Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Westering Women 8: Chimney Rock

Westering Women 8: Chimney Rock by Denniele Bohannon

Westering Women 8: Chimney Rock by Becky Brown

Becky used some browns and blues from my fall line Baltimore Blues.
"The stripe was perfect to represent the spire on Chimney Rock. Using Google Earth it was interesting to look down on this part of the land and see other strange looking rock formations in that area - a change-over from the prairie lands and a sign of the approaching mountains. There are some beautiful pictures on Flickr - looking at it through the eye of an artist."

Chimney Rock was another distinctive geological landmark on the overland trails.
The illustration by Frederick Piercy is from 1853.
June 17, 1853
"At night we came to Chimney rock which had been visible to us for 15 miles. It is a pillar of rock & sand…Martha & I went to see it by moonlight. The sight was awfully sublime. The sides of the base on which the pillar rests are so steep that it was with the utmost difficulty we could climb up it at all…We found it covered with names."
Celinda Hines

This map shows Oregon/Mormon Trail sites in what is now the state of Nebraska.
The red star is Chimney Rock.

Ezra Meeker retraced the trail in the early 20th century and sold postcards.
This one shows erosion that continues to change the landmark. It is
no longer the square chimney the westering women saw.

July 3, 1852
"Today we came to the river opposite Chimney Rock which has been visible most of the way for the last 35 miles…It consists of a large square column of clay and sand mixed together with a base of conical form apparently composed of sand….We see a great many strange looking rocks that look like old ruins but I could not describe them accurately had I time."
Cecelia Adams

BlockBase #3123

Chimney is a block pictured in Topeka’s Capper’s Weekly quilt column about 1930. It was also called California by Hearth and Home magazine about 1910. The block can represent Chimney Rock and symbolize a destination at trail's end.
Cutting a 12" Block

Print the templates for A and B or use the rotary cutting.
A - Cut 4 squares 4-1/2". Trim the corner off before sewing or after.
B - Cut 4 squares 4-1/2". Trim to a point before or after adding C.
C - Cut 5 squares 3-3/8" x 3=3/8".

To Print the Templates:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file.
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file. 
  • Check to be sure the top line of piece B (the cutting line) measures 4-1/2".
Piecing the Block

Now, if you hate the Y Seam you could
draw in more lines and cut the C square into
4 triangles.

More pieces, perhaps less frustration.

If you want to do that cut 8 squares 2-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut.
Then you can make the block as a nine-patch.

Another remarkable sight in the west: Prairie Dog Towns.

Illustration from Josiah Gregg's 1839 book

Prairie dogs are a type of ground squirrel that build conical burrows above ground.
Early European explorers thought they barked like a dog.

Snakes and prairie dog holes. 
Walk carefully and keep your eye on the ground.

 "The prairie for hundreds of miles is covered with [prairie dog] holes," wrote Ellen Tootle in 1862. She described the first one she saw in western Nebraska.
"about the size of a Gray Squirrel... yellowish gray color. Its ears are so small as scarcely to be perceptible. Its head is perhaps more like a rabbit....What is called their bark is nothing like the bark of a dog. More like the noise a squirrel makes, indeed I thought at first it proceeded from a bird, and frequently mistook it for the noise of the creaking of the wagon wheels."
Westering Women

Read Ellen Tootle's diary in a preview of Kenneth L. Holmes book, Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1862-1865, Volume 8:

Chimney Rock, south of Bayard, Nebraska, has a visitors’ interpretive center open daily.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Autograph Quilt Godey's Lady's Book 1864: Adeline Harris Sears's Quilt

Celebrity Signature Quilt by Adeline Harris Sears
Sarah Josepha Hale signed the diamond 
in the lower center.

In April, 1864, Sarah Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book, wrote about a correspondent who'd asked for her autograph.

