Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Small Civil War Battle in Winchester

This week's post concerns a smaller battle than the other three for which
Winchester, Virginia is known.

Abby Gibbons

Sarah Gibbons Emerson recorded this story about a problem with local Secessionists during the Union Occupation of 1864 in her book about her mother Abby Gibbons. Abby worked with the Sanitary Commission bringing relief supplies to Union troops in Virginia, Winchester residents had stolen some of their supplies.

Market Street in 1861 with Confederate Soldiers marching.
The town was occupied and  re-occupied.
"A friend called to say that stores deposited by me at the Relief Rooms in Market Street, had been taken by one Atwell Schell, a member of the church and greatly respected by the Secessionists of the town. We called on the Provost Marshal and stated the facts. He was prompt in giving assistance and allowed us two of his guard, bidding us to use them as we thought best. It was his first day of command."

Abby and her daughter are the seated women here at Fredericksburg

It was not Abby Gibbons's first day of command.
"Accordingly, upon reaching the house of Atwell Schell, and, after being denied a quiet surrender of the stores, I took command and directed one of the guard to remain with my companions below, while I accompanied the other upstairs; the lady of the house being of the party by invitation, to see that we  took our own property only. 
"While I turned out chests and trunks, and dragged out large bags from under beds and lounges, Atwell Schell put in an appearance, stationed himself against a panel of a door, but not a word did he say. Our goods had been packed with much neatness and care, and covered with their own quilts. Everything was turned out, and package upon package rolled down stairs, until a high stack was formed in the centre of the parlor. There was every variety of garment, bedclothes, delicacies for the sick — such as sugar, tea, chocolate, farina, arrowroot, gelatine, and corn-flour and barley in large packages.  
"We found many of our [liquor] bottles (empty, of course, but such as were not to be found in all Winchester). They had been filled with the best stimulants for the sick, but not any of it had been so appropriated — not even to their own Rebel men. No. The citizens of Winchester had stolen it ;  
"As I drew out the many heavy packages, the female present — who was either daughter or daughter-in-law of the said Atwell, and, as I afterwards learned, an accomplice in the theft — exclaimed with great vehemence,  'Did you ever hear of such an impudent woman?' 
Abby replied:
'And what do you have to say of the woman who took these goods and appropriated them to her own purposes? In New York, we should pronounce it theft and punish the transgressor!' 
 "Enough, perhaps, that we once more possessed our goods. We were not long in making them over to the 32nd Ohio Regiment, whose guard came to the rescue, and whose sick so much needed them.... Prudence admonished us to retreat the next day."
I couldn't find an Atwell Schell but perhaps the battle was with the Shell or Shull Family of Winchester.
UPDATE: Suzanne did a little genealogical work and found:
"Atwell Shell appears in the 1860 federal census in Winchester VA born in 1819 in VA, a day laborer by occupation owning real estate valued at $2600 and personal property valued a $300. He is not a man of wealth. He lives with wife Louisa b. 1817, son William H b. 1841 (the perfect age for the Civil War draft), daughter Mary born 1844, son Atwell V born 1849 and son Strawther b. 1856. He does not appear as a slave owner in the slave schedules."

Drawing of Winchester by James E. Taylor
Collection: Western Reserve Historical Society

See more about Abby Gibbons at this post from the past year:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Westering Women 12: Road to California

Westering Women Block 12:
 Rocky Road to California by Denniele Bohannon

Mountains in the far western United States create a large desert region by blocking clouds and moisture from falling on the eastern slopes. This rain shadow formed a formidable landscape that had to be crossed before settlers found homes along the Pacific coast with more rain and cooler temperatures.

Trails forked near Fort Hall about 1300 miles from Independence, Missouri. The yellow cutoff road goes south to Sacramento, California. The main orange trail continues north along the Columbia River to the Oregon Territory.

In 1854 Sarah Sutton found the Oregon branch of the trail less crowded than the cutoff.
"Here we had to part with two good hands, that started for Calefornia. We were all loth to part with each other but the best of friends must part, such is life. What a great change in roads. Now the gras is near two feet high on each side of the road and not trampt down with stock. There is but few going to Oregon."
The California bound followed the Humboldt River through the desert over the California mountains to Sacramento. From Independence to Sacramento was about 2000 miles.

Daniel Jenks recorded the journey in his 1859 sketches, which can be viewed at the Library of Congress.

Along the Humboldt
A few details show clothing styles and romance.

In memories of her 1847 trip Emma Ruth Ross Slavin told her family of romance and a honeymoon:
 "There was one marriage in our Co. After bride and groom retired to their wagon a party of men and boys hauled the wagon 1/2 mile from camp and left it there."
The Humboldt River soon disappeared into the Humboldt Sink and travelers faced a stark obstacle, the 40 Mile Desert. On the other side: The legendary Pacific Coast.

