Originally published in the Greenfield Recorder (www.recorder.com). |
By JEREMY DIRAC Recorder Staff 3/12/2007
Used by permission.
CHARLEMONT -- Soon, Charlemont residents may look upon a town flag. A vote Tuesday is to determine whether the town will design a town flag and manufacture it.
According to the state's Web site, 287 of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts have flags represented in the Great Hall of the State House.
The Web site may not be accurate, however, as Charlemont is labeled "Chalemont" and Colrain is labeled as "Coltrain."
Historic Commission member William Coli said that his interest in a town flag started after a state legislator told the town that Charlemont was one of just three towns without a flag in the Great Hall about a year ago.
Coli and the Chairwoman of the Historic Commission, his wife, Norma Coli, with encouragement from the Board of Selectmen, looked toward the town's current emblem, which you can see on its letterhead and on police officers' patches.
The emblem Charlemont uses is the Coat of Arms of Viscount Charlemont. The current Viscount Charlemont is now living somewhere in Canada, Coli said.
About the turn of the century, on behalf of the town, the then-proprietor of the Charlemont Inn got permission, from the then-Viscount Charlemont, to use his Coat of Arms as the town's emblem, which it has been using ever since, Coli said.
The Coat of Arms itself was granted to the first Viscount Charlemont, a man named Toby Caulfeild, who performed admirably for the King of England in suppressing Northern Irish rebels in the 1600s at the Charlemont Fort, Coli said.
Many out-of-towners incorrectly think that the word Charlemont has French origins, and pronounce it with a "Sh" at the beginning, like Emperor "Charlemagne," Coli said.
Actually, the word "Charlemont" comes from the man who built the fort. He named it after himself, using different parts of his name: Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, Coli said.
The town of Charlemont, before labeled "Township One," -- a piece of land thought of as a wilderness frontier -- was named by the colony's governor, who was friends with people on the king's circle of counselors. Among them was a Viscount Charlemont, who was descended from Caulfeild, Coli said.
Colrain and Shelburne were also named for people who got along well with the governor, Coli said.
The Colis' initial attempts to get a look at an original Charlemont Coat of Arms ran into a problem, however.
The Royal College of Arms questioned whether Charlemont should be using Viscount Charlemont's Coat of Arms at all, Coli said. He was able to convince it that permission had been granted at the turn of the century.
Eventually, the Colis were able to contact one of Caulfeild's direct descendants (who didn't inherit the Viscount Charlemont title): an Englishman, Richard Caulfeild Hawkes.
Hawkes is now paying the Royal College of Arms to do a color drawing of the Charlemont Coat of Arms -- at a cost of about $1,000 -- so that the town can digitally photograph it for its flag, Coli said.
Robin Brooks Design of Greenfield is slated to do the flag design, Coli said.
Coli said that he'd like to see the town make a dozen, or perhaps as many as 25 flags, so that along with a flag going up at the State House, the Town Hall and the Hawlemont Regional School, people would be able to buy their own.
Charlemont residents are to vote whether they want to design and manufacture the flag, at a cost of $4,700 using surplus or "free cash," at a special town meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.
If you would like to view other towns' flags, you can visit the state Web site at http://mass.gov/bsb/flagsbycounty.htm.