Saturday, April 20, 2019

Newark Album in the American Museum in Britain

The American Museum in Britain in Bath, England owns
an album quilt top with this image of Miss Liberty.
It's dated 1862 and she looks like she is fighting a war.

Twenty-five blocks include two American patriotic images.
(All their quilts are American)

This block looks more like a memorial block than an 
album signature block

"Henry L. Ketchum?
August 25th 1862
Newark NJ
He Giveth His Beloved sleep."

The photos on their website are large enough to read. 
Could that be Nancy L. Hitchens or Ketcham?
The patriotic image inclines one to think it is a soldier's memorial.
But Henry/Nancy has no rank or regiment.

Nearly every block is inked.
The website has excellent photos of some of the blocks.

The central block is beautifully embroidered and appliqued.
The Bible has a printed version of the 23rd Psalm
beginning with "The Lord is my shepherd" and ending with
"I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

From the online catalog:
"The central block is by far the finest. The Bible pages are printed with Psalm 23, with the page edges delineated by tight lines of embroidered stitches. Embroidery threads have been used to shape the appliqu├ęd flowers, with the fuchsias above the Bible enhanced further by applied pieces of pink velvet."

"I laid me down and slept; I awakened
For the Lord sustained me"
July 2? 1862
Newark N.J.
William L Hitchens (?) Ketcham (?)"

Another Psalm
Another Ketcham?
"The theme of sleep is common to many blocks on this quilt top. Quotations from several sleep-related psalms, often used at funerals, suggest that this quilt was made to commemorate someone who had died. The date of 1862 on certain blocks and the inclusion of Lady Liberty holding the Union flag could imply that the deceased was a casualty of the Civil War – perhaps a soldier fighting for the Union or someone sympathetic to its goals."
William's block

The name on this one has bled so badly that it's difficult
to read in a photo. Could those words have to do with a soldier's

At the top
"To a Friend from a friend."

Martha L. Conger's block has butterflies, a bird
and odd inscriptions:

"Martha L? or S? Conger
New Jersey
Tired mother. 
Sweet Mother
B???? Sleep

Interwoven basket signed Emily P.H.(?) Stackhouse

I did some cursory searching for these people in Newark with more success than usual. I found an Emily Stackhouse listed as a dressmaker with a shop at Quitman & Spruce in an 1875 directory. And William S. and Nancy L may indeed be Ketchams, married in 1839.

William & Nancy Estile Ketcham lived into the 1890s. They were members of the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Newark and buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Newark, as is Martha S. Conger (1834-1890), Emily P. Stackhouse (?-1914) and others mentioned on the quilt. 

Mt. Pleasant is a prestigious, large cemetery in Newark.

Amelia S. Taylor
Amelia Taylor (1818-?) is also at Mt. Pleasant 

Julia T. Marshall

Mrs.? Cornelia Putnam
Buried at Mt. Pleasant d. 1924

No inking on this block.

It certainly looks as if this was made for some deceased honoree but the graveyard information indicate that everybody I could find was hale and hearty in 1862 and lived another thirty or more years.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Antebellum Albums Arriving

Erica Cannon

Quilts have been arriving in the mail
I'm gathering several finished Antebellum Album
tops and quilts for photography for the book (2020).

Meliss Swanson
I took some snapshots of examples from last year's pieced BOM.

Dustin Cecil

And some details

Annette Burgess

Linda DeMuth

And some glamour shots

Dena Brannen

Barbara Schaffer

Saturday, April 13, 2019

"A woman gave me a Bed Quilt the other day"

Quilt dated 1862 from the Dutton-Steers families, Virginia

A letter sold on an online auction a while ago was from a Union prisoner of war from New York. He  had lovely penmanship, creative spelling and a sad tale from prisons in Virginia:

Belle Isle is an island in the river outside Richmond where Union
prisoners were housed in tents.
"October 21 1862.

Camp P? Prisoners Near Elexandery Virginia
My dear Grandmother. I write these few lines to you hoping it find you as well as ever. I am just recovering My health. 6 weeks ago I walked Anopilas streets Maryland with a cane. But now I throwed that a side and begin to look like my self. I had come from that enfurnal hole called Bellislands Richmond there was about five thousand in all. We was hardest looking lot of boys....

"We all got new clothes Blanketts and a'int had one in 2 months,
Each of these simple pieced quilts is dated 1862
A woman gave me a Bed Quilt the other day. The blanketts aint come yet a third of us is with out blankets. We seen hard times since we left york State. We get plenty to eat heare. What they going to do with [us] I dont now. We look like so many Criminals We took the oath not to take up arms against Southern Confedrancy....