Currier & Ives print of California's coast.

Women on their way to the California gold fields.

By the time the immigrants arrived in their new homes they were worn out, malnourished, sunburnt and dressed in rags. During the first decades of the trail clothing was a valuable trade item. Coastal tribes were glad to trade salmon to hungry travelers for garments and blankets.

In 1853 Mary Woodland in Oregon wrote her mother about her wardrobe:
"Had it not been for trading our clothes with [Indians] we should have been hungry many a time. I parted with a good many of mine and threw the rest way so...I had no clothes at all when I got into Oregon...."
 Rocky Road to California by Becky Brown

We recall the last grueling weeks of the trail with Rocky Road to California, a popular late-19th-century block.

BlockBase #1693a with that name was published by the Ladies Art Company about 1890. I also once saw a sampler quilt with names stitched to each block. This one was called Home Queen. Different shadings have been published with different names, several having to do with travel.

 Cutting a 12" Block

A - Cut 2 squares 4-1/2".

B - Cut 4 squares 4-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with a diagonal cut.
You need 8 triangles.

C - Cut 12 squares 2-1/2".
Sewing the Block

Ragged and worn you may be but congratulations on arriving at the end of your journey.

Read Mary Woodland's letters online here:

And Emma Ruth Ross Slavin's memoir; Pioneer of 1847

Daniel Jenks's drawings at the Library of Congress:

This is the last of the free patterns for Westering Women. I'll leave them up here on the CivilWarQuilts blog for the next six months or so. I'm going to turn them into downloadable PDF's and paper patterns that you can order from my Etsy Shop. I'll let you know when they are ready for purchase.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Stitching Soldiers' Quilts at the Cooper Institute

Gulielma Field taught art at the New York School of Design for Women during the Civil War. The curriculum was designed to teach women skills in drawing and engraving for employment by publishers, printers, manufacturers. The school was housed in the new Cooper Institute building, still standing at 7th Avenue and 3rd.  Suzanne says I have it wrong:
 Cooper Union foundation building is at 7 East 7th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues -- on the East side not the West side. Otherwise known as Cooper Square

Gulielma (it's a Quaker name---Mrs. William Penn's name) was first a student at the school in the 1850s and became a teacher of engraving. According to Alice Donlevy, one of her students, she also insisted her students learn to quilt.

Patient and Matron Anne Bell in a Nashville Hospital, 1863
Collection: U.S. Army Center of Military History

During the War Dr. Edward Curtis* asked his mother Julia Bowen Bridgman Curtis (one of the school's founders) if some lady might "organize the making of old-fashioned patchwork quilts" for his patients. He was sure that "many soldiers died in the hospitals of home-sickness."

The top floor was well lit during the day.

"Gulielma asked a Quaker family for the quilting frames, and Peter Cooper [of the Cooper Institute] for the room. ...Under her guidance many patchwork quilts were made during the Civil War, in an upper room in the Cooper Institute, where the students of the Art School came to quilt for any half hour they could spare after lesson times....

Illustration of a quilting bee, the kind of mechanical reproduction
the students at the art school were trained to produce.

She opened the every-day quilting bee with poetry," wrote Alice Donlevy in a remembrance of Field.
*I'm assuming the Dr. Curtis mentioned is Julia Curtis's son Edward who was an army surgeon in 1864 and 1865.
The reference to Gulielma's quilting room is an article by Alice Donlevy, "Quaker History and Biography: Guliema Field, Pioneer Painter" in Friends' Intelligencer, 1915.

Read it here at Google Book

And read more about Alice Heighes Donlevy (1846-1929) and the school here in a preview of chapters 1 and 2 from April F. Masten's Art Work: Women Artists and Democracy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Threads of Memory: PDFs and Paper Patterns

You may recall the Threads of Memory Sampler Block of the Month we did here in 2014.

Each month featured an original star design on the Civil War theme of the Underground Railroad.

One of Dustin's stars

Lots of you stitched the 12" blocks---original pieced stars--- named for important places from Britain to Lancaster County where the UGRR network assisted slaves on the road to freedom.


Jo Tokla's Threads of Memory

Becky and I did several set designs. Many, like Jo, made up your own version.

Jean Stanclift's version with stars in the sashing cornerstones.

Becky Brown's, pieced in my Ladies' Album repro fabric line.

I published the patterns here on the CivilWarQuilts blog with any templates in JPG format. Over the years I've had requests for pattern reprints. Some quilters want a PDF with all the pattern information on one page that they can print out. 

Others ask for a paper pattern to be mailed to them.

Here's a sample of the b&w paper pattern 
sheet you'd get in the mail.

