Craig family; Figured and Fancy double-cloth coverlet; 1852; Indiana


This blue and white, Figured and Fancy double-cloth Craig family medallion coverlet features a carpet centerfield with bell flower border along the top and bottom and willow and floral side borders. Dated 1852, the building with cupola cornerblock helps identify this coverlet as a product of the Craig Family of Decatur County, Indiana. This coverlet shows a lot of wear and is badly damaged along the top and bottom borders.

The Craig Family weavers consist of Scottish-born, William Craig, Sr. (1800-1880), Scottish-born cousin, James Craig (1819-1896), William Craig, Jr. (1824-1880), and James Craig (1823-1889) make up the two generations of weavers who intermarried with other Scottish immigrant weaving families, dominating the coverlet market in Floyd, Decatur, and Washington counties in Indiana. It is almost certain that their regional influence extended into Western Kentucky as well. The Craigs were prodigious weavers and entrepreneurs and the number of extant coverlets attest to this fact. Also of interest is a published interview with William Sr.'s granddaughter, Rena Craig Gilchrist found in Indiana Coverlets and Coverlet Weavers (1928) by Kate Milner Rabb. Rena Craig Gilchrist recounted how her grandfather was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland in 1800, moving to South Carolina in 1820 to assume the role of foreman at a Southern cotton goods factory. In 1832 the Craigs and other immigrant weaving families, the Gilchrists and Youngs moved to Mt. Caramel, Indiana. In 1838, the family moved again, further distributing weavers, to Decatur County, Indiana. The Craigs at first wove on their farm just outside of Greensburg, Indiana, but soon sons William Jr. and James ventured out on their own, marrying other weaver’s daughters, and establishing workshops in Greensburg and Anderson. Their coverlet weaving became regionally famous and people were reported as having come from fifty to sixty miles by wagon with woolen yarn for enough coverlets for each child at marriage.

The Craigs continued to weave until 1860 when William Sr. retired. Cousin James opened a shop in Canton, Indiana. A local resident described his loom as," “different from any other loom I have ever seen in that the threads of the warp were each run through a loop of cords to which were attached leaden weights about the size of an ordinary lead pencil, and I should think from twelve to fifteen inches in length. I do not remember accurately about that. The other end of each cord was attached to a pedal, of which there was a considerable number. A number of cords may have been attached to a pedal, according to the colors and figures being used. This enabled him to depress any of the threads of the warp that he pleased by operating the pedals with his feet, thus opening a space for the passing of the shuttle, of which he used as many as he wished colors in the pattern.” This description suggests that members of the Craig family were using modified drawlooms, possibly what is sometimes referred to a Scotch loom, which was used to weave figured double-cloth ingrain carpet. This is interesting because the introduction of the Jacquard head attachment, which used chains of punch cards, made figured weaving much faster and cheaper in the decades before the Craig family’s foray into coverlet weaving.

Date Made: 1852

Maker: Craig Family

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Indiana, Decatur

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


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Michael Hilton, Lucretia Cron Hilton, through Donald Hilton Young

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: TE.T12056Catalog Number: T12056.000Accession Number: 228755

Object Name: coverlet, figured

Physical Description: cotton (overall material)Figured and Fancy (overall production method/technique)double weave (overall production method/technique)carpet medallion (center pattern)blue (overall color)white (overall color)wool (overall material)Measurements: overall: 90 in x 78 in; 228.6 cm x 198.12 cm


Record Id: nmah_620438

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