Saturday, March 23, 2019

Margaret Banks Eason's Civil War

Quilt dated 1844-1845, Charleston Museum
Made to celebrate the Charleston marriage between 
Margaret Thompson Banks and James Monroe Eason

This beautiful quilt, one of a group of Eason family quilts from South Carolina, has been well-documented. I became interested in it while writing about the printed panel used in some of the blocks for the blog Merikay Waldvogel and I do on chintz panels.

The red bird is cut from panel number 11. See a post here:

When I did a little looking into the quilt I found the family has recorded seven chintz quilts attributed to the Banks/Eason/Dodderer families of Charleston.

Enough to keep a quilt historian busy for a while.

But in this post I am going to focus on Margaret Thompson Banks Eason (1826-1886) who was married March 23, 1847 at the age of 19. We assume this quilt has something to do with that event as the names inked on the blocks included members of her extended family and in-laws and the bride and groom's blocks are central. 

Margaret was a member of Charleston's business/merchant class. Her father Hugh Rose Banks (1799-1878), born of a Scottish immigrant, has a block right above the bride's and groom's in the quilt. Is that a camellia, a magnolia?

Mother Caroline Thompson Mann Banks (1804-1884) has a block with a magnolia
similar to her husband's in the bottom center of the photo below. 
Her age is there too: 40 years at the time of the wedding.

The Bankses were in the dry goods business with a store at 41 Haynes Street at the time of the wedding.

The store was right around the corner from King Street,
Charleston's main shopping street.

In 1850 South Carolina had the highest per capita income of any state in the Union (we are counting free people with income here, ignoring the hundreds of thousands of slaves) and a good deal of that money was spent on King Street. The Banks were probably doing nicely.

King Street in 1870, rebuilt after the war.
F.A. Nowell, photographer

James Eason in 1859
From Find-a-Grave

Groom James Monroe Eason was Margaret's second cousin-once removed, son of the founder of the iron foundry Dotterer and Eason, which built railroad engines in the early days of railroading (the 1830s).  He and his brother Thomas Dotterer Eason inherited the firm on the Cooper River and changed the name.

The Eason foundry was the largest in the state.

The Dotterers married the Easons.
Charleston was a town of cousins.

From Find-a-Grave

Between 1848 and 1861 Margaret gave birth to at least six children.
The year the Civil War began her last child Leon Eugene died as an infant.
One more hardship in a difficult year.

Is the border a single striped print from which the sashing's been cut?

When the war began the Eason Brothers foundry turned to war manufacturing---cannons and iron-clad gunboats. Radical Confederate James was elected to the South Carolina legislature where he served throughout the war. Margaret was busy with housekeeping and those five surviving children. She left a receipt book/recipe book that was sold on eBay several years ago. Writer Deb Barshafsky bought the manuscript and has written an article about it for Atlanta magazine. See "Cannons & Confederate Cakes" at this link:

James's block is cut from the border of panel #11.

Meeting Street in the last year of the war

The Easons lived at 15 Drake Street when the war began. Charleston soon became the center of Union shelling from ships off shore with the Eason works a major target. Margaret, like many Charlestonians, evacuated to the country while Charleston underwent nearly 600 days of siege atop a disastrous fire in 1861.

J M Eason & Bro was a target because it was probably the largest,
most efficient foundry in the South, building two ironclads to defend Charleston
from the Union shelling. They succeeded in setting the buildings afire in 1863.

What looks like a dock here with a ladder on it is actually the iron-clad
CSS The Chicora, an Eason-built ship.

The second, larger Eason iron-clad finished in 1863 was named CSS Charleston. These innovative ships cost a fortune, whether ordered from Richmond, Charleston or England. 

A gunboat festival in Charleston

Women raised money to buy them with Gunboat Fairs. Bryding Adams Henley cites the Charleston as one of the boats built with the women's contributions. Among the donations she found mention of six quilts from Alabama, three (?) of which survive in Alabama museum collections.

Gunboat quilt
Collection of the Montgomery museum
The First White House of the Confederacy

The Charleston, one of the ladies's gunboats, defended the city from 1863 till the Union occupation of Charleston in February, 1865 when the Confederate navy deliberately burned and sunk her.

The Eason home
from a Guide to Charleston in 1875

The Easons remained at their Drake Street home after the war. Daughter Maggie Eason Whilden was married there in 1882, according to her obituary. Her husband Frank Fleetwood Whilden wed her sister Lily after Maggie's death in 1923.

