Betsy Ross

By: Mark Aspiazu

Hi my name is Mark and I’m going to be talking about Betsy Ross (Elizabeth Griscom), AKA supposed seamstress of the first american flag. Although a lot of people believe so, some others think that she wasn’t the seamstress after all. Either way, her story started on January 1st, 1752 when she was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, where she lived all her life. At age 17 her father apprenticed her with a Mr. John Webster who at the time was a famous upholsterer. During her apprenticeship there she met John Ross, and they fell in love very shortly afterward.

Because he was Catholic, Betsey (being a Quaker) was forbidden from marrying him. fortunately for her though, she decided to flee the Quaker area with John and start a new life together. They started an upholstery business themselves on chestnut street, Philadelphia. There they lived happily, until the war broke out when John was standing near a crate of gunpowder which exploded, killing him instantly. It had been only two years since they were married, and he was already gone. On June 15, 1777 however, Betsey married a sailor named Joseph Ashburn. They had two children together (Zillah who died during childhood and Elizabeth).Unfortunately for Joseph, being a sailor he was soon captured by the british and died of an unknown illness in prison.

When Betsy heard the news, she was very sad but a couple years later, she married another man by the name of John Claypoole, who was a fellow prisoner and good friend of Joseph. With Claypoole, she finally had a lasting relationship, which lasted 34 years, until John passed away. They had 5 children together (Clarissa Sidney, Susannah, Rachel, Jane, and Harriet, who died at nine months). Finally, on January 30th, 1836, Betsey Ross died in her sleep at the age of 84. It was not until 50 years later that stories about her started spreading however. One of her Grandsons stated that she was assigned to make the flag after she was visited by an uncle of her first husband (George Ross), George Washington, and Robert Morris.

Her life and hardships were told as a great example of what many women of her time unfortunately had to endure: widowhood, single motherhood, managing household and property independently and quickly remarrying for economic reasons. i think we can all agree that her story and her life are definitely stitched into the fabric of American history. Her monument would be placed by her house in Philadelphia, where she spent her life and sewed the flag.