Saturday, January 25, 2020

Baltimore Maryland's Sanitary Fair: Union Women Behind the Fair

Quilt dated 1853 Severn District, Maryland
The motto: E Pluribus Unum  (One from Many)

Since I couldn't find any quilts from this fair I thought I'd throw
in some union images from Baltimore quilts of the 1850s.

Baltimore, 1864

Seated women in the center appear to be demonstrating the art of quilting in 1864 at the Baltimore Sanitary Fair. They are perhaps part of the "New England Kitchen," the scene of "old-fashioned quilting parties," according to Gloria Seaman Allen's essay "Maryland Women and the Civil War," in the book A Maryland Album.

Baltimore Sanitary Fair at the Maryland Institute 
Frank Leslies's Illustrated Newspaper, May 14, 1864

Frank Leslie's illustration gives us a pretty view of the Union fundraising fair held for weeks in April and May, 1864.

The Maryland Institute was on the second floor (a two-story hall) above the 
Centre Market on Market Street. The building
was razed in 1904

Side View

Shown on the Antiques Road Show

Items for sale are hung on the wall.
Those under Allegany County's misspelled sign appear to be clothing.

Allen: "Different counties sponsored fancy tables and raffled and sold blankets, quilts, and other household articles."

Ann Arundel County Booth & the Post Office
The Post Office was a standard fair feature where pretty women
sold clever letters.

From an Alex Cooper auction

Robert W. Schoeberlein, Baltimore City Archivist, has written about the fair. Organizers asked that women donate fancy items over the winter, but "even an ironing-holder, quilted of old calico will be acceptable." (A laundry bag cut from an old quilt?)
"Despite the apparent solidarity of the state’s loyal population, the Maryland Fair could only be termed a modest financial success when compared with similar 1864 events. The final tally exceeded just over $83,000. In contrast, both the New York and Philadelphia fairs each cleared over $1,000,000.....While competition for donations from other cities most likely affected Maryland’s net amount, both economic realities and the state’s political division did factor largely."

Souvenir CDV of the children's department, 
but what's in that stack?

The state and the city were certainly divided politically. Maryland was a border state less than fifty miles south of the Mason-Dixon line. Aligned with Northern culture and the Northern economy Maryland remained a Union state despite strong Confederate feeling from a minority. 

The Fair's organizers were prominent women Fanny Turnbull, Harriet King Hyatt, Elizabeth Kell Bradford and Annie M. Gilman Bowen. President Lincoln came to give a speech at the Fair and Mary Todd Lincoln spent a day, escorted by fair organizers Elizabeth Bradford and Fanny Owings Nisbet Turnbull (1818-1881). Turnbull descendants have treasured the thank-you letter Lincoln sent. Her nephew Samuel Graeme Turnbull was a Confederate soldier who died of diptheria in 1862, only one instance of divided loyalties in the city.

Maryland Institute Building about 1870 on Baltimore Street looking west
Photographers: Joshua W. Moulton & John S. Moulton

The Hyatt's home in 1911
when it was an orphan's asylum

Harriet Randolph King Hyatt (1814-1901) was wife of Baltimore merchant Alpheus Hyatt and lived in a mansion called Wansbeck at the corner of Franklin and Schroeder Streets. Her son Alpheus II joined the Union Army but his biography notes he and his Union-sympathizing mother were not in accordance with the rest of the family.

The younger Alpheus Hyatt survived the war
to become a respected biologist.


Co-chair Elizabeth Kell Bradford (1818-1894) was Governor Augustus Bradford's wife. The family was enough of a Union symbol that Confederate troops burned their house a month or two after the fair in the closest raid the South made to Baltimore




Annie Gilman Bowen (1829-1903) may have been the fair organizer with the greatest family conflict. She was born in Charleston, South Carolina to Caroline Howard and Samuel Somes Gilman. Annie's parents had moved there from Massachusetts so Samuel could serve a Unitarian church.

