Saturday, September 21, 2019

1863 Album, Elizabeth, New Jersey

It would be great to see more of this 1863 album quilt
from Elizabeth, New Jersey

99  blocks, 96 of them signed

I've been sorting my paper files getting them in shape to send to the Quilt Research Collection at the University of Nebraska Libraries. I found this newsprint in my file of Civil War quilts, published in an article by Enola Gish in the small town newspaper, the Baldwin, Kansas Telegraphics in 1983. Enola met the Florida woman who owned it---she seems to have bought it at a garage sale.

Three names were mentioned: C.M. and S.A. Butler who signed the pieced baskets and Mrs. Woodward who signed the striped fabric on the left side below the heart and hand block.

That's all I know about the 1863 quilt. Was it a Civil War patriotic quilt
or one that just happened to have been made in 1863?

American Folk Art Museum Collection
Ladies of the Methodist/Episcopal Church, Elizabethtown, dated 1853 for the Dunns

Several surviving quilts made for ministers' wives have been attributed to Elizabeth, New Jersey, once called Elizabethtown. Lee Kogan wrote an article for the Folk Art Museum's Clarion (Winter 1989-1990 issue) about three similar samplers.

American Museum in Britain
Baptist Church, Elizabethtown, dated 1852 for the Waterburys

Newark Museum
Presbyterian Church, Elizabethtown, dated 1852 for the Reinharts

See Kogan's article in The Clarion here:
Page 58

We might guess the quilt at the top of the page was made in the early 1850s in Elizabethtown
but that 1863 date leaves no doubt it was finished ten years later. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Applique BOM Next Year

Gladi is making the most of her time healing a bone break by appliqueing.
One more block to go.

We have 830 members of our Facebook Hospital Sketches group with many wonderful examples posted every day. A week from today is the last Hospital Sketches block but it has been so much fun I think we ought to keep on making 18" traditional applique blocks (or whatever size.)

After next week you will have the nine blocks for the Hospital Sketches quilts and several months to finish that up.

At the end of January 2020 we'll start a new traditional applique block of the month, but next year's blocks will be more unusual. This year's were the common designs popular from abut 1840 to 1870. I'll draw them in the same size (I'm making mine 9" square.)

Newark Museum collection

These are NOT the blocks or border but this is the setting idea.

So you could just keep making blocks and make a large quilt or follow the set on next year's and make a second quilt. I've saved a few photos of medallion style applique quilts with a central block that is twice the size of the 12 blocks around it.

Similar style from a Freeman's Auction. 
May have been in Laura Fisher's inventory too.

Top based on 13 blocks arranged somewhat like this setting (no sash) with a larger block in the center (1 36" block, 12 blocks 18")---no 9" blocks as in the lower corner.

From the Iowa project and the Quilt Index.
1 large block, 8 smaller and some white sashing.

A little Photoshopping of some of Cassandra's Circle.
Adding new dresses and colorizing their portraits is like playing with paper dolls.

The BOM will be called Cassandra's Circle. Stories will have to do with the powerful women at the heart of the Confederate government, mostly based on Mary Boykin Chesnut's view.

Becky says she has four blocks done and so do I. Denniele's working on a Sprouts version with fewer pieces.

Here's the group

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Miss Information

Textiles with a Civil War association certainly are worth more monetarily than equivalent textiles with no accompanying Civil War stories. With a little research one can associate much 19th-century  handwork with the Civil War. Everybody who lived through it (or died during it) had a Civil War story to tell.

You can also associate textiles to the Civil War with no research at all. Go to EBay and search in antique linens and textiles for the words Civil War. You'll find items like this Civil War handkerchief picturing a World War I soldier.

Many of these wool rectangle quilts cut from early 20th-century
fabric sample books are recalled as made of Civil War uniforms.

Always interesting that the maker had access to both blue and gray

On a related note a reader asked for information on a hooked rug with a Civil War connection; the yarns had been salvaged from Civil War uniforms. Again, an early 20th-century textile with an inflated story.

The questioner had done a little research and found this quote:

"There's a museum in Maine that features hook rugs that were made of Civil War uniforms, so these hook rugs are pretty much indestructible. You should be able to enjoy these rugs forever."

Just because it's on the internet does not mean it is true.

The facts are that these late-19th/early 20th-century rugs were a cottage industry in New England and Canada. Read some actual history here:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tonko's Been Stitching

Tonko in Japan has recently posted her Hospital Sketches blocks




She usually converts American inches straight across to centimeters so these block designed for 18 -inch backgrounds are on squares finishing to about 7 inches.





See her blog: Mixed T: Thistly Room in Japan

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Salmonella and Typhoid Fever

Frank L Keyes and unidentified woman, 1862
Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society.

We assume Civil War patient Frank Keyes has been wounded but odds are good he is a victim of disease rather than battle wounds. According to some assessments, 62% of Union Army deaths were caused by disease. Had Keyes been a Confederate soldier the chances would have been 65%.

Makeshift hospital set up in the Frederick Lutheran Church,
Frederick Maryland.

Hannah Anderson Ropes (1809-1863)

Soldiers admitted to hospitals for rather minor wounds often caught diseases that killed them, as did hospital workers like Hannah Ropes, matron at the Union Hotel Hospital in Washington who died of typhoid in January, 1863. Typhoid almost killed her assistant Louisa May Alcott in the same outbreak. Typhoid had a high mortality rate, killing one third of those who contracted it.

Camp Letterman, a field hospital after the Battle at Gettysburg

Typhoid fever is a disease one comes across often in any reading about Civil War history but since it is rare today in countries with adequate sanitation we don't know much about it. I was surprised to find it is caused by the Salmonella bacteria, which continues to infect our food supply today. But there are several kinds of Salmonella and the highly fatal variation is caused by Salmonella enterica typhi rather than the nontyphoidal salmonellae that cause food poisoning today.

