Betsy GRISCOM uncharted
Female, Bornin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 1/1/1752



No Charted Siblings

Spouses / Children

No Children Charted

No Charted Children

Although only a ROSS by marriage, no Book of Ross would be complete without including Betsy ROSS!

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 1, 1752, of Samuel GRISCOM and Rebecca (JAMES) GRISCOM. She was the eighth of seventeen children. In 1680, her great-grandfather, Andrew GRISCOM, emigrated from England to West Jersey, and later moved to Philadelphia. He was a carpenter and established a building business which Betsy’s father continued, even helping with the construction of Independence Hall.

Betsy is reported to have been a student at the Friends' School on South Fourth Street, where she showed an aptitude for fine needlework at an early age. She also evidenced an independence of mind, for on November 4, 1773, she eloped to Glouchester, New Jersey, with John ROSS and was there married to him. The next May, the Society of Friends disowned her, with evident reluctance, for marrying him "out of meeting." For a number of years, she attended the Christ Church and later, with her third husband, became a loyal member of the Society of Free Quakers.

John ROSS opened an upholstery shop on Arch Street, on the site of what is now Number 223, and the young couple lived on the premises. John was a soldier in the militia when, on January 21, 1776, he was killed by an explosion of gunpowder on a wharf which he was patrolling.

Throughout the uncertain years that followed, Betsy continued to carry on the business. The well-known story of her making the first Stars and Stripes--at the request of George WASHINGTON, Robert MORRIS, and George ROSS--is based on a family tradition that was first made public by her grandson, William CANBY, in a paper which he was permitted to read before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in March 1870. That making flags was a part of her business is attested by the minutes of the Pennsylvania State Navy Board, which, on May 29, 1777, ordered the payment to her of “14/12/2 pounds” for “making ships’ colours, etc.”, but no other documentary evidence has been found. The Stars and Stripes was adopted as the national flag by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

On June 15, 1777, at Old Swedes’ Church, Wicaco, she married Captain Joseph ASHBURN, by whom she had two daughters. The brigantine ‘Patty’, of which Joseph was first mate, was captured at sea by the British. ASHBURN died in the Old Mill Prison, Plymouth, England, on March 3, 1782. Word of his death was brought to his widow by a fellow prisoner, John CLAYPOOLE, who had been a lifelong friend of them both. Betsy and he were married on August 3, 1817.

Betsy spent the last years of her long life in the home of one of her daughters. She died January 30, 1836. Her remains now rest in Mount Moriah Cemetery.

© MCMXCIII  Hank Ross