Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quilts Buried with the Silver 1

Whig's Defeat or Missouri Beauty.
The Arizona Quilt Project recorded this quilt's family names and story.
It was kept in a tree during Civil War battles to keep marauding soldiers from
stealing it.

Quilt books have told us stories about quilts being buried, hidden and
stashed away during the Civil War ever since people have been writing quilt books.

Marie Webster's 1915 book showed an applique Virginia Rose "buried along with family silver and other valuables to protect it from depredations by...soldiers."

The New Jersey project saw a quilt from Georgia
that came with the story that it had been buried there.
Most of these quilt pictures are from the Quilt Index.
I did a search for words like "buried", "hidden" and "Civil War."

McClure Family Quilt
Mountain Heritage Center Collection
Documented by the North Carolina project.
"Some of the information is family lore through our grandmother and some is from histories developed by various family members. The quilt supposedly was buried during the Civil War to keep it safe from Federal troops, probably stationed in east Tennessee. Another version has it that the family silver was wrapped in the quilt and buried to protect it from theft by the troops."

Often these are exceptional quilts, the family's best quilt.

Quilt by Adaline Green, the Arizona Project:
Hidden in a hollow log.

And often the quilts are damaged---with holes, fading
or stains.

Quilt by Mary Caroline Markett from the Michigan project.
 The silver was wrapped in the quilt and all were buried in an iron pot.

The Kentucky project documented this faded quilt, called Missouri Belle by the family, with the story that it was hidden in a haystack.

An unusual Arkansas quilt made of six swag borders looks to have been stitched of the end-of-the-19th-century solid colors that were so prone to fading to a dun-colored tan. The family story was more elaborate:
"Due to looting by soldiers and bushwhackers, the quilt and other family possessions were buried in a wooden box. The quilt was damaged, and the lighter shades of the fabric were used to mend it after the war."
That family myth is unlikely. A more accurate caption for the quilt above might be:
This post-Civil-War quilt was made from both fugitive and color-fast reds and greens. The applique colored with natural dyes like Turkey red retained a good deal of their color. The reds and greens derived from the new and experimental synthetic dyes lost most of their color and faded to tan.
But we are dealing with myth here. The stories of the quilts being buried and damaged tell us a lot about how families passed on stories of the Civil War. Sometimes accurate history is not the point.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Yankee Diary Block 2: Susan B.'s Star

Block 2 Susan B.'s Star by Barbara Brackman

From Carrie's Diary: December 20, 1855.
"Susan B. Anthony is in town and spoke in Bemis Hall this afternoon. She made a special request that all the seminary girls should come to hear her as well as all the women and girls in town. She had a large audience and she talked very plainly about our rights and how we ought to stand up for them, and said the world would never go right until the women had just as much right to vote and rule as the men.

 "She asked us all to come up and sign our names who would promise to do all in our power to bring about that glad day when equal rights should be the law of the land. A whole lot of us went up and signed the paper. "

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) at 28 years old, 
a few years before she
began her New York speaking campaign.

Susan B.'s Star by Becky Brown

Susan B. Anthony stopped in Carrie's town of Canandaigua on her second New York tour in 1855. She'd determined to speak in every county in the state of New York, traveling by railroad, sleigh and carriage to gather signatures for a petition demanding that the state legislature grant women child custody in divorce cases, control over personal earnings and the right to vote. 

Bemis Hall was in the top floor over the bookstore 
in the tallest building in the photograph here taken by 
Augustus Coleman in 1858. 

Anthony crossed the state from Long Island to Lake Ontario, speaking every other day. She used a gift of $50 from activist Wendell Phillips to print handbills and newspaper advertisements announcing her arrival and sold small publications to support herself. She often attracted a good-sized crowd. People came just to see the novelty of a woman addressing an audience, a rather alarming breach of propriety.

An Ulster County newspaper described a speech:
"At the appointed hour a lady, unattended and unheralded, quietly glided in [and] ascended the platform.. under 600 curious eyes...put her decorous shawl on one chair and a very exemplary bonnet on another, sat a moment, smoothed her hair discreetly, and then deliberately walked to the table and addressed the audience. She wore a becoming black silk dress [the reporter then goes on to describe her looks and hairstyle.] Her voice well modulated and musical, her enunciation distinct, her style earnest and impressive, her language pure and unexaggerated."

Petitions were a means of changing laws. 
This one from the Library of Congress collection
concerns Anthony's right to vote. 
Officials rarely acted no matter how many women signed.

