Saturday, January 13, 2018

Lucretia Mott's Quilt in Nantucket

Medallion quilt dated 1833 by antislavery activist 
Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880)
Collection of the Nantucket Historical Association

Wendy Coffin sent me a link to this great photo of a quilt by one of her relatives.
" 'Sep. 11 1833' is embroidered in blue thread at the top of the quilt, and next to it is a sewn-on cotton twill tape label from a later date on which is written 'Made by Lucretia Mott' in red ink."
The Nantucket Historical Association has recently conducted a cataloging project for their quilt and coverlet collection.  Project specialist Jennifer Nieling examined about 75 pieces and their website now has photos and information about them.

"Quilt is made of various multicolored silks including plain, satin, and twill weaves, crepes, solids, brocades, woven checks and stripes, and ikat (warp printed) patterns.  The quilt was likely made from scraps of old garments, and many of the silks are modest silks and drab colors that were frequently used in Quaker dress."
I wrote a post in 2016 about this quilt with only this photo to go on. It's wonderful to see how complex the design is.

This sunflower hung over the bottom edge of the bed.
Lucretia was up on the latest quilt fashions in 1833. Check out
my Pinterest pages on quilts dated in the 1830s and note 
how popularity of these circular pieced designs.

See the record at the Nantucket Historical Association here:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yankee Diary Border & an Epilogue

Yankee Diary with a 6" finished 
Checkerboard Border
54" x 66"

My digital sketch that isn’t totally to scale but you get the idea.
This border uses the pattern from Month 8: Squares cut 3-1/2", finishing to 3".
The measurements in the quilt top are divisible by 3 so the checkerboard seams will line up with block seams. 
Cut squares 3-1/2”. Cut 136 squares in all. (68 light/68 dark)
For the side borders: Make strips 2 squares wide by 18 squares long (finishing to 6” x 54”).
For the top and bottom borders: Make strips 2 squares wide by 16 squares long (finishing to 6” x 54”)

I'll show you Dennielle's border next Wednesday.

Mr. & Mrs. E.C. Clarke

While the Civil War was ending Carrie's sweetheart Edmund Clarke was recovering from his wounds. According to his obituary:
"He was disabled for manual labor for several years. Having partially recovered his health, he again began teaching, but this lasted only a few months."
He and Carrie married in September, 1866 and they moved to his home town of Naples, New York in 1867.

Carrie's new home was south of
Canandaigua Lake. Naples was a village; 
Canandaigua on the lake's northern edge was a city.

Naples's agricultural specialty is grapes. According to Nancy T. Hayden in her Guide to Village Life in America,  Carrie and Edmund became grape growers.

Edmund also spent the decade after the war at various jobs, taking the census, clerking for the State Assembly in Albany, acting as a notary public and writing for local newspapers. In 1875 he opened an insurance office and later "took up a pension business [securing] nearly a thousand pensions for those who were legally entitled to receive them."

Naples in 1909

Carrie gave birth to four children between 1858 and 1878. All outlived her. Her obituary indicates that good-hearted Grandmother Beals had quite an influence on her: 
"When Mrs. Clarke came to Naples as a bride, she at once became identified with church work....  Her charming personality, unfailing tact and loving kindness won for her the devotion of her family and a host of loyal friends."

Carrie and her eldest Abigail about 1869

Carrie's brother John Morgan Richards, raised by their father, became a wealthy man. Soon after the Civil War he and his young family moved to England where he pioneered the art of display advertising in newspapers, promoting patent medicines like Carter's Little Liver Pills and American cigarettes. In 1872 Carrie, her Aunt Ann and brother James visited John in England. While they there abroad Carrie's grandmother Abigail Field Beals died at home at 98.

John Morgan Richards, seated, with
daughter Pearl Richards Craigie at top left.

Many family members were published authors. John's daughter Pearl was once the best known literary Richards/Clarke. She wrote successful Bohemian novels under the name John Oliver Hobbes between 1891 and her death in 1906.  

