In October, Suzy and Melody presented a Taste Of workshop on Victorian Cross Stitch. These Taste of Workshops are instructional workshops with a small project for little cost. It gives our members a taste of a new technique, etc without having to make a large investment. In terms of techniques learned, it gives the member a small project to master the skill before going on to a larger project.
This months workshop was inspired by an article in Early American Life shown below. This time, though, the workshop included an absolutely delightful skit presented by Suzy and Melody where Suzy portrayed Martha Washington and Melody was her handmaiden Mellie. The scene was set in the time period of March 1774, between the time of the Boston Tea Party and the First Continental Congress, at Mount Vernon.
Martha and Mellie were dressed in period appropriate attire which even included ladies pockets. There were historical events mentioned during the skit and an emphasis was placed on the cushion design and colors that are believed to be actually designed by Martha Washington and are found on chairs found at Mount Vernon. Following the skit there was a discussion with the group and further information was presented that tied the Washingtons to the Ball family here in Jacksonville and to the Wakulla Lodge in Crawfordville, Florida.
Suzy made the basket next to "Mellie". Amazing workmanship!
Cushion with chair on display at Mount Vernon. Photo courtesy of Early American Life publication.
The program included a replica pattern of the shell found in the cushion above. The kit had all necessary items needed to complete to include the beautiful Appleton Crewel wool in colors that recreate the colors Martha Washington used!
Some background and info connecting the Washingtons to Jacksonville:
Martha Dandridge (later Washington) was first married to Daniel Custis who died after seven years of marriage. They had four children. Two died before the age of five. One died at seventeen and the oldest served under George Washington and died at the age of twenty two. Since her husband had no will, Martha was the executor of his estate and was in charge of managing the plantation where they lived, called White House. It was rare for a woman in that time period to be in control of such affairs and to own property. Evidently she did a great job and was well respected by merchants in London. She and George courted for about a year and were then married. Research indicated that she was happy in both her marriages. Apparently she and George fell in "love at first sight "! She remained involved in managing household affairs and became quite accomplished at fine needlework and knitting. She also loved being involved in daily meal planning and developing recipes. During the Revolution, Martha joined George at many encampments for months at a time. She was a strong support for him as well as for the soldiers when morale was low. Martha and George had no children of their own, but were very involved with raising grandchildren and provided financial support in the Dandridge, Custis, and Washington families.
Evidently, Martha's reputation through the years even influenced a hotel here in Jacksonville! The Martha Washington Hotel opened in 1938. It was originally a mansion in Riverside constructed in 1911, located at 1636 King Street, about two blocks in front of St. Vincent's Hospital. It was built for lumberman Bryan W. Blount. When the hotel opened, it was unusual because it was for women only. It is believed the name of Martha Washington is in part because of Martha and part because of the Hotel George Washington in downtown Jacksonville. The female-only concept didn't last long. During WW II the hotel housed various borders including the families of servicemen. The hotel closed in 1977, was to be demolished, but was fortunately saved by the Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) society.
Apparently Mary Ball Washington was a relative of Jessie Ball DuPont which has a strong connection to Jacksonville.
Jessie Dew Ball was born in 1884 at Cressfield on Ball’s Creek, Northumberland County, Virginia. Her family was one of Virginia’s finest: George Washington’s mother, Mary, was a relative. Educated in county schools and with one year at Farmville State College, she began to teach as soon as she graduated. She received a Life Certificate to teach any grade in Virginia, a certificate which was later accepted by the state of California when she moved there with her family at the age of twenty-four.
More interesting history connected to Jacksonville regarding Epping Forest:Epping Forest (also known as the Alfred I. duPont Estate) was a historic, 58-acre estate in Jacksonville where a luxurious riverfront mansion was built in the mid-1920s by industrialist Alfred duPont and his third wife, Jessie Ball duPont. It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and has been restored to its original grandeur as the home of the Epping Forest Yacht Club.
Local architects Marsh & Saxelbye designed the 15,000-square-foot 25-room Epping Forest Mansion, but Harold Saxelbye contributed the most influence. It is primarily Mediterranean Revival, combining influences from Gothic, Spanish Renaissance and Baroque architectural. Jessie selected the furnishings; Alfred designed the formal English gardens and lion's head fountain. The estate was named in honor of Mary Ball Washington, George Washington's mother and Jessie's ancestor, whose Virginia plantation bore the same name. The duPonts estate hosted U.S. presidents, powerful men (Vanderbilt, Carnegie, etc.) and kings.
After Jessie Ball duPont died in 1970, Edward Ball, who was Jessie's brother, sold the property to his close friend and local businessman Raymond K. Mason, CEO of the Charter Company, who used the property as his family residence until 1984.
http://maryballwash.umwblogs.org/her-early-life/ and wikipedia as sources.