Saturday, December 3, 2022

A Quilt for the Armory Square Hospital


The Armory Square hospital in Civil War Washington was innovative and well-run.

A correspondent for the Portland (Maine) Press described it as exceptional, "the best
conducted hospital in the city." Credit was due Doctor Doctor Willard Bliss, the Surgeon in Charge.
That's not a typo. Dr. Bliss's first name was Doctor.

Each of the 11 wards was served by a "Volunteer Lady Nurse."
Amanda Akin Stearns published a memoir in 1909, 
The Lady Nurse of Ward E with photos of
her fellow workers.

Amanda Akin (lower left) S. Ellen Marsh of Ward G at the top 
& Nancy Maria Hill of Ward F.

She begins with compliments to Dr. Bliss's "far-seeing suggestions and ingenious, though simple, arrangements" discussed in weekly meetings with President Lincoln. Towards the end of the war she had time to write articles for the hospital newspaper, which she described as edited by Mrs. H. C. Ingersoll of Maine and printed by two patients.  

Ira Spar has written a history of the hospital newspapers published
by staff and patients, in which he mentions a donation to Armory Square:
"Mrs. A. Fogg of Maine sent a 'loaner gift' of a quilt flag in red, white and blue to aid a soldier on Ward F...The white stripes had patriotic sentences and lines of poetry." 
It is possible the the paper's volunteer proofreader failed to catch the typo in Mrs. Fogg's first name. I would guess we are referring to Isabella Morrison Fogg of Calais, Maine, who worked with the Maine Camp and Hospital Association and later the Christian Commission.

Maine State Archives
Isabella Morrison Fogg (1823-1873)

What a "loaner quilt" was is unclear. But the short description provides a clue to the flag quilt's appearance. "The white stripes had patriotic sentences and lines of poetry."

Like this?

Inscription in white stripes on a flag quilt in the collection of the Belfast (Maine) Historical Society.

 The lines give us information on the 23 makers who belonged 
to the First Church's Ladies' Aid Society.
A little humor punning on Generals' names:

 "The right side, Our side and Burnside."
"A hard resting place for the rebels – General Pillow”

And some cheerleading:
"Hurrah for the Boys of the Pine Tree State" 

Belfast's First Church, a Congregational Church remodeled by
the time of this early 20th-century photo. Notice the connected
structures so typical of northern New England architecture.

The Aid Society commenced the quilt in June, 1864 and sent it to the Armory Square Hospital a few weeks later. 
The 1860 Calais census shows Canadian-born tailoress Isabella Fogg living with the
 Barker family and two other young Canadian natives.

Isabella Fogg, a widow when the war began, had supported herself and her son as a "tailoress." As a professional seamstress she might have organized or stitched the flag quilt mentioned in the newspaper, but it seems likely she just delivered this gift from Maine quiltmakers to the hospital.

Dr. D. Willard Bliss (1825-1889)

When the war was over Dr. Bliss took custody of the Belfast ladies' quilt. It went to his daughter 
Eugenie Prentiss Bliss Milburn who moved with her husband to Miles City, Montana. The quilt was almost destroyed in Montana but was rescued by the Rickl family who donated it to the Belfast Museum.

Like the quilt, Dr. Bliss and Isabella Fogg were not fortunate after the war. Willard Bliss attended to two assassinated Presidents, both of whom were his friends: Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and James Garfield in 1881. Neither survived but no one blamed Dr. Bliss for Lincoln's death. However, Garfield's awful death from gangrene after 80 days was attributed to Bliss's bungling. The doctor died in disgrace a few years later.

Bliss was only one of at least six doctors trying to save Garfield. 
True, he appears to have been quite didactic and a bit of a bully. 
Perhaps at 56 he was not at the height of his powers. 
But people remembered what a good job he did during the war.

Defense of Dr. Bliss by Mrs. H.C. Ingersoll, who worked at
his Civil War hospital and edited the newspaper there.

Isabella Fogg, working on a hospital ship towards the end of the war, fell through a deck hatch seriously injuring her spine. She spent two years in bed recovering and was incapacitated enough to be granted a pension for her war injuries two years later. She is sometimes credited as the first woman to receive a Civil War pension.

I'm always wary of claims to "only" or "first, words used by lazy history writers to describe the past. Although credited as the first and the only etc. Isabella Fogg was one of many women to be granted a pension. Here on the last day of February, 1867, Congress increased it.

"When the quilt was finished and ready for the quilting we were invited to the house of Hon. N. Abbott and a picnic supper was served, to which the young men were invited. The quilt was finished during the afternoon, and was displayed in the dining room and was much admired. The following week it was sent to Washington by express, accompanied by a letter from our President Miss Arbella Johnson."
Augusta S. Quimby Frederick's Memoir

Augusta Susan Quimby (1833-1928) the year the war began.