Carrie was impressed enough by Anthony's afternoon speech to sign her petition and tell Grandmother Beals about it, who...
 "said she guessed Susan B. Anthony had forgotten that St. Paul said the women should keep silence. I told her, no, she didn't for she spoke particularly about St. Paul and said if he had lived in these times, instead of 1800 years ago, he would have been as anxious to have the women at the head of the government as she was. I could not make Grandmother agree with her at all and she said we might better all of us stayed at home."
Anthony's brazenness must have inspired another Canandaigua woman to speak in public that night. 
"We went to prayer meeting this evening and a woman got up and talked. Her name was Mrs. Sands. We hurried home and told Grandmother and she said she probably meant all right and she hoped we did not laugh."

Susan B.'s Star by Denniele Bohannon

The following year Susan B. Anthony began directing her attention to the abolitionist cause, signing on as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, a cause Grandmother may have had more sympathy for.

Woman with a fabric flag pinned to her dress.
Cased photo from Swann Gallery auction.

Friendship Quilt (detail)  attributed to Susan B Rogers, Brooklyn, 
New York, NMAH Smithsonian Institution

Susan B.'s Star
The star with flags was inspired by a block in an 1867 quilt by/or for New Yorker Susan B. Rogers. See the quilt in the collection of the Smithsonian by clicking here:

Block signed H. M. ? in Susan B. Rogers quilt.

Becky's in gray tones

The Block
Star and two flags appliqued to a 15" finished block.

For the background cut a square of fabric 15-1/2" x 15-1/2". Fold it in quarters and press to mark the center point.

For the flagstaffs holding up the flags.  Cut 2 strips that finish to 1/2" wide (cut 1" wide). Cut each 5-1/2" long.

The Star
The templates:
Print the template for an 8-1/2" finished star. Add seams.
Piece the five points together, join them and applique the star.

Denniele pieced each of her split star points from two templates. Cut 5 of those going one way and 5 going the other.

Note: she appliqued a second star over the point where 10 seams meet in the center, a good solution to a possible problem.

To Print:
  • 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 so the star is 8-1/2" wide, which extends beyond the page. You'll lose two points but if you need them you can add them.
  • Add seam allowances when you cut the fabric.

Becky & I used a wide stripe and fussy cut it to shade the points. I cut 5 points with seams added, pieced them into a star and appliqued it.

Place the star so the central point in the block is slightly below the top star point.
Baste or glue it in place leaving room for the flagstaffs at the top.

The Flags

Make 4 flags this month, two waving left and two waving right. You'll use two in Block 2 and save two for later blocks. I appliqued mine. Below are piecing instructions too.

Fabric--- Flags are so iconic you can really push the imagery in the fabric and it will still read as a flag.

Mine are zigzags and polkadots but they look like a flag.

Appliqueing 4 x 5" Finished Flags

Pieced flags
This diagram is for the flag on the left above.
Reverse it for the flag on the right.

B is the starry field. Cut 4 squares 2-1/2" x 2-1/2"
A and C are the stripes.
For the bottom C cut 4 rectangles 2-1/2" x 5-1/2"
For the side A cut 4 rectangles 2-1/2" x 3-1/2"

Tuck the flag staffs under the star's top point and then tuck the flags under the staffs. Baste or glue and applique.

Block 2 will be set on the left top corner of the sampler.

Woman in a pageant costume, perhaps, with appliqued stars.

You can buy the paper patterns for the first four months of Yankee Diary from me at my Etsy Store:
Or a downloadable PDF

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Texas Secession Quilt?

This Lone Star quilt was recently offered in an online auction, advertised as:
"Sumner County, Tennessee Civil War era quilt in the 'Lone Star' pattern, made by Mary Jane Harris Pond in 1861 to commemorate Texas joining the Confederacy."

What a great  story! But I doubt it's accuracy.

It is indeed a Lone Star quilt. I am concerned about the estimated date of 1861---and thus the link with Texas secession. The pattern, a single star of diamonds floating in a background, could certainly be that old. But the fabrics are wrong for that date.

Which gives me an opportunity to analyze my intuitive impression as to why it couldn't be that old.

It looks like it's cotton --- not very high quality cotton as we can see by the fading in the blue background.

Three things jump out at me. One is the faded blues (darker blues in the star's points are also fading.) Another is the medium-brown plain fabrics in the diamonds.The last is the use of plain cottons rather than prints.

Late 19th-century, North Carolina quilt from the Taylor Family

The plain blue in the quilt above is fading from light or perhaps bleach
Many of the quilts here are from the Quilt Index. Others from online auctions.

I've been collecting photos of post-Civil-War Southern quilts. See a post on more style characteristics here.

