Saturday, June 15, 2013

A milk & mettle mystery item

Speaking of my great-great-aunt Phebe, this is a mystery that has been driving me crazy:

I inherited a burlap... something... that used to belong to her. It has her name embroidered on the seam along with "Elkhorn, Wis." -- the town she called home from 1876 until her death. The mystery item is about two feet in length and sort of half-oval or crescent shaped. It has a row of buttons across the top like you'd find on a duvet cover. But what is it?

Several people have suggested a cover for a bolster pillow. This may turn out to be the case, but that makes me wonder why she embroidered her name and city on the pillow?

Other suggestions have included: old-fashioned nursing pillow and hot water bottle holder. (The size of it makes me doubt it was a hot water bottle holder, unless they had the world's largest hot water bottle. Nursing pillow was an interesting suggestion, but Phebe only had one child, and they didn't move to Elkhorn until that child was four years old.)

So I need your help: does anyone know what this is? Is it in fact an unstuffed bolster pillow? Or is it something once essential that we no longer recognize?

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