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

More Arithmetic: Addition & Subtraction

Block 2 Hospital Sketches
Virginia Cockscomb by Bettina Havig

Some stitchers thought the classic pattern for Block 2 was a little sparse.

Antique sampler from the Michigan project & the Quilt Index

We encourage addition around here:

Janet at Mrs.Sew&Sew

Joan Smith
See more birds:

Rebecca Schnekenburger found her bird in 
Jeana Kimball’s Old Voices New Impressions

Bridget McDermott Flood

Lin T McQuiston

Patt Seitas

Roseanne Smith wasn't having any hearts so she did some fussy cutting
for her flourish.

Vickie Wendel

Dots always good.

Leslie Stephens

7Sisters on Instagram
A different background block. Quite clever.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Secession Bonnets

Civil-War-era bonnets were amazing
concoctions of froth

Richmond Daily Dispatch

In November, 1860 after Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency and talk of South Carolina's secession was the news, several newspapers copied an article about a new fashion statement worn by:
"The daughter of one of our leading secessionists for whom a dress and bonnet were designed or Georgia linsey and cotton. The dress is made in fashionable style a la Gabrielle and the bonnet is composed of white and black Georgia cotton, covered with a net-work of black cotton, the streamers ornamented with Palmetto trees and lone stars, embroidered in gold thread."

A neckline a la Gabrielle. The concept of
a linsey woolsey dress with a revealing French neckline
is slightly alarming.

Linsey on a quilt back. Usually the undyed yarns
were cotton or linen, the dyed warp threads wool.

The Charleston Mercury, known for its hyperbolic secession rhetoric and alternate fact, may have been the source of the story.
 "The entire work is domestic [Southern-made] and exhibits considerable s execution affords convincing proof how independent we can be of our Northern aggressors....." 
One could imagine how the ribbons on a fancy bonnet
might be embroidered with images.

Some stories over the years (and the story lasted for years) described the ingenious milliner as a Northerner living in Charleston.

Whether any such outfit ever existed is unknown but the idea of a Secession bonnet took hold. A Hartford, Connecticut paper countered, "What would our Lincoln ladies think of a distinctive bonnet of Connecticut corn cobs, trimmed with pumpkin vines, and ornamented with wooden nutmegs?"

This theoretical New England chapeau was discussed by the Baton Rouge Sugar Planter, which enlarged the story of a "Yankee representative hat, when Connecticut or Rhode Island ladies catch the secession fever: bonnet frame and crown; corn leaves, braided with pumpkin vines, trimming, wooden nutmegs, intertwined with buckwheat blossoms."

Hat made from palmetto in 1863
North Carolina Museum of History

 Many Southerners made their own hats during the war.

In 1863, Emma Holmes remarked that her 18-year-old sister Lila was making "a corn shuck Garibaldi hat", perhaps a pillbox or a sombrero, two hats the Italian celebrity made fashionable.

Giuseppe Garibaldi in a pill box hat

The very literate Emma noted, "We certainly striking[ly] developed 'the native resources, talent and industry of the South.' " paraphrasing the Charleston Mercury article. Emma was an avid reader of fire-eating newpapers like the Mercury. 

It was all quite amusing until things got serious. In the summer of 1861 pro-Southern newspapers began circulating a story:
"Our Southern papers are filled with heart sickening accounts of the murders and robberies which individuals in Old Abe's mob are perpetrating on the Southern people. Innocent women and children are shot on their own doorsteps, for wearing what is called 'Secession bonnets.' "
That story was printed in the Burlington, Iowa Hawk-Eye, which must have been a copperhead paper in a Union state. The tale of Northern war atrocities was pure fiction, anti-Union propaganda, but the kind of thing Emma Holmes was very likely to quote in her diary as gospel.

White women wearing hats rather than bonnets in Beaufort,
South Carolina, during the war. These might have been homemade,
woven from straw, grass or palm leaves. The black woman is
wearing a traditional African-American turban/kerchief.

The story of the Secession bonnet and ribbon ties embroidered with gold Palmetto trees and stars may have no more truth in it than the idea of Union soldiers shooting bonnet-clad Southern children. The bonnet story persisted, however. At the end of 1865 the Delaware Gazette printed a history of the war beginning in "The streets of Charleston filled with excited people huzzaing for a Southern Confederacy; and several women made a display of their so-called patriotism by appearing on the crowded side-walks with 'secession bonnets' the invention of a Northern milliner...."

Woman wearing a sunbonnet. It may be a slatted sunbonnet,
a functional if unfashionable item
Brady Studios photograph

Slatted sunbonnet
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Southern women may very well have referred to their homemade hats as Secession bonnets, whether they were fabric sunbonnets or woven hats of grasses and shucks.

Hop pickers in New York