In February of 1776 Mary Young Pickersgill was born. She became famous in our history as the maker of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.
After becoming a widow, she moved back to Baltimore and made flags, a skill taught to her by her mother. Mary also made other fabric items for the military, eventually earning enough money to buy the home she rented for herself and her daughter Caroline.
While we were visiting our nation's capitol last week, we had the pleasure of visiting the Smithsonian's Museum of American History. The flag that Mary Pickersgill created, and that flew over Fort McHenry, is on display at this museum. It went through an 18 million dollar restoration and is now on special exhibition.
After going through the flag exhibit we noticed a lady coming through the lobby with a wheelbarrow. It was an actress portraying a young Mary Pickersgill and she was discussing the making of the flag. In this picture you can see my daughter, Toots, and the actress holding some of the stars that they will lay on the canton.
Many children in the lobby became involved and the actress did a wonderful job providing information about the flag and how it was created. Mary was paid $544.74 for making the flag and she used 400 yards of fabric. It took the work of Mary, her two nieces, and two servants to make the flag.
At this point in the presentation a toddler ran onto the canton, picked up a star, and dashed down the hallway with it. Both toddler and star were retrieved.
Although this is not a clear picture, it does show how the stripes were rolled out to be sewn together.
Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while being held captive on a British ship at Fort McHenry. He saw the flag waving and was inspired to write, what has come to be, our national anthem.
Long may she wave!