CROUSE, N.C. - On Monday, December 6, 2021, Eileen McCloskey DiTullio, daughter of Tillie Eaker McCloskey Brooks, and Debbie Eaker Rinehardt paid a visit to the Crouse Community History & Photo Project office in Crouse.
Eileen brought with her items from her mother’s extensive collection of photos, clippings, and even a cookbook from 1956! She also brought an old flax wheel. Eileen stated, “The wheel for sure belonged to my great-grandmother, Sarah Helms Mauney, but because of its age may have belonged to her mom, Mary Anna Waycaster Mauney. “
She went on to tell, “It was handmade and has some of the original milk paint on it - Mom did try to strip it in the '70's unfortunately.”
It is wonderful to have the chain of ownership of the flax wheel: Bessie Glen Mauney Eaker (1891-1959) inherited it from her mother, Sarah Helms Mauney (1852-1919), who more than likely inherited the wheel from her mother, Mary Anna Waycaster Mauney (1830-1914). The wheel then passed from Bessie Mauney Eaker (1891-1959) down to her daughter Sarah Matilda “Tillie” Eaker McCloskey Brooks (1925-2020) and then to Eileen McCloskey DiTullio who held it in her home for at least 30 years.
After much conversation concerning the flax wheel Eileen mentioned that she would love for the wheel to be somewhere that it could be “enjoyed by people” and be preserved. She commented that she did not want it to be stored away in an artifact storage area, she wanted it to be seen.
It was at that point that it hit me, Hart Square. The village of cabins created by Dr. Bob Hart in Catawba County would be the perfect place for the flax wheel to continue its history. From their Facebook page, “Hart Square Village - Preserving the past through the largest collection of historical log structures in the US - Vale, NC.”
At Hart Square the damaged wheel could be restored and placed within one of the many cabins located on the property and maybe even used to spin flax as Hart Square hosts periodic workshops on spinning.
Also, each year on the third Saturday in October Hart Square is open to the public through a ticketed event. It is at this event that craftspeople demonstrate the use of historic items and activities such as spinning, blacksmithing, cooking, and other daily chores.
So, Eileen and Debbie brought the flax wheel in and placed is gingerly in our office, excited that its new home would be the perfect spot.
The following week I emailed Rebecca Hart, Hart Square Foundation, asking about her interest in the flax wheel and I was pleased to learn that she was indeed interested. Rebecca’s reply, “It's not every day we get donated something that was actually from this area with good, well-documented history. It would be lovely to get it. You can drop it off anytime between business hours if you would like. I think our Site Manager will be able to repair it.”
We decided it best to wait until after the holidays which would also give time to work up in depth information on the ownership timeline of the flax wheel.
We are happy to inform everyone that the flax wheel was delivered to Hart Square on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Rebecca Hart was so excited to see the wheel and told that once it is restored and placed in a cabin, she would inform us of the new home.
Be looking for a flax wheel update as things progress. And a special thank you to Eileen McCloskey DiTullio for the safekeeping to this 19th Century heirloom.
For more information on Hart Square Village visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HartSquareNC