GROUP: This is one of five presses made by an unidentified cabinetmaker who worked in the Warren and Franklin County area of northeastern North Carolina. Its style is associated with the Sharrock family of cabinetmakers in Northampton County, and it is possible that it was made by one of the many craftsmen in that family. However, Warren County enjoyed a surfeit of transplated Virginia cabinetmakers in the late eighteenth century: brothers Jordan and Green Worsham from Dinwiddie County; William Andrews (d. 1806), his son Drury Andrews (d. 1844), and Hamilton Bonner from Prince George County; and John Pettway (d. 1796) from Sussex County. The china press’s original owner, William Green (1739-1799), had business and even family relationships with many of these craftsmen. In 1796, Green attended the estate sale of John Pettway; the following year, he purchased property from Jordan Worsham; in 1799, William Andrews attended Green’s own estate sale; and in 1801, Green’s younger daughter Lucy married Hamilton Bonner.
This particular china press is unusual in having four small drawers in two tiers above a pull-out serving board. However, the location of the serving board below the drawers, rather than above, is typical of this group. In addition to MESDA’s example, the other presses by this maker are in the collections of Colonial Williamsburg, the DAR Museum, Historic Hope Plantation, and the Sally-Billy House at Historic Halifax.
In 1810, it appeared again as “1 China Press” in the probate inventory of Green’s son-in-law, Hugh Johnston (1762-1810) of Largo plantation. In 1848, it was the “1 China Press” valued at $14 in the estate papers of Green’s daughter, Sarah (Green) Johnston (1774-1848). It was later at Kinderhook plantation, the home of the Johnstons’ daughter, Mary Christmas (Johnston) Jones (1793-1858). It descended to her daughter Priscilla (Jones) White (1819-1897), who lived at Ingleside in Warrenton, North Carolina, and then to her granddaughter, Helen (White) Holt, after which it was generously given to MESDA by their descendants.