Cultural Objects, Tools

Spinning Wheel for Flax

Associated Person: Frances Keziah Allen McNeil
Locust Grove (Locust Grove District)


  • Diameter of wheel: 20 inches
  • Height: 33 inches

This three-legged spinning wheel was commercially manufactured for the processing of flax into linen thread. The drive wheel is attached to a seventeen-inch angled table. A leather strap runs from the wheel to a foot treadle under the table. Drive bands wrap around the wheel and the flyer assembly which includes a wooden bobbin (some pieces are missing). The knob at the back of the spinning wheel is a tension screw.  Not pictured is the distaff, a turned wooden post that holds unspun flax fibers to prevent them from tangling.

Spinning wheel, flax wheel, linen
Bio Sketch

Frances Keziah Allen McNeil (1850-1937) was the spinster for members of her husband Charles Lewis McNeil’s family. She used a second, larger spinning wheel for processing wool. While she did not have children of her own, nieces and great-nieces fondly remembered “Aunt Fanny” and her name is now associated with a quilt made from a set of patterns she left.


Great wheels, also called walking wheels can be used for wool or flax. This type of wheel is designed specifically for processing flax with a double-drive wheel, a distaff, and the treadle/brake system which allows the user to be seated while working.