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.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pat's Antebellum Album BOM

Block 12
Antebellum Album
by Pat Styring

I've been collecting photos for the Antebellum Album book (to be published in 2020) and Pat sent snapshots of her finished top and quilting progress.

She was one of the model makers and did such a memorable job, adding a little machine applique and choosing fabrics so well.

Her quilting is just as wonderful. 

Love the recurring butterfly theme.

Here's what Pat says: 
"I do all my own quilting on a home Bernina without a stitch regulator... strictly old school. There are many feathers and wreaths in the block backgrounds and borders. I'm using blue violet AND red- violet threads on the border feather motifs. I love pebbles and other heavy coverage quilting motifs. The problem is seeing them against my fabric choices."

Here's the marking and feathers in the border with the pebbles.
I can see it here and the photographers at the publisher C&T
will do a great job of highlighting it.

The back

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Polly Shawvan's Eagle Quilt

This eagle medallion quilt on the cover of the 2001 Wisconsin Quilts book
sold recently at Skinner's Auctions.

The quilt is spectacular and it has a Civil War story ---
something that always increases a quilt's value.

When the Wisconsin project documented it the quilt was
still in the hands of family who gave them some information
about Mary (Polly) Bell Shawvan (1824-1900)

With internet genealogy and newspaper searches we can do some fact
checking twenty years later and find out a little more about her.

Mary Bell Shawvan, late 1870s?

Mary M. Bell was born in New Lisbon, Otsego County, New York and went west with some of her family in 1842 according to a biography of her brother John R. Bell (1826-1895), settling in the woods near what is now Milwaukee in the Wisconsin territory.

From her schoolgirl sampler stitched in New York, mid 1830s, 
sold with the quilt.

"When this you see remember me. A. Daniels" may
refer to Abigail Daniels who died at 30 in New Lisbon in
1840. Perhaps A. Daniels was Polly's teacher.

In 1844 Polly married John Shawvan in Wisconsin. Shawvan, spelled Schawvan in some publications, is an unusual name, perhaps a variation of Chauvin. The 1850 census found them in Trenton, Washington County in the state of Wisconsin. John, 38, is listed as being born in Canada; Mary, 25, from New York. Ten years later they are in New Berlin in Waukesha County.

Washington & Waukesha counties, southeastern Wisconsin

By 1860 they had seven children, one daughter Albina and six boys. The Shawvans gave several children unusual names. The second son was Sobieski Mckee Shawvan named perhaps for a 17th century King of Poland. Was John Murat, the eldest named for the Napoleonic King of Naples? Kerelio (Kirellio, Kerrellio) Shawvan seems to have been the only Kerelio ever. An unusual name is often a boon for the nosy genealogist but Shawvan and their first names are spelled so many different ways it can be confounding. Son Rinhard moved to Dennison, Iowa and spelled his name Shaw Van.

In October, 1861 John Shawvan joined the First Wisconsin Regiment Volunteers, leaving Polly at home on the farm with the seven children from baby Douglas to 15-year-old John. How women like her managed is a mystery. 

In February 1862 Color Sergeant Shawvan complained to the Wisconsin state treasurer that a $5 monthly bonus payable to soldiers' families had not been paid to his.
 "My wife at Milwaukee has never received one cent of pay from the State....I was enlisted in October last at Milwaukee in Co. "B" "1" Wis Infantry. Now, sir, my wife is very needy and I am unable to send her a cent, as our Regiment has not received one since Oct 8....By some cause my wife had been left to starve, while I, like a fool, trusted to the honor my State. Please do not let the case be longer aggravated. Her address is Mary Shawvan, Milwaukee County, Greenfield P.O."

Things got worse. In November, 1862 the Wood County reporter published John Shawvan in its list of  "sick and Wounded Wisconsin Volunteers." He was in Louisville, Kentucky at Hospital #11 with a shoulder problem. He recovered enough to return to the regiment, which went to northern Georgia hoping to take Chattanooga, Tennessee. In September, 1863 John was a casualty at the Battle of Chickamauga, described by the chaplain in the state's war history as "the brave color sergeant, John Sherman (sic)." Sergeant John Shawvan, carrying the flag, was killed in the charge.

The family believed Polly stitched this quilt during the first part of the war despite the time-consuming hardships of being a "very needy" single mother of seven.

Rinard, Albina, Douglas, Oscar, Mother, Kerellio
Late 1870s

The children grew; the boys becoming lawyers and traveling salesmen, relocating to Janesville, Wisconsin and Iowa and Illinois, Albina marrying Andrew Metz of Chicago. Eldest son John had died in the 1860s, perhaps another victim of the Civil War. The family recalled Polly receiving a welcome widow's pension. She seems to have held on to her farm in rural Milwaukee because when she died the deed became an object of contention among the boys.

She became quite ill while living alone there in late 1899 and looked for help from sons who moved her first to Janesville where she was not happy and continued to decline. The children fought over her house and lot with "boisterous and profane arguments." She died February 7, 1900.

We know all this because of a court case in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Shavan v. Shawvan et al. details the fight between the youngest sons Douglas and Oscar with their siblings headed by Sobieski (perhaps called Beck.)
"A mother, about 77 years old, made a will 6 months before her death, disposing of her property among her children. Nine days before her death...two of her sons, by threats and artifice, persuaded her to destroy the will, and deed them the property....they prevented the other children, two of whom were attorneys at law, from seeing their mother in her last sickness." 
The court upheld the older boys suit and set aside the deed "on the ground of fraud and undue influence," characterizing Douglas's land grab as a "bold and disgraceful action." Each of the surviving children got a share of her estate.

So what about Polly's amazing quilt? Did she stitch it in 1861-1863 as the family was told?  It's hard to date from photographs. Flamboyant eagle quilts were a fashion in the 1840s and 1850s.

Here's one from the Illinois State Museum by
 Helen Ferris Gilchrist

New York quilt dated 1857

But  you see them into the 20th century, so the medallion eagle style is no clue to date.

The roses with their center detail and the scalloped applique
edge treatment are weak clues to a pre-1865 date.

The background is a small scale yellow-gold print.
Rather unusual for applique.

The pinks are a nondescript double pink, the reds, canary yellows and greens
are solids---no help.

The most distinctive applique is the grapes, done with great
detail in the tendrils and leaves.

Reminding me of one other spectacular quilt

The Metropolitan Museum's Branches & Vines quilt by
Ernestine Eberhardt Zaumseil ( 1828–1904), 
which they date as about 1875. Ernestine lived in Pekin Illinois, 
over 200 miles from Milwaukee.

Polly would probably tell us that it's not polite to talk about money but here's the gossip on the auction last week. Her quilt sold for $35,670 with the buyer's premium. The family first sold it in 2003 for $149,000. It was offered at auction a year ago with an estimate of $100,000-$150,000 and didn't sell. So now you know what high end quilts are going for this month.
(Lots less than they did 15 years ago.)

Enjoy more pictures:

"For wisdom early sought and gained
In age will Give thee rest
O then improve the morning of life
To make its evening blest."

Read about the lawsuit:

The letter from John Shawvan to the state treasurer is from a 2008 issue of The American Revenuer