Saturday, September 26, 2015

Nancy Wright's Family Record Quilt at the Kansas Museum of History

Nancy J. Wood Wright  (1797-?)
Detail of a Log Cabin quilt with embroidered genealogical information.
 1877. Photos from the Kansas Museum of History.

"Nancy J Wood was born Nov 2 1797 
& married Jonathan Wright June 15, 1815 in Scott Co Ky
I am 80 year 24 of this month 1877"

The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka has an exhibit up now called The Great Soldier State: Kansas and the Civil War.

Flag with 34 stars representing Kansas as the 34th state

The show features flags from the Civil War and a single quilt from 1877 embroidered with genealogical information.

"John Tipton Wright was born Jan 22 1837. he enlisted in 51st Ill reg infantry on the 25 of May 1862 & was shot in battle on the 27 of June 1864 at Kenesaw mountain in Georgia.
Cruel War"
Chaplain Lewis Raymond wrote a letter to the Chicago Tribune after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain listing the casualties in the 51st Illinois, among the Privates "J[ohn T.] Wright."

Nancy refers to her siblings (17 of them) and
children (9):
"I have outlived 15 brothers and sisters & 9 of my own children"

The overall quilt pattern is a log cabin block alternating with plain blocks in which florals and
text are embroidered. 

Most of the fabrics are wool or wool combination weaves.
Condition is poor with much fabric loss 

but the embroidered details are still vivid.

Her second child George  (1817-1852) is 
remembered with a dog (or a cow?)

The quilt is on exhibit through January 3, 2016.

Nancy tells us a lot about herself but other records are hard to find. She was born in Washington County, Kentucky, on November 20, 1797, about five years after Kentucky became the 15th state. John Adams had recently been inaugurated as the second President of the United States. The national capitol was still in Philadelphia.

At 18 she married Jonathan Wright after the War of 1812. They had twelve children between 1816 and 1841. The youngest was Jacob, born in Owen County, Indiana (near Bloomington). By the time of the Civil War the family had gone west again. Three of her boys enlisted in Illinois regiments out of Lincoln, Illinois.

A rosy view of Lincoln, Illinois in Logan County

"Lycurgus G Wright was born August 23 1836 
he enlisted in the 11 Ill cav in the Federal army 
he was shot Feb 16 1865 in Tenn 
oh this war"

Official records indicate Lycurgus was accidentally shot and killed in Hernando M [Mississippi].

"Jacob S. Wright was born June 11, 1841 & enlisted in the 
Federal army April 61 for 3 months 
then he enlisted sep 1861 & was in the War till 1865 
he got home and married Lou Council Dec 28 1865 he is alive ??" 
(or that might say 77, the year of the quilt)

After the war Jacob and Lou settled in Springfield, Illinois.

Nancy's daughter, another Nancy Jane Wright was born January 30, 1825. She married Hiram Tolliver. Her grave is in Rooks County, Kansas, where she died May 5, 1905.

Nancy Wright Tolliver's grave in the Survey Cemetery

One more item about Nancy's husband Jonathan: He is mentioned in a county biography of his daughter-in-law Lou Council Wright. 
"[Jacob's] father was a soldier in the war of 1812; was wounded in the head during an engagement with the Indians, and but for the interposition of Tecumseh would have been killed. He was made prisoner, taken to Sandusky, and retained there until exchanged."

Perhaps Jonathan Wright (1783-1851) was at the Siege of Fort Meigs on the Maumee in Ohio with one of the Kentucky militia who fought the British and Tecumseh's troops in May, 1813

"Nancy J. Wright is now 80 years & 34 days old 
& made a finish of this quilt 29th of Dec 1877 
oh if I had a home & would not be in no bodys way"

See the exhibit before it closes on January 3, 2016.


Jacqueline said...

Just fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Wow. "Not be in no bodys way." What a story she conjures up, not only her history but her humanity. Thank you for this blog and the research you do to bring it to us.

Becky in VA said...

A true treasure!

Mary said...

What a history of her family she shares through her embroidery! Thank you for sharing this living history.

Jeanne said...

What an amazing quilt!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this treasure. What a wonderful quilt with an amazing story.

Bonnie said...

Just wondering if the "George Orville Wright" or this Wright family in general are any relation to Orville and Wilbur Wright-of aviation fame?

Themis Abdo said...

Thank you Barbara, it is another fascinating story. Exciting,very excinting.

Barbara Brackman said...

Bonnie--Wright is such a common name I doubt it. Her name being so common is one problem in following her across the country.

The Civil War Quilter said...

Oh, Barbara, what a fascinating post! It gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. I could just see an aged Nancy laboring over her quilt full of family history, heartache, and love. And to think that most quilts weren't even signed then. What a treasure. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

Fantastic post. I was fine until I read the last caption. I'm afraid that is still the way far too many of our seniors feel today. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story quilt.

Jeanne said...

I wish there was a photo of the entire quilt - I didn't see one at the museum's site.

Ann T. said...

That is such a treasure. What a lot of work to make such a family history quilt.

Karen Andreola said...

Thank you for your research and presentation. The quilter's line at the end of this post. "Oh, if I only had a home . . . " has stirred up my sympathies, for she probably worked form sun-to-sun to "make" a home for others at an earlier time in her life - with whatever her hands found to do.