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Chenango County, New York (U.S.)

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[Flag of Chenango County, New York] image by John Scordato, 2 April 2002



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Description of the flag

A white flag, with the county seal, showing a running deer and fawn, surrounded by a garland of laurel, and a ring stating the county name and date.  In the lower fly and lower hoist are two small thistles.
John Scordato, 2 April 2002

On June 19th, I received a detailed response to my questions concerning the flag of Chenango County, New York, authored by Ms. Joan Lieb of the Chenango County Historian's Office. Her responses to my questions are as follows:

When and how was the flag designed?
Procurement of the Chenango County Flag fell to the (Chenango) County Board of Supervisors Rules and Legislation Committee headed by City of Norwich First District Supervisor John Walker in 1982. The Board approved Resolution #82-82 April 12, 1982, providing funding for "the purchase of a hand sewn County Flag as recommended by the county Rules and Legislation Committee." The flag was made by the Embroidery Shop in Mt. Upton, NY, by Mrs. Eva Searles and her daughter, Fra Ward.

Is it well-known in Chenango County?
Probably best known in the Chenango County Office Building located in Norwich, NY, the county seat, and less or little known in other parts of the county.

What is the significance of the flag's design?
- White Field Unknown
- Running White-tailed Deer and Fawn The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is well known throughout the county. It occurs in large numbers and is representative of the abundant wildlife in Chenango County.
- two garlands of laurel Typically, from the ancient Greeks, the use of laurel branches represents victory, reward, and/or recognition.
- Ring stating "Chenango County N.Y. 1798" Memorializes the year in which Chenango County was formed from portions of Herkimer and Tioga Counties. (Laws of New York State, 21st Session, Ch. 31, Passed March 15, 1798)
- A single bull-thistle in each lower corner While unofficial, the bull-thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is considered the Chenango County Flower and "according to tradition, "Chenango" is an old Indian word meaning "bull-thistle" or "land of the bull-thistle" or something similar."
[Souvenirs of Yesteryear, Vol. 3, by Donald A Windsor, page 37; pub 2010 by Donald A. Windsor, Norwich, NY]

What are the fonts used in the flag if it has any lettering?
- Possibly Bookman Old Style

What is the seal's history and significance?
The first record of a seal used in Chenango County was documented in the records of the Court of Common Pleas in 1798. It reads as follows:
"At a court of common pleas holden at the school house in the town of Hamilton near the dwelling house of Elisha Payne in the said town, in and for the county of Chenango, on the second Tuesday in June, in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and ninety eight [1798]. Agreeably to an act of the Legislature of this State passed the 19th day of March last past -
…Ordered that a circular seal on which a Deer in full speed, and the words Chenango Court.C:Pleas are engraven - be and is hereby adopted as the seal of this court -''

The white-tailed deer has been a popular icon for the county and appeared on other Chenango County insignias.

In 1938, the county was invited to display the county seal on the rotunda of the Exhibition Building of the 1939 New York World's Fair. Reference to this seal appeared in the 1938 Journal of the Board of Supervisors' Proceedings and again in April 1982 in the discussion preceding adoption of Resolution #82-82. From the 1982 discussion, "Prior to action on Resolution #82-82, Mr. Maltzan asked if the deer has been changed to look like a deer on the flag. Mr. Barton said the 1939 World's Fair painting of the seal that hung in the Board Room had two deer on it from Chenango County, and that is what the deer will look like."

Later discussion in 1982 proceedings, upon receipt of the flag, "Mr. Walker pointed out the new County Flag hanging in the Supervisors' Chambers. He said the County allocated the funds for the cost of the flag and it was made by the Embroidery Shop in Mt. Upton by Mrs. Eva Searles. He said she has made flags for the Vice President of the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States, the Marine Corps, etc."

"Mr. Walker said some input was received from Linda Thorndike, a Fine Arts Teacher at the Norwich High School, on picking out colors. He pointed out the bull thistles in the corners of the flag and the fact that the deer on the flag have tails which was not true in other pictures of the County Seal.

"Mr. Barton said he thought Mr. Walker and the Rules and Legislation Committee did a commendable job on the flag project. He is hopeful another one can be made for display in Albany and said he would refer that to committee."

In what location is the flag flown?
The flag is displayed in the office of the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and also in the Board of Supervisors meeting room.

What are its proportions?
Three by five (3 x 5) feet.

Have there existed any former flags of the county? If so, what were they?
Unofficially. At the July 10, 1967 meeting of the Chenango County Board of Supervisors, a County Flag as prepared by the Chenango District of the Susquenango Council of the Boy Scouts of America was displayed by the Chairman and Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. "The flag showed the County Flower, the bull thistle, on one side withthe County Seal on the reverse side with a back ground color of green." The flag was designed by art instructor Robert Ward and made by Mrs. Donald Funnell. The Board referred the matter of a County Flag to the Miscellaneous Committee. No action was taken to adopt this particular flag as the County Flag.

How was the current flag adopted; by an individual or a committee? Is there a specific date when it was adopted?
The official flag was dedicated as the official Chenango County Flag by resolution at the November 18, 1988 meeting of the Chenango County Board of Supervisors. Resolution #323-88
RESOLUTION #323-88 OFFERING RECOGNITION TO EVA SEARLES AND FRA WARD FOR THEIR CREATION OF THE COUNTY FLAG

Mr. Wade offered the following and moved its adoption:

WHEREAS, Chenango County does not have an official flag to display to the public-at-large, and

WHEREAS, various requests are made by state agencies for the temporary loan of the County flag, and

WHEREAS, the Chairman of this Board did commission The Embroidery Shop of Mount Upton, New York, to create a County Flag, and

WHEREAS, Mrs. Eva Searles directed and supervised her daughter, Fra Ward, in the creation of a flag for Chenango County,

NOW, THEREFORE, be it RESOLVED, that this Board of Supervisors gratefully acknowledge the skill, knowledge and creative artistry of Mrs. Searles and Mrs. Ward in the creation of a flag for Chenango County, and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Board of Supervisors officially dedicates their flag as the official Chenango County flag.

Seconded by Mr. Crouch and duly adopted.

Prior to action on Resolution #323-88, Eva Searles and Fra Ward presented the flag they made for Chenango County. It is a thing of beauty. It is the same on both sides. This flag was flown at the State Fair representing Chenango County and has been returned and cleaned. Agriculture, Buildings and Grounds authorized creation of the flag.

This resolution dedicates the flag as the official County flag and Eva Searles and Fra Ward were thanked for their splendid handiwork on the part of the whole County."

The April 2nd, 2002 image of the county flag is the most up-to-date version of the flag as of June 19th, 2014.

Paul Bassinson, 3 July 2014