While you may know Betsy Ross best as the person who made the first United States flag, this fact may not even be true. However, many more facts are known about Betsy Ross, including what happened with the first flag.
Legend of Betsy Ross
Actual Facts About Betsy Ross
The following is a list, in no particular order, of unique, substantiated facts about Betsy Ross that should give you an idea of who she really was and what her life might have been like during the tumultuous years of America first developing and coming into its own right as a nation.
All About Betsy Ross
- Well known by most Americans as the creator of the original American flag, Elizabeth “Betsy” Griscom was born on January 1, 1752, and lived in Philadelphia for most of her life.
- She was number eight of seventeen children and was raised by her mother and father.
- Ross was raised as a Quaker by her parents and continued observing the faith throughout her life.
- She began sewing as a child being taught by her great aunt Sarah Griscom. She later apprenticed for an upholsterer named William Webster. During this apprenticeship she met her future husband John Ross.
- John Ross was NOT a Quaker, which meant that she was forced to elope in order to marry, since she was considered to be moving outside of her church.
- She and her new husband John ran away to New Jersey when Betsy was 21 years old.
- Ross' first husband was an upholsterer.
- The Revolutionary War made it difficult for fabrics to come to the Americas, so Ross and her upholsterer husband, who ran a business together, had a difficult time financially for many years in the mid 1770s.
- She ran the business on her own after Ross was killed by a gunpowder explosion while performing guard duties with the local military.
- In order to support herself, it is said that she began sewing and repairing uniforms and other items for the Continental Army.
- There is proof that she did make flags for the Pennsylvania State Navy and there are receipts which show her compensation for those flags.
- Ross married a total of three times; her husbands left her a widow typically after only a few years of marriage, which was not unusual during wartime, but which nonetheless cast her life into shades of gloom and bad luck for long stretches of time.
- Per Betsy Ross' story, she met with George Washington, George Ross, and Robert Morris in the spring of 1776, to have the discussion that eventually led to the sewing of the first American flag.
- She continued to run her upholstery business while reportedly making flags for the U.S. until the late 1820s.
- Betsy Ross was the mother of two daughters with her second husband, and the mother of five daughters with her third husband.
- She died on January 30, 1836.
She was originally buried in Philadelphia at a Quaker burial ground. Her remains were removed from their original location at the Quaker burial ground and placed in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia twenty years after her death.
A year before the United States bicentennial in 1975, arrangements were made to have the remains of Betsy Ross removed from the cemetery in Mt. Moriah to the Betsy Ross House courtyard as this was the location where she supposedly lived while making the first American flag.
It is said that workers were not able to find Ms. Ross’ remains under her tombstone at Mt. Moriah. Upon search of the rest of the family plot, bones were discovered that the workers assumed belonged to Betsy Ross. These remains were then taken to a tombstone at the Betsy Ross House where her remains are located as of today.
So, although we may never really know if Betsy Ross actually made the first flag or not, we do know important and interesting facts about Betsy Ross. Perhaps just as importantly, knowing these facts gives us more insight into what life was like for a woman during the Revolutionary War and during the early times of America.