Saturday, July 21, 2018

Quilt Buried With the Silver: Sarah Wilfong Ramseur's Chintz Panel Quilt

Lincolnton, Cabarrus County, North Carolina,
North Carolina Museum of History
#H.1926.4.1

There is a tendency in the Southern oral tradition to attribute every stain in an antique quilt to a subterranean stay during a Yankee raid, but there is also much oral tradition that quilts were indeed  buried by families on both sides. Sallie Rochester Ford's account of Raids & Romance of Morgan and His Men tells of  "Unionists" in the path of John Hunt Morgan's Confederate army "bidding a hurried adieu to their homes."
"Ladies gathered together their silver and other valuables, and boxing them up, dispatched them, post-haste, to a place of safety in the country. They buried their linen and bedding...."
Staining in the quilt's center

This chintz quilt that survived the Civil War was handed down in a family with a variation on the story. It was hidden from General Sherman's Union troops under a leaky roof in Concord, North Carolina. The stain around the central panel is attributed to the leaks.

Interior of the Forney house in Lincolnton, photographed by
Frances Benjamin Johnston in 1938. Library of Congress.
Classical style reflected in architecture and the quilt.

Concord is in Cabarrus County, northeast of Charlotte. The quilt is from the Ramseur family of Lincolnton, northwest of Charlotte. In March, 1865, a month before the Confederate surrender, General William T. Sherman's army was marching north towards Richmond. Citizens of Mecklenburg & Cabarrus County were threatened although the majority of the Union troops remained east of the area. Hiding such a beautiful quilt in an attic would have been a prudent move.

The quilt was donated to the North Carolina Museum of History in 1926 by Sarah Pfifer Williamson of Chicago who attributed it to a woman named Sarah Wilfong Ramseur. At a time when objects such as quilts were valued primarily by their associations with famous men, Williamson noted that Sarah Ramseur was the grandmother of  Confederate General Stephen Dodson Ramseur.

Major General Stephen Dodson Ramseur
He fought most of the war without the use of an injured arm.

There are many Sarah Wilfongs in the family but the Sallie in question seems to have been Sarah Salome Wilfong Ramsour (1788-1837) of Lincolnton. Sarah married David Carpenter Ramsour (1775-1842) and they had a boy Jacob Able Ramseur and two girls Cynthia (Hoyle) and Mary Adeline (Phifer.) Mary Adeline's daughter Sarah Phifer Williamson (1859-1937) donated the quilt she attributed to her grandmother to the museum.

The quilt looks to be from the 1820s or '30s so could have been made by Sarah Salome late in her life. Her son Jacob and wife Lucy Mayfield Dodson had nine children. Their second son Stephen Dodson Ramseur is the Major General mentioned in the gift. Born in 1837 he attended West Point and when the Civil War erupted he resigned his U.S. Army commission to fight for the South. 

Ellen Richmond Ramseur (1840-1900) as a girl before the war.
North Carolina Museum of History

Dodson Ramseur earned a reputation as a brash fighter. He was fatally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia a few days after his wife and cousin Ellen Richmond Ramseur gave birth to a daughter in October, 1864.

Ramseur family members at Dodson Ramseur's memorial dedication
in 1920. The monument is at Belle Grove Plantation in Virginia where he died.
Collection of the North Carolina Library at Chapel Hill.

The central chintz in this beautiful quilt is cut from a panel,
a floral bouquet tied with a blue ribbon. Marguerite Ickis published
a black & white photo of this quilt in her 1949 Standard Book of Quiltmaking
(pg. 109) but did not have much to say about it.

Panel #14
Merikay Waldvogel and I are discussing this particular panel on our chintz panel blog this week.

Here's a link:


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Civil War Club

The Civil War Club met last Friday at A Quilter's Oasis in Mesa, Arizona.
Kathy posted pictures of progress on the Antebellum Album sampler.
This pretty blue version looks smaller than the 12" blocks.

The regular size.

The club meets monthly---you can join any time.


The focus is reproduction prints and history.


Looks like fun.

I encourage shopowners to use this blog in classes and clubs.
There will be another series next year---applique sampler.
Some links for A Quilter's Oasis:
https://aquiltersoasis.com/
https://www.facebook.com/aquiltersoasis/

Next Wednesday: Block 7.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kansas Troubles Fundraiser

This comforter fragment is not much to look at but it has a story.


