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3 Mysteries Surround Betsy Ross
Do you know what mysteries surround Betsy Ross? How many times has she been married? How many children did she have? How many times has she been buried? If you answered yes or no, read on.
What are the mysteries surrounding Betsy Ross?
Elizabeth Griscom was born on January 1, 1752. She was born the eighth of seventeen children, sixteen girls and one boy. Her name was Betsy. His family were Quakers. His parents were Samuel and Rebecca Griscom. His father was a master carpenter.
Betsy went to school at a Quaker school. She learned reading, writing, arithmetic and sewing. After leaving school, Betsy took up an upholstery apprenticeship, it was there that she met and fell in love with John Ross. She learned to repair chairs, curtains, umbrella rugs and to make flags.
Betsy and John have fled. His parents didn’t approve of John since he wasn’t a Quaker and Betsy was, “read aloud”. This means that she was separated from her parents, her extended family and the Quaker community.
The couple returned to Philadelphia to start their own upholstery business in 1774. Betsy and John attended Christ Church and sat next to George Washington’s family. Betsy and John had been married for three years when John died in 1776 guarding a munitions site during the Revolutionary War.
Betsy now widowed and alone inherited the land. She continued to work in her upholstery business. Business was difficult because of the Revolutionary War and equipment was hard to come by.
In the summer of 1776, Betsy met with the committee of three generals, George Washington, George Ross and Robert Morris. This led to the sewing of the first historic flag. Thirteen stars in a circle and thirteen stripes. General, George Washington was very specific. He said, “I want the stars in a circle to represent the Thirteen Colonies. I don’t want any of the colony names above the others.”
In 1777 Betsy married a naval captain, Joseph Ashborn. They had two daughters, one of whom died in youth. image caption Ashborn was captured and died in prison.
In 1777, Betsy’s house was seized by the British army during the historic winter at Valley Forge. Betsy was a strong supporter of the militia.
Widowed again, Betsy remarried an old friend John Claypoole. They had 5 daughters. John died in 1800 of a stroke. He had been bedridden for 17 years.
94 years later, the story of how the first flag was made was told by Betsy’s grandson in 1780, William J. Canby, at the meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Society. The speech was published in the Harper Weekly.
The only fact which has been found after extensive research is this The State Navy Board Pennsylvania for May 29, 1777, an order on William Webb to Elizabeth Ross for fourteen pounds twelve shillings and two pence for the making of the colors of the ship, & c put in Richard’s store . Betsy did the ship’s colors for Pennsylvania State Ships.
There is no other documentation available.
Not only is mystery surrounding Betsy about the making of the first flag, but also about her death.
Betsy died in Philadelphia at age 84 completely blind. His home is located at 239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it is a popular tourist attraction.
Not only was Betsy married and widowed three times, she was buried three times. Betsy Ross was first buried at the Free Quaker Cemetery on South 5th Street. 20 years later, his remains were exhumed and reinterred at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia in the family grave. In preparation for the United States Bicentennial, the city ordered that her remains be moved to the Betsy Ross House in 1975. However, workers found no remains under her headstone. Bones found elsewhere and unidentified were declared hers and reinterred in her grave at the home of Betsy Ross.
Whose bones are in the grave of Betsy Ross. His, or another family member?
In 1909 a book was written by George Canby and his nephew Lloyd Balderson. The book is titled, The Evolution of the American Flag. He gave positive information about Betsy making the first flag as his family was told by Betsy.
A painting by Charles H. Weisgerber was printed in the book titled Birth Of Our Nations Flag. It showed Betsy and her granddaughters presenting the flag to General George Washington and others. This book became an instant sensation. The image was printed in every textbook in the United States.
A fund has been started by school children to contribute ten cents each until they reach two million dollars to buy and renovate Betsy Ross’ house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Historians do not believe the house to be the Betsy Ross house. But again, the recordings were not available.
Is the house really Betsy Ross’ house?
The question is why did the public believe that Betsy Ross actually made the first flag?
(1) The speech given by his grandson to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
(2) The book, The Evolution of the American Flag.
(3) Married 3 times and widowed twice during the War of Independence.
(4) Owned and managed his own land.
(5) Single mother.
(7) The use of Betsy’s name in advertising was big business for the sale of flags and other items.
(8) Managed his own household.
(9) Member of the “Fighting Quakers”.
(10) Made American flags for 50 years.
(11) Audiences loved the idea of a woman being a hero.
Does it really matter that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag? She was a brave woman. Long before his time. She has proven her patriotism many times and mystery still surrounds her life.
Thanks for reading my article. Feel free to read the many articles I have written on several different topics.
Copyright Linda E. Meckler 2008
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