Saturday, July 12, 2014

Maria Spear's Quilt: Fundraiser for Confederate Memorial

Silk Quilt made by the ladies of Fayetteville, North Carolina,
led by Maria L. Spear (1804-1881).
Collection of the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia
97" x 99"

Detail of the quilt
Maria L. Spear, born in England, is said to have drawn each of the black squares for the Fayetteville women to embroider.

Post-Civil-War women's groups worked to memorialize local soldiers. A quilt in the Museum of the Confederacy collection is well documented as a fundraiser to build the memorial at the Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Ann Kyle headed the Fayetteville's Soldiers' Aid Association and determined to build a marble monument.

The Cross Creek memorial is North Carolina's first 
Confederate memorial,
according to Douglas J. Butler.
It was dedicated in December, 1868

Spear, a skilled needlewoman and teacher, volunteered to organize a quilt to be raffled for the cause. The women met every Friday afternoon to sew for months, but after Spear moved to Chapel Hill little work went on without her. After two years Spear lamented, "When I saw the Quilt this evening, I felt overwhelmed, how I am to get it done, I don't know."She finished it in six months and the ad below in the Fayetteville News described it as "elaborately embroidered...beautiful silken quilt of the richest and finest material."

"The designs are all of a different pattern and worked, many of them, on a ground not exceeding a square inch; the colors are contrasted and blended with true artistic skill---beautiful sprays and bouquets of flowers and various emblematical designs combine to make up an article which for elegance of design, fineness of materials and superiority of execution has never been surpassed in this or any country...
The ladies acknowledge their indebtedness to the indefatigable industry and inexhaustible taste of Miss Maria L. Spear who invented the unique style of making up the quilt. She also invented and stamped all the beautiful and varied designs with which it is embellished."

The quilt raised $300 in dollar raffle tickets and was won by Martha Lewis who gave it to Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederacy. After his death, Varina Davis donated it to the Museum.

Find the catalog page in the online quilt exhibit at the Museum of the Confederacy website here:
Load the exhibit and scroll through.

Read the story here in Douglas J. Butler's: North Carolina Civil War Monuments: An Illustrated History:


WoolenSails said...

That is an amazing quilt and so beautifully made. I can imagine the hours those ladies must have put into the quilt and without the modern machines we have now.


Anonymous said...

I love reading the history in your blog posts! Thank you so much for taking the time to share these stories!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the extensive work on history uyou surely havedone to share the information with us that you share.

Being a daughter of the Confederacy, I am thankful to see tis wonderful quilt. Such a tragic and heart breaking time in our nation's history Barbara. It seems to be more real when we see average normal women were quilting then also.

Thanks again,

Linda Christianson said...

It was well worth downloading the picture. Thank you for the link. I did learn that it is OK to piece when you do not have enough. the cost of fabric just seems to get higher and higher. We can see that these ladies knew how to use every inch. I am sure from fancy dresses of the time.