This simple vernacular blue checked square is connected to the Dawes family. The first assumption was that it was a piece of linen homespun created around the time of the Revolution. The embroidered initials “LD” indicated the possible work of Lydia Dawes, mother of William Dawes who rode from Boston to Lexington on 18 April 1775. Dawes was recognized for his encouragement of locally-made rather than imported, textiles. Slubs exist in both the white and blue yarns confirming it is likely not commercial but a skilled example of weaving skills.
However, there are other possibilities for the monogram ‘LD.’ Hannah Dawes Newcomb (daughter of William Dawes and Mehitable May) lived in Keene, NH. A review of her early 19th c. diaries reveals that she engaged a weaver from Ireland, as well as several local women, to spin and weave. They were working with cotton and, thanks to fiber analysis, the blue and white checked square was identified as made of cotton. Hannah makes many references to her sister Lucretia Dawes coming to visit from Boston and she notes paying her for her weaving. Given the use of cotton, might it have been created by Lucretia for her sister’s home shop system of supplying textiles to the local mills to be made up into men’s shirts and so on? While we may never be able to ascertain this with surety, it does reveal the importance of using all available resources, for even such a seemingly pedestrian survival. The family clearly felt it was important to preserve and pass on.