Upcountry Finery, a new clothing exhibit on display at the Fountain Inn Museum, runs from May 1st to July 2nd.
Two sisters of extraordinary talents turned a simple off-white cotton fabric into an amazing heirloom. Donated to the Museum by Mildred Kirby, the homemade ensemble was created by Mattie and Maggie Mock, born in 1868 and 1866. The sisters never married and lived out their lives in a simple one- story frame house near Scuffletown Road and Highway 418.
Although the ensemble sewn by the sisters is a focal point of the Museum’s exhibit, it is a single representative of the many fine creations made by these two farm women. Evidence of their remarkable skill may be seen in a recollection written several years ago by Becky White Loewy:
“As a child, I was fascinated by the pretty little house that was at the end of the unpaved road that ran alongside the home of my Patton great-grandparents. The beautiful English garden surrounding the house and the two ladies who lived inside made that a very special place, different from any other place I knew. From time to time I have thought back on
Miss Mattie and Miss Maggie Mock and wondered who they were.”
Mildred Patton Kirby and Lewis Patton both recall going to the home as children and always being offered lemon cookies, a culinary specialty of the sisters. Sometime after Maggie’s death in 1940, Caroline Coleman wrote an article about Miss Mattie and her home, citing the ”clear shining glass lamps with kerosene” and “flowers in all the vases.” She notes handmade rugs that the sisters spent years in making. “They are spread on the white floorboards and these floors, heart pine, are the original floorboards which have been in use for more than a century.”
The house no longer stands, but the unique ensemble, with decorative eyelets painstakingly sewn by hand, will be on display at the Museum’s exhibit as a tribute to the Mock sisters and their love of creating beautiful things.
Like the Mock sisters’ dress, each item on display tells a story of the Upcountry and the residents that helped it succeed. The collection features items such as an “afternoon receiving dress” from 1919 to a Victorian mourning ensemble circa 1880. The exhibit shows the significance of clothing for every occasion and provides a deeper insight into Fountain Inn’s history.
Museum admission is free, and the hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM, and Saturday from 9 AM to 2 PM. For information, go to fountaininnmuseum.org. Or call (864) 862-2586.■