I’m so excited to share my teatime this week because I get to invite you AND our good lady patriot, Betsy Ross of Philadelphia!
Being the July 4th week, I had planned to bring out my Liberty Blue ware – bits and pieces I collect when I find them at yard sales and such.
Well! Wasn’t I thrilled when I came across three dinner plates at a thrift shop last week! Providentially timed, I daresay. I didn’t have any dinner plates to go with my dozen cups and saucers and bread plates that I got in a bulk deal for $5 last year. Fireworks for sure with such a bargain! Now, I can make a place setting.
My Aunt MaryAnn started me off some years ago with one cup and saucer boasting Paul Revere’s Ride on the cup . . .
And, Independence Hall on the saucer . . .
PLUS – one sugar bowl – sporting the lady herself – Betsy Ross!
The sugar bowl is missing a lid, but I display this handful of silver spoons with president’s portraits in relief – given to me by my Aunt Jo.
Since that time, I have randomly found bread plates with Thomas Jefferson’s homestead – Monticello.
They are lovely together with a one cup teapot in a matching patriotic blue from Shenango China, Newcastle.
I do know where a full set of this pattern is – including the teapot and serving dishes! However, I fear I shall have to wait for quite a windfall of disposable income before I would be able to wrest the set from the shelves in the antique mall where it is currently displayed. That is – unless someone else has already taken the prize!
But, I digress . . .
Love this humble gal. I perform a Betsy Ross program (will be doing so at an elder care facility next week, in fact) and thoroughly enjoyed my research on her. Part of that research was a little trip to Philadelphia – a scant hour away – where hubby and I toured her house and met the young actress who does an excellent first person re-enactment of her.
Betsy married a young man named John Ross. They had an upholstery business in their Philadelphia home located just a block or two from Independence Hall. But, by age 24, Betsy was a widow when John – serving in the Continental Army – was killed in an ammunition explosion on January 21, 1776.
The story goes that John’s uncle, George Ross, served on a Secret Flag Committee with Robert Morris and General Washington. Note the good general as the centerpiece of the dinner plate.
Just a few weeks after losing her husband and working to maintain the business they had built together, John’s uncle George suggested visiting Betsy to see if she might be secured to sew the flag. Washington had come up with a basic design involving thirteen stripes alternating red and white, with a blue field in the upper left corner holding thirteen six pointed stars.
Betsy listened to the design idea and suggested that a five pointed star might be a better choice. Washington thought five points would be too difficult to create. At which point Betsy folded up a small square of cloth and snipped off one end. When she opened it out it was a perfect five point star – the job was hers and history was made.
|Avon plate from my collection.|
A family friend had stopped by Betsy’s house shortly after Washington left and, upon hearing her story about the star, he asked for the star she had cut and the cloth it was cut from. She gave it to him not knowing what the purpose would be. He, on the other hand, knew that history was being made and meant to secure a tangible reminder of it.
|Unmarked plate from my collection.|
It was not discovered until almost 150 years later when, in 1925 descendents of Wetherill opened the family safe and found the star with Betsy Ross’ name on it, the date, and the story behind it. Betsy had told her family members, but it was largely kept private information within the family. She remained largely silent on the subject – not seeking public acknowledgements – leading a humble life remarried to a John Claypoole after being widowed a second time. A devout Quaker, she was active in her church all her life until she died at age 84 in 1836.
|Conrad Crafters, Wheeling WV plate from my collection.|
The star found in the Wetherill safe is on display at the Quaker Meeting House museum – a block away from her home which is now a museum. Funds were raised to preserve the house as a part of American history in the late 1890’s. I was so excited when I discovered this certificate behind a cheap print at a yard sale.
It was given to donors to the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association at the outset of the funding campaign in 1898. For a minimum donation of only ten cents you could own this certificate of memorial. A little worse for wear – but authentic. It matches one I saw on display at the Betsy Ross House when I last visited.
There has been continued scrutiny of the claim that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag since it was not officially documented in government records.
|July 1906 framed issue of Woman’s Home Companion.|
However, first person accounts keep Betsy at the center of the flag making story, and I for one am glad.
She is our guest of honor at tea today – on our Liberty Blue china, served up with my gluten free mini- blueberry muffins with a slice of white goat cheese in the center and some red cherries on the side.
Mmmmm . . . I stuffed some cheese in the middle of a muffin and just had to take a bite!
Blueberries bob about in the cobalt blue goblet of water releasing just a twinge of flavor . . .
While raspberry herbal leaf tea puts the red in the Liberty Blue and white teacup!
For a bit of primary source history, visit me at my recent re-post of Founding Father quotes HERE that are “Worthy of Repetition”.
And, be they fires, or floods, or destructive storms and worldviews raging in our nation this week, stripping us of our homes and power (consider how metaphoric THAT is) – may we take a the time to pray for God’s healing hand over our nation on so many fronts.
May all our 18th century forefathers fought and died for not be in vain just 200 plus years later.
Sharing Betsy Comes to Tea this 4th of July week with:
Kathryn’s Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
Bernideen’s Garden Teatime