A literary journey through the Trump years and the global pandemic, as seen by author Dylan Carpowich.

An Original California Story



A California Story

The historical script that is the story of California is full of fascinating characters and stories full of tragedy, heartache, love, loss, failure, success, sadness, hopes, dreams, and pretty much anything under the sun that shines upon the Golden State.

The story usually begins with James Marshall discovering gold in the city of Coloma California at a mill owned by the founder of Sacramento John Sutter.

The opening scene of a Hollywood movie about California history would probably begin with Sam Brannon running around Sacramento screaming Gold was discovered. It would probably retrace his story as a Mormon from the New York who was a leader of a group of missionaries leaving the east coast and arriving in the city that was known then as Yerba Buena. Followed by his expulsion from the Mormon religion and him opening a failing media businesses before gold was discovered. His business at the time was as a hardware store owner. The Gold Rush sparked a massive demand for his goods and he quickly went from rags and poverty to become California’s very first millionaire. He retired in the town in founded in Napa County called Calistoga the home of the Napa County Fair.

The Hollywood movie would probably include a story about California’s first Governor in 1850 who was a lawyer from Oregon who came to California during the Gold Rush. He also advocated for the destruction of the Native American peoples and was xenophobic toward Japanese and Chinese workers along with Mexicans and African Americans seeking freedom from slavery and system racism other parts of the United States of America during the 1840’s and 1850’s. Before he became California’s first Governor and before he ever began his journey on the Oregon Trail he was a defense lawyer for the Mormon Joseph Smith. He successfully defended Joseph Smiths constitutional right to practice any religion he felt like. However the town forced the mormons out and eventually the townsfolk of Carthage Illinois formed a mob and murdered Joseph Smith while in jail. California’s first Governor was also not Mormon and refused to give religious protection to Mormons from Utah and other places seeking refuge in California.

The real story of the Bear Flag of California is not quite that exciting. At best it is considered a footnote in History and overshadowed by other more important history that happened that week of June in 1846. On Sunday June 14th 1846 the Bear Flag Revolt happened in the town of Sonoma California. On Monday June 15th 1846 the Oregon Treaty was signed forming the border between the United States and Canada. Overshadowing those to historic events is the history that happened in Hoboken New Jersey that Friday of June 19 1846 at Elysian Fields where the very first game of Baseball was played using the modern day rules written by Alexander Cartwright who was also the umpire. This fateful week of June in 1846 is literally the first innings of the script that is America’s Pastime.

In June of 2021 this history turns 175 years old and I feel it is right to commemorate these events with resolutions or proclamations highlighting America and California’s past so we can build a better and stronger tomorrow together.

Dylan Carpowich
Artist and Owner of FogBankGallery.com
Proposed Resolution commemorating the 175th anniversary of the raising of the Bear Flag of California.

June 14, 2021, will mark the 175th anniversary of the raising of the Bear Flag in Sonoma California. A date that began writing the script of the Golden State’s story creating a new California Republic who later joined the United States of America as the 31st state in September of 1850.

My pre school life has in part been shaped by the natural forces of the earth and historic events that exceed any normal day. I was born on July 1, 1986, in the mission town of Santa Cruz California. My parents at the time were living in the neighboring city of Capitola which was once a fishing village founded by Italian fisherman. In October of 1989 my parents moved to Watsonville California where my father was studying to be a teacher at UCSC and had an academic advisor by the name of Arthur Pearl. Art Pearl once ran for Governor of Oregon and is a historical person in his own right and is remembered as a good man and a strong liberal democrat.

Just before 5:00 pm on October 17, 1989, I asked to go outside to play with my sister. At 5:03 my Mom was putting my shoes on. At the exact moment she finished tying my shoes sometime during the minute of 5:04 pm the earth began to shake violently.

This event is what educators have put in the history books as the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. The Giants were playing the A’s that day at Candlestick Point in the World Series. The earthquake caused about 8 billion dollars in damage and killed 62 people. The President at the time George Herbert Walker Bush visited Santa Cruz along with other notable historical people of the time. The aftermath of the earthquake caused my parents to decide to move out of town.

A couple years later I began kindergarten in the small town of Sonoma California home of the Bear Flag Revolt. I moved again in the 7th grade to a town not far away in Solano County named Suisun City California. The summer that Baseball remembers as the chase to break the record of 61 home runs between Sammy Sosa and former A’s legend Mark McGuire.

As a 4th grader in Sonoma California who celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Bear Flag in 1996 I remember Governor Pete Wilson giving a speech and being one of the hundreds of schoolchildren in the photo featuring him in front of the City Hall at the end of Broadway at the Sonoma Plaza. I also remember walking into the Governor’s office that summer and being handed a little packet on California History which I have kept and still have in my possession.


