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News Article

Havilah Toland designs a Flag for Springwater

From Democrat and Chronicle, 28 July 1982

Written by Bob Bickel. Rediscovered by Lore Disalvo.

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Havilah Toland and Howard Kramer hold Springwater flag. Click the image to enlarge.

Springwater - Town officials and residents here are rallying around a flag.

The town board, the volunteer fire company and about 60 Springwater residents held a ceremony recently to dedicate a town flag designed by Havilah Toland.

Fifty large, color reproductions of the design on the flag were stamped and postmarked at the Springwater post office, creating what stamp collectors call panel covers.

Toland, a 51-year-old biology teacher in the Rush-Henrietta School District, is building a latticework in his yard - so intricate it amounts to fold art - to display the flag. The staffs on the four corners bear the U.S., state and county flags and the new flag.

This may seem like a lot of fuss to be making about a flag, but Springwater Town Supervisor Howard Kramer doesn’t think so. While trying to get the flag officially registered, he has learned that it may be unique - the only town flag in New York State, let along Livingston County.

What’s more, it stands for something that Kramer and Toland regretfully believe is disappearing from the American scene - a bone-deep affection for one’s hometown.

Toland said the approach of the Seventh District American Legion convention in Springwater in June is what spurred him to design the flag.

But he believes this was just the excuse he needed to express a feeling for Springwater that had been building up for a long time - all his life, in fact.

“When my mother died in 1940 they sang a song at her funeral which she had written about the Springwater valley,” he said. “The score’s been lost, but I’ve never gotten it out of my mind.

“The soil’s not too good here. Most of the small farmers have gone. But seven generations of my family have lived in Springwater. It is a beautiful place.”

Toland called his feeling about the valley “the homestead principle” and said it meant “belongingness” for him.

“It is a very good feeling,” he said. “American life has gotten so fluid I’m afraid we’re losing the very concept of place, and of family, which goes with it.”

The flag is packed with symbol. Its blue ground is the sky. A segmented orange circle is sunrise and sunset. Inside is a second circle of mountain laurel; Springwater is the northernmost point where the shrub is found.

The green hills around the hamlet, Springwater Creek, and Hemlock Lake also are represented.

An eagle hovers over the design, its wings spread as if protecting the town.

Springwater is the home of one of the two remaining pair of naturally nesting bald eagles in New York.

Toland made the flag himself, buying the blue base in a fabric shop, cutting a separate stencil for each color, spraying on the design with plain household paint.

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