Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weavers in the Census

After my recent post on the Strong family, there is a nice commentary you should read, giving more details about this industrious family. One of those details is the fact that Rhoda Strong, a daughter of Epaphroditis Strong, married a weaver by the name of Henry Johnson in 1829, moving to Genesee County by 1840.
This may seem like a strange occupation for a man, but the truth is that in those mid-1800's, many men were weavers.
Scipio has a jacquard coverlet woven in 1834 on display at the Scipio offices, and in an effort to learn about these and the weaving process I visited the Alling Coverlet Museum in Palmyra, NY a few years ago. It is well worth the time. They have on display at least 50 different coverlets, and an enormous amount of information on weavers.
The museum has one of the looms used to weave in this style on display. The weaver could use a series of cards to create different design elements, creating a reverse design on the other side.
Often, these men were itinerant, with weaving as a part-time job when not busy with farming or other business. They would travel to a town and advertise their coverlets as custom-made. Scipio's coverlet was identified as most likely created by a man from Groton, a nearby town.


Kathy Lenahan said...

I have a coverlet with the words "Rachel Coe Olney, Scipio NY 1829 AD" woven in it. It has been passed down 7 generations.

Sandie Stoker Gilliland said...

What a treasure for your family! I would love to see a picture of it, or even to take a picture of it sometime for our History Corner. Is it a jacquard coverlet, and has anyone ever looked into who may have woven it? What design themes does it use?
The coverlet we have on display is blue and cream, and has a very modern design using eagles and what appear to be skyscraper-type buildings, and roses; I also saw some coverlets with green or a very nice red color and various other designs at the Alling Museum in Palmyra.

Anonymous said...

I have a Jacquard blue and cream coverlet with the name Catharine Sisson, Benton, NY, 1836. I would love to know the maker of my coverlet. If there is anyone who might be able to help me, I would be glad to send pictures. Thank you.