Here is what the former Governor handed out to the public as to the original story of the Bear Flag Revolt.

“The “Bear Flag” was adopted as the official flag of the state of California in 1911. Although California has been a state for more than 60 years, the Legislature harked back to the time of the state’s formation when a small group of Californians chose this emblem to represent their new republic.

In 1846, a small band of Americans, living in the North central part of California under Mexico’s rule, marched on Sonoma and imprisoned Mariano G. Vallejo, the Mexican commandant. A member of this group, William B Ide, issued what became known as Ide’s Proclamation, which declared California a republic, independent of Mexico.

On the flag, the color white symbolizes purity, and the red in the star and bar, courage. The grizzly bear, regarded as an animal of great strength, denoted this quality on the banner. The star represents sovereignty, after the Lone Star of Texas.

The most generally accepted date upon which the Bear Flag was raised over Sonoma is June, 14 1846. It was lowered and replaced by the “Stars and Stripes” on July 9, 1846.

The original Bear Flag, preserved for many years in the office of Society of California Pioneers at San Francisco, was destroyed in the great earthquake and fire of 1906.

To see where the Bear Flag Revolt took place, visit Sonoma State Historic Park, north of San Francisco.”

As a child who grew up in the neighborhood of the Sonoma State Historic Park and as someone who enjoys retracing their steps from time to time I have also learned more about the Bear Flag Revolt since 1996. Even today anyone from the public can get information by walking into government buildings and getting hand out facts about their town.

Near the site of the raising of the Bear Flag is a visitor center in an old Carnegie Library. In his retirement Andrew Carnegie donated money for the construction of many public libraries some are still standing including the one on the Sonoma Plaza.

The timeline and facts that are handed out to the public provide background and context to the Bear Flag Revolt and here are some highlights.

In 1837 General Vallejo builds his first home in Sonoma, Casa Grande, near the current site of the Barracks.

1844 General Vallejo dismisses his troops in Sonoma. (The troops were quartered in the Barracks, which are still located in Sonoma.) The Mexican Government quit paying the troops and as a result the General paid them out of his own pocket for several months before dismissing them.

1846 In May, war is declared with Mexico. The Bear Flag revolt takes place in Sonoma on June 14th and the California Bear Flag is first flown in Sonoma becoming the official California State Flag in 1911. A new country is formed, the California Republic. General Vallejo is arrested and taken to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento and is released in August. William Ide is elected the first leader.

1846 General Vallejo sends aid to rescue the Donner Party survivors. Eliza and Georgia, children among the Party came to live in Sonoma with Christian and Marie Bruner.

1848 The war with Mexico ends. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed.

1848 General Vallejo is a delegate to the California Constitution Convention whose purpose was to establish the state Constitution. Gold is discovered at Sutter’s Mill on January 24th.

1850 California becomes the 31st state in the Union, General Vallejo is elected to the State Senate & Sonoma is incubated as a City on April 4th, 1850.

There are also 7 flags hanging over the Sonoma City Hall because there is a significant amount of history that happened in California before the Gold Rush of 1849.

The Spanish Flag is first because the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered the coast of California for Spain in the autumn of 1542. Spain began colonizing California in 1769.

The English Flag because the English navigator, Francis Drake, anchored his ship along the Marin Coast from June 17 to July 23, 1579. There is no claim for England and England has never bothered to lay claim to California since.

The Imperial Russian Flag/The Russian American Fur Company Flag. In 1812 Imperial Russia established a colony on the Sonoma Coast from Bodega Bay north to their Fort Ross. They Mao attempt to expand nor did they contest Spain’s claim to the area. They voluntarily withdrew in 1842. (More information can be learned by visiting For Ross Historic Park north of Bodega Bay and Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento. Sutter purchased Fort Ross from the Russian Government and it was later sold/donated to the California State Park system.)

The Flag of the Mexican Empire and the Flag of the Republic of Mexico was raised in California from 1823 until July of 1846.

From June 14th to July 9, 1846, the town of Sonoma California raised a Bear Flag of an independent Republic.

On July 7, 1846, the United States Navy replaced the Mexican Flag with the Stars and Stripes in Monterey California.

The Sonoma League of Historic Preservation provides background on the Bear Flag revolt as follows.

“On June, 14 1846, the future State Flag of California was raised. This historic event took place in the place of the City of Sonoma.

For 24 years, California had been governed by Mexico-but a band of hardy adventurers, traders and trappers were benton conquest of the area for the United States. Suspicious of the growing number of Americans settling in California, the Mexican government finally ordered them out f the territory.