Further Reading:

Amanda Akin Stearns's memoir, The Lady Nurse of Ward E, 1909:


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Freedom's Friends #9 Sarah Speakman McKim: Pennsylvania Tulip


Block #9, Pennsylvania Tulip for Sarah McKim by Georgann Eglinski

Sarah Allibone Speakman McKim
Chester County is just west of Philadelphia, the red dot.

Sarah grew up in a family of Quakers who maintained a shelter for fleeing slaves, a station in Uwchlan, Chester County outside Philadelphia.
Routes west and south of Philadelphia

At 27 years old she married James Miller McKim, once a Presbyterian minister from Carlisle. Family were not happy with her non-Quaker choice but she stood her ground.

October, 1840

J. Miller McKim (1810-1874) in 1851

Miller McKim described his awakening to the antislavery cause in an 1863 autobiographical speech. Waiting for a haircut from Black barber John Peck who seemed to run a lending library as well as a barber shop, McKim picked up a copy of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison's radical antislavery newspaper. Peck let him borrow it overnight. McKim read more, returning the next day.
"An argument [about slavery] arose between me and the barber, in which that gentleman had greatly the advantage."
Peck sent him home with a book by Garrison. "The scales fell from my eyes. The whole truth was revealed to me. The evil of slavery...."

Preaching abolition, 1851
Gleason's Pictorial

Pennsylvania Tulip by Becky Brown, one little extra piece, very effective.

McKim's new mission was abolition. He became a lecturer on the antislavery circuit in 1836, where he preached the radical principle of immediate freedom. After his marriage he took a job at the offices of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society as secretary, publishing agent and bookstore manager, becoming William Still's boss.

Sarah's son-in-law (twice over) wrote a memorial about her describing the city's annual Antislavery Bazaar, begun in 1840 by Miller McKim among others as "a festival of good-feeling, and Sarah McKim as a saleswoman proved an unrivaled magnet." Miller explained one idea he had to Sarah, a poultry stall. “Our farmers are to be asked to send us each a fat turkey & our abolitionists in town are to buy their Christmas dinners of us.” 

Pennsylvania Tulip by Denniele Bohannon with a few dots

Sarah gave birth to two children, Lucy in 1842 and Charles Follen McKim five years later. They also adopted niece Annie Catherine McKim. In 1855 they moved to Germantown, a neighborhood five miles from the city center, living at Hilltop at Cottage Lane and Duys' Street.

Mary Ann Day Brown (1816-1884)
in the early 1850s.

The most courageous action in Sarah's long, brave life was her decision to accompany friend Mary Ann Day Brown on her 1859 visit to her condemned husband John Brown the day before he was hung in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Mary Ann had spent the weeks between his arrest and execution in Philadelphia with Lucretia Mott and Sarah and Miller McKim whom Brown called a dear friend.

Story copied in many newspapers in December, 1859

"Mrs. McKim, knowing the value of a woman's sympathy 
and companionship under such trying
 circumstances volunteered to accompany her."

Sarah and Miller enlisted Hector Tyndale as a companion/bodyguard. The four arrived in Harper's Ferry on the last day of November. After the execution they escorted Brown's body back to Philadelphia amid threats and political posturing from authorities. Miller (and possibly Sarah) traveled with Mary Ann on a train to New York and Brown's burial.
Sarah, later in life from her memorial booklet.
"At anti-slavery meetings she sometimes sang in a way to touch all hearts."

The Block

Pennsylvania Tulip
Nothing fits our clich├ęs about the Pennsylvania Dutch more than a red and green tulip block. Sarah Allibone Speakman came from Quakers of Pennsylvania Deutsch (German) heritage. This month's block is drawn from several similar designs.

Tulip block from the Burtis family quilt in the Burlington New Jersey
Historical Society

Print the pattern on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. Note the square inch for scale.

Pennsylvania Tulip by Barbara Brackman

Oh dear, my reds are running.


Read more about the McKims in the first block of our American Stars pieced block-of-the month here:

Sarah's memorial: In Memoriam Sarah A McKim

More about the McKims:

Robert Smedley, History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, 1881:

Read Miller McKim's autobiographical memory of the first antislavery convention in 1833. The Liberator, December 25, 1863.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Nancy Dunlevy Anderson's Civil War


Nancy Dunlevy Anderson (1805-1870)
1862, Columbus, Ohio. "The first ladies of that city, those who scarcely think of doing their own sewing, have worked all winter for the soldiers. To raise money...they open bazaars, and resort to every other honest method...."
When the Civil War erupted in 1861 Nancy Dunlevy Anderson was in her mid-fifties, living with her husband Judge Thomas Jefferson Anderson in Marion, Ohio.

