No curtains, no carpets, just a sawbuck or trestle table and a few chairs for furniture: The persistent myth regarding early American homes is that they were bare. The truth is, however, that while many Americans lived in small spaces with few luxuries, textiles were among the first things they acquired when they had even a bit of spare income. During the 18th century, carpets were found in many urban—and also rural—households.
Carpets, then as now, added greatly to a home’s comfort and visual appeal. Inventories from Dutch settlements in early New York show that even quite modest estates had some carpeting: The 1658 probate of Joseph Youngs, a mariner in Southold, New York, for example, had “fower [four] carpets” and “an old rugg.” The rug was likely a bed covering, but the carpets were meant for his floor [Southold Town Records, copied and explanatory notes added by J. Wickham Case, Southold, New York, 1882–84].