John C. Fremont, a lieutenant of engineers in the Army, actively encouraged the settlers to rebel against Mexican rule. Riding throughout the night from Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento Valley, a distance of 75 miles, 30 horseman arrived in the Mexican Pueblo of Sonoma at sunrise, and took stodgy the Mexican commandant, General Mariano G. Vallejo.

General Mariano Vallejo, expecting Fremont and his men, greeted them cordially and offered them his best brandy. Fremont and his party of men “protected” the general at Fort Sutter where he remained for several months.

Americans seized the barracks and the towns rusty cannon. Above them, on the flagstaff, flew the Mexican flag, symbol of military domination. Spurred by their victory, the settlers took it down, determined to replace it with flag of freedom.

William Mathews, an express rider between Sonoma and Sutter’s Fort at Sacramento, persuaded his wife to give her red petticoat to the cause as fabric was scarce. Mrs. John Sears, wife of the blacksmith, gave a length of unbleached muslin (manta cloth), which she brought across the plains by wagon train from Missouri. William Todd, nephew of Mrs Abraham Lincoln wife of the future president, volunteered to make the flag.

The Bear Flag was raised over the Place in Sonoma, and soldiers of the new republic took possession of the town. The “Bear Flag Revolt” lasted for about 31 days.

On July 7, 1846, an American naval vessel captured the Capitol at Monterey and claimed the state of California for the United States.

On July 9, 1846, Lieutenant Revere (grandson of Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere), commander of the U.S. Navy sloop-of-war “Portsmouth” arrived inn Sonoma two days later and replaced the bear Flag with the American “Stars and Stripes.”

The original flag was destroyed b fire during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The original redwood base of the flagpole is preserved in the museum of Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma. A large natural rock, topped with a bronze figure holding aloft the Bear Flag, now marks the site of the triumphant victor in the Place at Sonoma. The Bear Flag is the official flag of the state of California.

Additional Background

From the book “A Sonoma Valley Story” by Robert M. Lynch is an account of the Bear Flag Revolt.
“At 11 a.m on June 14 the three captives, General Vallejo, Captain Salvador Vallejo, and Prudon mounted their horses and began their trek to Sacramento escorted by an armed contingent of Merritt, Semple, Grigsby and a half dozen others. Leese accompanied them at Vallejo’s request, to serve as interpreter.
A garrison of 25 men was left at Sonoma with Ide as elected leader. Vallejo’s frightened wife, Francisca, was left at the Casa Grande with her five children. Her proud husband, one of California’s most distinguished men, had ample opportunity to be rescued by his friends, including his dotted Indian associate Chief Solano, while being escorted to Sacramento, but refused. He was looking forward to being part of the new United States government he had so hoped would be the successful occupant of his homeland. He felt certain he would be reunited with his wife and family soon after being greeted by Captain Fremont.

“The design of the new flag was hotly debated, but at last it was agreed that there should be a star like the one off the flag of Texas and a grizzly bear- the grizzly for strength and courage. The flag sewers were Ben Dewell and Thomas Cowie, saddlers by trade and handy with their needles. William Mathews, express rider between Sonoma and Sutter’s Fort, offered some red flannel from a clothesline of his home-some say the petticoat of his wife, others a man’s shirt. A piece of unbleached muslin or manta cloth was donated by Mr.s John Sears, wife of the blacksmith, who had arrived with a party of emigrants from Missouri that very day. She had brought a bolt of homespun cloth across the plains and tore off enough for the flag. ”

“Whether acting on orders from the United States or merely imbued with servant patriotism, Fremont rode into the pueblo and announced that the Fourth of July 1846, would be celebrated as never before in the land known as Alta California. Sonoma decided to fire off the Mexican cannon to herald a new dawn of Independence Day and t0 hold exercises on the Plaza where the emblem of the bears triumphantly waved.
July 4, 1846, was the greatest Sonoma had seen or was to see. In addition to the Bear Flag enthusiasts-the settlers, trappers, traders and riflemen collected by Fremont and Kit Carson- gathered for the big demonstration, from San Francisco came a number of officers and sailors from the U.S Navy ships anchored in San Francisco harbor.
Officers and men attached to the warships in San Francisco Bay envied those who lived in the delightful climate of Sonoma, with its mineral springs, lovely scenery, senoritas and charming hospitality of its families.”

