In 1783, when Sgt. James Davenport of the Continental Army returned home to Dorchester, Mass., after seven years of war during which two of his brothers died in battle, he brought with him a captured British red coat, the victor's ultimate souvenir of battle.
Upon the birth of Davenport’s first child, according to family lore, the proud father had the coat cut up to make a pair of red baby booties, which members of the Davenport clan passed down through the generations.
Pittsburgh resident Jim Richardson, a descendant of Davenport's, donated his ancestor’s personal collection of Revolutionary War-era artifacts to the museum: a wing chair, fireplace andirons -- and the baby booties.
According to family stories passed along by Richardson, Davenport would talk about his war experiences while sitting in the chair and spitting at the fireplace andirons until they sizzled.
R. Scott Stephenson, a museum vice president, says the baby booties speak directly to the biblical idea of “beating swords into plowshares.”