Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Widow At 239 Arch Street

Born in 1752, the eighth of 17 children, Elizabeth Griscom was raised in the Society of Friends. Once she graduated from public Quaker school, she worked in an upholstery shop, where she soon fell in love with a young man named John Ross, a fellow apprentice. With him being of another faith, their marriage was forbidden, but when she turned 21, they eloped and were married in a tavern in New Jersey. When word got around, she was expelled from the church and turned away by her family. Regardless, the marriage was a happy one and they worked as upholsterers and had two children.

Three years later, in January of 1776, as a member of the Pennsylvania militia, John was killed when the ammunition storehouse he was guarding exploded. A widow at 24, Betsy continued working and raising the children as best she could. Five months after John's death, at the behest of General Washington, Betsy created a flag for the Continental Army to rally behind. She soon joined the "Fighting Quakers" and married a sea captain. In 1783, informed by an old friend who had been his cell mate, she learned her husband had died in an English prison. She and the cell mate married and had five daughters. Betsy continued to work as a flag maker and upholsterer until 1827, when her daughter took over the business. Betsy Ross lived to be 84.

The picture is of the house in Philadelphia where she lived as a young bride and where she sewed the first American flag.

1 comment:

High Desert Diva said...

I've never read anything about Betsy Ross' life before....thanks for the history lesson.