Saturday, September 24, 2011

39 Hovering Hawks

Hovering Hawks
by Becky Brown

Hovering Hawks can symbolize foraging soldiers on both sides. Hawks are predators that keep a hawk-eye out for a breakfast of smaller birds and rodents, so one can see how their name was appropriated for predatory scavengers during the Civil War.

Red-tailed hawk

Best known are the Jayhawks or Jayhawkers who swooped in during the pre-war days of the Kansas Troubles. In Kansas lore Jayhawker is an Irish term, brought by an immigrant (one mythical Pat Devlin) who explained:

"In old Ireland we have a bird we call the jayhawk that when it catches another bird it takes delight in bullyraging the life out of it like a cat does a mouse...You call it 'foraging off the enemy,' by, begobs I'll call it jayhawking."

Senator James H. Lane on the cover of
Harper's Weekly in November, 1861

Once the Civil War began, jayhawking took place under cover of war strategy. In September, 1861 Kansas troops under U.S. Senator James Lane sacked the town of Osceola, Missouri. Captain Edgar Poe Trego wrote his wife that the Kansans returned,
 "having had a brush with the enemy, scattered them, took the town, obtained all the horses, mules, wagons and [Negros]; loaded the wagons with valuables from the numerous well-supplied stores and then set fire to the infernal town."
Many Southerners blamed Jayhawkers for any and all raids, down into the deep South. Roxanna Cole in North Carolina complained about a Colonel Lee and his Jayhawkers for local depredations:

" 'subsisting on the enemy' they call it. But they don't tell that they take the bread from women and children (for men are long since gone) while they also take the only means to make more---the horses, stock, and negroes. They, as usual, took our scanty supply of food and make us cook it, Christmas day though it was. They came and demanded quilts and comforts. I told them that I had none that I could spare. They answered insolently that 'It makes no difference about that, Go and get two. I almost cried that I had to give up my nice comforts to such swine and I had none but nice ones."
Hawk seems to have meant a thief of any kind. In 1861 Anne S. Frobel in Northern Virginia instructed her slaves to bury the silver, a common precaution, exclaiming in her diary,

"What spoonhawks these Yankees are!"
Hovering Hawks is BlockBase #1323, given that name by Ruth Finley in 1929.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 2 dark and 4 blue squares 2-1/2".
B - Cut 1 dark, 3 light, 2 orange (or brick red) and 4 blue squares 2-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally. You need 2 dark, 6 light, 4 orange and 8 blue triangles (20 in all).

See a lovely applique quilt that was probably jayhawked from a Southern family. It eventually wound up in the Kansas State Historical Society. Click here:

What quilthawks those Yankees were!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

38 Ohio Star

Ohio Star reminds us of the town of Oberlin
 and Mary Leary Langston

During the first year of the War, Union troops began marching to a tune that remains an American tradition. It begins, "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, " repeated three times, and then "His soul is marching on!" The chorus:
"Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His soul is marching on!"
Hear a 2004 performance of the song on YouTube by clicking here:

John Brown was hung in Virginia in 1859 for attempting to take over a Federal arsenal in Harper's Ferry. His antislavery obsession made him a hero and the song increased his renown. Arguments continue today as to whether he was a martyr or a terrorist, but few remember the others who died in his holy war.
Oberlin in the 1870s

Brown recruited two antislavery soldiers in Oberlin, Ohio. The town was an oasis of free thinking, founded in the 1830s by reformers who opened a college to women and African-Americans, a radical admissions policy at the time. Oberlin attracted fugitive slaves and free-born black families seeking educational opportunities. The Pattersons, the Learys and the Langstons were among the free blacks who moved there from the South to take advantage of the college and its preparatory school. Brown knew many Oberlin men had a commitment to the antislavery cause.

Lewis Sheridan Leary
Mary Patterson's first husband

Charles Langston, one of the town's leading black men, refused to accompany Brown, realizing they needed many more men to carry out their audacious scheme. Ignoring his wisdom, two young men agreed to rendezvous for the attack on Harper's Ferry. One was Lewis Sheridan Leary who left wife Mary Patterson Leary at home with a new baby, telling her he was traveling on business.

Brown chose the town of Harper's Ferry on the Shenandoah River
 in western Virginia for the event he believed
would start a slave revolution.

Charles Langston was right. The U.S. Army easily defeated Brown's tiny band within hours of their assault on the arsenal.

The arsenal where Army weapons
were stored is now a federal park.