“The Stars and Stripes replaced the Bear Flag on the Sonoma Plaza flagstaff July 9. Lt. Joseph W. Revere put the crude little emblem in his pocket, remarking, “This is worth saving.” The original Bear Flag was finally presented to the Society of California Pioneers in San Francisco and remained in its collection of California relics until 1906, when it was destroyed by the fire which followed the earthquake of that year. The flag design, however, was destined to live on and become the state emblem, officially adopted as California’s State flag on Feb. 3. 1911.”
Additional background information can be found in the book “A Sonoma Valley Story”

Further Additional Background

In the book “Solano The Crossroads County” author and historian Frank Keegan writes about pre Gold Rush days of California as follows.
“The vast lands that had been deeded to these early settlers were occasionally involved in disputes. When water dried up on his land in 1842, Manuel Vaca allowed his stock to range on the land of the Wolfskills. When they (Wolfskill brothers) objected to Vallejo, he sided with Vaca, and John Wolfskill was forced to move his entire herd to Cache Creek for two years. An appeal was made in 1845 to Governor Pio Pico in Los Angeles, and he decided the case in favor of the Wolfskill brothers.
With the dispute settled, John Wolfskill went to Los Angeles t this brother William’s farm for figs, pears, English walnuts, and grape cuttings, and began cultivation of an orchard, a vineyard and several other crops. The Wolfskills were the first of the settlers to show the immense possibilities of agriculture in Solano County.
It is ironic that the scene for the revolt should be the presidio at Sonoma under the command of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, for it is he who foresaw that the Mexicans would be unable to hold California against the rising tide of Yankee settlers and trappers who were crossing borders of California in ever-increasing numbers. Against the claims of European nations like England and France for the prize of California, Vallejo made it clear, that he was on the side of the Yankees.

The Bear Flag revolt was the first open encounter between Mexican military forces and newly arrived Yankee settlers, and yet, because of it, a friendship developed between General Vallejo and one of the Bear Flaggers, Robert B. Semple. When Vallejo was released six weeks later, he rode with Semple back to Sonoma and together they saw the site of today’s Benicia alongside the Carquinez Straight. According to tradition, it was at this time that Semple asked for land abutting the straight, and Vallejo agreed, on condition that the town be named after his wife, Francisca Benicia Vallejo.

The figure of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo stands at the crossroads of the new county of Solano, looking backward to the Patwin Indians and the Spanish and Mexican occupations of California and forward to the new period of Yankee sovereignty. He would leave his imprint on the future of the county as had already marked its past.”

Author’s addition
A Historical fact that is of interest to the entire state of California and not just the northern counties of the north Bay Area is that the Wolfskill farm in Los Angeles used to be located in what would be the present day location of the north side of Downtown Los Angeles. The ranch used to be on Alameda Street between 3rd and 4th streets, in the 1880’s it was sold to make way for a railway station on Fifth and Alameda and in 1922 it was subdivided into homes. William Wolfskill’s brother John Wolfksill had a ranch in what is near present day Lake Berryessa and Lake Solano in the town of Winters California. The cemetery in Winters is a border area between Yolo and Solano Counties and is where a former Bear Flag man is buried.
Also Vallejo created Solano County by carving the land out of Sonoma County at a vote that took place at the Mason Lodge in the City of Suisun City California which at the time was one of the bigger cities in California and rivaled a population of the newly named city of San Francisco which used to be called Yerba Buena before their first mayor by the name of Washington Bartlett decided change the name to San Francisco. At the time of the name switch in January of 1847 the town of San Francisco had a population of about 400 individual people.
According to the author and historian Richard Dillon in his book “Great Expectations” the account of Robert Semple having a conversation with Vallejo about the city of Benicia never happened and is a work of fiction. Keegan claims the story is true and happened on the way back from Vallejo’s imprisonment while Richard Dillon claims that the fictional account is said to have happened on the way up from Sonoma to Sacramento to Sutter’s Fort via a boat and the Delta.
However, both claim the part about an overnight stay at the Vaca ranch and Mariano Vallejo convincing the Mexican forces and Chief Solano and local native tribes to not rescue him that night at the Vaca Ranch and to stand down. That historical night of June 14 1846 happened in what is near present day Pena Adobe. The legendary founding and naming of Benicia on the way back from his imprisonment could be a fictional tale told and passed down from families and towns of the area and a matter of debate between local towns in the north bay of California.