We have lately received a pleasant letter from a young lady of Rhode Island, who is forming a curious and valuable collection of autographs in an original and very womanly way; the design is to insert the names in a counterpane or bedquilt. Each autograph is written, with common black ink, on a diamond shaped piece of white silk (placed over a diagram of white paper and basted at the edges), each piece the centre of a group of colored diamonds, formed in many instances, from "storied" fragments of dresses which were worn in the olden days of our country. For instance, there are pieces of a pink satin dress which flaunted at one of President Washington's dinner parties; with other relics of those rich silks and stiff brocades so fashionable in the last century. 
Tumbling Blocks quilt with celebrity signatures,1856–63.
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

"The whole number of pieces required is 2780; of these, 556 are to contain autographs. The novel idea of the quilt has found such warm favor in the hearts of those whom the young Needle-artist has addressed, that she has already obtained three hundred and fifty autographs, many of these from men highly distinguished in the literary, political, scientific, and military history of the present century."
Hale was corresponding with 24-year-old  Adeline Harris of Wyoming, Rhode Island, who had been collecting signatures of famous people since 1856.

From Amelia Peck's article: "A Marvel of Woman's Ingenious and 
Intellectual Industry": The Adeline Harris Sears Autograph Quilt.

Hale was quite taken with the whole idea and published a diamond shape pattern to make an "autograph bedquilt."
"The autograph bedquilt is made by obtaining the signatures of friends or relatives written upon pieces of white material. These pieces may be square, octagon, round, diamond, or heart shaped, or indeed cut into any form to suit the taste of the maker. After they are cut they should be strained tightly over a card, to make a smooth, even surface for the writing, which should be done in indelible ink. Muslin, linen, or silk can be used, the silk being the handsomest, while the linen makes the best surface for the signature. The cards may be sent by mail to friends at a distance.
After the names are written, the white pieces can be either sewed down upon, or set into, squares of colored material, and these squares, sewed together, form the quilt.
In quilting, select such a pattern as will leave the name free from the quilting stitches.
Smaller pieces of white silk (with the autographs written in miniature), alternated with colored silk, and made into a pincushion or sofa cushion make a very pretty album of affection."
Curator Amelia Peck has done a good deal of research about Adeline Harris Sears and her quilt. Adeline was the daughter of  prosperous mill owner James Toleration Harris and Sophia Knight Harris. She married Yale Graduate Lorenzo Sears (1838-1916) in January, 1866. They had a daughter Sophia Harris Sears 1876-1949. He taught at the University of Vermont in the late 1880s and was a Professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, from 1890-1903. 

They spent much of their lives in Providence, I imagine, in this shingle style house.

They're buried in Swan Point Cemetery there.

Dr. Lorenzo Sears
Adeline's husband is described in a memorial tablet at St. Martin's Church:
"Priest, educator, author, gentleman of the old school; interpreting the lives of the great with rare insight and masterly skill; endearing himself to all who knew him by his courtly grace and thoughtful kindness.”

Sarah Hale included the autograph quilt article in a later book, Manners, Happy Homes and Good Society All the Year Round.

The reverse of the quilt shows that it isn't finished with a back. This is 
Abraham Lincoln's 1860 signature,
collected during his campaign.

Here is more of Hale's 1864 feature about Harris's quilt.
She was QUITE taken with it.
"We will name a few of these renowned contributors : Humboldt, Bunsen, Walter Savage Landor, Louis Blanc, Kossuth, Washington Irving, Prescott, Benton, Choate; six American Presidents, viz., Van Buren, Tyler, Filmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln: while many have contributed, upon the little white silk diagram, characteristic sentiments or verses.... 
In short, we think this autograph bedquilt may be called a very wonderful invention in the way of needlework. The mere mechanical part, the number of small pieces, stitches neatly taken and accurately ordered ; the arranging properly and joining nicely 2780 delicate bits of various beautiful and costly fabrics, is a task that would require no small share of resolution, patience, firmness, and perseverance. Then comes the intellectual part, the taste to assort colors and to make the appearance what it ought to be, where so many hundreds of shades are to be matched and suited to each other. After that we rise to the moral, when human deeds are to live in names, the consideration of the celebrities, who are to be placed each, the centre of his or her own circle ! To do this well requires a knowledge of books and life, and an instinctive sense of the fitness of things, so as to assign each name its suitable place in this galaxy of stars or diamonds.

