Travel back to 1776 to my lovely birth state of Pennsylvania. A recently widowed and beautiful seamstress by the name of Betsy Ross sits in a chair by the window, battleships in port, painstakingly hand-sewing either the first-ever American flag or one of the country’s greatest myths.
The legend goes, as first told by Ross’ Grandson decades after her death, that George Washington stopped along his historic route through Philadelphia to commission a flag from then twenty-four year old Betsy. One year later, Congress passed the Flag Act of 1777. Coincidence? It’s up to you (and lots of cynical historians!) to decide.
Though the facts may be fudged, Marla Miller, an expert and biographer on Betsy, surmises that our heroine at least changed the 6 point star to a much simpler 5 point star. Not exactly the stuff legends are made of, but hey, give the girl some credit. She was almost definitely one of the seamstresses who constructed one of the first flags. …
Starting out as first a home sewer and then an apprentice in an upholstery shop, Betsy soon moved on to run her own upholstery business with her first husband, John Ross. During the American Revolutionary War, John was killed and Betsy dedicated her sewing skills to tent and blanket construction and uniform repair.
After losing a second husband to the war, she finally settled down with lifelong companion, John Claypoole, and had five daughters. She passed away at the ripe old age of 84, completely unaware of the legacy she would leave behind.
Along with living a distinctly long life for the time period, Betsy Ross continues to live in our hearts and memories as one of the ‘foremothers’ of this country. And whether the legend is true or not, every crafty girl with 50 stars in her eyes should see Betsy Ross as a symbol of hope and a role model for success. Even if you only change a point on a star, history can be made.
Check out this video of a 1950’s child’s replica Betsy Ross Sewing Machine in action:
Happy President’s Day!
toujours. always. xo.