While I was participating in the 150th anniversary of the Bear Flag in Sonoma on June 14 1996. The author and historian Barbara R Warner was signing her book “The Men of the California Bear Flag Revolt and their Heritage.” Which is published by the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and Arthur H. Clark Co. Later in life about 20 years later I purchased this book from Moe’s books in Berkeley. Here is her account of what happened that day of June 14, 1846 and other useful information to help provide a better historical background and context to the events surrounding the raising of the Bear Flag.
“April 2 1846: I cannot, gentleman, coincide in opinion the cession of our country to France or England. It is not true that to rely any longer upon Mexico to govern and defend us would be idle and absurd… My opinion is made up that we must preserve in throwing off the galling yoke of Mexico… We have indeed taken the first step by electing our own governor but another remains to be taken, and that is annexation to the United States. In contemplating the consummation of our destiny. I feel nothing but pleasure, and ask you to share it… When we join our fortunes to hers, we shall not become subjects, but fellow citizens, possessing all the rights of the people of the United States and choosing our own federal and local rulers… We shall have a stable government and just laws.
California will grow strong and flourish, and her people will be prosperous, happy and free… Look not, therefore, with jealousy upon the hardy pioneers who scale our mountains and cultivate our unoccupied plains, but rather welcome them as brothers, who come to share with us a common destiny.
Mariano Vallejo statement on April 2 1846 on the topic of California annexation to France or England.

