Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Texas Secession Quilt?

This Lone Star quilt was recently offered in an online auction, advertised as:
"Sumner County, Tennessee Civil War era quilt in the 'Lone Star' pattern, made by Mary Jane Harris Pond in 1861 to commemorate Texas joining the Confederacy."

What a great  story! But I doubt it's accuracy.

It is indeed a Lone Star quilt. I am concerned about the estimated date of 1861---and thus the link with Texas secession. The pattern, a single star of diamonds floating in a background, could certainly be that old. But the fabrics are wrong for that date.

Which gives me an opportunity to analyze my intuitive impression as to why it couldn't be that old.

It looks like it's cotton --- not very high quality cotton as we can see by the fading in the blue background.

Three things jump out at me. One is the faded blues (darker blues in the star's points are also fading.) Another is the medium-brown plain fabrics in the diamonds.The last is the use of plain cottons rather than prints.

Late 19th-century, North Carolina quilt from the Taylor Family

The plain blue in the quilt above is fading from light or perhaps bleach
Many of the quilts here are from the Quilt Index. Others from online auctions.

I've been collecting photos of post-Civil-War Southern quilts. See a post on more style characteristics here.

1) There were two basic blue dyes for cotton in 1861. Indigo and Prussian blue. Indigo, a vegetable dye, does not fade like this but Prussian blue, a mineral dye, might (Laundry alkalies were hard on Prussian blue). By 1880 there were many other blue dyes available---synthetics that were quite unreliable.  The blues often faded to shades of gray.

Tennessee quilt by Mary Clift Hall Dunning, estimated to date from the
 last quarter of the 19th century
The  grid quilting is also similar to the Lone Star quilt.

The blue in the quilt in question looks like a synthetic dye---the way the dye remains sunk in the quilting stitches and the way it's blotched. Synthetic dyes with their characteristic fading were not available until about 1880 in the U.S.

Quilt from an Arkansas family. 
Did all those white triangles used to be green?
This is an extreme example of a probable synthetic dye fading completely away.

2) The plain brown cotton is very typical of Southern quilts, such as might be made in Tennessee or North Carolina---But made after the Civil War rather than during the Civil War. The brown, which can tend towards red or green, was popular with Southern quilters decades after the Civil War.
Star block design made by Eliza Longworth, North Carolina.

My guess is that the plain brown was one of the inexpensive cottons that new Southern mills specialized in after 1870 or so. It was cheap and rather mediocre in color, fastness and weave, but Southern quilters developed a distinctive and dramatic style around plain-colored, locally manufactured cloth....

String quilt of solid browns and woven checks & stripes.
About 1910.

Center of a  Lone Star quilt dated 1879 with browns and yellow solids....

Making the best of a bad situation as far as access to quiltmaking fabrics

3) Which brings us to the last style characteristic in the Pond star quilt: All plain colors. The South did not invest in fabric manufacturing mills until after the Civil War. 

Photographer Lewis Hines documented American mills in the
early 20th century. The Inverness Mills were in Virginia.

Women working at a mill in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Hines's photos of mills North & South are in the Library of Congress.

Without skilled printers the local mills relied on dyed cottons, either plain-colored or dyed-in-the-yarn and woven into stripes and plaids. Calicoes continued to be a Northern specialty for decades.

 Smithy Pennington, North Carolina

Quilt signed and dated 1890 J.H. Latham, North Carolina

The solid red, synthetically-dyed fabric above is extremely fugitive but the chrome orange holds up well. This is one of the very few date-inscribed examples of the plain cloth, Southern-style quilt I've seen.

Detail of a Rocky Mountain or Crown of Thorns quilt from Tennessee's
Bingham family.

Throwing in a little local chrome orange was brilliant.

Very few of these vivid quilts are date-inscribed but experienced quilt historians, dealers and appraisers tend to date the style as 1875-1900.

Which is when I think Mary Jane Pond's quilt was made and probably late in the 19th century if not the early 20th.

The sale text gives us a little information about Mary Jane herself.
"Mary Jane Harris Pond, daughter of Green Berry Harris and second wife of Captain William Guthrie Pond, CSA. According to family history, Mrs. Pond made the quilt for her brother in 1861."
I tried to do  genealogical research on Mary Jane and her husband.  But those lists of names and numbers are far more complicated and not nearly as interesting as fabrics and style. I couldn't find any credible Mary Harris Pond.

