Upholstered wingback commode chair has four turned Sheraton legs. Has replacement of original soiled handsewn homespun linen (remnants in this file), now an orange fabric with potted and vining flower design. Solid pinewood seat under cushion has center hole with fitted removable wooden disc.
This chair was from the Pownall home at Gap, where it was used by Dickinson Gorsuch, Maryland slave owner, during his recovery from wounds sustained during the Christiana Riot of Sept. 11, 1851. His father and two others were killed during the skirmish at the home of freed slave William Parker, and Dickinson was transported to the Pownall home for recovery. William Parker later published his story in the "Atlantic Monthly" in 1866, making it highly publicized.
This incident "is an important example of the struggle over the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and the escalating tension between the North and the South. This act gave slave owners broad powers to recapture runaway slaves". (ExplorePAhistory.com)
Polaroid photos of chair before re-upholstery, in file.
Provenance: Chair owned by the Pownall family & given in 1973 to the Lancaster County Historical Society by Mrs. Levi Pownall of Lancashire Hall (569-7279).
It was initially loaned to the Heritage Center (# L.77.9 and # 161.64.80) but soon donated to HCLC. Board minutes of Dec. 8, 1975 include Richard F. Smith's Museum Committee report noting a donation of a "Sheraton armed wing chair commode, used by the Pownall home in nursing Dickinson Gorsuch following Christiana Riot in 1851." Later unsigned note (Bruce Shoemaker?) states John Aungst of LCHS was consulted & chair was removed 11/9/84 from list on LCHS loan form, settling an apparent question of ownership.