What does the phrase “I declare to Betsy” mean and Where does it come from?

The phrase “I declare to Betsy” is an exclamation expressing positive affirmation, surprise, close interest, or similar emotion; equivalent to “Well, I do declare,” etc.

We are afraid that this Betsy, as also she of “Heavens to Betsy,” was a homeless waif of no particular parentage.

Like Topsy, she just “growed.” “I declare to goodness,” the bald “I declare,” and the slightly stronger “Well, I declare” date back perhaps two or more centuries in the usage of England.

“Declaring to goodness” savored too strongly of sacrilege to God-fearing American ears, but the innocuous Betsy was at hand, ready and willing.