The “Original” Bear Flag Story
An Addition to the background by Dylan Carpowich
The Bear Flag Story is interesting town and state history but also not that important in the grand scheme that is History. The story of the Bear Flag Revolt and creation and destruction of the flag is at best a footnote in a long biography and narrative of History that is the 19th and early 20th century.
Having been bitten by the history bug that is the California Bear Flag story I have learned that it is an important footnote in history worth knowing something about. It a historical story to which it becomes easy and fun to learn other history from. It is a good tree to have in an orchard of historical stories because it branches off to many other historical figures and stories that are useful to know something about.
The statue of Mariano Vallejo in Sonoma California which was dedicated in 2017 features him sitting on a bench holding a book. The title of the Book translates into English as “Memories”.
A lot of history can easily be lost and forgotten as time passes. What remains are the stories we learn and write about. The Bear Flag Revolt tree branches out into history and serves as a useful anchor to begin a fanatical obsession and love affair with History while also making it fun to learn.
Here are just a few.
The name California comes from the Spanish author Montalvo who wrote about a fictional island. The book was published in Seville Spain in the 1490’s and was popular among Spanish Explorers. Also Christopher Columbus who was Italian but sailed for Spain left from Seville in the 1490’s. His authoritarian rule and poor leadership of Hispanola caused the Spanish crown to arrest Christopher Columbus and take him back in chains to Spain for trial. The Admiral who Spain sent to arrest Columbus was named Alonzo Vallejo. One of Admiral Vallejo’s descendants was one of California’s founding fathers; Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.
Also one degree removed from 1490 history of the town of Seville Spain is Amerigo Vespucci who was an employee of the Medici Family Bank. Amerigo helped supply money to the people who supplied the ships to Columbus and later had a conversation with Columbus about exploration influencing him to quit the Medici Bank and take up exploring. He explored the southern hemisphere near present day Brazil and later a German cartographer named the northern and southern parts of the new world “America” after him. America is the feminine version of his first name Amerigo.
Also June 14 is not just a date which some footnote in history happened in the town of Sonoma California.
June 14, 1775, is the birthday of the United States Army.
Also June 14, 1777, is the birthday of the flag of the United States of America.
On June 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson made June 14 a national holiday known as Flag Day.
On the 100th Anniversary of the Bear Flag on June 14, 1946, future President of the United States Donald J. Trump was born.
Also on June 14, 1946, then Governor of California Earl Warren celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Bear Flag in Sonoma California. Governor Warren later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and is famous for decisions such as ending segregation in schools with the decision Brown v Board of Education of Topeka.
The Bear Flag was created by a group of men one was William Todd who was the nephew of Mary Todd Lincoln who would later on become a First Lady of the United States of America.
Another individual person who participated in the Bear Flag Revolt was John C. Fremont who also is famous for many other reasons. One of his close companions was another man who helped raise the Bear Flag a man named Kit Carson.
John C. Fremont and Kit Carson are known in the great state of Nevada as founding fathers and figures. The Fremont Experience in downtown Las Vegas is named after John C. Fremont and the Nevada State Capital is in a city named after Kit Carson. Fremont explored the Midwest and Southwest as an officer in the US Army. He is known for putting Las Vegas literally on the map. He wrote in his diary:
“We encamped in the midst of another large basin, at a camping ground called Las Vegas - a term which the Spanish use to signify fertile or marshy plains… Two narrow streams of clear, fast running water that was 4 or 5 feet deep emanating from two springs. They measured the water as being 71 degrees in one stream and 72 in another. The men found the pools refreshing for bathing. But the taste was too warm to be agreeable.” The diary of John C. Fremont May 3, 1844.
Fremont returned to the District of Columbia and put the location of these streams on a map of the area and Congress printed 20,000 copies and colorful accounts of his travels for public consumption. Mormons arrived in 1855 and built a mission and called it the Las Vegas Mission. (Source: Las Vegas Review Journal: Andrew Taylor October 1 2012 also Las Vegas as it began as it grew Stanley W. Paher)
At the end of the Fremont Experience in Las Vegas is a hotel and casino named Golden Gate. Which is a fact that I admit has nothing to do with the Bear Flag or the Bear Flag Revolt. But is also a fact that sparks a branch of the Bear Flag Tree of Knowledge and useful things to know about.
The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic San Francisco Landmark that was built decades after the Bear Flag revolt about an hour south of city of Sonoma California. The chief engineer on the project was man named Joseph Baermann Strauss from Cincinnati Ohio.
I believe he is of no relation to the San Francisco importer and exporter by the name of Levi Strauss. Those two sharing the same last name is I believe to be just an unrelated historical coincidence.
However, this sparks another branch off the Bear Flag tree of useful stuff to know about. Levi Strauss did not actually invent denim jeans or pants even though his name is on the patent. The actual invention of the denim jean and trouser is from the silver mines of Nevada. A Reno based tailor was asked by minors to create a more structurally sound pant. The tailor’s name was Jacob W. Davis. Jacob W. Davis could not produce and manufacture enough jeans to match demand in Reno so he found his way to San Francisco and began a partnership with the dry goods salesman by the name of Levi Strauss in 1873.
John C. Fremont also was elected to the United States Senate as California’s first Senators in 1850. He served as California Senator from September 1850 to March 1851. During his time as California Senator the California Capital city was not in Sacramento but was in San Jose. The Capital city moved north toward the Bear Flag Revolt area in 1852 to the city of Vallejo California, then again in 1853 to the city of Benicia California, and again later on to her present day location of Sacramento in 1854, the California legislate also held one session in San Francisco in 1862.
In October of 1850 a steam ship dubbed “The New World” went passed Benicia up the California Delta to the city of Sacramento to bring news that California had been accepted into the United States of America as the 31st state. The ship also had passengers who were 49ers and gold rush men. One of these 49ers was suffering from cholera and caused an outbreak in the city of Sacramento leading the death of over 400 individuals including 17 town doctors and physicians. This is a somewhat more unrelated distant branch of the Bear Flag revolt tree.
