Hopewell Plantation, adjacent to the Clemson University campus, in Clemson, SC, has joined the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. Rebecca Calhoun Pickens’ coverlet utilized a candlewick technique which traditionally uses an unbleached cotton thread on a piece of unbleached muslin. It gets its name from the nature of the soft spun cotton thread, which was braided then used to form the wick for candles. Motifs are created using a variety of traditional embroidery stitches as well as a tufted stitch. Subject matter is usually taken from nature. Most of the designs were simple and stitched on unbleached muslin fabric. After the embroidery was completed, the fabric would be washed in very hot water to shrink the fabric and cause the stitches to fluff up, which would hold the stitches in place and give the puckered look of what would become traditional candlewicking.
Pickens’s used flowers, insects, and pine trees in her coverlet which were all native South Carolina plants. It is a variation of the vase or basket of flowers design popular in the late 1700’s. Pickens was the sister of US Senator John Ewing Calhoun, Sr., aunt of Vice-President John C. Calhoun and wife of Revolutionary War General Andrew Pickens.
General and Mrs. Pickens had a dozen children, including a lieutenant governor and governor; six daughters who married into prominent families; and three children who died young. Their home, Hopewell Plantation, was built about 1785, and is representative of a rural house, common in the late 18th and early 19th century in the South Carolina backcountry. Beginning as a small log structure, it was substantially enlarged by General Pickens and was his plantation home for about 20 years.
The home’s historic significance rests on the national stature of General Pickens who is remembered for his significant contributions as a Revolutionary War General and later as a Native-American negotiator. His decades of negotiations with the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Chickamauga Nations were monumental in peaceful treaties and cohabitation with Native Americans. Hopewell is where General Pickens negotiated the Treaties of Hopewell with the Cherokees in 1785 and the Choctaws and Chickasaws in 1786. These treaties still today provide civil liberties to First Peoples.
For more information and pictures, click on (www.uhqt.org).