Coxcomb Variation

Designed by Sarah Edith Coleman Colvin (1856-1930)
Fairfield County, SC
ca. 1880
Gift of Edith E. Adams in memory of Mary Colvin Adams and Eva Colvin 

McKissick Museum Collection 2001.03.138.02

In what first appears to be a traditional block-style, appliqued, two-colored quilt, Colvin instead machine-appliqued the hand-pieced “coxcombs” onto muslin and then machine-quilted the background in a crisscross, diamond pattern. Home sewing machines were not widely available until the mid-to-late 1870s. The wife of cotton farmer Martin Dennis Calhoun Colvin, who would suffer greatly in 1910 after a heavy hailstorm damaged his crop, Sarah seems to have been eager to test the capacity of this new time saving invention.

Columbia Bicentennial Quilt
Designed by Hazel Ross
Columbia, SC
Gift of Logan Lap Quilters

Central Medallion Chintz Appliqué
Attributed to Mary Eliza Hatteridge
Blackville, SC
Gift of Mrs. Winnie Hay and Mrs. Dick Atkins

Sarah Edith Coleman Colvin (1856-1930)   2001.03.138.02

Sarah Coleman was born on her family’s farm in Feasterville in Fairfield County, SC. Her father, John Feaster Coleman, died when he was 36 years old, two weeks before she was born. Her mother, Sally Gladden Coleman, died less than two months later. Shortly after her mother’s death, the infant Sarah and her five siblings were taken in by her grandparents, Henry and Mary Coleman. Henry was a planter who owned one of the largest plantations in Fairfield County.

Sarah married local farmer Martin Calhoun Colvin on August 7th, 1877. They had seven children: Dennis, Eva, Charles, William, Henry, Mary, and a daughter who died in infancy. In 1897, the Colvin farm harvested more cotton than any other farm in the county. The Colvin farm was quite successful, and Martin was described as “a man of progressive ideas.” He was involved with the order of the Patrons of Husbandry, commonly known as “The Grange”, an agrarian movement during the late 19th century. The organization worked to develop cooperative efforts to improve and stimulate agriculture throughout the state.

The Colvins lost their son Henry to tuberculosis in 1920. He was only 31 years old. Martin passed away in 1928 and Sarah continued to manage the family farm with her daughters Eva and Mary, along with her granddaughter Edith Emily.


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