Today we have a lace-edged linen tablecloth, decorated with cutwork and embroidery, made by Mary Louise Parsly of Brookeville.  

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Mary Louise Parsly (sometimes spelled Parsley) was born in 1887, the second child of John and Cornelia Search Parsly.  Her father ran a general store in Brookeville.  In 1914 or 1915, Mary Louise married Dr. Ernest Fishbaugh of Indiana, and they moved to California.  The tablecloth was donated to MCHS in 1979 by her daughter, Ernestine Fishbaugh, who wrote, “The embroidery on this cloth is so perfect and so exquisite that I would like very much to give it to your organization in [my mother’s] memory.”

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The cloth measures 52 inches in diameter, not counting the 5 inch crochet lace trim which, according to Miss Fishbaugh, her mother “did not make . . . but added it to the cloth.”  Perhaps the lace was purchased from Mr. Parsly’s store?

This is a lovely example of whitework and, while I’m not as qualified a judge as some, I would say Mary Louise’s work is pretty close to “perfect.”  (Although, alas, I cannot find evidence that she tested her mettle by entering this or other work in the county fair.)  The circular patterns are evenly matched, and the embroidery is tidy, even some 100 years later.  Mary Louise added her initials along one side, in padded satin stitch letters that are three inches high: 

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If only she’d added the date!  The donor noted it was “made by my mother before she was married,” but could not be more specific.  I suspect that it was part of Mary Louise’s preparations for running her own household after her marriage.  The big, bold initials are fantastic; we have other monogrammed linens in our collections, but few are quite so definitively marked.  You’re not going to miss MLP’s name if you happen to sit down to tea. 

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The Parsly family, circa 1905. Mary Louise is standing behind her mother. The other children are George (the youngest), Elmer (in uniform), Lewis, Isabelle, and Alice. Donated by Lewis Parsly.

 

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