With bullets flying around him Sheridan Leary jumped into the Shenandoah River but took several shots. Nineteenth-century historians John Warner Barber and Henry Howe told of his death:

"A wretch, mortally wounded, was dragged from the river by citizens, and laid upon the bank shivering with cold and loss of blood. He begged to be taken to a fire, promising to confess everything. The bystanders carried him to an old cooper's shop hardby, where a hasty blaze was kindled…He entreated someone to write to [his family] and inform them of the manner of his death…After lingering in great agony for 12 hours he died."
Mary later told her grandson that a few weeks after she heard of her husband's death his bullet-torn shawl returned to her. That grandson, poet Langston Hughes, remembered sleeping under the tan plaid shawl as a boy and treasuring it all his life. (It's now in the collection of the Ohio Historical Society.)

Mary's grandson Langston Hughes,
 son of Caroline, her daughter with Charles Langston

Mary spent the war years living with her parents in Oberlin, working as a milliner, and raising Louisa Sheridan Leary.  After the war she married Charles Langston and moved to Kansas where a son and a daughter were born.

Charles Langston had been wealthy in the years before the Civil War but spent his slaveholding family's legacy on the abolition movement. At his death he left Mary with little. Grandson Langston pictured Mary as a poor, proud woman---too proud to ask Charles's rich relatives for help. She might have sought assistance from the graying abolitionists who revered the memories of Sheridan Leary and Charles Langston but she made do in one of the few occupations open to a widow. She took in boarders. 

Langston remembered Mary sitting in her rocker, holding him in her lap and telling him tales in which, "life moved heroically toward an end …Nobody ever cried in my grandmother's stories. They worked, or schemed, or fought. But no crying."

The reproduction quilt above was the design for a kit done a year or two ago for my Civil War Homefront collection from Moda. The inspiration was an antique from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. We really don't know what quilters called this design during the Civil War years.

Today we tend to call it Ohio Star (BlockBase #1631). Other published names include Variable Star,  Eastern Star and Western Star. Carrie Hall gave it several names in her 1935 index to patterns, The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt, among them Texas Star and Ohio Star.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A - Cut 5 dark squares 3-1/8".
B - Cut 1 dark, 1 medium and 2 light square 3-7/8". Cut each into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.

 You need 4 dark, 4 medium and 8 light triangles.

See pictures of Mary as an older woman and read more about her life with her grandson Langston in Kansas in Katie Armitage's Langston Hughes's Lawrence at this website:

Mary should be remembered for far more than her grandson's art.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

37 Confederate Rose

Confederate Rose
By Becky Brown

Nancy Cabot, quilt columnist at the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s, named several of the Civil War commemorative patterns in this series, most of which she designed herself. She gave us the Confederate Rose below, a complicated pieced design, which I have simplified here, giving the pattern for the center square. You may want to make it in shades of white, pink and rose, the colors of the Confederate Rose plant.

The original Cabot block is BlockBase #2651
 if you want to make it just like Nancy's.

The Confederate Rose is a variety of hibiscus, unusual in that it puts out multicolored flowers. At the end of the 19th century people thought it might be a rose which began the morning with white flowers that turned red at night. Horticulturalists discussed it in their journals after a news story was published in 1884.

"The  'Confederate rose' is the name of a new flower which is white in the morning and red at night. Four of them have been planted around  the grave of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson in the State cemetery at Austin."
Confederate General
 Albert Sidney Johnson was killed at Shiloh in 1862.

A skeptical editor at the Gardeners' Monthly and Horticulturist wrote:

"We do not know of any rose under this name. There are flowers which open white, and become pinkish when they fade, but we do not know of any rose which does this. It is barely possible that this is an exaggeration of some such fact, though still more possible that it is one of those silly paragraphs of a 'smart' reporter, which do no credit to the newspaper press."

Ten years later a botanist identified it in Garden & Forest

"Hibiscus mutabilis, Cotton Rose, or Confederate Rose, is a small tree of rather open habit. I first noticed it in the gardens of New Orleans, and later at Mobile, Pensacola and Jacksonville. It is a fine plant when in bloom, bearing at the same time white and red flowers, and thus presenting a very striking appearance. The showy double flowers are white in the morning, changing to pink at noon, and to deep red at night. As the flowers last almost to the middle of the next day, the contrast of the white and red blossoms is very impressive. This plant is also known as the Mexican Rose; it is, however, a native of China and India, and thrives well on high Pine-land, but grows to perfection in rich hummock soil."

