Thursday, February 25, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Cotter/Pate spinning wheel, La.

Note: "Treasure Chest Thursday" is a theme used by some genealogy bloggers.  It's sort of a fun weekly "Show and Tell" for grownups.  You can read more "TCT" posts at Geneabloggers.

Etta Orisca Cotter Pate's spinning wheel, owned by M. Hall, Louisiana, Nov. 2007.  Digital photo by Liz Hall Morgan.

Today's treasure is a maternal great-grandmother's spinning wheel, which I hung on my mom's living room wall a couple of years ago while we were tidying and wondering where to put things.  Why not hang it on the wall?  It's a great piece of family history, and we didn't have the rest of it to display.

The wheel belonged to Etta Orisca Cotter Pate (1859-1937), the third wife of Newton King Brady Pate (1852-1932).  They lived near Heflin in Webster Parish, Louisiana, then moved just south of  Ringgold in Bienville Parish.  Together they had eight children, including my grandmother, Edna Maud Pate Stevenson.  

But those weren't all the children they raised.  When they married, on Aug. 26, 1886, in Bienville Parish, "Newt" came with a ready-made family: six children from his previous marriages, ranging in age from one to 11, who became Etta's children as well.  He must have been awfully charming or well off, or Etta must have been dreading becoming an old maid [she was 27] to take on such responsibility.  But then, more women died in childbirth or from disease then, so I suppose there were more widowers with children then, as well.  But back to the spinning wheel--the Pates had a farm and raised sheep, and Etta spun her own wool yarn for knitting.  That wheel must have been spinning a lot, with 14 children to clothe!  No wonder she looks so sober in the photo below--the woman needs a nap!

 Etta Orisca Cotter Pate, c. 1890-1900?, La., scan of photograph made from original tintype owned by M. Hall, digitally edited (somewhat; this still needs work) by Liz Hall Morgan for spots, scratches and fading.

Etta's middle name, "Orisca," is, according to family lore, after a grandma who was "part Indian." As many "Indian in the family" stories go, however, we can't verify any Native American heritage.  That does leave me to wonder where her parents--William Hadden Cotter and Elizabeth Ann Fariss (Farris, Faress)--came up with "Orisca." Elizabeth, or "Lizzie," was also known as "Queen Ann Elizabeth," so maybe her line has a penchant for unusual names.

Any "Indian" names in your family?  Ever heard of the name "Orisca"?  Leave me a comment! 

Text copyright 2010 by Liz Hall Morgan.


  1. What a great treasure to have. And the photo of Etta is wonderful - I especially love the hat! Thanks for visiting my blog. Always great to hear from another Cajun. We visit Sulphur frequently on our trips to Vinton. And thanks for the link to Jennifer's blog. I'll check it out. :)

  2. Thanks for reading. I like her hat, too, and have enjoyed your blog, as well.