Notwithstanding the comprehensive design we are attempting to describe, we have no doubt of its successful termination. The letter of the young lady bears such internal evidence of her capability, that we feel certain she has the power to complete her work if her life is spared. And when we say that she has been nearly eight years engaged on this quilt, and seems to feel now all the enthusiasm of a poetical temperament working out a grand invention that is to be a new pleasure and blessing to the world, we are sure all our readers will wish her success....
We think our readers who have not time for such a great undertaking as this autograph counterpane, might make some interesting collections in a smaller way. A young lady might, by limiting her plan to scores instead of hundreds of names, soon obtain enough of these lettered diamonds to make a sofa-cushion, a cover for a small table, or some other ornamental design. For this purpose we give a pattern illustrative of the form of the diagram (see Work Table Department, page 387) ; this, with our description, will, we trust, enable any lady who has a love for the needle and the pen to achieve success."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

tag: ThreadsofMemory

We have an Instagram tag for the Threads of Memory Civil War Sampler quilt we did in 2014. Post pictures here:


Jeanne at Spiral
And Flickr pages:
For finished tops


Some Pinterest pages:

I found this finished quilt with a scalloped edge by doing a web search for Threads of Memory quilt.


Here's a blog post with links to all twelve blocks if you want to get caught up:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Atheline Henry's Short Life

Carl Melton,
Collection of 
Mountain Heritage Center
Western Carolina University

In the winter of 1861 as Southern states began seceding two young women in the North Carolina mountains were making quilts. Cornelia Smith Henry was a well-to-do slave owner of 24 years whose husband's family owned a resort hotel in Sulphur Springs in Buncombe County. One of her 20 or so slaves was Atheline, who had just turned sixteen. Atheline took care of Cornelia's two young children and did much the cooking for the house as well as some of the sewing. Cornelia was expecting her fourth child.
January 7, 1861. Atheline & I tacked a comfort & began another....considerable excitements going on now in politics on account of a Black Republican being elected president [Abraham Lincoln.] 
January 10. Atheline & Fannie tacking comforts.
The Henry family lived near Asheville, North Carolina

The following month Atheline and Cornelia began a quilt for Atheline.
February 21. Cut pieces for Atheline to begin her a quilt....Old Mrs Parker was here this evening & borrowed our quilting frames.... 
February 23. Pea [Cornelia's young son Pinckney] staid down here with Atheline tonight. She finished her quilt or at least the squares today.
February 28. Atheline finished her quilt.
Cornelia's family lived on the grounds of the Sulphur Springs Hotel, which
burned in the first year of the war. 
 This picture shows the second hotel
built in the 1880s.

We can assume Atheline pieced and quilted her quilt in about a week with some assistance from Cornelia.
In March:
March 6. I worked some quilt pieces in evening for Atheline to piece me a rag quilt.
The following winter Atheline married on January 4, 1862. Cornelia wrote in her diary:
Atheline & Jim married tonight. They did it on the sly order. Mrs. Fanning & I went down to Fannie's house to see it.
In March, 1862, Atheline prepared cotton batting for a top and readied it for the frame. The quilt was "put in" and got out in the last week of the month.
March 24. Atheline carded bats for her quilt which she will put in tomorrow. 
March 25. I helped Atheline put in her quilt. 
March 29. Atheline got her quilt out before dinner. 
March 31. Atheline hemmed on her quilt before dinner
In the fall one of Cornelia's quilts went into the frame.
September 24, 1862. I have been carding bats today to put in my cactus quilt. Atheline helped some. 

Children from a postcard about 1910 Rockingham County, NC.
From North Carolina Postcards at the University of North Carolina.
Notice the mother's hand on the left, holding onto the toddler.