John C. Fremont later left California politics and became the first Presidential nominee for the new Republican Party in 1856. He lost his bid for Presidency however, when the Civil War began President Lincoln commissioned him to be the military Governor of Missouri. On August 31 1861 he issued the United State’s first emancipation proclamation when he emancipated all the slaves in Missouri. Lincoln later went on to publicly reverse this order and annulled this act. In addition to annulling this act Lincoln also ordered the US military to seize Fremont’s estate in San Francisco and turn it into a military fort. This fort became Fort Mason just east of the Presidio. The US Navy usually hold their fleet week celebrations during Columbus Day weekend near Fort Mason. President Lincoln later issued the emancipation proclamation on September 22, 1862.
Also branching off the Bear Flag revolt tree of history about the area is some USA civil war history. Along interstate 80 in between the towns of Vacaville and Fairfield California is a little valley recently destroyed by wildfire. The Valley is called the Lagoon Valley it is near the location of the Vaca Ranch where Vallejo persuaded his allies to not rescue him the night of June 14, 1846. The Lagoon Valley has a famous former resident who was a poet and writer. As a child the poet Edwin Markham was raised in the Lagoon Valley and later in life penned a few poems about the area. Edwin Markham is also famous for being the poet and author of the poem that was chosen to be read at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in the District of Columbia on May 30, 1922. The poem was titled “Lincoln, the Man of the People.” The poem is mostly forgotten in the 21st century and is less famous than Walt Whitman’s poem however at the time the two poems were viewed as comparable.
The next day after the raising of the Bear Flag on June 15, 1846 President James K. Polk settled the border dispute between the United States of America and Canada. The border would be drawn along the 49th parallel. The Treaty is written about in the History books as the Oregon Treaty. Three years later to the day on June 15, 1849, President James K. Polk died in Nashville Tennessee.
The Mexican American War ended with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on groundhog day of 1848, February 2. A week or so earlier in 1848 James Wilson Marshall discovered Gold in Coloma California on January 24, 1848. This began what became the California Gold Rush of 1849.
Future President Zachary Taylor served in the US Army as a general during the Mexican American War. Under his command was future US Army General and President Ulysses Grant. Grant also was once stationed in the city of Benicia California and once got arrested for drunkeness and spent a night in the town jail. This event combined with other events that happened later on helped him kick the habit of drinking and improved his mental health and relationship skills which served America well during his destruction of the Robert Lee’s army during the Civil War.
Zachary Taylor won the election in 1848 and was sworn into office on March 4, 1849. Because Gold was discovered in California about a year earlier there was a rush of individuals flooding into the Golden State. Texas remains the only state to enter the Union having not been a territory first. But California’s “Territory” days remain minimal. California adopted an anti slavery formal government and applied for statehood on October 18th, 1849. The next year in 1850 on that same day the New World Ship brought cholera to Sacramento.
California’s statehood story from application to admittance was less than a year and involved 2 Presidents. Zachary Taylor died on July 9 1850, his body remained in the District of Columbia for funeral services until October 25 of 1850. During this time California was admitted to the Union of the 31st state officially on September 9, 1850. Also it’s worth mentioning that the federal government was probably unaware of the cholera outbreak in Sacramento while conducting the funeral and burial of former President Zachary Taylor. (Source: Messages and Papers of the Presidents from 1917 I picked up a library sale in Napa about a year ago.)
The Bear Flag Revolt branch of knowledge also includes other Civil War figures who were successful in ending slavery and saving the Union. One civil war figure is General Joseph Hooker who was once in command of the Army of the Potomac. President Grant and hero of the Union Army was also stationed in Benicia California along with the civil war figure known as William Tecumseh Sherman. Future Governor of California George Stoneman also served under the command of Joseph Hooker. Joseph Hooker just prior to the Civil War tried to retire in the town of Sonoma and tried to become a farmer. His former Sonoma home is just a short walk away from the site of the Bear Flag.
In 1854 the US Army picked Benicia to be the site of an arsenal to protect California. It is a historic anomaly and oddity in the military history of the United States of America. There was an idiot Secretary of War at the time who thought California was like the Arabian desert in the Middle East. He had an idiotic idea that camels would be suitable for the sunny California climate. The Camel Barn as it is known in Solano County is still there as a historical artifact to idiocy in the District of Columbia via the state of Kentucky.
Although by all accounts Robert Semple was a decent man with some anger issues. He was about 7 feet tall and was a dentist. He also was from Kentucky and is considered the founder of the city of Benicia and was a Bear Flag man. By my accounts he was also not a racist or an advocate for slavery in any way.
I can not say the same about the idiot Secretary of War from the State of Kentucky who had one idea of camels in California that sadly has stuck around way longer than necessary. The idiot Secretary of War is in the history books by the name Jefferson Davis.
Another oddity of the naming of towns in California is the town of Richmond California just south of Benicia. The town was named after Richmond Virginia in pre civil war days and decided to keep the name even after the Civil War and Reconstruction ended when it became an incorporated city in the early 20th century.
Also along the journey of Vallejo’s imprisonment from Sonoma to Vacaville to Sutter’s fort in Sacramento is a California town named Davis California. Davis California is actually not named after Jefferson Davis and is super politically correct even though their mascot is the aggies. The history of this area using the names and people and places can easily become confusing.
The city of Davis California is named after Jerome and Mary Davis who owned a ranch and were from Ohio. These Ohio farmers with the surname Davis were also not related to Jacob Davis the tailor who invented blue jeans.
Confusion can easily arise when conversations including individual people who’s first name begins with a J and ends in Davis especially if a word like agriculture becomes inserted into it. For the record here are some facts that I think might help.
Jacob William Davis helped invent the denim blue jeans and his shop was in Reno Nevada. There is a historic marker placed at the site of his tailor show in Reno. The street his shop was located on is named Virginia Street.
Jerome Davis was just a farmer from Ohio and was white.
