Saturday, July 30, 2011

31 Empty Spools

Empty Spools
By Becky Brown

Empty Spools can remind us of the early months of the war when women set aside their sewing to cut up textiles for lint and bandages. After reports of the first bloody battle at Manassas/Bull Run, women North and South had a heartfelt need to contribute.

Sallie Brock Putnam, thirty years old, was living at her parents' home in Richmond. With two brothers who were doctors in the Confederate Army advising her, she organized friends to provide medical supplies for the Confederacy. Supplies included bandages, clothing, bedding and lint.

"Our women for a time suspended the busy operations of the needle, and set aside the more expeditious and labor-saving sewing machine, to apply themselves more industriously to the preparation of lint, the rolling of bandages, and the many other nameless necessaries which the signs of the times made apparent would soon be in requisition of the unfortunates which the chances of battle would send among us mutilated and helpless. No longer the sempstress, every woman of Richmond began to prepare herself for the more difficult and responsible duties of the nurse."
A hospital near Manassus, Virginia in 1862
Library of Congress

In 1861 Peterson's Magazine advised women to deconstruct linen textiles to make lint.

"Lint should be made of unraveled linen, new or old (the latter preferred), by cutting it in pieces of four or five inches square, which would be highly acceptable, while lint made from canton [cotton] flannel is irritating to the wound.”
Women on both sides abandoned their sewing baskets to participate in a "lint and bandage" mania, as Northerner Mary Livermore described it after the War.

"For a time it was the all-absorbing topic... 'What is the best material for lint?' 'How is it best scraped and prepared?' ... Every household gave its leisure time to scraping lint and rolling bandages, till the mighty accumulations compelled the ordering of a halt."
Doctors believed packing a wound with lint scraped (actually more raveled than scraped) from cotton or linen was an effective treatment method, although our contemporary ideas about infection consider the idea of packing thread into a wound unwise.

The pattern is BlockBase #2350, a variation of a block called Spools by the Ladies Art Company about 1900. Today people tend to call this design Empty Spools, an appropriate pattern to recall the ladies of Richmond who turned from their needles to nursing.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A - Cut 1 dark square 9-1/4" for the spool. Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. You need 2 dark triangles.

B -Cut 2 light strips 9-1/4" x 2-1/2". Cut 45 degree angles off the edges as shown or use the template in the PDF. Click here:
NEW LINK (as of 9/1/2011) 

C- Cut 1 dark square 5-1/4" for the spool. Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. You need 2 dark triangles.

Becky, the pattern tester writes:
"I sewed C to B, and THEN cut the 45 degree angles off B.  (C must be centered on B.)"

Here's how I'd have done it.

Read more about scraping lint during the war by Virginia Mescher in this PDF file Lint & Charpie: It's Not Your Dryer Lint.
And read more about Sallie Brock here:

Richmond During the War: Four Years of Personal Observation by Sallie Brock Putnam, Virginia Scharff, editor. (Reprinted in 1996 by the University of Nebraska Press). The book was first published in 1867 so you can read it at Google Books:

Winslow Homer
Harper's Weekly
June, 1861

After the lint craze subsided, women went back to sewing clothing and bedding. Note the cockade on the woman in the left forefront who is making a jacket and wearing a hat.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

30 Peterson's Stars & Stripes

Peterson's Stars & Stripes
By Becky Brown

Mary Rockhold Teter's Stars and Stripes quilt
is in the Smithsonian Institution

In July, 1861 Peterson's Magazine published a color sketch of "The Stars & Stripes Bed Quilt". The full-page design showed half the quilt. It's the earliest color quilt pattern yet found in an American periodical. 

Here's a black & white photocopy of the microfilm
---the best image I could find.

The center showed 17 stars, half the official number. The new state of Kansas had recently joined as the 34th Star. Several quilters were inspired to make up the design.

And each treated the center in different fashion. These two are from online auctions.
Above is a block in an appliqued sampler from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum. Because many of you followers are new to applique I thought it would be best to simplify this block. One star/ six stripes!