Both women were pregnant in 1863. By the winter of 1864 Atheline had given birth but had not recovered. In the spring Cornelia was pessimistic she ever would. 
April 3, 1864. I cut some quilt pieces today of old dress skirts. Atheline will piece it if she gets able. She mends very slow. I fear she will never be well again. She has a dreadful cough. Her baby grows some, it does not suck her at all now.
In June Cornelia was making quilts for the babies. (She eventually gave birth to twelve children.)
Atheline is some better but still feeble. She sits up part of the time. I do wish she could get well once again but I fear she will never be stout again. She has been a good nurse to me & the children.
June 22, 1864. I sewed on the crib quilts today. Dr Logan was here today. This is his 4th visit to Atheline. I don't think he does her any good whatever. She is very feeble. I fear she has consumption.
In July:
I feel so sorry when she asks me how long before she will be well. ...I hate to see her pine away & think she must die.
July 16, 1864. Atheline died this morning about half past eight. She went very easy. She died very easy. She was 19 years old last December 21st day. Jim takes if very hard.
July 21. I have done nothing today. I made a white bow for Atheline this morning. Mrs. Fanning, Betsey McKinnish, Fannie & Jinnie dressed her very neatly. I had a pair of my fine stockings & a nice pair of gloves put on her & gave her a sheet. She has been kind to me & my children. I loved her for loving them.

The Metcalf Children
Collection of 
Mountain Heritage Center
Western Carolina University
See more of their collection of photos, quilts and civil war correspondence:

Atheline was buried in the Henry family cemetery, now called the Historic Sulphur Springs Cemetery or Old Academy Cemetery. Cornelia Smith Henry's diary has been published as Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

See a lengthy preview here:

Atheline Henry Dec. 21, 1844- July 16, 1864

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Van Fleet Flag Quilt

Flag Quilt by Emma Jane Bullock Van Fleet, 1867
Yakima Valley Museum

This Illinois quilt is in the collection of the Yakima Valley Museum in Washington.

Alfred and Emma Van Fleet
From the Yakima Valley Museum collection.
They have a photograph album of the Van Fleet family.

Emma Bullock Van Fleet (1845-1886 ) stitched the names of 46 battles that her husband Alfred saw during his two enlistments in Company K of the 8th Illinois Cavalry. Alfred fought at Gettysburg. 

"Gettysburg Pa July 1 1863"
See the Museum's website here:

Mustered out in St. Louis in 1865, Alfred bought land in De Kalb County, Illinois. He and Emma married in 1867 and soon moved to Ames, Iowa. Alfred, a blacksmith's son, took an interest in barbed wire, the innovative fencing material. In 1878 the family moved to Joliet, Illinois, the center of barbed wire manufacturing where Alfred invented and built wire machinery. He, his brothers and his son Elon operated several machine shops,building among many other items, gasoline engines.

Emma died in 1886 in Joliet at the age of 41.

In 1916 Alfred was killed in an automobile accident in Seattle while spending the winter with his daughter Grace Walker and her husband Wesley.

We can guess that Emma's Washington descendants donated her Civil War memorial quilt to the Yakima Valley Museum.

In 1996 Gail Bakkom, inspired by the Van Fleet quilt, made her own Veteran's flag,
honoring another soldier from the Civil War.
See more about her reproduction quilt in this preview of my book Quilts from the Civil War by clicking here:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#Starsinatimewarp on Instagram

Some blocks I've found on Instagram

Molly on CynthiaNanto's blocks
I can't really see the blocks but the poodle's happy.

Post here or lurk.....

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Rebecca Fuller Decker's Quilt at the Staten Island Historical Society

Here's an intriguing glimpse of a Civil War pictorial quilt
in the Staten Island Historical Society/Historic Richmond Town collection in New York.

The quilt is said to have been made in Illinois during the Civil War.

See their online record here:

It looks like a repeat block applique
with eagles above cannons and crossed flags.
The pictures are copyright of the Historical Society.