1) There were two basic blue dyes for cotton in 1861. Indigo and Prussian blue. Indigo, a vegetable dye, does not fade like this but Prussian blue, a mineral dye, might (Laundry alkalies were hard on Prussian blue). By 1880 there were many other blue dyes available---synthetics that were quite unreliable.  The blues often faded to shades of gray.

Tennessee quilt by Mary Clift Hall Dunning, estimated to date from the
 last quarter of the 19th century
The  grid quilting is also similar to the Lone Star quilt.

The blue in the quilt in question looks like a synthetic dye---the way the dye remains sunk in the quilting stitches and the way it's blotched. Synthetic dyes with their characteristic fading were not available until about 1880 in the U.S.

Quilt from an Arkansas family. 
Did all those white triangles used to be green?
This is an extreme example of a probable synthetic dye fading completely away.

2) The plain brown cotton is very typical of Southern quilts, such as might be made in Tennessee or North Carolina---But made after the Civil War rather than during the Civil War. The brown, which can tend towards red or green, was popular with Southern quilters decades after the Civil War.
Star block design made by Eliza Longworth, North Carolina.

My guess is that the plain brown was one of the inexpensive cottons that new Southern mills specialized in after 1870 or so. It was cheap and rather mediocre in color, fastness and weave, but Southern quilters developed a distinctive and dramatic style around plain-colored, locally manufactured cloth....

String quilt of solid browns and woven checks & stripes.
About 1910.

Center of a  Lone Star quilt dated 1879 with browns and yellow solids....

Making the best of a bad situation as far as access to quiltmaking fabrics

3) Which brings us to the last style characteristic in the Pond star quilt: All plain colors. The South did not invest in fabric manufacturing mills until after the Civil War. 

Photographer Lewis Hines documented American mills in the
early 20th century. The Inverness Mills were in Virginia.

Women working at a mill in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Hines's photos of mills North & South are in the Library of Congress.

Without skilled printers the local mills relied on dyed cottons, either plain-colored or dyed-in-the-yarn and woven into stripes and plaids. Calicoes continued to be a Northern specialty for decades.

 Smithy Pennington, North Carolina

Quilt signed and dated 1890 J.H. Latham, North Carolina

The solid red, synthetically-dyed fabric above is extremely fugitive but the chrome orange holds up well. This is one of the very few date-inscribed examples of the plain cloth, Southern-style quilt I've seen.

Detail of a Rocky Mountain or Crown of Thorns quilt from Tennessee's
Bingham family.

Throwing in a little local chrome orange was brilliant.

Very few of these vivid quilts are date-inscribed but experienced quilt historians, dealers and appraisers tend to date the style as 1875-1900.

Which is when I think Mary Jane Pond's quilt was made and probably late in the 19th century if not the early 20th.

The sale text gives us a little information about Mary Jane herself.
"Mary Jane Harris Pond, daughter of Green Berry Harris and second wife of Captain William Guthrie Pond, CSA. According to family history, Mrs. Pond made the quilt for her brother in 1861."
I tried to do  genealogical research on Mary Jane and her husband.  But those lists of names and numbers are far more complicated and not nearly as interesting as fabrics and style. I couldn't find any credible Mary Harris Pond.

So I hope you didn't bid on the Lone Star for the Civil War story. What you got was a very nice late-19th-century or early-20th-century Tennessee quilt. Just don't hang it in the sun.

I spent several hours going through the Quilt Index and the quilts recorded in Tennessee & North Carolina. There are some great ones---early and late.
Go to the search page
Scroll down to State Made and scroll to Tennessee or North Carolina.

Star quilt by Grandmother Allen, Tennessee.
Last quarter of the 19th century.

UPDATE: 3-1/2 years later Cindy Stuart found a credible maker: Mary Jane "Mae" Harris Pond (1835-1901) of Sumner County, Tennessee. Mae lived into the 20th century so could have made the Lone Star at the end of the 19th or shortly before her death at 65.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dequita's Three Finishes

Dixie Diary by Dequita Burns

Dequita's been busy. She's recently finished three sampler tops from the BOM's offered here. And each has her own personal take on a sampler. The Dixie Diary blocks with the appliqued stars become background for the more graphic setting blocks here.

Westering Women by Dequita

The landscape print

She writes on Instagram that the fabric for the alternate blocks is Pioneer Spirit by Tom Browning.

On some of the alternate blocks she's appliqued the wagon design "On the Trail," designed by Marjorie Rhine at Quilt DesignNW

On the Trail by Marjorie Rhine

Threads of Memory by Dequita

Very impressive! It's certainly fun to see what stitchers do with these patterns.

I now have all three of these sampler designs available as downloadble PDF's or paper patterns through the mail in the pattern department of my Etsy Shop.