Saturday, January 28, 2017

Emma Hurd's 1886 Union Crazy Quilt

I made a visit to our local Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and they had this lovely crazy quilt on display.

I'd seen it several times but I hadn't focused on the GAR patch before.
The initials stand for Grand Army of the Republic, the largest Union veterans' group.

The quilt is signed in paint 1886, Emma Hurd, Maquon, Illinois.
The painting on silk is impressive.

I remember when we accepted that quilt before the age of the internet. Perhaps I can find out more about Emma now and her connection to the GAR.

The catalog tells us quite a bit as it was her family who donated it.

Emma Housh Hurd 1858-1936
Born: Haw Creek, Illinois. Died: Peoria, Illinois.

Maquon is in Knox County, which is red in the above map. Peoria is in Peoria County in gray & Bureau County is in aqua.

Her middle initial was F. we know from her grave in the
Maquon Cemetery. She was born and buried in Knox County.

In 1886 Emma's husband  was Franklin Pierce Hurd  (1858 - 1928) who'd been born the year after President Pierce's four-year term. She had two young children under five, Jay Clinton & Addie, and had just given birth to a second daughter Caroline. One can imagine this quilt took a few years to finish.

Maquon's school about 1900
The building was opened in 1866 so Emma and her children may have attended.

From her mother Addie Ouderkirk Housh's 1928 obituary in the Galesburg Register Mail, we learn that the family was originally from upstate New York and that the widowed Addie lived with daughter Emma in LaMoille, Illinois for the last five years of her life. Emma's mother Addie died about 8 years before Emma. Emma's father Andrew Clinton Housh died in 1923. He was born in Greencastle, Indiana in 1834. He and Emma's brother E. Lafayette Housh were  bankers in Mequon.

LaMoille is in Bureau County, Illinois near Ottawa. It seems this is where Emma lived in the 20th century.
See some old photos of LaMoille here (but couldn't find any of Emma's family):

George Washington was a somewhat popular image on crazy quilts.
I haven't had much luck in figuring out Emma's connection to the GAR.
Her father and her husband (far too young) do not seem to have been soldiers.

86th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry

This patch above might have been  important to Emma or perhaps one of her friends or family gave her the patch. An uncle maybe.

Colonel James D. Housh and Private Jacob Housh from Maquon attended the 1887 reunion
of that regiment in Peoria, as did Adam Housh & Thomas Housh. These men were Emma's uncles, her father's brothers.
Of Emma's three children Jay and Caroline lived into the 1960s. Addie died at about 11 years old in 1895. Perhaps while Emma was working on this quilt.

See Emma's quilt at the webpage of the Helen F. Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.


Jacqueline said...

This has survived in great shape. Thanks for sharing what you did find out.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this incredible quilt. Also thanks for the history of her family. I can't help but smile at the boys who got to climb out the windows of that school and sit on the awnings. Can you see kids doing that now? Parents would have a fit.

jes1776 said...

I was wondering if the stitching joining these quilt blocks together was done by hand or machine? They look so perfectly even, I would assume they were done by machine, but I am guessing that was not a possibility at the time this quilt was constructed?

Barbara Brackman said...

Machines were available for homes about 1850 or a little earlier. I bet Emma was as good at hand stitching though as she was at painting.I'd guess the embroidery joining the blocks is all hand done.

Teri and Kara—Through the Needle's Eye said...

I just bought a crazy quilt that has some GAR ribbons in it. It was fascinating to learn about this society. The ribbons are from Fairbanks post of the GAR in Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, I don't have any provenance for this quilt but I still love it!