Aunt Eleanor went out to her truck and brought in this stool top. She remembered removing the legs and hanging it on the wall for a while (which likely helped preserve it somewhat). What does it look like? Well, it's just over 9 1/2 inches in diameter, with a padded needlework and beaded top set on a wood disk about 1/2 inch thick. We could see the underlying "aida" cloth around the edges, tacked to the wood with flat-headed metal nails or tacks. The centre part of the design is square in shape with a maroon needlework background and a beaded floral and leaf design. Very small beads were used in two shades of pink, black, white, grey, clear, and several shades of amber in the centre of three flowers. Around the maroon area are concentric bands of colour (blue, light pink, white, light grey, black, clear, blue, white, light grey, black, clear). The corners of the square are embellished with a beaded fleur-de-lis type of beaded design. In the center of each side of the square was a semicircular extension, embellished top and bottom. The outside background colour is a medium brown.
The stool is in pretty good condition, although there is evidence of wear and fading in a few areas, and some beads are missing. There has been a bit of water damage in at least 2 areas as indicated by stains around the outer edges and back, with some of the metal nails showing rust.
Aunt Eleanor also remembers writing information on the bottom of the stool in black felt pen as her mother told her about the stool's history many years ago. Sure enough, I was able to read the following note on it's wooden back side:
(Dad's / Harry Charles)(Grandpa Andrew's)
Here are some facts that help explain this note:
- My grandfather Harry Charles Andrew was known as "Dad" by his daughter Eleanor, who wrote the note.
- "Grandpa Andrew" could also refer to Harry (as his grandchildren would have known him), or to Harry's father William Andrew. Either way, this indicates that the stool was handed down through the Andrew line.
- Mary Coates was Harry Charles Andrew's maternal grandmother and Eleanor's great-grandmother. She married Albert Harry Compton and was the mother of Harriet Washbourne Compton, the wife of William Andrew (Harry's parents). Mary Robinson Coates was born 1827 in Suffolk England, died 1905 in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada, buried St Johns Anglican, St Eleanors PEI Canada.
- Mary Coates' parents were James Coates and Sarah Robinson, who lived in Suffolk and Essex, England and born in the 1790's. Sarah Robinson would have been Harry's great-grandmother.
Although the generations are a bit confused here, I think the stool must have belonged to Mary Coates, Harry's grandmother. Did she bring it to PEI when she left England in the fall of 1847 to join her Uncle William Coates, a school teacher already in PEI who likely taught the Compton children? Or was the stool made later in PEI, perhaps by Mi'kmaq (Micmac) Native Americans? Did she make it or buy it or was it a gift? Or was is made by an ancestor or her mother or another relative who remained back in England? Hopefully there will be further clues once we have researched the possible age and origin of the stool's design. A quick search suggests that beadwork and wool embroidery were popular in England in the 1800s, as were floral designs. More research is needed on this wonderful family keepsake.