It may have been brother John who encouraged Carrie to self-publish her Civil War diary in 1908. Her book was re-published in 1912 as Village Life in America by a London publisher and then in the United States by H. Holt & Company in 1913. The 1913 publication tells us that Carrie died while the U.S. copy was being typeset.

She and Edmund had moved to Binghamton, New York in 1912 to live near daughter Abigail Clarke Mosher due to Carrie's failing health. She died at 70 at their Naples home on Monier Street.

Edmund wearing a Union Veteran badge,
probably about the time he was
Commander of the local G.A.R. post, 1904 to 1909

E.C. Clarke lived until 1920. From his obituary:
"For one who was not over strong, Mr. Clarke led a very active life, and was always interested in the welfare of the community."
It's always interesting to decode the euphemisms in newspapers in more polite times. Edmund "not over strong" seems to have been somewhat of an invalid, his health---physical or mental or both--- ruined by the war. 

Edmund, Carrie & Anna are buried in Rose Ridge Cemetery in Naples

Son Edward became a teacher like his father. Daughter Anna did not marry and lived with Carrie and Edmund. She died soon after her mother at the age of 42. Again the code indicates something deeper than is said. From Anna's obituary:
"She was a kind loving daughter and her devotion to the family circle had no limit. It is sad indeed to see one so well equipped for life taken from us. Her illness was of six week's duration, grieving deeply over the death of her mother."
Did Anna's grief lead her to take her own life?

The Fields/Beals/Richards/Clarkes were a complex family although Village Life in America presents them in simple fashion. The book talks of piety, patriotism, prosperity and talent but they dealt with harsher facts ranging from Carrie's father's alcoholism, her daughter's depression, the heritage of slavery and her husband's war-related disabilities. Village life had many layers.

From an obituary: "She will be mourned by many who never met her and yet feel that they know her, having read with delight her 'Diary.' "

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Confederate Sewing Kit

The first Confederate flag indicates this small sewing kit
or "housewife" was stitched early in the Civil War.

The roll-up is in the collection of the Fort Morgan Historical Site
at the mouth of Mobile Bay in Alabama. It was made 
for Lieutenant Colonel James T. Gee, of Selma, Alabama.

At the top Dr. Gee's initials.

"Pro aris et focis" embroidered below is Latin: "For altars and hearths"

Gee was distantly related to the Gee family for whom Gee's Bend, Alabama was named. He and his mother Susan Binford Gee ran the St. James Hotel in Selma before the war. I couldn't find any mention of wife or children so Susan B. Gee may have made the gift.

UPDATE: Suzanne found out more about James Gee:

"James T Gee of Selma Alabama married Mary Lacy on 27 Oct 1863, during the War obviously. They had a number of children and he died in 1891 at about age 70. So wife, and before October 27, 1863, probably girlfriend Mary Lacy could have made the housewife, just as likely as James Gee's mother."
It seems to have pockets for thread and some of the sections may have been pincushions or needlecases.

The white silk foundation, quilted in diagonals by machine may have been a coat lining re-purposed as a sewing kit. We couldn't see the other side in the display case. With this patriotic roll-up Gee would be able to patch any holes and replace lost buttons---very small problems in a very big war.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Antebellum Album for 2018: Fabric & Set

It's 2018 and I haven't told you enough about the new free Block of the Month here at Civil War Quilts. The twelve sampler blocks will all be pieced, drawn from designs popular for Antebellum Album quilts.

Most of the samplers I've looked at mixed applique and pieced
blocks, but we're focusing on piecing in 2018.

I've selected 12 of the popular pieced designs seen in samplers and signature
quilts from the 1840s & '50s. Some of the patterns I chose are in this album quilt from the Massachusetts project & the Quilt Index.

(No Sunflowers! No applique!)

The blocks will be easy to moderately difficult what with a few curved & Y seams.