General Johnson's grave is a Victorian showpiece at the Texas State Cemetery.
He was originally buried in New Orleans; reburied in Austin in 1867.

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 4 light strips 6-7/8" x 1-7/8". Trim the corners at 45 degree angles or use the templates in the PDF file.
C- See the templates in the PDF file to cut 4 medium.
Click here:

D- Cut 1 dark square 3-1/2"

Read more about the Confederate Rose, a once-popular hibiscus at this site:

UPDATE MONDAY 9-12-11 for those having trouble printing the templates:

WARNING: Reading below this line may cause eyes to glaze over.
Here is a JPG with the template. Click on it. Print it so it comes out 8-1/2 x 11. We'll see if this works

Later--I tried it and it did not print out the right size. Piece B should have printed out so the top dark line measured 2-7/8" (to match the long side of triangle A) but it printed out 2-1/8".

I need to enlarge it as it prints. By how much?

 Well I have a tool, a proportion wheel, that I used to use in the old days of cut and paste layout. It  tells me that if I have a line that is 2-1/8" and I want it to be 2-7/8" I have to enlarge my print by 135%.

There has to be a digital proportion wheel. So I did a websearch for those words and found one

I typed in the numbers-
first the current number 2.125.
Below that what I want it to be 2.875.
And then had it calculate. It says 133%. Close enough.

I then printed the JPG above by going to PRINT PREVIEW. At the top it says SHRINK TO FIT. I pulled down the menu to CUSTOM and typed in 133%. I see I cropped out some pattern pieces so I messed around on the sheet by going to full page view and adjusting the margins (little arrows) till I got it right in the frame. And I printed it. It's close.

It's probably easier to photocopy it at 133%

In any case, you might want to cut these shapes a little larger. Work out from the center and trim, is all I can say.

And I wonder why I never get any sewing done anymore. Computers are now my hobby. To put a happy face on it we can say we are learning math skills and printing skills. I'm bookmarking that digital proportion tool. It could be useful.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

36 Kentucky Crossroads

Kentucky Crossroads
By Becky Brown

Kentucky Crossroads can remind us of the importance of the rivers to winning the War. Western Kentucky, where the Ohio River joins the Mississippi, was an important crossroads of waterways. Many of the skirmishes in late summer, 1861, were fought  by gunboats in the area.
Kentucky (in orange in the middle of this map)
 was a border state
 that remained in the Union

Kentucky began the War as officially neutral but it was a slave state with split loyalties. Neutrality was often impossible to maintain. As Union sympathizers gained political strength during the summer of 1861, Confederate troops went  in to secure the Mississippi River for the South, taking over the town of Columbus and the river below that. On September 6, 1861 General Ulysses S. Grant's Union Army occupied the town of Paducah at the junction of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, ensuring that the North controlled the Ohio River.

Western Kentucky
Paducah remained under Union occupation for the duration and Kentucky remained a Union state, although the Confederacy held on to Columbus and the lower Mississippi for several years. 

Mr. F. Beard sketched the town for Harper's Weekly six weeks after Grant's takeover. He described occupied Paducah as a

"beautiful little city, full of respectable and often elegant residences. It now wears, however, a deserted and melancholy appearance. Whole streets of tenantless buildings stretch from the landing to the intrenchments; and the few inhabitants who remain, although entirely unmolested and secure, look guilty and sullen. Some of our boys left the steamer Sunday, and, wandering about the town, took possession of the deserted choir of a secesh church, and one of our number being a good organist, and most of us having assisted before on such occasions, we did our best to convince those within hearing that, although belonging to the 'Northern rabble,' we were not altogether heathen and benighted."
The pattern Kentucky Crossroads was given the name in an early 20th century magazine. My source is just a clipping in a scrapbook; it may have been Comfort or Hearth & Home magazine. We know the pattern best as an album block. (BlockBase #2881).
Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 light strips 2-3/8" x 5-1/2". You'll trim these at the end.

B - Cut 1 dark square 6-5/8". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. You need 4 triangles.
C - Cut 1 medium square 2-3/8"

Sew the corner strips to the center strips.
Trim the corners.

This album block (or Kentucky Crossroads) is an authentic pre-Civil-War pattern.
The detail below contains blocks dated 1847.

Album by Bettina Havig and Friends
Columbia, Missouri
Album by Mary Wilk Madden
and Barbara Brackman