Elizabeth Griscomb Ross Ashburn Claypoole’s story differs from, and is superior to, the myths that enshroud her true legacy. Hers is the story of a strong and independent woman who was willing to work hard and follow her own mind and heart at a time when women were expected to conform to tradition. When she was 14 she began an apprenticeship in the upholsterers’ trade. At the age of 21 she married against her Father’s wishes and outside of her faith, resulting in her being “read out of meeting”, and losing the support of her Quaker meeting house. Her husband died in January, 1776, as the movement for independence was gaining intensity. She struggled to maintain her business and patriotic beliefs during the British occupation of Philadelphia (1777-78). It is in the hearts of the middle class people such as Betsy Ross that this country was conceived, and on their hard working backs that America thrived as a new Nation.
As one of the most iconic figures of American Independence, we think of Betsy Ross sitting in her quaint colonial room, dutifully sewing the first Stars and Stripes. While historians doubt the validity of her descendant’s claim that Betsy made the very first emblem of our nation, they do agree on the less glamorous, yet more substantial facts of her real life. Unfortunately the history of women’s work was not well documented and the world may never know who actually sewed the first American Flag. Betsy Ross never made that claim for herself. We do know, however, that she lived a fascinating and inspiring life during difficult times.
In this presentation attendees will meet the lady behind the myths. They will also learn the history of the Flag as Betsy builds it up from its historical components. They will also learn her “famous” trick of cutting a five pointed star with one snip of the scissors. Young visitors will be “trained” as apprentices in Betsy’s shop.