Polly Benson and Her Weaving Skills

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Taken from the history of her granddaughter, Ella Grace Bown, July 1963.

When Joseph and Polly Bartholomew came from Springville to Warm Creek (now Fayette) 8 April 1861, they brought a sheep, which they called Willie, and Grandmother sheared it twice a year. Often a small flock of sheep were driven through the valley and Polly and her elder son John went gleaning the little tags of wool, which were caught and held fast on the brush as the sheep passed by. John was not too happy with this task, but she aimed to glean enough wool to make the stockings for the family. This wool was washed, corded and spun into yarn, dyed with homemade dyes and knit into stockings. Later, other sheep were acquired.
Polly also went shearing sheep on shares, or for a share of the wool, taking her small sons along to catch the sheep for her. In telling me about it, she said, "They always caught the biggest, fattest sheep for me to shear." The wool was washed, picked over for straw and other foreign things, then corded into little rolls and spun into yarn. It was then dyed with indigo which had been made by the ancient dye method of oxidizing the indigo plant with urine in the dye bath: also other plants and roots, earth stains, and the red of the cochineal bug were used. With the dyed yarns she wove carpets, rugs, blankets, and coverlets besides cloth for the family clothing.
The rugs and coverlets which she wove were very artistic as to design and color combination. Her son Joseph often helped with the designs, and her blind sister Electa helped her to weave: she could tell the different colors by the taste of the yarn's dyes."
The piece of her woven fabric shown was part of the wedding carpet which she made for the home of her son John and his bride, Eliza Roxie Metcalf. It was large enough to cover their living room wall to wall and was laid over a straw matting. It was later given to their son, Joseph Smith. His wife passed it on to their son Asel Dale Bartholomew, of Orem Utah, from whom Lucile Tate purchased the ragged and worn end early in the year 1970.


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