This spinning wheel belonged to my mother. As a child she remembered it being used by some of the female relatives in her father's family and it was a part of my great-grandmother's household. It sat in what was referred to as her "front room" and when she died it almost slipped out of the family. My grandfather gave it to a neighbor that worked at the furniture factory in Eupora and did furniture refinishing as a side business. When my mother realized what had happened she was quite upset and insisted that my grandfather reclaim the wheel. He did reclaim it, but I suspect my grandfather was a little sheepish about asking for it back. Anyway, it sat in a storage room attached to my grandfather's barn for a number of years.
My mother brought it home with her when my grandparent's house was in the process of being turned over to the relative that bought out the other relatives. It is large and very heavy so I'm sure there was some arguing and muttering as she and my father loaded it onto the truck. I think it sat in their store room for a while, but my mother finally took it to someone to have it restored. I can't remember where she took it, but I remember it was several hours away from them, maybe over into Louisiana.
After they picked it up and brought it back to their house I remember my mother telling me all the details that this restorer had told her. Sadly, I can only remember the bits and pieces that I will share here. I asked my mother to please write down all the details, but she never did (or if she did we never found them-she was a prolific note writer and left behind numerous notes!).
Traditionally, a spinning wheel was passed from generation to generation. Usually it would go to the oldest female daughter of a family; a notch would be made on one of the legs at the time it was officially passed on. (I guess you were just out of luck if you weren't the oldest.) There were several notches on the leg of this one, some were very faint, so it did appear that it had been passed through several generations. I don't remember exactly, but I think the restorer thought it was quite possibly made in the 1700's. Interestingly, he told my mother that the wheel had been greased with bear grease. I remarked that I didn't know there were bears in Mississippi, but apparently there had been quite a few in times gone past. I think it is also possible that the wheel may have come from the eastern states with earlier family.
Sadly, the wheel does not work. It is missing a part, but I don't know what it could be. But at any rate it sat in my parent's living room behind their sofa and it did make a great conversation piece. It a not a beautiful piece of furniture; it had probably been hand built and quite possibly over the many years re-constructed as needed.
I have often wondered about the spinning that was done on it. Did they spin wool from sheep? I don't ever remember any sheep stories. I'm sure cotton was available, maybe flax (can you spin from flax?). I remember a conversation at some time when we were questioning if my mother really saw the relatives using the wheel since by the time she was born (1933) yarn was being massed produced. What did they do with the yarn or were they making thread to sew with? Those are questions that will probably remain unanswered.
I am the oldest daughter, and the quilter/yarn worker in the family. But the wheel went to Virginia with my brother. It was too large for my house, and probably for his, too. I encouraged him to please give it to a museum where it can be studied and preserved. I have more spinning to talk about, but this post needs to end with one more picture!