200-Year-Old Flag Flown by Caldwell Calvary Unit
War of 1812 relic being restored by Historical Society of West Caldwell.
A War of 1812 painted militia flag currently undergoing restoration was the topic at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of the Caldwells, which featured special guest Bev Crifasi, historian of the Historical Society of West Caldwell. The Rotary shared with the Patch details about Crifasi's presentation on the rare flag believed to have been flown by the Caldwell Calvary Unit in the early 1800s.
The military flag was donated to the Historical Society of West Caldwell in 1994. It is approximately 30 1/2” h x 42” w. It is a two-sided painted flag with different images on each side, against a natural-colored fine plain weave silk ground. The obverse has a profile image of a uniformed man on a rearing horse, below a red ribbon that reads “2__ REG: ESSEX [S] QU [A] DRON” in gilded letters.
The reverse of the flag shows the seal of New Jersey, two women flanking a central shield of blue. The figure on the left holds a red flag; the figure on the right holds a cluster of large flowers. The shield has three images of a plow, painted in white. A horse’s head in profile rests above the shield. A red ribbon below the shield reads “CALDWELL TROOP” in gilded letters. The bottom right corner of the reverse has a signature in iron gall ink that reads “J. W. Whittman Pinxt” (or possibly G. W. Whittman).
This flag is currently being restored and, upon completion, will be displayed at the Crane House as well as at some other locations yet to be determined. The Historical Society hopes to manufacture reproductions of the flag when completed for purchase by families in the area so that this beautiful flag can be proudly “raised” in front yards throughout the communities.
Bev Crifasi is a local resident, history scholar and psychologist. Crifasi is a direct descendent of some of the early New Jersey families and the founders of Caldwell, including some of whom were active in the First Presbyterian Church. Her great, great grandmother, Naomi Baldwin, was the midwife who delivered U.S. President Stephen Grover Cleveland in 1837.