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A Cut 3 red and 3 white rectangles  1-7/8" x 8-1/2"
B Cut any blue star finishing to about 5" wide. Use the template in the PDF
Add a seam allowance for applique.
Becky says
I cut my strips 9" and cut the top and bottom strips 2-1/4" so I could 
trim it to 8-1/2" after appliqueing the star. 

NEW LINK (as of 9/1/2011)
There's something wrong here with the link which I am trying to work out. Try this link.

And someone suggested-- -if the link takes you to the wrong page just type the link above into your web browser.

Peterson's Magazine, like Godey's Lady's Book, was a women's periodical with fashion, fiction, household advice, craft patterns and decorating tips. Things haven't changed much in the women's magazine business.

Each issue had a few color plates,
 which was where the Stars & Stripes pattern was found.

Peterson's began publishing in 1849, using "Clubs" to expand their subscription list.

An 1870 cover highlights the subscription clubs.

Mary Kemper Vermilion, living in Iowa with family while her husband fought for the Union, wrote him of all the neighborhood happenings.
December 1, 1863
Mrs. making a club for Peterson's Magazine and she came to get me to subscribe. I didn't do it. I told her I didn't care much for ladies magazines while the war lasts, and then there are other that I would much rather have than Peterson's....
Mary was a strong Union supporter, who apparently found wartime entertainment frivolous. Read her letters and those of her husband's in Love amid the Turmoil: The Civil War Letters of William and Mary Vermilion, Donald C. Elder III (editor) The University of Iowa Press, 2003. See more information by clicking here:
Find out more about Mary Rockhold Teter and her Stars and Stripes quilt at the Smithsonian Institution by clicking here:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

29 Railroad Crossing

Railroad Crossing by Becky Brown

During the spring and early summer of 1861, Confederate recruits gathered in Prince William County, Virginia, at the crossing of two railroads, the Manassas Gap and the Orange & Alexandria. By July 20,000 Southerners were waiting for the first great battle of the Civil War as 35,000 troops in the Union Army left Washington City to march to Richmond, now the Confederate capitol.

"On the Way to Manassas"
from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War

Union General Irvin McDowell's first goal was to capture the railroad crossing that led to Richmond. Excited Washingtonians followed the federal army, carrying picnic baskets for a summer outing while they watched Union troops vanquish the Rebels and put short end to the war.

Newspaper correspondent "G.P.R." wrote an article for the Boston Transcript describing the "advance of General McDowell's vast column of troops towards  the 'land o' Dixie' ", on July 16th.

"The sun shone brilliantly, and the fresh morning air was highly invigorating. The troops on foot started off as joyfully as if they were bound upon a New England picnic, or a clambake; and not the slightest exhibition of fear or uneasiness, even, as to what might possibly be in store for the brave fellows, (thus really setting out upon an expedition from which, in all human probability, hundreds of them will never return!) seemed for an instant to occupy any part of their thoughts for their anticipations.

In the morning:

Our troops entered Fairfax—ten thousand of them—at early noon, the bands ringing out with cheerful tones the "Star-Spangled Banner," and the boys cheering lustily for the Union and the Stars and Stripes. Six or seven thousand infantry blocked up the main street, for a time; the Court House building was taken ... a secession flag was hauled down and the banner of the regiment run up in its place, and then the foot soldiers opened right and left, or gave way, for the entrance of the cavalry and artillery. These dashed through the town at a gallop, and down the road out into the country beyond..."

On July 18th they met General Pierre Beauregard's army at a creek named Bull Run about 25 miles from Washington. Over the next few days rebel troops, backed up by 10,000 reinforcements, held their ground . The novice Federal soldiers fled in chaos, running panicked spectators off the roads back to the Union capitol.

Manassas Junction was the site of a second battle in 1862.
This photo shows tracks destroyed by the retreating Confederate Army.
Photo by Barnard & Gibson. Library of Congress

Over 400 Union troops were killed and nearly that many Confederates. With this Confederate victory North and South were jolted into a realization that this was not to be a thirty-day war. On July 22nd President Lincoln asked for 500,000 men to sign up for a three-year enlistment.

Railroad Crossing can remember the War's first battle, called by the Confederacy "The Battle of Manassas" (First Manassas) and by the Union "The Battle of Bull Run." The patchwork pattern Railroad Crossing (BlockBase #2779) was given that name in 1935 in the Kansas City Star's quilt column.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A Cut 2 dark squares 2-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally.

 You need 4 dark triangles.

B Cut 1 dark square 5-1/4". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 cuts. You need 4 dark triangles.

C Cut 8 light and 4 medium rectangles 1-1/2" x 3-3/8".

D Cut 1 medium square 3-1/2".

Read the newspaper account above and many more reprinted in the 1867 history The Rebellion Record: a Diary of American Events (Editor: Frank Moore, New York: G. P. Putnam, 1867). The quote here is from page 313 of the Google Books version. Click here:




Saturday, July 9, 2011

28 Next Door Neighbor

Next Door Neighbor by Becky Brown, who writes:
"I think the more fabrics in a block the better."

The Next Door Neighbor block can remind us of war's tendency to turn neighbors against each other. Few victims of our Civil War represent a splintered community better than Bursheba Fristoe Younger whose haunting face on the left is a signature of this blog. Born in Kentucky, she moved to the new state of Missouri as a child and married Henry Younger, a drover, livery operator and trader in the western part of the state neighboring on the Kansas Territory. Her slave-holding family played a part in nearly every act of the Kansas-Missouri border conflict that grew into Civil War.

Henry Washington Younger

Bursheba and Henry had fourteen children and a prosperous home in the mid-1850s, but when the Kansas-Nebraska Act permitted settlers to vote the territory as free state or slave state, Henry felt compelled to act for a proslavery Kansas and  established a town and residence just over the border. He was elected to the new territorial legislature, often called the Bogus Legislature because voters and members were actual Missouri residents.

When free-state Kansans gained political control, Missourians abandoned their Kansas settlements. Henry opened a general store in Harrisonville, Missouri, and became mayor.
After war was declared in 1861 he supported the state's Union government. Neutrality was as dangerous as partisanship and Henry was shot dead on a Kansas road in 1862.  His murder was probably revenge, either for his proslavery politics or for his sons' reputations. Some say Jim and Cole Younger became bushwhackers to avenge their father's death; others believe Henry  was killed as a lesson to parents who let their boys run wild.

The widowed Bursheba could find no peace in guerilla-torn Missouri. The Union Army and the Kansas Jayhawkers harassed her, burning her house and then the neighbors' houses where she sought refuge.  Her sons were among Quantrill's Raiders who attacked Lawrence, Kansas in 1863, an act avenged by the Union Army's Order Number 11 creating a no man's land in western Missouri. With her Southern neighbors Bursheba and her youngest children walked south to Texas, settling near Sherman.

Four of Bursheba's 14 children
Henrietta with Jim, Bob and Cole Younger.
Bob died in prison in 1889. Jim committed suicide in 1902 and Cole lived to join a Wild West Show in the early 20th century.
Bursheba's boys refused to surrender. With a few other guerillas who turned to crime, Cole and Jim Younger became Missouri folk heroes. Their mother was periodically terrorized by lawmen looking for the gang. She returned to Missouri in 1870 where she died shortly after at the age of 54.

Bursheba's portrait from a 1906 book.
Worse things happened to her than
 being remembered as the mother of outlaws.

The Next Door Neighbor block was given that name by the Ladies' Art Company of St. Louis in the early 20th century. It's BlockBase #2787.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A Cut 1 very dark, 1 medium and 2 background squares 2-7/8". Cut each in half with a diagonal cut. 
You need 2 very dark triangles, 2 medium triangles and 4 background triangles.
B Cut 1 light, 1 medium and 1 background squares 5-1/4". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.
You need 4 light, 4 medium and 4 background triangles.

Piece this block in diagonal strips.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

27 Irish Chain

Irish Chain by Becky Brown
The Irish Chain remembers the Irish Brigades

150 years ago this week my great-grandmother Elizabeth Daly was born in Ireland, so it's a good week to recall the 140,000 Irish soldiers who fought for the Union during the American Civil War.

Irish Brigade soldiers and chaplains in Virginia

Army units often formed around shared ethnic backgrounds. Cities like New York and Boston with large immigrant populations formed Irish Brigades. A hard-fighting company was a point of ethnic pride whether the members were African-Americans, German-Americans or Irish-Americans.

The Irish had been coming to the United States in large numbers since the 1840s. They were held in contempt by many, often portrayed as baboon-faced paupers as in this cartoon attacking Stephen A. Douglas for courting the Irish vote in the 1860 Presidential election.

Maria Lydig Daly was a well-to-do New York City socialite, active in the Sanitary Commission and remembered for donating flags to the the 69th Regiment of the New York Irish Brigade. No relation to my Daly family (as Maria, I am sure, would have been only too glad to tell you) she married a New York judge of Irish background.

The "Tiffany" flag of the Irish Regiment

When the 69th needed a new set of flags, Maria Daly headed up a committee to replace them. She wrote in her diary in 1861:

 "I have been busy today in assisting to raise some money for standards for the Irish Brigade, three United States standards and 3 green flags with Irish emblems and mottoes and the guide colors."
The flags were ordered from Tiffany's, which made flags (standards) as well as silver and jewelry. Maria Daly is remembered as the Irish Regiment's benefactor. In a 19th-century history of the regiment David Power Conyngham wrote a stirring if inaccurate account of them marching out of the City in the spring of 1861 (Maria didn't order the flags until the fall of the year).

"On the day of departure, after the regiment had formed into line in Great Jones street, they were presented with a splendid silk United States flag by the wife of Judge Daly. This appropriate present was received with cheers for the fair donor, and Colonel Corcoran requested Judge Daly to inform his lady that her flag should never suffer a stain of dishonor while a man of the Sixty-ninth remained alive to defend it."
Soldiers marching through New York
"About three o'clock the order of march was given. The regiment moved into Broadway amid deafening cheers; flags and banners streamed from the windows and house-tops; ladies waved their handkerchiefs from the balconies, and flung bouquets on the marching column. At the head of the procession was a decorated wagon, drawn by four horses, and bearing the inscription... "No North, no South, no East, no West, but the whole Union."

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A Cut 8 dark squares 1-7/8"
B Cut 4 medium rectangles 1-7/8" x 5-7/8"
C Cut 4 medium rectangles 1-7/8" x 3-1/8"
D Cut 1 dark square 3-1/8"

Like many other quilt pattern names, "Irish Chain" was a familiar phrase before becoming a pattern name. An Irish Chain was a surveying tool, a chain used for linear measure. Each Irish Chain was divided into 100 links with each link 10.08 inches. The whole chain measured 1,008 inches or 84 feet.

An Old Surveyor's Chain

The earliest reference I've yet found for that name for a quilt design is in T.S. Arthur's 1849 story "The Quilting Party" in which a character lamented that "young ladies of the present generation know little of the mysteries of 'Irish chain...' "

This block (#2023 in BlockBase) was given the name Single Irish Chain by the Nancy Cabot quilt columnist in the Chicago Tribune in 1933, but she was undoubtedly not the first to use that name for a nine-patch variation.

Read T.S. Arthur's 1849 story at Google Books by clicking here:

Nostalgia for an "old-fashioned quilting party" was a staple of fiction even before the Civil War.

See some 1863 excerpts from Maria Lydig Daly's diaries by clicking here:

And read the diary in print:
Jean V. Berlin (editor), Diary of a Union Lady, 1861-1865. University of Nebraska Press, 2000.