Was it hand stitched by a group of women from the miner’s camp? Or was it made by a professional tent maker working on the goldfields?
Oral stories passed down through families suggest that at least three women, Anastasia Hayes, Anastasia Withers and Anne Duke stitched the flag. Anastasia Hayes was the wife of Timothy Hayes, Chairman of the Ballarat Reform League for whom the flag was made. She was also a teacher at the St Alipius school. Anastasia Withers was an ex-convict who with her husband and children lived on the goldfields. 16 year old Anne Duke was recently married and pregnant with her first child in 1854.
Alternative stories suggest that local tent makers stitched the flag for the diggers. Towards the end of the 19th century, several different tent makers claimed they made the flag. For example, a newspaper report in 1893 recalled local memory that the Canadian miner Henry Ross ordered a flag from tent and tarpaulin makers Darton and Walker for the miners. This flag was believed to have been made from bunting in under 39 hours. Bunting is a wool fabric with a high shine often used for flags. Mrs Walker of Darton and Walker, also stated in 1892 that she had made a flag before 3 December 1852 for the stockaders. In 1899 several other gentlemen laid claim to stitching the flag, including Owen Edwards a tent and tarpaulin maker and William Fraser.
The mystery is unlikely to be solved but the M.A.D.E living history project and the analysis by conservators can provide interesting insight for the curious.