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Textiles: Antebellum, 1823.

While creating our "Black History" exhibit (opened 2/5/2015), I enjoyed going through the Museum's coverlets and other textiles. There were several that had direct provenance to the work of skilled enslaved weavers living and working in Orange County.

This set of sheets were woven by enslaved weavers of Mildred ("Millie") Glassell Smith, the daughter of Elizabeth Taylor Glassell. Elizabeth was a daughter of Erasmus Taylor of Greenfield. Erasmus was a son of Col. James Taylor, II; great-grandfather of Presidents James Madison and Zachary Taylor. Thus, Elizabeth was a first cousin to James Madison, Jr.

Mildred and her husband Reuben ran into financial difficulties and moved out of Virginia. This fabric was given to Mildred to help set up a new home. The fabric has "Mildred Smith" "November 5, 1823" written across a corner, which perhaps coincides with the date the couple left Orange and Virginia.

This textile was donated in memory of Mildred Glassell Smith by Ms. Mildred Tyner, Mildred's great-great-great granddaughter.


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