Back When … Charles B. Stewart, Designer of the Texas Flag
Charles B. Stewart was one of the founding fathers of Texas and the designer of the Texas Flag that we know today. He was born on Feb. 6, 1806 in Charleston, South Carolina, to Charles and Adrianna (Bull) Stewart. In the early 1820s, he studied medicine in South Carolina and received his pharmacy license in 1825. On a trip to Cuba in 1828, he formed a trading partnership between the United States and Cuba. Stewart moved to New Orleans in 1829 where he was an importer of coffee and other goods. While in New Orleans, he met Stephen F. Austin and, in spring 1830, moved his business to Brazoria, Coahuila Y Tejas, Mexico. When Santa Anna took over the Mexican government, he imposed severe restrictions on the settlers including imposition of import duties. The Colonists began to rebel. In 1832, Stewart joined Francis Johnson’s command and fought at the Battle of Velasco. In 1834, Stewart was appointed secretary of the Judicial District of Brazos, and in spring 1835 he moved to San Felipe de Austin where he opened a pharmacy. He became a physician licensed by the Mexican government on May 4, 1835.
Stewart was a prominent leader among the colonists and was a member of the Consultation of 1835. After the Consultation was adjourned and the provisional government had been established, he was appointed executive secretary to Governor Henry Smith. When the Texas Independence Convention was called to meet at Washington-on-the Brazos on March 1, 1836, Stewart was elected a delegate. The convention lasted from March 1-17. At the convention, Stewart took a prominent role and served on the committee to draft a constitution for the new government of the Republic of Texas. On March 6, the Alamo fell. On March 8, Stewart obtained permission from Judge James Hall, of the Municipality of Washington, to leave the convention and travel to Lake Creek Settlement. W. W. Shepperd performed the marriage between Stewart and Shepperd’s daughter Julia on March 11. Stewart then returned to the convention to complete his duties in writing the Constitution of the Republic of Texas and the Declaration of Independence.
He was the first delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Texas and, in doing so, he and the other signers signed their death sentence if captured by Santa Anna. Stewart was at the Battle of San Jacinto with Sam Houston and acted as a translator. After the battle, when he returned to his home in San Felipe de Austin, he found his business and merchandise in ashes. He moved to Lake Creek to work with his father-in-law, W.W. Shepperd, and re-establish his medical practice and pharmacy. Together they developed the town of Montgomery.
In 1839, Stewart and others were appointed to form a committee to create a new national flag. Stewart’s original freehand drawing of the flag of the Republic of Texas is in the Sam Houston Library and Research branch of the Texas State Archives. President Mirabeau B. Lamar signed the drawing approving this as the flag of the new Republic of Texas.
In 1997, the Texas Legislature, by House Resolution 1123, declared that Montgomery County, Texas was the Home of the Texas Lone Star Flag because Stewart lived there in 1839 when it was designed and adopted.