Eagle quilt, late 1860s.
Civil War Commemorative.
The eagle in the center of this quilt holds a banner with the words:
"Free and unfettered our Eagle shall soar. The reign of oppression forever is o'er."
The quilt was found in the West Virginia Heritage Quilt Search.
Click here to see the record:
It had been given to the owner's grandmother with the story that the top had been stitched by an unknown woman from Herkimer, New York.
"She had great admiration for General Grant and in the late 1860's designed and made this quilt expecting to give it to the then President Grant. She died before it was quilted (after working for two years on it) and a Mrs. Mae Petrie, who had given her a home, presented it to the owner's grandmother. The 39 stars represent the number of states in the Union in 1868. The top 13 represent the original colonies. The oak leaves are for strength and the laurel leaves for victory, and the words are for the freeing of the slaves. The ensign is the United States government."
This must be the "ensign" that stands for the U.S. Government. It's an unusual image, a furled flag that may be a bud. Like the poetry, this might be original to the quiltmaker.
When we were working on my first book about Civil War quilts Terry Thompson made this imaginative quilt she called Union Star. She included the furled flag ensign in the center left.
Below is the caption from
Quilts From the Civil War.
Apparently the family had the original top quilted later. The applique looks like an unfinished design---the maker needed another year or two. The center is so detailed and impressive, one would guess she had equally elaborate plans for a border.