In another reminder to always go through your deceased relatives’ possessions lest you lose an amazing artifact, Betsy Ross’s third husband’s diary has been gathering dust in a Marin County garage until it was recently found.
Legendary 18th century Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross’s real name was not Betsy Ross. Her full legal name when she died in 1836 was Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole, on account of her having married three times. And historians now have a wealth of information on the Claypoole fellow who was her third husband, as his 240-year-old diary was recently discovered.
As the Washington Post reports, the diary was found in a shoebox in a Marin County garage.
Betsy Ross’s husband’s diary turned up in a garage. Here’s what it tells us about the flagmaker. https://t.co/LKLCjf8FHU— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 12, 2021
That Washington Post story is behind a subscription paywall, but SFGate has a free syndicated version of the same article. The discovery was made by Redmond, Washington resident Aileen Edge, a direct descendant of Betsy Ross, while cleaning out items in her mother’s Marin County garage.
"It was wrapped in a piece of paper that said, 'John Claypoole diary to be handled with great care,' which was sort of funny we found it in a paper shoe box in a box in this garage," Edge told the Post.
The diary was written well before Claypoole ever met Betsy Ross, in 1782 while he was a POW of the British serving time for high treason. One of the diary entries from March 1782 describes the demise of one his fellow American prisoners. “M. Joseph Ashburn departed this life after an illness of about a week which he bore with amazing fortitude & resignation,” Claypoole wrote.
M. Joseph Ashburn was Besty Ross’s second husband. Historians believe Ashburn told Claypoole to deliver Besty Ross some sort of post-death message, which he did, but things apparently went another direction.
“When Claypoole was back in Philadelphia, one of the first things he did was visit Ross,” the Post reports. "They married eight months later and remained so for more than 30 years.”
Image: David Edge