Saturday, July 30, 2016

Symbolism in Red Work Quilts

A redwork quilt with 98 small embroidered blocks.

What's it all mean?

Symbolism is so dependent on the context of culture and time.

The back-end view of the rabbit is cute. 
Does it have any meaning besides "cute'?

The Maltese Cross next to it is repeated four times.

Could there be some reference to the Women's Relief Corps
veteran's auxiliary?

 WRC pin
The date in the center 1883 refers to the organization's birthdate.
The WRC was an arm of the Grand Army of the Republic,
the largest Union veteran soldier's organization after the Civil War.

Quilt block in the collection of the New York Historical Society

Or is it just a geometric shape?

EVERYBODY knows the Vulcan hand sign today.
Did everybody know what a Maltese Cross meant a century ago?

Detail of the Grand Army Quilt by Anna Morgan
From the Arizona project and the Quilt Index

A pieced and embroidered redwork quilt dated 1901
from a recent online auction.

Most of the quotes are Bibilical
but why the Maltese Cross?

See two other posts on quilts with Maltese Cross blocks

WRC flagstaff holder

But just so I don't get too confident that I know
what's going on---I notice the United Daughters of the Confederacy
use the same emblem.

Vulcan Hand Signal Block 
by Mary Kate Karr-Petras

See Vanda Chittenden's free pattern here:

I think if you click on Spock you get the hand and vice versa.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Westering Women 7: Courthouse Rock

Westering Women 7: Courthouse Rock
by Denniele Bohannon

Many passers-by described Courthouse Rock (on the left here) in their diaries. In 1853 Celinda Hines described it as “a massive pile of rocks on the level prairie and not even a stone in miles of it.”

"Found rocky bluffs resembling ancient ruins of crumbling walls….Can plainly see Court House Rock in the distance. It is an immense rock covering several acres of ground. So regular in its form as to resemble a Capitol building with cupola on the top. Our roads are poorly over sand and gravely bluff."
Harriet Griswold, July 1, 1857
As Harriet noted, the rock resembled a multi-story building from some angles and so it became Courthouse Rock.

An embroidered map of "The Covered Wagon States,"
a quilt block from an unidentified 20th-century pattern.
Courthouse Rock is about 5 miles south of Bridgeport on 
Nebraska Highway 88. 
I marked it with a red star here.

The Log Cabin variation Courthouse Steps can represent Courthouse Rock, an eye-catching landmark in what is now western Nebraska. The center square here is a good place to add your initials and the date, something travelers often did when they climbed the rock.

Westering Women Block #7 
Courthouse Rock by Becky Brown
The fabrics are from my next Moda line: Baltimore Blues.
Becky's been telling a story with her color choices.
"The wagons up ahead keep us in a cloud of dust and I feel like I've had grit in my hair since we first left Independence. We do see an occasional clump of green grass along the creeks, although it's been so dry, the prairie grass is brown this time of year. Always thankful for a blue sky and the promise of abundance at the end of this journey."

Alfred Jacob Miller,
portrait of a Sioux woman and her dog about 1859 
Collection of the Walters Museum.

Beyond Courthouse Rock was a Sioux community, where California-bound Margaret Frink stopped in 1850. “In the afternoon we passed an Indian encampment numbering seventy tents… The squaws were much pleased to see the ‘white squaw’ in our party, as they called me. I had brought a supply of needles and thread, some of which I gave them.”

Natural monuments were not the only trail markers. Travelers looked for graves, some diarists counting how many they had seen each day.

Rachel Pattison died in 1849 near Ash Hollow in Nebraska,
"taken sick in the morning, died in the night," wrote her husband.
Her gravestone has been moved to a cemetery where it is protected from further weathering.

Trail historian Ezra Meeker paying homage to 
Susan O. Haile at her grave about 1910. 

Susan died in June, 1852 along the Platte. This grave stone is long gone and has been replaced by one shown below.

Susan Haile and Rachel Pattison were two of many immigrants who died of cholera, a dysentery that can kill a person in a single day. The disease was a world-wide epidemic in the late 1840s and early 1850s. 1852, the year Susan died, was a particularly fatal year.

Mid-19th-century cholera preventatives included avoiding fruit, vegetables
and cold water---all good advice. Drafts of air were also considered dangerous.

A sick baby from Harper's Weekly in 1869

The real villain was water contaminated by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae: Too many people using the same area for privies, washing and drinking water.

But ignorance and fear caused travelers to blame the Native American tribes. If the water was poisoned Indians were the obvious enemy. Susan Hail's gravestone near Hastings has been replaced by a 20th-century stone with the dubious fact:
"Legend says this pioneer died after drinking water poisoned by Indians."

Margaret Ann Alsip Frink (1818-1893)
joined the gold rush to Sacramento, California

I'd rather remember Margaret Frink who shared her sewing supplies with the Sioux. Her encounter was far more typical of the interactions between the plains' native inhabitants and the travelers.

Cutting a 12" Block
All the strips should be cut 2" wide

A - Cut 2 strips 12-1/2" long.
B - Cut 4 strips 9-1/2" long.
C - Cut 4 strips 6-1/2" long.
D - Cut 2 strips 3-1/2" long.
E - Cut 1 square 3-1/2" x 3-1/2".

Sewing the Block.
Begin with the center square and add logs as you work out towards the outside.

Read Celinda Hines's diary in a preview of Volume 6 of Covered Wagon Women:

Harriet Booth Griswold's "From Ashtabula to Petaluma in 1859" is in Volume 7 and Margaret Frink's is in Volume 2.
See a preview here:

See more about Courthouse Rock here:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ribbons and Ribbon Badges

Queen Victoria's birthday celebration souvenir on the right,
a Union Army reunion on the left.
Canadian ribbons?

See more quilts with ribbons in last week's post.

We call them ribbons but I realized that they
were called "ribbon badges" or just "badges" at
the turn of the last century when they were popular.

Ribbon quilt with many political and reunion badges.

Paterson Ribbon Ltd Paterson NJ
printed this ribbon. You can see their signature at the top

As late as the mid-1930s the terms were "ribbon badges" or "badges." Carrie Hall quoted a story about a quilt of badges gathered at General Grant's funeral.

Once you know what to call them you can find a good deal of information about these commemorative badges.

The Confederate Veteran magazine advised branch members:
"It is recommended that ribbon badges be provided for reunion and ceremonial occasions. They can be executed in such designs as may be desired. White, red and gold, in the materials and in the lettering, should however, be used as far as possible. "
They listed four dealers in Ribbon Badges

Whitehead and Hoag in Newark was a large supplier.

These silk ribbon badges were quite common when silk was cheap
between 1880 and 1910.
What better place to preserve the badges than in a quilt?

Crazy quilt with ribbon badges for Michael Bradley. 
Collection Illinois State Museum.
Illinois project and the Quilt Index.

A manufacturers' directory lists Badge makers.

Advertising ribbon badges for an
1896 Confederate reunion in Richmond

Hart’s Battery Reunion of Hampton’s Legion, Richmond, 1896