Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born two years before the Declaration of Independence, in New York City. She married William Seton when she was 18 years old. He died when she was 29, leaving her with five children. Three years later she became a Roman Catholic and was shunned by her family. She supported herself and her children by teaching for several years. In 1809, she took religious vows, founding the first U.S. religious community, the Sisters of Charity.