The catalog record:
"Pieced and appliqued bed cover decorated with patriotic and wartime motifs. Constructed from blue and white printed background fabric and multicolored appliques. Appliqued motifs include eagles, flags, light rays (sometimes called glories or sunbursts), cannons, pyramids of cannonballs, and shields. Machine stitching is visible over the appliques.

Staten Island Historical Society records state that this bedspread was made during the Civil War by Rebecca (Fuller) Decker (1827-1907). The bedspread was presented to the Historical Society in 1967 by Rebecca’s granddaughter, Dorothy Decker Randall (Mrs. John A. Randall) of Staten Island.
Rebecca Abigail Fuller and Rev. Michael Decker married in Illinois in 1850. The 1860 census shows Michael and Rebecca and their 6 children (including some from Michael’s previous marriage) living in the town of China, Illinois. Rev. Decker, a Methodist preacher, served as a chaplain during the Civil War, and because of his knowledge of medicine, also assisted in the care of wounded soldiers."

Rebecca's husband was a Methodist minister.
Plaque on the Decker grave at the Belvidere Cemetery in Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois

During the Civil War he was
chaplain of the Thirty Fourth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

In December, 1863 the unit was near Loudon, Tennessee. The regimental historian records:

"We were at Johnson's mill a few days.... This mill was not far from Chilhowee mountain. The family living near the mill went into ecstasies over our regimental colors, which the colonel kept floating so long as we remained. The people of the community were loyal and kind-hearted, but they had been overrun with both armies passing through the country, and were more or less destitute. About two miles from the mill was an unfinished church, to which our chaplain, Decker, was invited to hold services on Sunday. A squad of six or eight men went with him as a precaution against mischief from a band of guerrillas which had for a long time infested the country. The church building was only enclosed, and not finished or seated. The citizens occupied a long bench on the left side of the speaker, and the guards, with guns in hand, occupied a bench on the opposite side of the house. It is questionable whether the chaplain or the two rows of audience received the most attention from each other."
Rebecca Abigail Fuller Decker (1827-1907) was born in Pennsylvania and became the second wife of Methodist minister Michael Decker (1814-1874) in May, 1849 [or 1850]. They lived in northern Illinois, where he was a preacher in the Rock River Conference.

Rebecca Decker was apparently a model minister's wife. Obituaries comment on her piety and enthusiasm for the missions.

She died at her granddaughters home in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1907
at the age of 80.

Rebecca and Michael are buried in the Belvidere Cemetery as are four of their children.
Frank H. died in March, 1862 at the age of 2.
Charles, no age given
Kate, no age given
Sarah E, no age given

Belvidere about 1910.
Another obituary for Rebecca Decker:
Northwestern Christian Advocate, Volume 55 June 1907

"DECKER.——Rebecca A. Decker, nee Fuller, was born in Orville. Pa., January 12. 1827, and died March 7, 1907, at Marshalltown. Ia., while on a visit to her granddaughter, Mrs. BW Sinclair. In 1850 she married Rev. Michael Decker, a member of Rock River Conference. During the Civil War Mr. Decker was chaplain of the ThirtyFourth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He died November 21, 1874. After her husband"s death Mrs. Decker, with her family moved to Chicago, where she lived for the space of ten years. She then went to Rockford, Ill., where for twenty-three years she had had her home. She held her membership in the Centennial Methodist Episcopal Church where she was greatly respected. 

Methodist Episcopal Church in Rockford.
 "In the Sunday School, missionary society, and temperance cause she was active and proficient. As a pastor’s wife she was a devoted helpmeet. She was a teacher in the Sunday School for the past fifty years. Mrs. Decker,for her means, was exceedingly generous. For several years she contributed largely to the support of a Bible woman in India. She was a woman gifted in prayer and rich in religious experience. Her testimony was always helpful and full of good cheer. She believed in the triumph of Christ's kingdom and rejoiced at every advance made by his Church. Mrs.Decker died after a brief illness resulting in paralysis. She leaves two sons and a daughter. "