April 19, 1775: The first shots were fired in the American Revolution
Here’s the needlework connection to this date:
“On Thursday afternoon, April 20, 1775, after a messenger rode into the small town of Enfield, Connecticut, tavern keeper Isaac Kibbe (1731–1779) immediately procured a drum for Thomas Abbe (1731–1811). Abbe’s long drum roll interrupted the mid-week church meeting to announce the fight at Lexington, Massachusetts, the day before, the first battle of the American Revolution.”
This is from Kathy Augustine’s article, “Elizabeth Terry’s Embroidered Coverlet,” in the March/April 2016 issue of PieceWork: Kathy continues the story:
- The next morning, seventy-five Minutemen of Enfield, each carrying his flint-lock musket and powder horn, led by then Major (promoted to Colonel in 1777) Nathaniel Terry (1730–1792), marched the almost 90 miles (145 km) to Boston to lend their assistance. Nathaniel Terry’s daughter, Elizabeth (1766–1848), had not yet turned nine when her father left home for war. Like many colonial towns, the residents of Enfield were a close-knit group of neighbors and extended family, so when seventy-five men marched off in April of 1775 to fight in the Revolutionary War, everyone was affected.
- But day-to-day life continued. Crops had to be planted, cows milked, chores done. As was the tradition for girls, sewing was an important skill that had to be learned. Once married, a young woman would be responsible for clothing her family and maintaining the home—challenging tasks. Custom also dictated that a young woman own a hope chest, in which she would slowly accumulate all the necessary linens to set up housekeeping. Elizabeth Terry was twenty-one when she married Reverend John Taylor (1762–1840) in 1787, and her embroidered wool coverlet, which was most likely a treasured piece in her hope chest, was certainly a beautiful addition to their home.
- The wool coverlet is fabricated from a white wool twill weave with a blue Windowpane pattern. The blanket is two looms in width, joined at the center, and has plain 9-inch (22.9-cm) fringed drops added on all four sides. It measures a total of 100¼ by 87 inches (254.6 x 221.0 cm). Within, but not restricted by the approximate 7-inch (18-cm) square blue woven grids, are fifty-four individual embroidered motifs. Birds, sprays of flowers, and baskets of flowers are depicted in wool embroidery using stem, herringbone, Cretan, chain, straight, cross, and Holbein stitches. Bolder flowers and birds wind along the border of the central embroidered grid not hampered by the underlying blue woven grid. It is signed “Elizabeth Terry” in small red cross-stitches in the top-upper-left section.
In 1991, Rosalind (Schnitzer) Miller and Edwin Miller, textile collectors, gave the Allentown (Pennsylvania) Art Museum Elizabeth Terry’s embroidered coverlet in honor of Jean, Robert, Maryl, and Fred Lorish. A photograph of this spectacular coverlet is in the March/April 2016 issue of PieceWork. Kathy Augustine’s companion project, “A Book Cover in Crewel Embroidery to Stitch” incorporates motifs and colors from Elizabeth’s original coverlet.
Thank you to Allentown Art Museum for preserving this early American treasure.
Read more about Elizabeth Terry’s coverlet and crewel embroidery in these issues of PieceWork: