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Friday, November 18, 2011

I Have a Hand Sewn American Flag

“I have a hand sewn, 16’ X 22’ wool American flag with 48 stars. I know it is pre-1959. I’m looking for any information you can find about it.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff was fascinated by this, considering the size of the flag.

Flag: an American biography by Marc Leepson [p.223] confirmed that the flag was indeed from before 1959 as the 48th state, Arizona, joined the Union on February 14, 1912 and Alaska, the 49th joined by proclamation on January 3, 1959. The 49 star flag become official on July 4.

According to the book, Saga of the American Flag: an illustrated history by Candice M. DeBarr and Jack A. Bonkowske [p.50], a survey taken in 1912 “revealed that governmental agencies were using flags of 66 different sizes, most of varying proportions. Nongovernmental flags were even more widespread in the irregularities.” Several websites have information about the dimensions of American flags.  gives the ratio of hoist [width] X 1.9 = fly [length]. Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established the proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward. This flag was official for 47 years, longer than any other flag.” The blog, The Daily Flag states “Flags today come in easy to remember sizes, 3X5, 4X6, 5X8, but the flag code clearly indicates that the size ratio for the US Flag is 1:1.9.” According to the flag code our patron’s flag should actually be 16’ X 30.4’ or by common standards, 16’ X 24’. This would indicate that it was indeed handmade. has an entry about Collecting Historical American Flags by Tom Carrier which we suggested our patron read to learn more.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Old are the Buildings at Transco Railway Products?

Patrons visit, phone, and email the Newton Falls Public Library with their questions. One recent phone request was “How old are the buildings at Transco Railway Products, 2310 S. Canal Street in Newton Falls?”

The library staff first went to the Trumbull County Auditor’s website. We compared that map with the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps from March 1928 [this database may be accessed through the Ohio Web Library on our homepage]. The business located there at that time was Ohio Structural Steel Company.

Searching online for this company, we found information on page 609 of the History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, Volume 1 by James G. Butler, Jr. This book may be accessed online through Google books or in our Local History Room. According to Butler, “The Newton Falls Boiler Works was started in 1917 and transferred later to Hetzel Form and Iron Company. This constituted the nucleus of the Ohio Structural Steel Company, organized in 1919, that has constructed a plant of greatly increased size.” The History of Newton Falls compiled by Ella Woodward [Revised 1977 edition, pg. 85] stated that this company took over the Newton Falls Construction Company Plant.”

While background history is interesting, it hadn’t answered our patron’s question; so we contacted the Trumbull County Auditor. His office informed us that the newest building was constructed in 1995, the office in 1924, Parts & Storage (20’ X 57’, 1 story) in 1968, Building 2A (72’ X 160’) in 1955 and the Fab building in 1926.