This cold December I've had the time to reprint the patterns in those two formats and post them to my Etsy shop. You can buy an instantly downloadable PDF with the 12 patterns and a few set ideas. Or you can order a paper pattern for those sheets, sent through the mail.
Each pattern package contains 15 pages:
  • patterns for the 12" blocks with rotary cutting & templates as needed, 
  • Introduction
  • Yardage sheet 
  • Setting suggestions
Patchwork of Life
The instructions include this unpieced sashed set.

The pattern sheets do NOT contain the story. I'll keep the Underground Railroad history stories posted up here on the blog. Each pattern sheet gives you a link to that extended history of people and places. The blog also shows you many quilts completed by readers who sewed along in 2014.

Here's a link to the list:

Go to my Etsy Shop to purchase these. There are two listings,
one for a paper format, one for a downloadable PDF.

PDF $15 US
Paper Patterns $22.50 US

And if you absolutely want to do things the old-fashioned way you can order the paper patterns by sending me an email.

The price for the paper patterns is $22.50, which includes US postage. 
World wide postage: Add $5.
You can pay me with a check in the mail. (I'll tell you where to send it.)
Or Pay-Pal. (I'll tell you where to post it.)

Madison Star by Becky Brown

Block with curved piecing by Jean Stanclift
I’d rate the blocks as a requiring a little more skill than a beginner would have. The piecing could be a challenge but many readers reported stretching their limits and learning new techniques such as curved piecing and paper piecing.

Nonie's version of a block with curved piecing
(and some spectacular fussy-cutting)

The Blocks
1 Portsmouth Star
2 Mercer County Star
3 New Garden Star
4 Canada Star
5 Madison Star
6 Salem Star
7 Oberlin Star
8 Jacksonville Star
9 Lancaster Star
10 Britain's Star
11 St Charles Star
12 Rochester Star


Here are the links to the two formats:
Instant download PDF

Paper through the mail:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Grand Army Quilt

Grand Army Autograph Quilt attributed to Anna Morgan,
date-inscribed 1888-1890

I showed a detail of this quilt a few months ago. It was recorded in 1988 by the Arizona Quilt Project at a quilt day in Yuma, It seems to have been brought to Arizona from Washington State. Photos and a short description are posted on the Quilt Index.

67" x 88"

The owner inherited it from an aunt about 1960. We assume it remained in the family of Anna Morgan. It is interesting that the name Grand Army quilt also remained in the family.

Suzanne reminds me to explain that the largest Union veterans group was the GAR (the Grand Army of the Republic). This quilt must have something to do with that organization.

There are 32 blocks placed on point. Each has an insignia of some kind in the'center with names on the diagonal and on the square along the edges.

This photo of the same quilt may be from the 
Antiques Roadshow TV show in 2002

I did a search in the Library of Congress's newspaper site for "Grand Army Quilt" and came up with something quite similar to the Morgan quilt. The National Tribune, a veteran's newspaper, mentioned a GAR get-together in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in 1885 where a "Grand Army quilt" was used as a fundraiser.
"We also had a Grand Army quilt, composed of 20 blocks of fine bleached sheeting. A Maltese cross of red was sewed on the center of every block, and two stars and two crescents on diagonal corners. Twenty ladies each took a block, and solicited contributions from the gentlemen in sums from 10 cents upward, the lady raising the most money receiving the quilt usually; but we varied this by giving it to the gentleman who gave the most on a square. One generous individual gave $20, and received the quilt."
I would guess that Anna Morgan was not the quilt's maker here, but the recipient or related to the recipient who won some kind of fundraising competition.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Your Personal Shopper: Civil War Repro Prints

For years I've been saving pictures of quilts and fabrics from the past. Now instead of adding them to my computer's memory (or my own personal brain) I pin them to my Pinterest boards.

Late 19th-early 20th c; Pennsylvania.
The Christ Collection

These are all from my Past Perfect: Chrome Yellow page

Antique block

When I see an accurate reproduction print for quilts I've been pinning those too.

Inspired by Susan McCord, print to be delivered in 2017.
The Henry Ford Museum has a repro series.

Online auction. Pennsylvania colors. Is yellow the neutral
or is there no neutral?

Chrome yellow repro prints aren't often offered. A lot of people won't buy yellow.... Remember, It's not our taste, it's theirs we're trying to copy. 19th-century quilters loved chrome yellow.

From Sunny Boy Sam by Dover Hill.
The circa 1900 ditsies are the easiest to find.

Earlier print from the 1820-50's,
Harder to find repros for this era in chrome yellow.

I've also been doing a guest blog for the Fat Quarter Shop. Every other week we do a Flashback Friday on repro prints currently in stock. See the first post here:

We've got one scheduled for this Friday.