, recalled that Scott
approached him one morning about the need for a battle flag. "Mack,"
he said, "I have a piece of beautiful silk, solid blue. If you'll
make a staff, we'll have a flag."
McGahey agreed and took the four yards of silk to Lynchburg, where
a staff was made. Mrs. Nathaniel Lynch, wife of the founder of the
village, sewed a piece of domestic material to the silk to protect
its edge from fraying.
A painter by trade, Zanco painted a large five-pointed white star
in the center of the flag.
Afterward, the flag artist told McGahey that something was missing.
"It looks naked," he said. "Let me paint something under it."
McGahey suggested the word "independence."
Zanco spelled it out neatly under the white star, and Texas had
its Independence Flag. Or Scott Flag, as it is often
called in history books. Or the first Lone Star flag of Texas.
No one argued about the star - it was pretty -- but there were those
who worried about the "independence" motto. Texas had not, at that
time, declared its independence and formed a new nation. They were
getting there but it hadn't happened yet.
Even Capt. Scott, the firebrand, voiced concern about the "i" word.
However, he told McGahey: "By blood, Mack, that was a little rash,
but I'll sustain you in it."
Meanwhile the Harrisburg bunch upstream on Buffalo Bayou got wind
of the Independence Flag and objected. Eight armed men piled into
two boats and sailed downstream for a confrontation with the Lynchburg
Before the fighting really started in the Texas Revolution, a little
war almost erupted between those volunteer units.
As the two boats from Harrisburg, each carrying eight armed men,
pulled up to shore at Lynchburg, Scott's soldiers - also armed --
formed a line between the shore and Lynch's home.
"Not a man
got out of either boat," McGahey remembered, "nor was there a word
spoken by any one."
McGahey said he set his gun against the house, stepped inside, took
the flag from a rack, returned and unfurled the flag.
"I planted the staff with a firm stroke in the ground on the bank
of the San Jacinto," said, "and the lone star with the magic word
'independence' floated proudly on the breeze. For some minutes not
a word was spoken. Presently the captain of one of the boats ordered
his men to push away from the bank and when out a short distance
in the stream stood up and took off his hat, flourished it around
his head, shouting, 'Hurray for the Lone Star.'
"Every man of his crew did likewise but the other boat pulled away
and departed without any demonstration of any kind whatever."
When the real fighting did start, and McGahey would be waving the
Lone Star flag in the battle at Concepcion. Wounded, he had to go
on furlough and handed the flag over to another Lynchburg Volunteer,
Thomas Bell. It is believed that Bell carried it to the Siege
at Bexar in December 1835. That's the battle the Texans won
in San Antonio, forcing
the Mexican Army back to Mexico.
After the Siege
at Bexar, there was no trace of the flag. No one knew what happened
Zanco, instead of returning to this bay area, remained in the Texas
Army in San Antonio,
helping to keep the area fortified in case the enemy returned.
Remembering the Siege
at Bexar, the Mexican Army returned in huge numbers and the
Siege at the
The people of Denmark take great pride in their native son who created
the first Lone Star flag and who died bravely defending Texas.
They discuss the subject on various web sites in Danish but, not
to worry, you can click on translations.
In plain English, Baytown
is proud of Charles Zanco, too.
© Wanda Orton
Baytown Sun Columnist, May 23, 2014 column
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