Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Stripe Runs Cross Ways (Pennsylvania Gazette, 9-7-1796)

For some unknown reason, Thomas Leedom waited nearly two months before posting a runaway notice in the Pennsylvania Gazette announcing the escape of Lewis Evans. Leedom was managing the plantation of Robert Fletcher some twelve miles north of Philadelphia in Abington Township. Evans, who was about seventeen or eighteen years old, was remarkably unremarkable in his appearance. His smooth face was marred by a single scar under one eye, and he wore his sandy hair tied back in a queue.

Lewis Evans probably escaped to the excitement and anonymity of Philadelphia. When he left the plantation where he had most likely spent the bulk of his childhood, he was wearing an old beaver felt hat and a rough "mixt" (wool woven with linen or cotton) grey coat. His jacket was notable both for its cotton fabric and in that its stripes ran horizontally - a fashion which became increasingly popular as the century ended. Evans's wardrobe also awkwardly combined rough "dyed homespun tow" linen trousers with relatively fine calfskin shoes. His garments illustrate both the homespun simplicity of rural servant's dress as well as a consciousness of the popular fashions of the wider world. And in any case, wherever Evans's calfskin shoes took him, it was almost certainly more worldy than Abington Township.

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