Caroline Howard Gilman (1794-1888)

by John Wesley Jarvis

Harvard Art Museums

Annie's mother Caroline Gilman became a female voice of the South editing a periodical The Southern Rose when Annie was a child. Her Recollections of a Southern Matron was a popular novel revealing her impressions of her new home. Annie's mother became a committed Southerner, supporting the cause throughout the war and after, writing that slavery was "the strength and almost the very life-blood of this Southern Region." 


Some of my BAQ detail shots are pretty small but you get the idea


Annie in turn moved to Baltimore when her husband took a post at a Unitarian Church there, but he was a Bostonian and so was she at heart. We don't know what Caroline thought of her daughter's public role in supporting the Union at the Sanitary Fair.

 Classic BAQ eagle from a quilt sold at a Hap Moore auction

Schoeberlein, Robert W. "A Fair to Remember: Maryland Women in Aid of the Union. Maryland Historical Magazine 1995.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

New Books on Old Quilts



It's always a pleasure to find new books on old quilts. Four books published in the last year on traditional style updated for today's repro fabrics.

A Country's Call: Civil War Quilts and Stories of Unsung Heroines by Mary Etherington & Connie Tesene



Hearth & Home by Jo Morton
Brown Bayou 


Patches of Stars: 17 Quilt Patterns and a Gallery of Inspiring Antique Quilts by Edyta Sitar





Treasure Hunt: 13 Quilts Inspired by Antique Finds by Linda Collins & Leah Zieber



Saturday, January 18, 2020

GAR Encampment Quilts

Collection of Historic Huntington

Tent camping at a 1900 Huntington Beach veteran's reunion in California

with a quilt on the bed. Is the girl holding a kitten?

Union Civil War veterans and their families attended reunions called Encampments from 1866 to 1949.  The encampments might be local or the annual national reunion in the fall. Veterans loved to remember tent camping days during the war with rustic yet much more civilized accommodations.

Embroidered, tied bedcover offered at Cowan's Auctions, embroidered with names organized by Tents. Each triangle may literally represent a tent.



The quilt came with a souvenir booklet

Names embroidered are women's names and various locations from Poughkeepsie to Florida, so the assumption is that it was record of a W.R.C. or other women's auxiliary group at the veteran's reunion in Des Moines in 1926.


Silk flag souvenir of a Chicago reunion in 1900

From The 100 Years Ago today column in our local newspaper 
September 6, 1919
"What is expected to be the last great national encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic will open [in Columbus, Ohio] tomorrow and continue during the week. The fact that the ranks of the old veterans have dwindled to approximately 135,000 and that the American Legion, veterans of the European war, stands ready to take up the work which the G.A.R. has been doing for the last 53 years, leads members to predict that within a few years, the organization of Civil War veterans will be superseded by an organization of their sons and grand-sons."
Attendees in Columbus in 1919

1919 badge

Despite the reporter's pessimism the 1919 reunion was not the last. Veterans met until 1949. The last GAR member died in 1956.

Parading under an arch in Buffalo, 1897

One can certainly track declining numbers. Thirty years after the war in 1895 Louisville hosted 357,639. Thirty years later in 1925 Grand Rapids saw only 55,817 veterans (Do these numbers reflect the families and the women's groups or just the soldiers?)

The parades, the campground, the liquor sold....
Some of these were elaborate events.
One can imagine how they boosted the local economy.

Baxter Springs, Missouri

One of the last, again in Columbus, had only 163 attendees in 1945.

1939 Encampment, Pittsburgh
He'd been to a few.

Western Illinois Museum collection

This silk contained crazy quilt is from the Peck Family of Illinois
with ribbons from at least two reunions.

1892 reunion in Maccomb, Illinois

1889, Quincy

Quilts were important in the veterans' organizations as fundraisers, social links and gifts. A list of encampments and locations from the Library of Congress may be useful in identifying a few:


And see more about the last of the veterans:




More on GAR quilts here:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Susie King Taylor & her GAR Quilt

Susie Baker King Taylor (1848-1912)
Photo from her autobiography
Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd US Colored Troops.