So I hope you didn't bid on the Lone Star for the Civil War story. What you got was a very nice late-19th-century or early-20th-century Tennessee quilt. Just don't hang it in the sun.

I spent several hours going through the Quilt Index and the quilts recorded in Tennessee & North Carolina. There are some great ones---early and late.
Go to the search page
Scroll down to State Made and scroll to Tennessee or North Carolina.

Star quilt by Grandmother Allen, Tennessee.
Last quarter of the 19th century.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dequita's Three Finishes

Dixie Diary by Dequita Burns

Dequita's been busy. She's recently finished three sampler tops from the BOM's offered here. And each has her own personal take on a sampler. The Dixie Diary blocks with the appliqued stars become background for the more graphic setting blocks here.

Westering Women by Dequita

The landscape print

She writes on Instagram that the fabric for the alternate blocks is Pioneer Spirit by Tom Browning.

On some of the alternate blocks she's appliqued the wagon design "On the Trail," designed by Marjorie Rhine at Quilt DesignNW

On the Trail by Marjorie Rhine

Threads of Memory by Dequita

Very impressive! It's certainly fun to see what stitchers do with these patterns.

I now have all three of these sampler designs available as downloadble PDF's or paper patterns through the mail in the pattern department of my Etsy Shop.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sheriff Jones Loses a Quilt in the Kansas Troubles

A "Kansas Troubles" pattern from the 1840s or '50s.
Collection of the Helen F. Spencer Museum of Art
Could that name for this pattern be as old as the mid 1850s when
the Kansas Territory was full of troubles.

Kansas Troubles: Name from the 
Nancy Page syndicated newspaper column in the 1930s

This may be a photo of Samuel Jones (1820-1885)

Samuel Jones was the Sheriff of Douglas County, Kansas, from mid-1855 to early 1857. He's one of our hometown villains in Lawrence, a Border Ruffian who lived in Missouri but established a bogus residence in the Kansas Territory to influence the question of whether we'd become a slave state or a free state. Jones, born in Virginia, was heavily invested in the concept of a slave state.

Samuel Jones established a pig farm in Douglas County and was appointed Sheriff by the pro-slavery territorial governor. While Sheriff he helped Missourians burn several businesses in the town of Lawrence, including the newspaper.

In the fall of 1855, while he was "on military duty in Lawrence," his livestock disappeared, "stolen, lost, and wholly destroyed to him by parties to him unknown." The thieves also stripped his cabin of household goods, his sacks of beans, a coffee mill and quilt "worth $5 or $6," according to neighbor Elizabeth Parks. Also missing: "one piece calico worth $1.25."

Four years later Sam Jones petitioned the territorial government to reimburse him for claims of $179.10 for his losses during what was called the Wakarusa War. By 1859 free-state men were in the ascendancy and Jones had resigned as Sheriff and moved to New Mexico where he'd been appointed collector of customs. He and his wife lived near Mesilla where he practiced law and land speculation. 

Samuel Jones signature on the right:
A Mesilla Mining Stock Certificate.

Jones was awarded $139.15, less than he'd requested. "The proof of the existence or loss of portions of the property claimed as lost is meagre and unsatisfactory."

Soon after Fort Sumter Jones was among a group of Confederate sympathizers who established a short-lived Confederate Territory of Arizona with Mesilla as it's capital. He was Marshall of the seceding area made up of parts of the New Mexico and Arizona territories. He died sometime after the 1880 census in Mesilla, probably about 1885.

How we view the Border Ruffians in Lawrence

It's hard for a resident of Larryville to sympathize with Sam Jones over the loss of his shoats or his quilt, but I bet his wife Mary C. Jones, living in Westport, Missouri during the Kansas Troubles, was not pleased when she heard about her Virginia keepsake.

Don't even get these guys at a GAR Union reunion in Lawrence
started about Sheriff Jones.

Many tales survive of quilts stolen by raiding soldiers during the Civil War. In Kansas we think of the Wakarusa War in which Jones lost a quilt as the first battle in the Civil War. Jones's claim for reimbursement is evidence of how wide spread the quilt-napping was.

Kansas Troubles variation from about 1890

Next time you see a quilt in the pattern Kansas Troubles, remember that period of civil unrest, which was national news in the 1850s but is now forgotten by most (except for us residents of Lawrence, Kansas.)

