Rare Coverlet at Elmbrook Historical Society

I recently headed over to Brookfield to meet with Marion Bruhn of the Elmbrook Historical Society. I had a specific object in mind that I wanted to see: a coverlet woven in Milwaukee in 1850. After seeing how excited I was about this very rare and important piece, Marion generously agreed to loan it for the upcoming exhibition of Wisconsin decorative arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Elmbrook’s coverlet will be one of 40 artifacts from collections across the state presented in The Finest in the Western Country: Wisconsin Decorative Arts 1820-1900, opening at MAM on September 11, 2008.

Unfortunately, my search for more information about the coverlet’s makers, Mealey and Leity, has so far proved unsuccessful. A John Leity is listed in the 1849 city directory for Milwaukee, but his occupation is not given. Neither weaver appears in any of the census records I’ve seen.

Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.


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