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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Eddleman (Adleman, Ettleman), Peter

by Whaley W. Batson, 1986; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, December 2022

1762–19 May 1847

Peter Eddleman (Adleman, Ettleman), cabinetmaker, was born probably in Rowan County of German parentage. His father, Bastian Eddleman, moved to Bucks County, Pa., from Germany in 1750; with his wife, Sarah Pratt, he moved to Rowan County in 1758 or 1759. Rowan County militia records show that Peter Eddleman joined the militia in 1777 as a substitute for his brother-in-law who had been drafted. Eddleman was a substitute in two other tours—one in 1780 at Camden, S.C., and another in 1781. During the latter tour he was in Wilmington when the news of the surrender of Cornwallis arrived. Subsequently he was discharged and returned home. For his military service he filed for and received a pension in 1831 of $31.66 per annum.

A grant to Bastian Eddleman in 1787 is the first indication that the family had moved to Lincoln County (now northeast Gaston). The Lincoln County census lists Peter Eddleman as head of a household in 1790 and his land transactions on Leeper Creek are recorded in 1791, 1802, 1817, 1818, and 1832. In 1825 he built a house on part of the land and in 1832 made a large purchase of 240 acres in the same vicinity of Leeper and Dutchman's creeks. In a tax listing of 1837 it is recorded that he owned the 240 acres but was not recorded as enslaving any people. Perhaps his land purchases were for the acquisition of timber, as farming such acreage would have required additional hands.

Eddleman's early training is unknown. The general heaviness of pieces attributed to him would indicate either his being apprenticed to a country cabinetmaker or possibly self-taught. In the diary of John Arends, a minister, there are a number of references to the Eddleman family and a specific reference of payment to Peter in 1781. The payment reference follows a list of building materials. Family tradition indicates that Peter Eddleman built furniture for the Thomas Rhyne family of Lincoln County in 1799, and that he lived in their home while constructing it. A cupboard ten feet high and six feet wide, which remains in the house today, is believed to be his work. Three additional pieces presently in North Carolina collections are attributed to Eddleman—two desks and bookcases and a corner cupboard. These pieces are similar in construction techniques, particularly in the way the drawers are paneled on all four sides rather than the usual three. Eddleman had at least one apprentice—John Henry White of Lincoln County, apprenticed in 1821. Eddleman remained a bachelor until 1830. At age sixty-eight he married Dicia Swanson Clippard, a young widow with three small children. He and his wife had two sons, David Franklin (b. 1831) and William Peter (b. 1833). Eddleman was buried in Whitehaven (Lutheran) Churchyard near North Carolina Highway 16.


Research files (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem), with information drawn largely from public records of Rowan and Lincoln counties.