The 1860 census shows Nancy residing with two adult children Virgil & Anna plus Cora Spaulding,
 daughter Orrel Anderson Spaulding's child whom they raised. Orrel had died soon after Cora's birth.
Nancy had been born in Virginia. At the age of twenty the young woman with money and property of her own married a man she met on a visit to Ohio. 

They established a home in Marion, Ohio where Thomas traded in cattle and for a decade or so kept a frontier store dealing in clothing, hats and furs. The 1850 census lists him as a "Hatter." By the Civil War era he was a judge and Marion County was no longer the far edge of western culture.

Marion Historical Society
Their brick cottage at the corner of North High & East Center

Nancy gave birth to at least 10 children. Son James House Anderson (1833-1912) was appointed Consul in Hamburg, Germany in March, 1861 by Abraham Lincoln.He and his wife Princess Ann Miller Anderson (1837-1913) received  many informative letters telling Princie and James and us about life in wartime Marion.   

A few days after the war's beginning:
"Annie is working on the flags all day and is still at work. The young ladies make and present them to the companies."

Ohio Regimental Flag

April, 1862
Annie went to Soldiers' Aid Society meetings bringing Nancy's donations.

Camp Chase prisoners of war

Nancy heard from a friend who'd seen 800 Confederate prisoners at Camp Chase in Columbus in March, 1862:
"A motley set, dressed in garments of every conceivable style, material and color: yellow, red, blue, gray, butternut, etc. Around some dirty old bed quilts were thrown, pieces of carpeting, ragged blankets, etc.

See a post about the wardrobe of Confederate prisoners here: 

She and Annie missed going to the Great Western Sanitary Fair in Cincinnati in December, 1863 due to Nancy's illnesses.

"I have a great desire to [attend] but my health is hardly good enough to undergo the fatigue. Annie intended to make some fancy articles...but I was so ill she could not find the time....Cone frames...would have been very salable."

Nancy died at 65 years old five years after the war was over. Here is her grave:

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Label for Your American Stars Quilt


Print this label on pretreated cotton. It should be 7" wide
with plenty of room for your name, the date you finished
and where you live.

The last block is scheduled for the second Wednesday of December the 14th.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Georgia Adams Lane & A "No Nothings Fancy" Quilt

Applique quilt with a good deal of family information.
The pattern is distinctive, a variation of a reel or pineapple
design that is sometimes called Chestnut Burr or Tobacco Leaf...

as from the family of Betty Meek who told the Louisiana project when they brought in this version similar in pattern. The quilts share a common fabric, a red-brown solid that we've been calling Oxblood Brown over at the QuiltHistorySouth Facebook group. Good clue to after 1880, particularly when used in applique with teal blues and greens and chrome orange solid cottons.

The quilt, attributed to Georgia Ann Adams Lane, looks to be nine blocks,
 quilted in lines echoing the applique, a clue to "after 1880" but not
as strong a clue as pattern and fabrics.

However, the quilt is inscribed 1860, the year Georgia Ann Adams
married Robert Mayne Lane in Jasper County, Georgia.

Here she is in the 1860 Jasper County census a few months before the marriage
 living with her parents Edward & Julia Adams, 5 younger siblings and Robert Lane a farmer
like her father (perhaps working for her father.)

The family story accompanying the quilt tells us
Georgia dyed the fabrics herself and the family called
 the pattern "No Nothings Fancy."

Library of Congress
The Know-Nothings or American Party were a short-lived political party of
the 1850s with a paranoid platform based on anti-immigration.

The Indiana State Museum owns this quilt
with the name "Fancy Know Nothing."

Georgia's is an interesting political reference from a Southern woman. 

The Know Nothings were far more active in the north
where mobs attacked Catholic institutions and sent
Plug Uglies to beat up German and Irish immigrants.

A Plug Ugly

In the second year of the Civil War Robert M. Layne left his pregnant wife to join the local Jasper Volunteers sent north to fight in Virginia. Within weeks he was wounded and died shortly before his daughter Roberta Mayne Lane was born.

Robert is actually buried in Jackson, Georgia

The 1870 census finds Georgia and Roberta living with Georgia's parents and then she disappears from the records.

Is she the Georgia Lane that married S.A.H. Wilkes in Jasper County in 1871?

There are many mysteries about this quilt including where I found the pictures of the quilt and the typed information. (sigh!)

My guess is the quilt is now in a U.D.C. collection in Atlanta,
 based on the last paragraphs on the information sheet, 
donated by Georgia's grandson's wife, who had the wonderful maiden
 name of  Florrie Alamo Harp (1894-1987)

I have a hard time believing it was made in 1860.

A close look at the inscription reveals it is cross-stitch but not
the kind of counted cross stitch you see in the early to mid-19th century.
More a larger, looser imitation of the earlier style.

Does it commemorate Georgia's 1860 marriage, short and perhaps sweet?

QuiltHistorySouth Facebook group: Ask to join: