Saturday, January 29, 2011

5 Kansas Troubles

Kansas Troubles by Jeanne Poore

This week's block commemorates Kansas Day. Kansas entered the Union 150 years ago this week on January 29th, 1861. For years the territory had petitioned Congress for statehood, but Southern politicians refused to add a new free state in the West. After Southern Senators paraded out of the Senate Chamber, the remaining majority finally had the votes to create the 34th state in the Union.

Elizabeth Blair Lee wrote to her husband in the Union Navy of her visit to the Senate chamber, January 20, 1861:

Mother & I went to see Kanzas enter the Union---before she was allowed to do [so] the Senators from Ala Florida & Mr. [Jefferson] Davis [Senator from Mississippi] announced the exit of these States out of it---These gentlemen were deeply moved but I never saw such an aroused audience when they left their places simultaneously---the Democratic side rose & surrounded them---But the Republicans ignored the whole scene & except 3 of them, all kept their seats & went on with business---looking stern & solemn...The ladies [in the gallery] sat calmly---thro the whole---I wished in my heart for Old Hickory to arrest them all--it might save thousands of precious lives, so I thought & felt & so I did not weep tho' my head ached and so does my heart....
A few days later the House passed the Kansas statehood bill and on the 29th President Buchanan signed it.

President-elect Lincoln
with a 34-star flag signifying
Kansas statehood in Philadelphia
February, 1861

Fair Maid of Kansas in the Hands of the Border Ruffians

Kansans (free white men who were Kansans) could vote on whether to be slave-state or free-state,
an idea that encouraged Northerners and Southerners to use voter fraud and terrorism to advance their agendas. The territory became known as Bleeding Kansas.

The Kansas Troubles increased tensions between North and South in the seven years leading up to the formal declaration of War in 1861.

Kansas Troubles quilt, about 1850, by L.B.
Collection of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas

The quilt pattern goes back to the time of the Kansas Troubles, but we have no idea what women called the design then. The pattern name appears in print about 1890. It doesn't matter how many little triangles there are; it's the rotational repeat that makes it a Kansas Troubles.

Karla Menaugh, Kansas Troubles, 1998

We Kansans love the pattern. Lots of triangles!!!
Pam and Jean and a Kansas Troubles quilt top

Cutting for an 8" block

A - Cut 2 light squares 4-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 4 triangles.
B - Cut 4 light squares 1-1/2".
C - Cut 8 light and 12 dark squares 1-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 16 light and 24 dark triangles. (You might be happier cutting the squares larger---say 2-1/2" and then piecing the small two-part squares, and finally trimming each to 1-1/2" squares.)

These little squares finish to 1" for an 8" block

D - Cut 2 medium squares 2-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 4 triangles.

The hardest thing about putting this block together
 is keeping the small triangles lined up in the right direction.

Kansas Troubles by Becky Brown

Read more of Elizabeth Blair Lee's letters to her husband in Wartime Washington: The Civil War Letters of Elizabeth Blair Lee, edited by Virginia Jeans Laas.

See a pattern for a 14" version of the Kansas Troubles on page 41 in my Borderland in Butternut and Blue, available from Kansas City Star books. Click here for more information:

Or see this version in Civil War Women, page 42. Michelle Marvig used that pattern for her quilt with a border of Kansas cottonwood trees and New England pines. They'll print you a copy of the book on demand at C&T Publishing. Click here:

See the quilts at the Spencer Museum of Art by clicking here:
and then typing the word QUILT in the search box---hundreds of quilts and quilt blocks.


Cheryl said...

I love the challenge of piecing this block! As always, I love reading the history you provide with the block.

Elinor said...

Thanks a lot Barbara ! I love reading the history too ! This blog is my favorite ! ;-)
Hugs from France,

pdudgeon said...

i've always loved this block but never made it before. thanks so much for the block directions, the informative history, and the book recomendations. i can't wait to piece one of these quilts in my future! definitely a 'must have' quilt.

Aunt 'Reen said...

I love this block - it's one of my favorites!
Looking forward to piecing this one.
Thank you so much for another wonderful history lesson too.

kathyinozarks said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog-I am enjoying reading every post. I have been collecting civil war reproduction fabrics the last couple of years, so hope to make these blocks.
but first though I want to make the 1830's quilt fleur d'lis that I found in Thompson's Lewis and Clark volume 2, I believe I read that you have the original-I just love that quilt-and will be my first applique project too-I have all the fabrics now and hope to start on it this year

YankeeQuilter said...

Love how much movement this block has. Thanks for the great history lesson too!

Leila said...

Wow! Great story and great block!

jackiero said...

Thank you so very much :) I am truly enjoying your weekly blocks....and I've already pre-ordered your Civil War Reunion fabric for the sashing & border.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links to the letters book and the museum. Both promise hours of absorbing study.

Mary said...

Thanks for doing Kansas Troubles. My son has had a lot of them living there...He's in the ARMY. I found the block in Blockbase #1270 YEA!

Linda in IN said...

Thanks for all the info, but I would like to copy the patterns to paper. Is there a PDF version


beecee said...

I look forward to Saturday morning with even more enthusiasm now. I am very happy with how the block turned out.

Lucky Duck Dreams said...

I love getting up Saturday morning to read a little CW history and see what new block I need to make! Yeah! I went to a Quilting and fiber arts show -all venders and picked up som cw pritns to add to my stash. Thanks!

Kat said...

Help please..
I found a picture of a quilt with a nice block pattern in internet. Unfortunately, there was no title to or a label. Maybe there is somebody in blogland can help me? I would intressted the name and perhaps the history of the pattern.
It was a wonderful two-color quilt in blue and white. I made a sketchy picture and put in my blog.
I would be happy to answer a helping.
greets from Berlin/Germany
Kat :)

Rebeca said...

Thanks for this blog!
I enjoyed this last block ... and I have them all!
I'm waiting for the next ... THANKS for the story about each one of them!

Hugs from Spain,


Anonymous said...

As always, a wonderful bit of history along with a challenging block.

I have posted my block on my blog, along with a how-to.

Dionne said...

I wonderful post! Thank you so much for always sharing the wonderful history of quilting.

Mad about Craft said...

This block will be the most complicated pieced block I will have attempted so far but here goes. I am going to cut it out tonight and have a go.

Connie said...

Thanks again Barbara ,enjoy the story and the block and can't wait for the next one. this block was a little hard for me to do not use to working on small block, but it is done and proud of it, Thanks Connie

Angie said...

What a wonderful blog ...arrived here from Mornings Minion ...I dont make quilts ...yet... but I dabble with Family History and found that a member of my husbands family faught in the civil war interesting I found the little bit of research I did ... so will enjoy reading your blog as it ties history to craft so well.

Drw52372 said...

I love this block and it was so much fun to make.

Morning's Minion said...

This was the most interesting one to make thus far. [I have avoided blocks with tiny triangles after completeing a king-sized Bear Paw several years ago.]
I make triangle squares by layering a dark/light and stitching a scant 1/4 on each side of the diagonal. For these little ones I cut the squares 2 1/4"--they came out very sharp and tidy after trimming.