See more about the Kansas Troubles with a pattern here:

To see more of the Spencer Museum's quilt go to this link and search for the words Kansas Troubles.

Stella Rubin has a Pennsylvania antique for sale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Finishes: Westering Women

Stitch&Knit posted a picture of her finished Westering Women quilt
(she quilted it by the block each month)

She used many fabrics from a repro line Terry Thompson and I did years
ago called Lewis & Clark. Perfect for a Western trek.
(The color is better in the top picture.)

I've been lurking, copying photos of finished Westering Women tops.
I've done a litle Photoshopping, squaring things up, brightening, etc.

Big Lake Quilter

 They look great.


Rebecca at Quilting Everyday

Joanne at Thread Head

What a variety.

Terry framed each block, which is a good way
to wrestle sampler blocks into a uniform size. Make some frames wider than others.
The blocks with their frames all finish to the same size.

Sandra at Patchwork Daydreams

Congratulations to the Finishers!

More finishes here:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pocahontas Virginia Gay's Confederate Memorial Quilt

Embroidered wool quilt by Pocahontas Virginia Gay, 
(1831-1922) Virginia. 
Estimated date after 1901-before 1922
Collection of the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian

Last week I showed a Union Crazy Quilt. This week one with Southern sympathies. It's a little bit crazy but probably could better be defined as an embroidered and appliqued quilt.

Ms. Gay was descended from Pocahontas of Virginia's Powhattan tribe (1595?-1616) who famously married English colonist John Rolfe. "Aunt Poco" and her parents must have been proud of that Virginia heritage. She also left no doubt of her loyalty to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy with her portrait of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in her early-20th-century quilt..

At top left: PV Gay's signature, 
American Presidents Andrew Jackson
& George Washington plus Jefferson Davis.
Last week's Union crazy quilt also had a portrait of Washington.

From the Smithsonian's website:
"Pocahontas based her motifs on popular illustrations of sentimental vignettes and Southern heroes, as well as the Victor dog trademark adopted in 1901 by the Victor Talking Machine Company. Proud to be a seventh-generation descendant of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, she included a likeness of the Indian princess as she appears in a 17th-century engraving frequently reproduced in genealogies.Pocahontas Gay, or “Aunt Poca” as she was known to family, was born in Virginia on September 5, 1831. She was the daughter of Neil Buchanan Gay and his wife Martha Talley. She never married and lived at Mill Farm in Fluvanna County, Va. She died on October 14,1922."

A farm in Fluvanna County.

Pocahontas Gay left a little bit of a paper trail, indicating she did not spend all her life at the family farm. In 1897 a Richmond newspaper printed an article about a board meeting of the Virginia State Hospital for the Deaf and Blind at Staunton.

"Miss Pocahontas Gay, of Basic City, was made seamstress and monitor over the deaf girls."

 We can assume she was living in the Staunton area while she taught sewing at the school. She would have been in her late sixties then. The story indicates she resided in Basic City, part of Waynesboro/Staunton.

When she died in 1922 at the age of 92 her obituary said she'd been living in Richmond and was buried at the Gay Cemetery on the family's Mill Farm near Fork Union.

The Fork Union Bank in the early 20th century.

Another detail of the quilt shows a dog treeing a raccoon.
Political imagery or just local sport?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Westering Women: Links to BOM Quilt Patterns

Block 1 Independence Square


Here are links to all 12 Westering Women blocks from last year.
All the blocks are from reader Star2Tia. A nice bunch of blocks, don't you think!

Block 2 Indiana Territory

She used a good deal of my reproduction fabric, mostly from the Old Cambridge Pike line.

Block 3 Sweet Gum Leaf
Block 4 Lone Elm

Block 5 Platte River

Block 6 Hill and Hollow

Block 7 Courthouse Rock

Block 8 Chimney Rock
Block 9 Sage Bud
Block 10 Rocky Mountain Chain
Block 11 Bear's Paw

Block 12 Road to California

I will leave those links with free patterns for 2017 but you may prefer to buy them in another format. If you would like to have the patterns as PDF's you can download and print the set of 12 blocks. I also can mail paper patterns to you (U.S. Postage included). Here are links to patterns in my Etsy Shop:

Instant Download PDF $15

Paper Patterns Through the Mail $22.50.

Below are posts for the introduction, fabric requirements and sets.

And a link to Star2Tia's Flickr posts