• 64°

Black History Month: Pre-Civil War doll lands at Spencer museum

By Kathy Gregg
For the Salisbury Post
Mary Jane and Carl Brummer were attending a convention in North Carolina and decided to visit the Doll and Toy Museum in Spencer.
They donated an important doll to the museum this month to honor Black History Month and wanted to check in to see how it was displayed and to perhaps shed a bit more light on its history.
According to Mary Jane, the doll was given to her in the 1960s when the Brummers lived in Philadelphia. At that time, Mary Jane was a nurse and one of her fellow nurses owned an old fabric doll that had belonged to his mother.
If Mary Jane did not want it, the nursing friend said, the doll was going into the trash. The only promise that was part of the deal was that Mary Jane would have to take care of the doll forever.
How could Mary Jane, a collector of dolls, turn down such an offer even if the doll were dirty and ripped and not very attractive at the time?  It went home with Mary Jane, got cleaned up a little and lived with her until early 2016 when the promise to take care of the doll led to its donation to the museum.
After some research into the history of the doll, this is what Mary Jane learned:
The doll was created in the Baltimore area before the Civil War and probably by a female slave for her child, based on the dark fabric skin of the doll. The cleaning unearthed a beautiful set of leather boots sewn to the stockinged feet, and they may have been made by the slave father who was a leather worker.

The doll is stuffed with raw cotton, making it soft to hold.

Her face is silk embroidered, and one can only imagine that a few strands of thread were gathered by the slave from the owner’s house to compete the face. The stitches in both the face and the doll body show a high degree of accomplishment, as though the creator did a lot of sewing in the past.

The dark hair is created with carpet yarn, and although there were no clothes with the doll, the body is fashioned so that it might only need a dress. Instead it has a scrap of an old quilt with matching colors.
The quilt may not be as old as the doll, but the two are now bound together on display at the museum.
We will never know the complete story of this doll or who the creator was or who the child was that first received this doll more than 150 years ago. We only know that it has a place of honor both at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum and in history thanks to the doll preservation by the Brummers.
The Spencer Doll and Toy Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ThursdaySaturday. For more information, go to the website at www.spencerdollandtoymuseum.com.

Comments

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’