Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Union Quilt = An Eagle Quilt?

Four Eagle Quilt by a member of the Swengel family,
Union County, Pennsylvania
Collection of the State Museum of Pennsylvania

Could the Union Quilt sent to the Washington hospital discussed in last week's post be an Eagle applique?

"Union Quilt 
Appliqued of red, blue and yellow on white.
Courtesy of Karl R. Kaiser, Esq."

In 1929 quilt historian Ruth Finley called this patriotic pattern “Union” in her classic book, Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them:
"But of all patriotic quilts none is more characteristic than the Union Quilt with four great American eagles spreading their wings across each corner. Red, white and blue are, of course, the colors of the quilt photographed, a touch of gold being added by the shield-shaped patch which forms the body of the bird. This specimen was made during the Civil War when the earlier wide-spread use of the eagle design was revived by the North."
Union quilt pictured by Florence Peto in the Magazine Antiques, 1940

In 1938 Florence Peto published "Old Quilts Tell a Story" in the magazine The American Home.
"Union Quilt is typical Pennsylvania-German design of Civil War period. This bold, vivid example was made c. 1861 by Mrs. Charles Burk. Owned and shown by Mrs. C. Knepper."
In 1940 she published the same quilt in The Magazine Antiques:
"The owner of this patriotic item is Mrs. Charles Knepper of Three Springs, Pennsylvania. A similar example has been reported in the possession of Miss Marcia Manning of Williamsport, Pennsylvania."
Had Peto access to all the quilt images we have today she would have known there are dozens of similar examples.

It is amazing how many of these eagle quilts were made but not, as Peto wrote, during the Civil War.

Two similar examples.

They tend to date from about 1880 through the 1920s and are thought to be influenced by the 1876 Centennial celebration in Philadelphia.

A variety of circular centers and twigs and cherries (or are those olive branches?) are included.

Flags are rarer
The earliest date-inscribed example I have in my files is dated 1879.

An eagle quilt dated 1844 advertised in The Clarion by America Hurrah.

There might be earlier prototypes. The idea of a four-block eagle quilt seems older than the standard eagle we are talking about here.

Quilt from the Binney Collection.

These stereotypical eagles look to be post-1880. Solid color fabrics, strip borders and quilting style are all clues to a post-Civil-War date.

And when you find them in Oklahoma or Massachusetts there tends to be a Pennsylvania link.

Collection of the University of Texas

So they may have been called Union Quilts when Finley and Peto were collecting stories about quilts but they don't seem to be the Union Quilts referred to during the Civil War.

See more about eagle quilts at Susan Wildemuth's page:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Westering Women: Block 4 Lone Elm

Westering Women Block 4
Lone Elm by Becky Brown
using Old Cambridge Pike prints

Trees were such a rarity beyond the United States border that they became guideposts on the trails. In the first days out early travelers looked for the Lone Elm, an important marker at a fork in the road. 

The two main trails from a map "endorsed" by the DAR in the 20th century.
The trails split in what is now eastern Kansas.

One road was the Oregon/California trail going northwest. The other branch was the Santa Fe trail going southwest for traders to Mexico.
Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe, 1844.
The Mexican War brought Santa Fe into the U.S. in 1848.

Women were infrequent travelers on the Santa Fe trail as it was primarily a road for commercial trading traffic, so we have few records from the female perspective. One mentioned last month was Anna Maria Morris, an Army wife.

Susan Magoffin (1827-1855) about the time of her trip to Santa Fe,
dressed in the large scale stripes so popular in the 1840s.

Susan Shelby Magoffin, an 18-year-old newlywed from Kentucky, is another exception. She had married a Santa Fe trader and accompanied him in 1846.

June 11:
"Now the Prairie life begins! ....This is the first camping place....There is no other tree or bush or shrub save one Elm tree, which stands on a small elevation near the little creek or branch. The travellers allways stop where there is water sufficient for all their animals....We crossed the branch and stretched our tent. It is a grand affair indeed....conical shape, with an iron pole and wooden ball; we have a table in it that is fastened to the pole...Our bed is as good as many houses have: sheets, blankets, counterpanes, pillow &c."
The Lone Elm did not last long in its role of trail marker. Short-sighted travelers soon cut it down for fuel. 
"I first saw Lone Elm camp ground in 1854.... The old tree was lying on the ground, the greater part of it being burned up." 
W.H. Brady's memories read at the dedication of the Lone Elm monument by DAR in 1906.

Lone Elm by Nancy Swanwick

Typical D.A.R. marker for Santa Fe trail

In 1902 the Daughters of the American Revolution
embarked on a project to record the trails' locations.

Subtle traces of the trails at Lone Elm.

Lone Elm is a park in eastern Kansas where one can still see the ruts from the wagons at the creek crossing.

Fifty years later a photographer recorded
the rut cut in stone in the far west.

In some places those ruts are quite deep and long lasting. In the grassy plains the traces are called swales.

Lone Elm by Linda Mooney

BlockBase #809 is as rare as a tree on the Great Plains, a traditional tree block based on a grid of 6, rather than 5 or 8 or 14 (all hard to cut for a 12" block.) This variation was published in the Kansas City Star in 1934 as Christmas Tree or Pine Tree. Because no native pines grow on the plains (not enough rain) we can call it an elm for the Lone Elm.

Cutting a 12" Block

A - Cut 1 square 6-7/8" x 6-7/8". Cut in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 2 triangles.

B - Cut 9 dark squares and 6 light squares 2-7/8" x 2-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.You need 18 dark and 12 light triangles.

