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Mary Pickersgill

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Mary Pickersgill (Young) was born in 1776 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania; a successful businesswoman from Baltimore was a flag maker during the war of 1812. She was the inspiration for the poem written by Francis Scott Key that became the national anthem for the United States because the flag that she made. This very flag is currently at the Smithsonian's natural Museum of American history.

Mary learned how to make garrison flags from her mother Rebecca Young during and after the Revolutionary war. As a child she moved from Philadelphia to Baltimore Maryland with her family, she married John Pickersgill in 1795 and moved back to Philadelphia. In 1807 she moved back to Baltimore after the death of her husband with her young daughter Caroline. While residing at 44 Queen St. which is now 844 East Pratt St. she established a very successful flag making business. She designed, sewed and sold silk standard flags which included signal and house flags, Flags for the United States Navy, United States Army, and various merchant ships visiting Baltimore's harbor. Originally she was renting the home which was finally able to purchase and remain there for the rest of her life.

Mary Pickersgill became the president of the Impartial Female Humane Society where she addressed issues of concern for housing, financial aid which included school vouchers for children and job opportunities for disadvantaged women. She held his position from 1828 until 1851, 1850 established a home for aged women under her presidency. There were 48 residents in this home by 1869. In 1863 a man's home was included which housed 27 residents. The Impartial Female Humane Society is now known as a living testimony to Mary as the Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson Maryland.

Mary made the national contribution of a 30 x 42' American flag that proudly flew over Fort McHenry on September 13 and 14th during the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. She was commissioned to make a flag by Maj. George Armistead the commander at Fort McHenry. She was directed to make the flag so large that the British would have no problem seeing it from a long distance. It took Mary and her daughter, two nieces and to African-American workers six weeks to hand sew the flag. There was over 400 yards of material with each stripe measuring 2 feet in width and each star measuring 2 foot from tip to tip resulting in the flag being able to be seen for miles in any direction.

Francis Scott Key while being held captive on a British ship composed of poem which was later to become the United States national anthem. In 1927 Mary Pickersgill's home located at 844 East Pratt St., Baltimore, MD., was known as the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Museum. This museum was designated a national historic landmark in 1969. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company named a dining car in her honor in 1933 and a World War II liberty ship, which still bears her name, for her contribution to this nation which was launched in 1944. There is also a flower in her honor the Mary Pickersgill Rose.



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