Get cozy - the first day of winter is just a few days away! These hand-crocheted slippers might be just the ticket for a young man in 1888. That is the year they were made for and given to John Sanford, by Ida Saxton McKinley. Sanford was a newly elected Republican congressman from New York while Mrs. McKinley was the wife of then Republican congressman William McKinley from Ohio and future First Lady. Sanford (1851-1939) was a son of Stephen Sanford, of the New York carpet manufacturer, Bigelow-Sanford, a very wealthy family. In 1888 he had not yet married Ethel Sanford, daughter of Henry Shelton Sanford who founded Sanford, Florida. The Sanfords also owned a summer home in Aiken, South Carolina, where their daughter, Gertrude was born. She later married Sidney Legendre, purchased Medway Plantation in the Lowcountry, and donated many family items to the Museum, including these slippers.
The slippers are one pair of many made by Ida McKinley. As noted in the November/December 2013 issue of Piecework magazine, she crocheted thousands of pairs (estimated at 4000!) and gave them away to friends, veterans, orphans and for fundraisers. It has been exciting sharing our slippers with Kimberly Kenney, curator of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in Canton, Ohio. It seems that most, if not all, of her slippers were blue – and blue was definitely her favorite color. Even her sewing bag was this same color. Surviving slippers, including ours, have crocheted wool tops and bound cord soles onto which the tops were sewn by hand.
Not only does the Presidential Library have more of her slippers, they have a wonderful dress collection worn by her and are currently working on a huge fundraising effort to preserve these gowns.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday