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Maker(s):Strong, Esther Meacham
Culture:American (1725-1793)
Title:bed furnishings
Date Made:ca. 1760
Materials:textile: bleached (white) plain weave linen, two-ply woolen (crewel) polychrome embroidery
Place Made:United States; Connecticut
Accession Number:  HD F.058
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Partial set of crewel embroidered bed furnishings or hangings consisting of a larger piece with individual "spot" or "spray" motifs, a similar, smaller piece, and three valences. The larger piece, which the Flynts used as a coverlet in the Allen House, was possibly originally used as a curtain; it has a center seam running down the length which could suggest two narrow curtains when it was originally created. An additional, horizontal seam near the top suggests possibly a valence was incorporated at a later date as well. The smaller piece, which the Flynts used as a coverlet to the trundle bed, may also have been a curtain, or perhaps a head cloth. Two of the three valences are original; of these, one has the embroidered initials "EM." The set came with a note, written in ink on the larger piece: "This spread was wrought by / Mrs. Esther Strong / Somewhere near the year 1750. / She was the wife of Rev. Mr. Strong, 1st minister / of N. Coventry Conn. / & the daughter of Rev. Mr. Meacham / 1st minister of S. Coventry. Her mother Esther Meacham / was the daughter of Rev. Mr. Williams & with her fathers family / was taken captive by the indians at Deerfield. Her mother [Eunice Williams] being sick was / unable to travel swiftly & was scalped. / Mrs. Esther Strong / was the mother of / Rev. Nathan Strong. D.D. of Hartford / Rev. Joseph Strong D.D. of Norwich / Mrs. Dr. Ebenezer Hunt of N. Coventry." Esther Meacham (1725-1793) was the daughter of Joseph Meacham (1696-1789) of Coventry, Connecticut, and Esther Williams (1691-1751) of Deerfield who married in 1789. Esther Williams was the daughter of the Rev. John Williams (1664-1729) and Eunice Mather Williams (d.1704) of Deerfield. On the night of February 29th, 1704, Mohawk Indians, who had become allied with the French, raided Deerfield and the Williams home where the two youngest children were scalped, and John and Eunice Williams and their five other children (Samuel: age fourteen, Stephan: age twelve, Esther age eight, Eunice age six, and Warham age four) were herded along with 112 other Deerfield captives on a three hundred mile journey to Montreal; Eunice Williams was killed the day after the raid. Upon arrival in New France the captives were sold to the French, and later negotiated for release by the governors of French and English colonies. Almost three years later John Williams made his way back to New England and a release was negotiated for his children; all of this is documented in his "The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion" first published in 1707. In 1746, Esther Meacham married Nathan Strong (1717-1795), and three of their six children survived to adulthood: Nathan Strong (1748-1816), Joseph Strong (1753-1834), and Anna Strong (1760-1833) who married Dr. Ebenezer Hunt (1766-1808) of Coventry in 1793. The pieces are decorated in wool crewel embroidery in red, blue, green, yellow and brown with floral sprays and fruit trees in a variety of stitches including New England laid, stem, spike, satin, fishbone, and French knots. The coverlet was originally acquired by Colonial Willismsburg which sold it to Historic Deerfield in 1955 after the Flynts acquired four other pices of the set. There was also a similar crewel embroidered coverlet (lot 845) attributed to Esther Strong in the Little collection sold at Sotheby's NY in 1994. A third valance matching the HD set was made by Margery Howe in 1962 (see tracings for Flynt valence in FC.223.63.343). Rarely do complete sets of bed hangings survive, as their material was often reused or divided among family members as cherished possessions as fashions for domestic textiles changed. Historic Deerfield has one other partial set of crewel-embroidered bed hangings associated with Mary Ballantine Ashley (see F.106 and 2008.3).

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