Perhaps a photograph of the same house, long gone now.
Margaret probably died in this house in 1886.

Read Bryding Adams Henley's paper "Alabama Gunboat Quilts" in Uncoverings Volume 8, 1987 at the Quilt Index by clicking here:

And see a post on the topic from 2014 here:

I'm collecting information on quilts made by families in the dry goods business like the Banks/ Easons. See a post:

Block closeups are from a digital book by Eason descendants Virginia Eason Winn and Julie King Winn Sellers who donated the remarkable quilt, which they found in a box in a family attic, to the Charleston Museum. Click to see The Eason-Banks Family Quilt :A Long Journey Home

See Margaret's Find-a-Grave file here:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Cockscomb + Bird = Addition

Hospital Sketches Block #2
Virginia Cockscomb
Joan Smith

There's been some discussion on our Hospital Sketches FaceBook page about the missing bird in the cockscomb block. Several of the traditional quilts include a bird.

The page:

From the McMinn Valley Museum in Tennessee

From dealer Stella Rubin's inventory

From dealer Laura Fisher's inventory

The bird is much the same in all three---as is the flourish with the heart

Here it is again in a picture Bill Volckening sent

Since this applique BOM is all about addition and subtraction several readers have added a bird.

Gladii Porsche

Meliss Swanson

Lorraine Hoffman

Someone asked where to get a bird. Well, the experienced appliquers have a file of pictures I'd imagine. You could create one too. Do a web search for words like
Antique quilt bird applique ....
which is how I found this one from Julie Silber's blog
I wouldn't be doing those toes (do birds have toes?)

Feet can be a problem

Here's one Karla Menaugh did for our out-of-print book
Juniper & Mistletoe

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Low Country Chintz Found in New Hampshire

A Carolina Low Country Chintz sampler album
made by Mary Frampton Townsend Pope

This elegant South Carolina quilt was found in New Hampshire.
Sharon Pinka traced its journey in her AQSG paper in Uncoverings 2013,
"Lowcountry Chintz: The Townsend/Pope Quilt Legacy".

The quilt is now in the collection of Vermont's Shelburne Museum, purchased from an antique dealer in 1954. According to museum cataloging information the dealer bought it from a "very old lady by the name of Mrs. Fellows from Portsmouth, New Hampshire...Great-grandfather stole it from a Southern mansion...they were always a bit ashamed of the fact that the coverlet was 'loot'." The caption in the 2003 museum catalog mentions that the Fellows family thought it might have come from Virginia.

I bet that dealer was Florence Peto of New Jersey who knew a good quilt (and good story) when she saw one. She sold the Shelburne many of their best quilts.

It certainly has the look of a Carolina quilt.

Sharon Pinka and the descendants of the makers did some impressive detective work in finding out who carried the quilt from the Sea Islands in South Carolina to New Hampshire.

Sea islands along the Atlantic Coast.
The Popes and Townsends 
owned much land and many slaves on these fertile islands.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee gave up the Sea Islands as indefensible early in the war and the Union Navy soon set up a Southern base from Charleston to Savannah.

Colonel Enoch Quimby Fellows (1825-1897) of  Sandwich, New Hampshire, 
commander of the 3rd New Hampshire in 1862

The officer with arms folded is thought to be Enoch Q. Fellows in the garden of the Seabrook Plantation on Edisto Island in 1862. Owners abandoned the 24 plantations on Edisto, leaving their slaves to the Union Army. Photo by Henry P. Moore who accompanied the 3rd New Hampshire
in their occupation.

One often reads of antebellum plantation gardens but rarely sees a photo of
the pathways, gazebos and trellises.

The 3rd New Hampshire was at William Seabrook's Oak Island in March & April of 1862.

Woman, once a slave, now "contraband property,"
working for the Union Army overseeing cotton drying 
by water's edge on Seabrook's plantation, 1862. 

H.P. Moore Photograph

Coggins Point on Hilton Head Island, another Pope family plantation, was taken over by Union troops as a signal station because of the view from the roof. This house was salvaged for the lumber at the end of the 19th century.

We can thank the Fellows women, perhaps Mary E. Quinby Fellows, Enoch's first wife who cared for the quilt and did not use it. We can presume he left the quilt in New Hampshire when he temporarily went west to WaKeeney, Kansas where he seems to have done some land speculation in 1879 and 1880. 
Seabrook survived the war and was for sale last year. 

Edisto Island Basket

Inspired by the Charleston chintz quilts Sharon Pinka made a
small version for an AQSG Quilt Study a few years ago.