2017 VOLUME 38

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Friends in High Places: Quaker Furniture Makers in Virginia’s Northern Shenandoah Valley

A. Nicholas Powers

As some of the first Europeans to settle Virginia’s northern Shenandoah Valley, members of the Society of Friends helped lay the foundations for the region’s earliest built environment. Vestiges of these contributions can still be found in a number of Quaker homes and other structures dotting the northern Valley landscape (Figure 1). More recently, they can also be found in documentable examples of Quaker-made furniture from Frederick County and several other counties that emerged from Frederick in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.[1] The purpose of this article is to reintroduce “Old” Frederick County’s Quaker population—a heterogeneous mix of English, Welsh, and Scotch-Irish immigrants and their descendants—as some of the most prolific furniture makers in the Lower Shenandoah Valley prior to 1800, and particularly before the American Revolution. It also seeks to document some of the design characteristics that travelled with the Valley’s Quakers from their origins in the … Continued

Correct Likenesses: George Ladd, Itinerant Miniature and Portrait Painter

Patricia V. Veasey

Sometime early in his teens George Ladd (1802–1864) demonstrated an ability to paint likenesses of people. Leaving behind his first work experiences as a seaman, Ladd became an itinerant portrait artist. Advertising his services for painting and repairing portraits as well as ornamental painting, he traveled from New England to southern centers of commerce such as Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; New Bern, North Carolina; and Macon, Georgia. There are ten portraits by him known to survive, two miniatures and eight waist-length portraits. The paintings span a period of forty-five years from 1815 to 1860. This article reveals Ladd’s work as that of a competent artist, although as far as we know he was untrained. George Ladd’s paintings show that he was familiar with popular techniques of portraiture, perhaps educating himself by reading and observing the work of successful artists of his time. Eventually he settled permanently with his wife … Continued

Friendly Furniture: The Quaker Cabinetmakers of Guilford County, North Carolina, 1775–1825

Robert Leath

  On 29 July 1775, following the long-established traditions among the Society of Friends, a young Quaker cabinetmaker named Thomas Pierce stood with Hepzibeth Macy, his intended bride, to publicly declare their intention of marriage before the members of New Garden Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina. The ministers and elders appointed a two-person committee to investigate the couple’s “life and conversation” in order to approve their “clearness” for marriage and, a month later, with the committee’s recommendation secured, Pierce and Macy declared their intention a second time. On 26 August they were authorized to marry “according to the good order used among Friends,” and a second two-person committee was appointed to oversee the orderly completion of the wedding ceremony. Four days later, on 30 August 1775, the newlyweds exchanged vows in the meetinghouse before an assembly of family and friends. Nearly two months since they had first stood … Continued

A Vessel of Memory: Thomas Chandler’s Eastern Shore Landscape

Katherine C. Hughes

Scholars have recognized Thomas Mitchel Chandler Jr. (1810–1854) as a significant nineteenth-century potter in Edgefield, South Carolina.[1] However, his earliest known piece of pottery actually connects his potting story to roots on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.[2] The object itself is a relatively simple form—a salt-glazed, Baltimore stoneware butter churn, a little less than a foot tall and seven inches wide. The incised, cobalt-slip decorated scene the churn displays is an agricultural landscape, with a detailed farmhouse, outbuilding, cow, five trees, and a woman churning butter in her own decorated churn (Figures 1 through 4). Two lug handles sit high on opposite sides of the churn, close to the neck. Incised lines and cobalt slip decorate a high collar. The churn is marked on its side with the name “Mitchel Chandler” and the year “1829”, and inscribed on the bottom “Thomas M. Chandler / Maker / Baltimore/ August / 12 / … Continued

The Bowie Brothers of Port Royal, Virginia and the Bernard Family Marble Chess Table

Tara Gleason Chicirda

The town of Port Royal, Virginia has never before been a focus of American furniture scholarship. A recent acquisition by Colonial Williamsburg, however, of an early nineteenth-century marble chess table, made in Italy, that descended in the family of planter John Hipkins Bernard has led to a discovery for the origin of the table’s base: that of the Port Royal cabinetmaking shop of John C. Bowie and his brother Walter Bowie. — ♦♦◊♦♦ — A small town surrounded by Caroline County on the south bank of the Rappahannock River, Port Royal developed in the mid eighteenth century around its tobacco warehouse, tavern, and ferry (Figures 1 and 2). As reverend Jonathan Boucher, an English-born tutor working in the household of Edward Dixon of Port Royal, wrote, the town “was chiefly inhabited by factors from Scotland, and their dependents, and the circumjacent country by planters in general, in middling circumstances.”[1] This … Continued

Editor’s Welcome

Gary Albert

Two hundred years ago, in 1817, seven-year-old Thomas Chandler Jr. left Virginia’s Eastern Shore with his family for the city of Baltimore where he would learn the skills to become one of the American South’s most celebrated potters. At the same time a fifteen-year-old from New Hampshire named George Ladd was most likely aboard a merchant ship sailing the Atlantic coast dreaming of one day becoming a portrait artist. And on the banks of Virginia’s Rappahannock River, cabinetmaker John C. Bowie, possibly alongside his brother Walter, completed a major commission of over a dozen pieces of furniture for the owner of Gay Mont plantation. Also in 1817, but much farther inland, a ninety-year Quaker furniture-making tradition in the Lower Shenandoah Valley among the Ross, Lupton, and Fawcett families was coming to a close. And in the heart of the North Carolina Piedmont in another Quaker community, Henry Macy was enjoying … Continued

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