I'll post patterns on the last Wednesday of each month in 2018. You don't have to sign up, the patterns are free here. If you prefer you can buy a PDF download of four patterns three times during 2018 from my Etsy store. I'll mail you the paper patterns or you can print them yourself. I'll post the first set on Etsy on the last of this month.

Readers are clamoring for fabric information. (Well, one of you.)

Becky Brown's stack.

See what the model makers have chosen at this post:

Yardage for the 12" Finished Sampler Blocks

If you're planning to use scraps for your 12 sampler blocks I'd pick a color palette and maybe buy a yard of background or a theme fabric (perhaps adding that yard to one of the setting block fabrics below).

Or just buy a bunch of repro prints. Here's a cornucopia of  gorgeous Jo Morton prints
I saw for sale the other day. 

If you want to use the same fabrics throughout the 12 sampler blocks: 

I'd pick 5--- Light, Light medium, Medium, Medium dark and Dark. 
Sort of shaded like the above. Really dark, really light and then three in between.

Choose a background too and buy a yard of that, and then half yards of the 5 others.
That gives you 3-1/2 yards for the sampler blocks. Should be plenty.
You'll also need a half yard for binding the 60" quilt.

The Official Set

Turkey red and overdyed green 1840-1880.

We have to have an official set that all the model makers can ignore. (They follow their own muses, which is fine with me.) I've chosen a double nine patch, a classic old American pattern. There will probably be more set suggestions throughout the year too so you might want to wait to decide on how to set the blocks. You can always refer to this page. I'll post a link in the left hand column during the year.

& Cutting for the Alternate Block Setting

For the squares A & B (light pink) 1 yard
For the rectangles C & D (dark pink) 1-3/4 yards

Alternate Nine-Patch Set
60" x 60
13 Alternate Blocks
12 Sampler Blocks

I used EQ7 to figure out the yardage (EQ8 wasn't available yet)
I imagine it works in similar fashion in either program.

First I colored the blocks in distinctive fashion so I could read the key.

Then I went to Print > Print Fabric Yardage

I used the default settings

And here's what it said:

For the squares A & B (light pink) 7/8 yard
For the rectangles C & D (dark pink) 1-1/2 yards
I'd add a little more if you want to have some for the sampler blocks too = 1 yard and 1-3/4 yards.

Cutting the Alternate Block
A—Cut 8 squares 2-1/2” (104 in all for 13 blocks)
B—Cut 1 square 4-1/2” (13 in all)
C—Cut 4 rectangles 8-1/2” x 2-1/2” (52 in all)
D—Cut 4 rectangles 4-1/2” x 2-1/2” (52 in all)

The first pattern is set for Wednesday January 31, 2018
Read more about the theme here:

Class of 1855, teachers in bonnets and students in lace collars.
Oberlin College, Ohio

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Silk Quilt for President Lincoln

New England Kitchen at the Brooklyn Sanitary Fair in 1864

Right before the last Christmas of the Civil War the women of Chicago put on a fundraising fair for the Union cause. "The New England Farm House Festival" was a three-day event with an old-fashioned theme. Nostalgia for Colonial days was a feature of several fairs that raised money for the Sanitary Commission.

Women dressed for the Knickerbocker Kitchen at the 
New York City Fair

The Chicago Tribune gave the fair much attention:
"One would hardly have supposed that such a variety of  'ye ancient household goods' which graced the persons, the parlors and kitchens of the generations which have gone before, could have been found in this far of Western city." (or whatever it was they were trying to say.)

The Fair was held in Bryan Hall on Clark between 
Randolph & Washington, destroyed in the fire of 1871.

The Tribune mentioned a "silk quilt presented to President Lincoln"

"The New England Farm House Festival---This entertainment...has proved a brilliant success...The ladies gratefully acknowledge the assistance they have received... especially...of George R. Chittenden, Esq., who ordered the quilting of the silk quilt presented to President Lincoln, to be executed upon one of Wheeler & Wilson's sewing machines, and also presented the silk used in making it.
December 18, 1864.

