Woven White Cotton Coverlet
Origin: America, Virginia, Orange or Rockbridge County
OH 108" x OW 97 1/2" including 4 1/2" fringe
Gift of Francis W. & Grigsby C. Peabody, In memory of their mother, Virginia Girgsby Chandler Peabody Shattuck
Acc. No. 1984.609.2
This is a rectangular pattern-woven cotton coverlet with rounded lower corners and a 4 1/2-inch deep woven and knotted fringe applied at sides and bottom. The coverlet consists of three panels of woven cloth (each measuring 28-29 inches in width) that have been seamed selvage edge to selvage edge (butt seamed).
Weave structure: M's and O's
Label:White pattern-woven coverlets, such as this one, were typical in America during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-centuries. This coverlet is woven in a popular pattern referred to today as M's and O's, but probably known as huckaback in the nineteenth century.
Melinda Alexander Porter (1793-1845) was the daughter of Abler Porter (1743-1814) and his wife, Hannah Ingram Porter (b. 1750) of Orange County, Virginia. She embroidered a white cotton bedcover in 1815, possibly in anticipation of her future marriage to Reuben Grigsby (1780-1863) of Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1817. They moved into their fine new home, Hickory Hill, in 1824 where eleven children were born to them. Family tradition states that Melinda wove this coverlet from flax that was grown on the Grigsby plantation. Although the coverlet is woven from cotton and not flax or linen, it is possibly that Melinda and/or servants under her supervision wove the coverlet. Years after her death, a niece recalled Melinda’s handwork. She wrote to her Uncle Reuben in 1859, "It is my purpose to imitate my dear departed Aunt [Melinda]...and furnish the house with domestic manufacture."
Provenance:Provenance of Coverlet:
The pattern-woven cotton coverlet, along with an embroidered counterpane, descended in the maker's family until presented to Colonial Williamsburg in memory of Virginia Grigsby Chandler Peabody Shattuck, a direct double descendant of the maker.
A typed label which accompanies this woven coverlet and related embroidered counterpane reads: "Two Bed Spreads./ The flax was grown and the spreads were/ woven on my great-grandfather Grigsby's/ plantation in Virginia. One of these is/ a plain bedspread, the other is elaborately/ embroidered in white and is dated, with/ my great-grandmother's name,/ Verlinda Alexander Porter - 1815".
History of maker:
Verlinda Alexander Porter (1793-1845) was the daughter of Abner Porter (1743-1814) and his wife, Hannah Ingram Porter (b. 1750) of Orange County, Virginia. In 1817 she married her first cousin Reuben Grigsby (1780-1863) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. They moved into their new home, Hickory Hill, in 1824, where eleven children were born to them: Jacqueline A.; Lucian P.; Abner Joseph; George Hugh Blair; Hannah Francis; Elizabeth Jane; Mary Ann; Lucy Maria; Reubenia; Emma; and Benjamin. Verlinda Alexander Porter Grigsby died in 1845 and is buried in the Falling Springs Presbyterian Cemetery in Rockbridge County.
"Verlinda" and "Berlinda" appear to have been used interchangeably in family records; "Verlinda" is the spelling that appears on her tombstone.