In 1898 Susie Taylor, who had been a slave in Georgia and as a free teenager a laundress and teacher  during the Civil War, made a "large quilt of red, white, and blue ribbon" for the second annual fair to benefit the Massachusetts Woman's Relief Corps at Christmas time in Boston. She was an active member of the Robert A. Bell Corps (Post #67), vice-president that year of the women's auxiliary to the African-American G.A.R. veteran's group. She and her fellow volunteers ran a table, the traditional women's fair booth. Theirs sold miscellaneous items and her quilt was probably offered at the table.


The quilt did not sell but on December 18, 1897, the fair's last evening, prizes were awarded and Taylor's "Old Glory" quilt was chosen to be given to the Fair's President Emilie Jewett Waterman. Taylor wrote in her autobiography a few years later that the quilt "made quite a sensation."  She must have been pleased with it and we'd love to see what her Old Glory Quilt looked like, but no traces are found beyond the last night of the fair.

(1846-1933)
Emilie L. W. Waterman's photo from the account of the 1898 Fair.
 Her full name: Emilie Louisa Wild Jewett Waterman

Taylor had moved from Savannah to Boston in the 1870s. She was widowed, raising her only child,  a son, as a domestic worker. In her memoir she recalls working for relatives of Boston mayor Harrison Gray Otis.


In the 1880 census she is recorded as living with Harriet Webb Gray and Gorham Gray on Beacon Street, perhaps in this house at 433 Beacon Street.  She married her second husband Russell L. Taylor in 1879 at the Midway Church in Liberty County, Georgia. 

The Taylors may have been married here.

Perhaps Russell belonged to the Robert A. Bell Corps of the G.A.R., a segregated Union veterans' group. A history of the corps:
"Several ladies interested in Robert A. Bell Post united in forming a Relief Corps which was instituted Feb. 25, 1886, with sixteen charter members.... Membership, fifty-two. PRESIDENTS. Mary L. Hammond, Sarah E. Johnson, Mary L. Hammond, Addie H. Jewell,. Susie A. Taylor."
In her memoir Taylor recalled some of the work:
"In 1886 I helped to organize Corps 67, Women's Relief Corps, auxiliary to the G. A. R., and it is a very flourishing corps to-day. I have been Guard, Secretary, Treasurer for three years, and in 1893 I was made President of this corps." 
The  W.R.C. groups purchased furnishings for G.A.R. meeting rooms, provided charity for veterans and their families and supported veterans' homes and memorial day ceremonies. They raised money through fairs, theatricals and musical events.

By the time Susie Taylor King died in 1912 African-American 
women had many clubs and organizations competing for
membership. The GAR and its women's auxiliary disappeared in the 1950s.


Two years before her death Susan A.K. Taylor was President of Post 67,
The address: 21 Holyoke in Boston. WRC meetings were every other Wednesday evening.

21 Holyoke today

Was this Taylor's home or just the group's meeting place?

GAR posts were generally named after soldiers who'd died in the Civil War. Robert A. Bell had been a sailor killed at the Battle of Fort Fisher in North Carolina. His mother was said to be a member of Taylor's group.

The 1900 census found Susie A  and Russell Taylor running a boarding house with 10 lodgers and a 19-year-old niece living with them, possibly at 34 Buckingham Street, where Russell died the following year.

Russell Taylor's death certificate, October, 1901

Vincent Memorial Hospital about 1900

The 1910 census listed Taylor as a resident employee of the Vincent Memorial Hospital on Cunningham Avenue. Vincent Memorial was a woman's hospital created for working women with and obstetrics department that became part of Massachusetts General Hospital. As the oldest woman living there she was described as a servant rather than a nurse. The nurses were unmarried white women, generally in their 30s.


Susie Taylor's quilt hasn't been heard of since she wrote her book.
We'd love to see what it looked like.