The Solano County Fair features a BBQ competition that includes mutton which is lamb. The only place in the United States of America that bbq’s lamb is the state of Kentucky. My theory is that Fair has this as a thing because Robert Semple was from Kentucky and Solano County wants to be a little different from their neighbors in Napa. The Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo California also once had horse racing which is a Kentucky thing too. The mutton competition can easily be seen as odd and confusing to people because of the origin of the camel barn in Benicia.
There is also an oddity at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga because they have a speedway like it is Alabama. The oldest California Fair is the Dixon May Fair which is held in Dixon California which is near but not in Davis California. Dixon California also has a Carnegie Library and has some famous and notable folk heroes.
In 1999 the current Majority leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell named his Senate Desk after the former Senator from Kentucky Henry Clay. There are 3 officially named desks in the United States Senate named from official Senate Resolutions. The only desk that is visually different from the other 99 desks in the desk of Daniel Webster who was a Senator from New Hampshire. The Webster Desk is different because after the war of 1812 when the British burned many of the Senate Desks they got new ones. These new desks featured a writing box for papers and ink and stuff, Daniel Webster refused the addition claiming that if his predecessor went without it then he could to. In 1974 the Senate Desk was officially named the Daniel Webster Desk and it is to the best of my knowledge the first desk to be named officially through a Senate Resolution.
In 1995 the Senate passed a resolution to name the Senate Desk of the Senator from Mississippi after Jefferson Davis. The reason is from a quirky intern story of the US Senate. The Congressional page program began by Senator Daniel Webster during the time of slavery. Daniel Webster did not like the idea of work not being paid so he began an intern fellowship program known as the Congressional page program and began paying a small wage for tasks done by the teenagers and kids running around the Senate and Congressional halls of the time. The page program continues to this day and is almost as old as the Senate itself.
A former page by the name Isaac Bassett eventually got promoted to the Senate Doorkeeper. The Senate Doorkeeper is in charge of the internal business tasks and such that are important for the Senate to function correctly. Any way during the Civil War Isaac Bassett stopped a couple union soldiers from vandalizing and destroying the desk of the traitor known as Jefferson Davis when he shouted “Stop That; stop that; what are you doing?… That is not Jeff. Davis desk, it belongs to the Government of the United States. You were sent her to protect Government property, and not to destroy it.”
Apparently there is still a bayonet mark on the desk.
Over 20 years ago the current Senate Majority Leader named his own Senate Desk after a former Kentucky Senator Henry Clay. Henry Clay lost to Zachary Taylor in the election of 1848. However Senator Clay is important to California’s state origin story because he helped shape and form the Missouri Compromise of 1850. The Missouri Compromise of 1850 allowed California to enter the Union as a free state. The slave trade would be abolished in the district of Columbia and slavery would be decided locally in the Utah and New Mexico territories.
Upon the death of Zachary Taylor President Millard Fillmore fired the entire cabinet and appointed Daniel Webster as Secretary of State. California’s entrance into the Union was influenced and assisted by the work untimely death of President Taylor, the work of Senator Henry Clay, and Secretary Daniel Webster. California is the only state to enter the United States of America as a free state even though it has land south of the Mason Dixon line.
California and Texas are also the only states with the Lone Star and also share an oddity of admittance to the Union unlike other states.
California’s Bear Flag is also the only state flag of the United States that features a lone star without the color blue on it. There are only 4 state flags without the color blue, Alabama, New Mexico, Maryland, and California.
Another unrelated historical event that preceded the Bear Flag Revolt but is also part of the Bear Flag Revolt tree is a similar small republic featuring the Lone Star that happened in Louisiana known as West Florida Revolt in 1810.
The Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803 and it included French territory west of the Mississippi river.
The Spanish had land claims in Florida and at the time the land that is currently in the state of Louisiana but east of the Mississippi near Baton Rouge remained in Spanish control after the Louisiana purchase.
On September 23rd in 1810 a ragtag group Americans and rebels overtook a small Spanish fort and declared themselves independent from Spain. For 74 days they argued and diluted over leadership but managed to form a legislature and elect a governor and consolidate a militia.
The Republic of West Florida also came up with a flag and raised it. The design of the flag was simple. A single five pointed star that points straight upward in white, against a light blue background.
The Republic of West Florida can lay claim as being the original creators of the “Lone Star.”
The final historical branch I can think of that comes off the Bear Flag Revolt Story is unrelated events that have nothing to do with one another but somehow later on History has a way of forming branches and twigs from.
Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were both born on the same day February 12 1809. Lincoln eventually becomes part of the Bear Flag Story and Charles Darwin’s work on evolution is a fact learned by every schoolchild in California.
Late June/Early July 1776 the Spanish Mission in San Francisco known as Mission Delores was founded. It remains the oldest surviving building in the city and county of San Francisco. Depending on the historical record you are reading it was either 5 days before or on the very same day as the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
July 4 1807 on two separate parts of the world two military leaders are born. Mariano Vallejo in Monterey California and in Nice France there was a future military leader by the name of Giuseppe Garibaldi who I never learned about in my history classes but is also a Ulysses Grant Abraham Lincoln like leader who helped unify Italy into a single republic and is seen as a founder of the Kingdom of Italy.
The final unrelated historical coincidences from the Bear Flag Revolt tree is the existence in history of two different John Sutter’s on two coasts from different parts of the world and lived in different times. John Sutter from Switzerland founded the Capital City of California in Sacramento and built a fort that served as a prison for a time of Mariano Vallejo. About 50 years before that John Sutter was in California there was a different John Sutter who owned a bar in a small town near the Potomac River called Georgetown. John Sutter’s Georgetown bar served as a housing and lodging for George Washington and Pierre Charles L’Enfant who was the Frenchman who designed the city plan for the District of Columbia.
Both are Government towns near a river featuring an early settler by the name of John Sutter but a half century apart from each other and separated by thousands of miles.

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