"Catalpa Flower;" coverlet,; overshot; c.1790-1820; South Carolina


This "Catalpa Flower" pattern, overshot coverlet was made from brown 2-ply, S-Twist, Z-spun wool and cotton between the years 1790-1820 in Darlington County, SC. This overshot coverlet was a gift of the Field family and came with detailed genealogies linking the coverlet to the family of Col. Lemuel Benton (1754-1818). The Benton family home, Stony Hill, now demolished, was just outside of Mechanicsville, Darlington County, South Carolina. It was likely made on the family's farm, possibly by enslaved spinners and weavers.

Colonel Lemuel Benton (1754-1818) was born in Granville County, North Carolina. As a young man he moved to Darlington County, South Carolina. He became an eminent landowner and planter in what was then known as the Cheraw District. Benton was elected major of the Cheraw Regiment in 1777. . He was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1781 and resigned his commission in 1794. After the Revolutionary War, Col. Benton severed in the South Carolina State House of Representatives from 1782-1788. Benton also served as a county court justice, county treasurer, sheriff, and as a delegate to the state’s convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788 and 1790. Colonel Benton also served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Benton retired to his estate, Stony Hill in Darlington County where he died in 1818.

Colonel Benton appears to have been married twice. He and his first wife, who has yet to be identified, had a daughter, Charlotte Benton Prince (1783-1870). Col. Benton marries Elizabeth “Betsy” Kimbrough (b. 1776) sometime before the birth of their child, Gilly Hinton Benton Dubose (1789-1852). It is possible that his wives or daughters wove this coverlet. It is also just as likely that some of the ninety-five enslaved people recorded in the 1810 Federal Census were working in a loom house weaving coverlets, blankets, and cloth for the other enslaved people working on Benton’s land.

Date Made: first half of the 19th centuryc. 1800-1850c. 1790-1820

Maker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: South Carolina, Darlington

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Textiles, Coverlets, Textiles


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Mary Field, in memory of the Field Family

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1997.0226.01Accession Number: 1997.0226

Object Name: coverlet, overshot

Physical Description: overshot (overall production method/technique)cotton, wool (overall material)brown, white (overall color)Catalpa Flower (overall pattern)Measurements: overall: 90 in x 65 in; 228.6 cm x 165.1 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746b3-9868-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1301627

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