Elizabeth Griscom Ross
Burial Location Visited
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 18, 2007


Fabled Philadelphia upholsterer Betsy Ross                                               Ross, according to legend, sewed the first
lays beside her third husband in the                                                             American flag in 1776.
courtyard of her home on Arch Street.


Betsy had been interred in a Quaker burial                                                                      The front of Ross' home, where
ground and then Mount Moriah Cemetery in                                                                   she is buried. The house is now
Philly before she was reburied at her home                                                                     a popular tourist attraction.
in 1975.

*** Interesting Facts ***

** Elizabeth "Betsy" Griscom was born on the first day of January in 1752 to parents Rebecca and Samuel Griscom, two Quakers. The eighth of seventeen Griscom children, had a strict upbringing, the result of her parents' faith. After his daughter finished her schooling, Samuel Griscom apprenticed Betsy to an upholsterer by the name of William Webster. While working under Webster, Betsy met a fellow apprentice named John Ross, whom she fell in love with. When Betsy turned twenty-one, she and John, an Episcopalian, eloped, which caused her expulsion from the Quakers and ruined her relationship with her family.

Together, John and Elizabeth opened their own upholstery business, but started to struggle financially when the Revolutionary War broke out. John joined the militia and was killed by a gunpowder explosion in January of 1776. Following her spouse's demise, Betsy became a member of the "Fighting Quakers", a faction of the Society of Friends that supported the war against Britain (traditional Quakers are pacifists).

* The story that made Betsy Ross immortal supposedly occurred one day in 1776. George Ross, her first husband's uncle, brought George Washington and Robert Morris to Betsy's upholstery for a meeting. There, they conversed with Betsy about sewing a flag to represent the new nation. From his pocket, one of the men produce a rough design sketch of what they wanted the flag to look like. Right away, Ross made some suggestions on how to fix the flag. One of the major changes she suggested was to change the stars on the flag from six-pointed stars to five-pointed stars. When the males argued that five-pointed stars would be too difficult for a seamstress to cut properly, Betsy calmly picked up her scissors and cut a piece of paper into a perfectly symmetrical five-pointed star. Impressed, the men agreed that they had made the right choice in coming to Ross. Soon, legend says, Betsy started working on the flag and secured her spot in history.

* In 1777, over a year after John Ross' death, Betsy remarried to a sea captain, Joseph Ashburn. The couple had two children together. John Ashburn, Betsy's second husband, was too a victim of the American Revolution. When the ship he was aboard was captured by the British, Ashburn was imprisoned. He died there without ever seeing his family again. A fellow inmate and old acquaintance, John Claypoole, went to tell Betsy of her husband's death when he was released in 1782. Claypoole and Betsy would eventually wed and had five daughters together. Betsy continued to make American flags for many more years, even after the death of her third husband in 1817. She herself passed away in her sleep in 1836.

* For several reasons, the fact that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag remains debatable today. The story did not become public knowledge until 1870, when the upholsterer's grandson brought it to the attention of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Also, no official documentation has ever been found proving that the meeting between Washington, the upholsterer, and the two Continental Congressmen ever took place. However, Ross was paid by the Pennsylvania State Navy Board for "making ship's colours", adding fuel to the debate. Either way, whether she sewed the first "Stars and Stripes" or not, the legend of Betsy Ross has been woven into the fabric of America forever.

Spouse: John Ross (1752-1776)
              Joseph Ashburn (1750-1782)

              John Claypoole (1752-1817)

Last Words: Unknown
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