C - Cut 3 squares 2-1/2" x 2-1/2".

D - Cut 1 square 5-7/8" x 5-7/8". Cut in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 2 triangles.

E - Cut 1 rectangle 9" x 2"

Notice on the map near the top of the page we are making little geographical progress. This is probably because I live near the arrow and I want to include all the sites near us. We've gone about two days travel.
Next month---progress.

Lone Elm by Denniele Bohannon

Another shading option

The traditional set.

Read Susan Magoffin's diary at this link from the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Union Quilt at an Annapolis Hospital

Portland, Maine from the Robert N Dennis
 collection of stereographs

In late 1862 sixty women of Portland, Maine, organized the Young Ladies' R F Society "to aid the Ladies San. Com.tee [Sanitary Commission] of Portland in their efforts to improve the condition of our sick and wounded soldiers." In 1865 they made a list of their accomplishments, which included many handmade shirts, drawers, slippers and sheets. And at the bottom of the list:

Two Union Quilts.

See the list here:

The Naval Hospital in Annapolis

Their list and some of their correspondence is in the collection of the Maine State Museum. One of their Union Quilts was sent to the U.S. General Hospital in Annapolis where nurse Adeline M. Walker of Portland, perhaps friend to some in the group, wrote a letter of thanks in April,1863.
"Wish you could hear all the fine things said about your beautiful Union Quilt. I called the ladies into my room and a Council of War was held over the ingeniously - constructed work, and it was unanimously voted that the young “R. F’s” had shown them selves to be possessed of wonderful genius – talent, taste – skill, patience – wit – industry – piety – patriotism, originality – and I know not what else – but to sum up – it was the best thing of the kind ever seen by any of them — To-day the quilt has been on exhibition in my ward ..."
The secretary of the R F's was Maria T. Hersey, daughter of a well-to-do Portland merchant and ship owner Theophilus C. Hersey. Nurse Walker wrote about hospital conditions,

"Many of the new patients have died – and, nearly all, of Typhoid Pneumonia."

Typhoid was a common disease with a mortality rate of abut 33% at the time.
Two years later the disease claimed Adeline Walker at 35.

This CDV photograph is dated
to 1864 and said to be a post mortem
portrait of a nurse at the Annapolis Hospital.

The nurses at the Naval Hospital have been fairly well remembered. Adeline Walker was one of nine Maine nurses, assisting head Adeline Tyler.

Adeline Blanchard Tyler (1805-1875)
was head nurse until she resigned due to ill health in 1864.

Read more about the nurses there at this link:

The post war book Women's Work in the Civil War has information about
the Annapolis women and "Sister Tyler"

Brady portrait of "Sister Tyler."

But what did that "ingeniously constructed" Union Quilt look like?

Perhaps it resembled another patriotic  Maine quilt from the time:

Read more about the Maine nurses in Annapolis:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Quilt Guild Block of the Month Programs

First three Westering Women blocks by Barbara S.

Sheila in Nova Scotia wrote the other day:
"Would it be okay if our quilt guild used the Westering Women Block of the Month as our Guild BOM starting in September? I am the program director for our small guild and I am planning on doing a BOM starting in the fall and I think this would be perfect, however I would like your permission to do so.
I would direct them to your blog to retrieve the patterns and there will most likely be around 30 members who would participate or hoping for even a few more .
Regards ,
Sheila for the Thistle Quilt Guild"
I was glad to give her permission and I'm taking this opportunity to give all of you guild members permission to use these series Block of the Month programs that I post.

Barb V is making them 9 inches.

I leave the posts up there so they are relatively easy to access. I've created a Pinterest page which gives you links to the various topics and posts.

Brenda just finished her Threads of Memory top.
A link to the blocks:

I'm happy to have guilds use them for their non-commercial purposes. I post these without charge for two main reasons. One is to give people ideas for using reproduction prints.

Madison by Jean Stanclift
from Threads of Memory

The other is to give quilters an accurate history of needlework. I'm interested in history framed in the broader context of women's history, western American history and particularly Civil War history. I spent several years working for museums in the public outreach and education department.

Rochester by Becky Brown
Each of the twelve stars in Threads of Memory
tells a true tale of the underground railroad and
escape from slavery.

 What better way to teach history than with quilt patterns?

Kathie's Threads of Memory

So do feel free to use the Block of the Month designs I've posted. I've also done several Block of the Weeks----a little much for a guild, but you could pick twelve favorite posts and give the members links to those.

Reitje's Austen Family Album - 36 blocks
for fans of Jane Austen and Regency history.

As Sheila suggests the guild just needs to provide a link to the post. The instructions are up there on the cloud (with corrections and suggestions from past block makers).
Here's a Pinterest page with links to lots of posts from Austen Family Album. Scroll down to the bottom. (Pinterest always starts at the bottom and works its way up to the top.)

Becky Brown, Grandmother's Choice
49 blocks on the history of the women's rights movement.

For fabric and color inspiration you'll find models by Becky, Dustin, Bettina and others who have helped me out.

Grandmother's Choice by Mary & Martha Tours

Pick a dozen.

I realize there are guild members who have no computer access so if you must---print out the directions for them. We can hope a BOM may be incentive for learning how to access patterns on the internet.

And do send photographs of quilts in progress and finished.

We'll be starting a new Block of the Week for 26 weeks in 2016 soon on my Material Culture blog page:
Look for the first post about a William Morris tour of England on May 7th.