Quarantine was not an option at the Frederick Lutheran Church hospital.
Many of the beds look to be covered with quilts.

Of course, Civil-War-era medicine knew nothing of bacteria or causes of typhoid fever and typhoid pneumonia, which were common names for the illness at the time.

Wounded at Fredericksburg

The primary cause is poor sanitation---contamination in sewage and food handling and close proximity to an infected person, none of which they understood. Putting soldiers together in densely populated camps with makeshift latrines and unrefrigerated food was fatal for many. Flies were also a carrier.

Home Tidings by Winslow Homer

Sending wounded soldiers to wards with infected patients added to the misery.

Harewood Hospital, a purpose-built Union hospital in Washington.
They didn't know why but found that a ventilated room was healthier.

Symptoms began with gastrointestinal problems such as cramps, nausea and diarrhea and then an increasing fever. Some patients break out in a rash and some get a form of pneumonia. Organ failure, particularly lung failure, was the cause of death. 

As Hannah Ropes wrote her daughter a few weeks before she died:
"Miss Alcott and I worked together over four dying men and saved all but one....but whether [due to] our sympathy for the poor fellows or we took cold, I know not, but we both have pneumonia and have suffered terribly."
Typhoid is estimated to have killed 65,000 soldiers during the Civil War and no one counted the hospital workers and civilians. Confederate medical officer Dr. Joseph Jones estimated that 1/4 of the Southern soldiers who died of disease died of typhoid.

Typhus has similar symptoms but it's caused by bacterial infection from insect bites---lice and fleas, also a curse of camp and hospital.

Quilt made by a soldiers' aid society in
Florence, Massachusetts

And since we are talking about quilts at this blog: Civil-War era medicine did understand that the bedding of a person killed by typhoid fever was contaminated, so many sheets, blankets and quilts were burned, one reason so few of the donated Sanitary Commission quilts survive.

UPDATE: Merikay Waldvogel reminded me of a family story she and Bets Ramsey heard, recorded in their book Southern Quilts: Surviving Relics of the Civil War. Barbara Lotspeich Broyles of Rhea County, Tennessee loaned this white work quilt and others to Confederate soldiers who returned them when they moved on. The quilts were "covered in typhus germs, and both Barbara and her husband died within four days." The bedding was probably contaminated with typhus-bearing fleas.

Quilt by Barbara Lotspeich Broyles (1790-1862)

"In 1934, John W. Broyles wrote the following family history:
"They were kind enough to loan some bedding to a camp of sick soldiers who were mean enough to return some of it when the camp was abandoned. Grandmother was taken violently ill... .Grandfather was stricken with the same malady which I presume was typhus. They were buried in the same grave [Barbara and Matthias died on the 9th and 14th of December, 1862.]"
From Find-a-Grave:
Read more about Typhoid and Salmonella here:

And here's a whole book on the history of typhoid: Typhoid Fever: A History by Richard Adler & Elise Mara. A Preview:

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Label for Hospital Sketches Quilt

Here's a label to print out on treated fabric for your
Hospital Sketches Sampler.
One more block to go: September 25th.

Print it out 5 inches tall. We put our names on it.
You can ink yours in in all the white space.

Here's Gladi Porsche's plan as of last week.
Love her dots border.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Silk Scraps Through the Mail

Hexagonal silk block pieced over paper cut from a letter with the date 1864.

A letter from Becky to her Aunty, Miss Phillips in Philadelphia
concerning a similar project in process.
"Sister and myself were very much obliged to you for the numerous pieces of silk you sent us. They are beautiful and very acceptable as my pieces of silk had almost entirely given out. And I am very anxious to finish my quilt if possible before I leave here."

These silk extravaganzas sometimes took years to make.
This one has papers dated 1857 to 1864.

Becky sent the letter from West Chester, Pennsylvania were she was vacationing with her family, perhaps having left the city during the summer sickly season when Philadelphia was prone to mosquitos and yellow fever epidemics. We have to imagine what kind of a silk quilt she was working on.

Border of an unfinished top with papers dated 1864

I saved the photos of the letter from an online auction
And the silk quilts too.

1857-64 papers

No last name for Becky or first name for Aunty Phillips and no
date in the letter or in the postmark other than Sep 13.

But the stamp offers some information. It was used in 1861 and 1862.

1022 Spruce Street today
This row house wasn't there in 1860. Miss Phillips
must have lived in an older house now gone

Water Street at Spruce in the 1850s

Illinois State Museum Collection

Papers dating 1859 to 1864. It was likely difficult to
get silk scraps during the Civil War but stitchers persevered.

Papers 1864
Let's hope those girls got that quilt done before
they went back to Philadelphia in the fall.

A well-worn quilt that was a long-term project:
"Ette Wilson
Begun 1864"

"Finish 1906"

What I can see of the letter:

"Miss Phillips
No 1022 Spruce

West Chester
Sept 13th

Dear Aunty
Mother was afraid you might be worried at the non-appearance of Buzzy, so she thought I had better write a few lines and tell you that he had concluded to stay [] until Monday when ....

find but two. She thinks he may possibly have left the {word missing] at your house. If he has will you give it to Catherine so as mother can get it when we come home...

Sister and myself were very much obliged to you for the numerous pieces of silk you sent us. They are beautiful and very acceptable as my pieces of silk had almost entirely given out. And I am very anxious to finish my quilt if possible before I leave here.

We are all well and send much love.
Affectionately, Becky"