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Ohio (U.S.)

Last modified: 2021-12-18 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Ohio] image by Zachary Harden, 19 May 2016

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In 1818, five stars were added, representing Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 20. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.


Adopted in 1902 and designed by John Eisemann. The large blue triangle represent Ohio's hills and valleys, and the stripes represent roads and waterways. 17 stars symbolize that Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the union. The white circle with its red center not only represents the first letter of the state name, but also its nickname "the Buckeye State".
Dov Gutterman, 12 October 1998

Ohio Revised Code
Section 005.01

The flag of the state shall be pennant shaped. It shall have three red and two white horizontal stripes. The union of the flag shall be seventeen five-pointed stars, white in a blue triangular field, the base of which shall be the staff end or vertical edge of the flag, and the apex of which shall be the center of the middle red stripe. The stars shall be grouped around a red disc superimposed upon a white circular "O." The proportional dimensions of the flag and of its various parts shall be according to the official design on file in the office of the secretary of state. One state flag of uniform dimensions shall be furnished to each company of the organized militia.
Joe McMillan, 19 February 2000

In the US it is possible for some entities to protect their designs, at least temporarily, if not by filing for an actual copyright, then by patent. The Ohio flag, for example, was patented but the patent was not renewed when it expired so I guess it is now in the public domain (Patent #D034810, 23 July 1901, term: 3.5 years).
Dave Martucci 26 April 2012


I located the specification sheet for the Ohio flag at It is on page 3 of the PDF file and a lot of the numbers are very small to read. Overall the flag has a ratio of 8x13; the blue union triangle is also 8 units in length, 2 units from the end of the triangle to the end of the flag (red stripe) and 3 units that is cut out of the flag.

To also expand on the April 26th comments by Dave Martucci, the flag itself is out of copyright. According to US Copyright law, any published work that was published or registered in the US before 1923 is public domain. See for more details.
Zachary Harden, 2 January 2013

Meaning of flag


According to the analysis by Ohio's legislative service commission (click on 'bill analyses' in the left column), SB 240, among other things, establishes an official state flag pledge, defines the symbolism of the flag (stripes = 'roads and waterways,' stars = 'hills and valleys'), and changes the specification of the flag from 'pennant- shaped' to 'burgee-shaped.'

The legislative analysts admit they don't know if this last means the flag would, in practice, have to change shape, since what 'burgee-shaped' means is open to interpretation.

Andrew S Rogers, 15 May 2002

Ohio Transitional Flag

[U.S. 17 star flag] image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 30 September 2010

FLAGWAVER: JOURNAL OF GREAT WATERS ASSOCIATION OF VEXILLOLOGY (May 2003) Vol. VIII, No. 1, Issue 15 reported the existance of an "Ohio Transitional Flag", a U.S. Flag with 17 six-pointed stars and thirteen stripes.

Thus proof for our 17 Star Flag page, but with six-pointed stars.

Steve Shumaker, 2 November 2008

This Ohio Transitional Flag is a Stars & Stripes with a union of 17 stars: one star in the centre and sixteen stars forming a circle, or rather an oval, around it. As the flag change of 1795 had suggested the number of stars would always be equal to the number of states, the lay-out would seem to refer to the 17th state to become part of the USA. This seventeenth state was Ohio, which became a state over a period from late 1801 until early 1803.

The flag was indeed found in Ohio, lying in a roof joint in the attic of the McDowell House in Ashville. The flag was approximately 21" by 48", suggesting a ratio of 3:5. It has a nearly square canton and six-pointed stars, both apparently common at the time the state of Ohio was formed. In 2001 the flag was donated to the Ashville Area Heritage Society, who have taken steps to preserve the flag.

Looking at Ohio history, the flag could have been made sometime during 1802 or after, at least up to 1812, when Louisiana became the 18th state of the USA. It's not entirely impossible that it was made closer to 1818, when the pattern of thirteen stripes and a star for every state was codified, as a specific Ohio flag. But it would seem more likely that the specific design would have been inspired by Ohio becoming a state, which would suggest a date near 1803.

I'm interpreting events slightly different from Blas. Where he sees such flag designs as a return to 13 stripes, I see it more as keeping the flag at 13 stripes. As we've recently has an example of thirteen stars, also from the Star Spangled Banner era, I'm beginning to wonder whether that new, 15/15 version of the flag was as popular as the 13/13. Of course, the matter might also be as practical as there being quite a number of New Constellations lying around after the Star-Spangled Banner had officially replaced them; resewing stars might have been preferable over creating an entire new flag.

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 30 September 2010

Governor's Flag

[Flag of Governor of Ohio] image by Joe McMillan, 25 February 2000

In use since 1905; adopted officially 1945 [smi75a]. Scarlet with the state seal on the center surrounded by a circle of 13 white stars, and in addition one white star in each corner. Four sizes, all of the same design: (a) flag, made of bunting 80 x 126 inches; (b) official colors, silk 52 by 66 inches with 2 1/2 inch yellow silk fringe and scarlet and white cord and tassels; (c) naval flag, bunting 36 x 48 inches; (d) automobile flag, silk 18 x 26 inches with 1 1/2 inch yellow silk fringe.

Comment: According to [smi75a], only the central design of the state seal is normally used; the GIF follows this usage, omitting the encircling ring and inscription.

Joe McMillan, 25 February 2000

Here is the text of the statute passed in 1963:

" [§ 5.01.1] § 5.011 Flags of the governor: Text of Statute

The flag of the governor of this state will be of scarlet wool bunting, six feet eight inches hoist by ten feet six inches fly. In each of the four corners will be a white five-pointed star with one point upward. The centers of these stars will be twelve inches from the long edges and seventeen inches from the short edges of the flag. In the center of the flag will be a reproduction of the great seal of Ohio in proper colors, three feet in diameter, surrounded by thirteen white stars equally spaced with their centers on an imaginary circle four feet three inches in diameter. All stars shall be of such size that their points would lie on the circumference of an imaginary circle ten inches in diameter. The official colors of the governor of Ohio will be of scarlet silk, four feet four inches on the pike by five feet six inches fly, of the same design as the flag of the governor of Ohio, with the seal and stars proportionately reduced in size and embroidered. The colors will be trimmed on three edges with a knotted fringe of yellow silk two and one half inches wide. Attached below the head of the pike will be a silk cord of scarlet and white eight feet six inches in length with a tassel at each end.

The naval flag of the governor of Ohio will be of scarlet wool bunting, three feet hoist by four feet fly. The design will be the same as the flag of the governor of Ohio with the seal and the stars proportionately reduced in size.

The automobile flag of the governor of Ohio will be of scarlet silk, or wool bunting, one foot six inches on the staff by two feet six inches on the fly. The design will be the same as the flag of the governor of Ohio with the seal and stars proportionately reduced in size. The flag will be trimmed on three edges with a knotted fringe of silk or wool one and one half inches wide.
HISTORY: 130 v 6. Eff 9-30-63."
Sean McKinniss, 12 March 2003

State Military Crest

image by Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "A sheaf of seventeen arrows argent bound by a sprig of buckeye (Aesculus glabra) fructed proper (two leaves with bursting burr). [Ohio is known as the Buckeye State.]"
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000