The piece is about one-sixth of a tied bedcover. The blue is probably a calendered wool, a finish that gives it a gloss. It is tied with knots to hold the layers together and behind the knots are circular wool patches, presumably to keep the knots from popping through the top.

The fragment was donated to the Kansas State Historical Society with the story that it was made by the women of the Boston Emigrant Aid Society in 1855 and sent to the newly settled Kansas Territory.

The sign for the Aid Company in Lawrence

The Emigrant Aid Society was founded in 1854 to assist antislavery settlers who moved to Kansas to vote for a Free State constitution. Lawrence, Topeka and Osawatomie were the primary antislavery settlements in the new territory. Many proslavery voters were also headed for Kansas, primarily from adjacent Missouri, a slave state. 

The family of New Englander Dr. S. B. Prentiss believed the comforter to have been sent to be a fund raiser for a raffle in Lawrence. Dr. Prentiss was the lucky raffle winner in 1855. The homely bedcovering was distinguished by remnants of Revolutionary War uniforms. The brown circles behind the knots were said to be the uniform fabrics.

Dr. Prentiss's descendants reported that he impressed upon them the value of the piece. It was so valuable to the family that it was cut into segments so several children could inherit it. The Kansas Museum of History has two of the fragments.

Daguerreotype of Sylvester Bemis Prentiss from 1840-1860
Kansas Memory

Dr. Sylvester B. Prentiss (1817-1892)
I did some Photoshopping to see who
he was when he came to Kansas in 1855 at about 40 years old.

His papers are in the Kansas Collection at the University of Kansas. Their biography:
"Sylvester B. Prentiss was born in Chester, Massachusetts on May 4, 1817. He pursued medical study and began the practice of medicine in Coventry, New York, then in Jackson, Georgia. In 1855, he moved to Kansas, settling in Lawrence, where he continued his medical practice."

1862 ad for Prentiss & Griswold Drug Store and Fancy Articles

Prentiss was married three times:
His first wife was Louisa Brooks, married October 24, 1839 at Norwich, New York. Children: Joseph L. Prentiss and Louisa B. Prentiss Simpson
His second wife Mary N. Converse came to Kansas with him. Children: Ella A. and Frank. She died in 1865 in Lawrence.
His third wife Annie Julia Soule of Maine was also a Kansas emigrant. Children: Charles A.

Annie J. Soule Prentiss  (1842-1931)


After Sylvester Prentiss's death in 1892 Annie operated a store, the "Home Store," in the Prentiss house at the corner of 11th and Massachusetts Streets in Lawrence, Kansas. The Watkins Bank is across 11th Street in the background.  Annie is third from the right and her step-son Frank is on the right.

I count five children for Dr. Prentiss: Five pieces. Some of the Prentiss children moved to Colorado. We can hope the story of the Revolutionary War uniforms stayed with the odd piece of tied wool.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Half Done

A  look at model maker Pat Styring's design wall, Antebellum Album
Blocks 1-6

Other posts with setting blocks.

Marie

Kelly

Marsha

Dustin is making four of each and setting them side by side
with a central focus.

Becky's top with future blocks blocked out.

Congratulations to those who are keeping up...

Take a bow!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Elizabeth Moffitt Lyle's Union Quilt

Center of a quilt made by Elizabeth Moffitt Lyle Moffitt,
Kewanee, Illinois

We documented this quilt during the Kansas Quilt Project thirty-some years ago and were a little confused about its date---pre-Civil War or made during the War?

Constitution and Union Forever by Elizabeth Moffitt (1833-1893).
 Collection of the Smoky Hill Museum, Salina, Kansas

I thought I might revisit it in the internet age hoping to find more about when and why it was made. The quilt is in Salina, Kansas donated to the Smoky Hill Museum by Elizabeth Moffitt's Illinois relatives. The story that accompanied the quilt is that Elizabeth in her late 20s had help from younger brother John Leitch (Jack) Moffitt who cut the five-pointed stars for her. Elizabeth was a childless widow, having lost first husband Thomas Lyle after a year of marriage. He died at 29 in Denver, probably there for the gold rush.

