According to legend, in 1776 when America was on the brink of declaring its independence, George Washington and the Founding Fathers walked into a woman’s home to request she sew a flag for the new country. This first account is found in William Canby’s written family history nearly a century later, where he describes his grandmother’s role with America’s original flag, a story that remains mainstream in United States history.

Seamstress, Betsy Ross, is one of America’s great female figures taught to elementary school children across the nation. The Betsy Ross House is a historical landmark in Philadelphia and numerous schools are named after her. Even though her story is widely believed to be true, there’s no firm evidence, no clear documentation, that she was even involved with sewing the flag! Of course, the lake of firm evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The story goes that the committee from the Continental Congress came to her with a sketch of the flag. Washington accepted her recommendations of extending the flag’s length and replacing his six-pointed stars with five-pointed stars, which were far more efficient to fashion. The famous Betsy Ross flag has 13 stripes and a ring of 13 stars representing the original colonies.

One thing historians agree on is that Ross sewed flags for the U.S. Navy and according to her addresses of the time, she either worked or lived in the vicinity of the home that became a museum in her honor. While no proof exists of her role, her family’s oral history created a compelling story of a working American woman during the American Revolution whose legacy lives on.

A Mind Over Mystery Question- “If you have a similar myth in your family, would you want to know the truth?”