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Feb132012

My Latest Obsession

About four years ago I purchased a thirteen star navy gunboat flag. It has a great story, as you will read. Recently, I had it framed. I contacted an authority in the field of vexillology to assist in the project. Without hesitation he knew exactly how we would frame the flag and, indeed, did a beautiful job.

During the time it was being framed, in my idle time, I found myself looking at this website and being so intrigued by how scholarly the world of American flags is. I also must say I was overcome with a sense of patriotism and awe at their beauty.

After the flag arrived and was hanged, it truly was imposing. I sat for lengthy spells just admiring it. Then I reread the information which accompanied the flag when I initially purchased it.

I purchased ths flag from a gentleman, Bill Ebsworth. He had inherited it from his grandfather, Conrad W. Ljungquist. Conrad W. Ljungquist was born in Sweden in 1867 and immigrated to the United States. He joined the Navy when he was 17 as a Third class apprentice and retired in 1924 as a Lieutenant.

He served as an enlisted man on the Minnesota, New Hampshire, Saratoga, Hartford, Independence, Alert, Iroquois, Mohican, Vermont, Dale Triana, St. Louis, Vesuvius Ranger Olympia, Raleigh Wabash and Kersarge.

He participated in the Battle of Manila Bay, bombardment of Manila; Phillippines, Mexican and Necaraguan campaigns and in the First World War on board the USS Salem.

He was awarded three good conduct badges, the Dewy Congressional Medal. Philippine, China, Mexican, Nicaraguan and Victory Campaign badges.

While Chief Gunners Mate on the USS Olympia, he assisted in diving for and blowing up and removing obstructions in the Pasig River, blowing up guns and magazines at Sangley Point, Cavite, and dismantling batteries on the “Luneta” Manilla. The Olympia is now a museum ship anchored in Philadelphia, and he is listed as the Chief Gunners Mate.

He was married to Emma W. Skogland of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1905 at the age of 38. He died in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital at the age of 83.

What made this even more interesting to me is Bill Ebsworth had the flag assessed by vexillologist David Martucci. This assessment also was forwarded to me with the flag. This very thorough and lengthy assessment dated the flag between 1890–1900 by taking into consideration material, star configuration, stitching, rope, and other telltale signs. Everything added up. A wonderful tale of a military career meets a beautiful flag, ART.

The world of antique flags is indeed an interesting, scholarly one and, for the moment, my latest obsession.

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