Monument to the Moffitt brothers and friends near Beaver Creek

The Moffitts and Lyles seem to have been an adventurous bunch. Brothers Jack and Thomas Moffitt also traveled west in the spring of 1864, settling in Lincoln County, Kansas to raise cattle. They established a house on Beaver Creek, the first white-built home in the area. In August, 1864 ignoring threats from the local tribes who were furious about settlers hunting on their land, the young men went buffalo hunting with friends. A group of Native Americans engaged in a battle with them and people were killed on both sides, including all four young cattle ranchers.


Seeing this territory battle as an Indian massacre, later settlers erected several monuments to the Moffitt party as "first settlers."

The Moffitt party was only one group
of  settlers killed in Lincoln County as
the tribes tried to maintain their land.
This 1909 monument recalls others.

The brothers left fifty head of cattle sold in their estate sale.

The Moffitts of Kewanee, Illinois, which is northwest of Peoria, were Irish born. 

Grace Hill's Moravian Church survives

Elizabeth Nichol of  the Isle of Guernsey and David Moffitt of County Antrim had their nine children in Grace Hill in County Antrim, a Moravian settlement, and came to Philadelphia some time in the 1840s, perhaps with others of the Moravian religion. They moved west to Kewanee sometime after its development in 1854.

It is interesting to note that the younger Elizabeth's patriotic quilt was made by an immigrant who spent the first ten years or so of her life in Ireland. What is the quilt's date? Jack Moffitt died in 1864 so we will assume it was made before that date. 



Was it made during the Civil War or beforehand? The fabrics, all solids give us no help in dating. The quilt's style is similar to patriotic quilts made after 1850 or so. 

Union quilt of stars

Here's a post on a similar Union quilt possibly made before 1861.
https://civilwarquilts.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-new-jersey-union-quilt.html


Perhaps the sentiment in the quilt's center can help date it. The phrase "The Constitution and Union Forever" does not seem to have roots in any particular oratory in the years before or during the Civil War. Certainly there were many references to "The Union Forever."

The "Union Forever" on a photograph case

 a goblet

and a patriotic envelope.

A discussion on Slate of a similar phrase makes me wonder if Elizabeth had heard of  Hubbard Winslow's 1853 call to action in Massachusetts with the ideals in reverse order, "The Union and the Constitution Forever." But that is pretty obscure.

 See John Dickerson's discussion here:

The idea must have been in the air.


Our best clue to date might be the 33 stars. The U.S. flag contained 33 stars from July 4, 1859 when Oregon was counted as the 33rd state to July 4, 1861 when Kansas was added. Kansas actually became a state in January, 1861 before the war began but stars aren't added till the following July.

It is possible that Elizabeth counted her stars precisely and made the quilt sometime in those two years while she was getting over the shock of her husband's death. We don't know much more about her. She did remarry in May, 1865, curiously to another man named John Moffitt. This John B. Moffitt (1833-1891) was also Irish born and led an adventurous life. He might have been a relative; he first settled in Philadelphia, traveled around the world fighting pirates and came to Kewanee in 1863.

Jack and Thomas are buried near their mother.

All these Moffitts (Moffats) are buried in Kewanee. Here's a link to Elizabeth's page at Find-A-Grave.


In my book Quilts From the Civil War we did an updated pattern based on Elizabeth's quilt. Here is Nina Ashworth's  prizewinner made from the pattern, Dad's Quilt: The Constitution and Union Forever.

Read about second husband John B. Moffitt in the local history:

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fireworks

5 Erica C
Some sunny yellow blocks in our Antebellum Album Series....

4 TeddyBear's Momma

6 Mark
Inspired perhaps by Mark's set of traditional red, green and yellow.

2 Mark

Basket quilt about 1880-1910
Yellows are hard to sell to quilters (as the fabric companies will tell you)
but every reproduction stash needs a lot of the color that's highest in value (chromatic value).

4 Kim

Peony quilt from about 1890-1920

Yellow is a challenge to use because as the highest color in the value scale
it's almost white. And you can't darken it too much because it becomes pea green.

Age has darkened the swatch in this old dye book to green.

So it takes a little work to get yellow into the composition. 

3 Billie Ann

5 Annette B's mini

4 Susan V
1 Ellen

And Sunny D.