George Redfield Chittenden (1833-1881) was Chicago's dealer in Wheeler & Wilson sewing machines. We can imagine that the gift for the President was a good marketing tool.

Fairs of all kinds had operators demonstrating
 modern technology.

On the back wall under the eagle: a Wheeler & Wilson fair booth 

One more Lincoln quilt to find.

Where to begin? Perhaps a presentation ceremony would describe it. But Lincoln did not actually visit the fair. He spent December in Washington so if the silk quilt ever reached him (he was shot 5 months later) it would have been delivered to the White House without much fanfare or newspaper coverage.

Poking around the web looking for "Lincoln silk quilt" made me re-think my idea of what I was looking for. The newspaper called it a silk quilt, not a silk bedquilt.

What if they were talking about a quilted garment?

The Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is a National Park Service museum in the building where Lincoln was shot. In the collection is a coat, which tradition says Lincoln wore on the fateful night. A caption for the photo:

"The hand-embroidered lapel featured an eagle carrying a banner reading 'One Country, One Destiny.' The phrase comes from an 1837 speech given by one of Lincoln’s role models, Senator Daniel Webster."
It is immediately obvious that the caption is wrong. We are looking not at the coat's lapel but at its lining. The silk is not embroidered it's quilted. And it looks to be machine quilted on a chain stitch machine. 

So easy, a child can sew on a Wheeler & Wilson

Lock-stitch machines competed with chain-stitch machines, which had no bobbin. Lock-stitch machines eventually won out because the chain stitch raveled so easily. Machine manufacturers like Wolcott & Gibbs dueled in their advertising with lock-stitch companies like Wheeler & Wilson. 

Denise Winter's web page has a better description, photos and history of the coat at Ford's Theatre. The coat and silk lining are black. The coat was a gift [or purchased] for Lincoln's second inauguration in March, 1865 from Brooks Brothers, the men's clothing manufacturer in New York City.
"The original overcoat is a double-breasted coat made of the fine wool with silk edging around the outside of the collar, cuffs and pockets. Almost the entire inside of the coat is hand-quilted. The right and left interior front panels feature the design of an eagle symbol holding two streamers with the words 'One Country, One Destiny'. This amazingly detailed coat also resides at the Ford Theatre Museum but is in poor condition having been ravaged over the years by souvenir collectors who have removed a section of the upper shoulder area bit by bit."

The original on display. The museum now displays a

Although all the captions indicate the quilting was done by hand I am guessing they are wrong. 
I found several secondary references to the quilter who did the work for Brooks Brothers. Her name was Agnes Breckenridge and supposedly a story appeared in the New York Times, in which she said  the quilting took her 2 days (10 hours of work). That time frame is suspect--- That much quilting in ten hours? Even on a machine. Certainly not by hand. [I couldn't find the reference to Agnes in the Times archives.]

So I am wondering if George Chittenden made a similar garment to display at the New England Farm House Festival? There's one less bedquilt to track.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Setting the Yankee Diary Quilt

Yankee Diary by Barbara Brackman
42" x 54"
Quilted by Lori Kukuk

Yankee Diary by Denniele Bohannon

Here are the setting instructions for the Yankee Diary quilt. As we've sewn along you've received setting instructions for the blocks but here's a summary. Do refer back to each block pattern for more information.

The basic set is two sections, top and bottom.

The top section is made of of 3 strips.

Top left

Top Center

Top Right

The bottom section is two rectangles

Refer to Block 11 for instructions for placing the flag in the dog's mouth.

Bottom left

Bottom Right

The only extra piece you need for my set is
a strip cut 12=1/2" x 3-1/2" that goes below the flag

Becky Brown's set is a little bit different using all the parts.

Next Wednesday: Borders.  Nope. Next Wednesday fabric requirements and setting for next year's
Antebellum Album Block of the Month.

Borders for this one and the rest of Carrie's story on January 10.