Saturday, August 26, 2017

Soldier's Memorial Quilt from Farina, Illinois

The owner of this quilt posted a photo on Instagram with the caption that it was made to record the Civil War veterans in Farina, Illinois. In QuiltStories she said her great-great grandfather's family block is second from the left on the bottom. His name was George C. Wells.

"With all the blocks in the quilt, how [was] our family lucky enough to keep it?"

1911 postcard picture

Women members of the W.R.C. the
Women's Relief Corps often made quilts to raise funds.

These quilts from about 1880-1930 were often raffled or auctioned off to raise money for Veterans' causes so it may be that the Wells family bought it or had a winning ticket.

A 1910 veteran's reunion

Another option is that it was given to George Wells because he held an office in the local post of the G.A.R., the veteran's organization.

Wells was the SVC of the Lucien Greathouse Post of the GAR---the Senior Vice Commander. 

George Clark Wells (1844-1918) of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, served with Company A in the 7th Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry and was shot in the hip in the battle of Fredericksburg in 1862.  He was discharged a few weeks later with a debilitating wound that, according to his obituary, caused suffering the remainder of his life.
After the War he went west to Farina, Illinois in Fayette County where he farmed, taught school and was a deacon in the Baptist Church. 

Emma L. Brown (1843-1909) from Royalton, New York came west after marrying him in 1868. Both are buried in Farina.  

I'd hoped to find some records of their activities in fundraising events giving us more clues to the quilt's origins but nothing turned up. I'd guess both were active in Union veterans' organizations.
George lived until the end of World War I and the emphasis on crosses (white crosses on red) in the quilt make me wonder if it was not made during that war when the Red Cross was an important image.

The pattern was popular in several variations. This one from
BlockBase is #2813a, Washington Sidewalk
published towards the end of the 19th century.

Freeport, Illinois dressed up for a GAR reunion in 1910.

See the post on Quilt Stories here:


Denniele said...

Love this! Such a pretty quilt and a great look overall.

Rosa said...

Wow, fantastic quilt and love the block!

Unknown said...

I love the whole idea behind this quilt and think it is so fortunate that this one was preserved. Thanks for this post!

Nann said...

What a great setting for the album blocks! I have lived in Illinois most of my life and had never heard of Farina. I looked it up -- way downstate. Wikipedia says it's the only town with that name in the U.S.

Suzanne A said...

Barbara, this post reminds me of the Caroline Boston Civil War veterans' names quilt you highlighted a couple of years ago. In researching that quilt I found some membership records of the G.A.R. posts but no membership records of W.R.C. or L.G.A.R. and nothing like newsletters or minutes of activities that mentioned projects of any kind or fundraising.

At this time, people in many locations are just beginning to preserve what can be found today from these CW veterans organizations and index them, so possibly in the future we can sometimes learn more in this area.

Meanwhile, the best sources of information about these quilts are the local newspapers, which might have mentioned the quilt in their social columnns. In this regard it might be useful for the quilt to search other names on the quilt as well as her own family's, as well as such phrases as G.A.R., W.R.C. and L.G.A.R. (and those names spelled out), and Civil War veterans, etc. To find local newspapers, unfortunately, a number of databases might need to be searched, starting with the Library of Congress Chronicling America,,,, etc. Also the researcher should contact the Farina IL local library and genealogical or historical society, sometimes they have archives of actual papers and other very useful records that are not online, or at the very least they can say what newspapers covered their town in the late 1800's-early 1900's and which databases cover their newspapers archives.

Same for the local library and historical society or genealogical society where her relatives lived, if different from Farina IL. In some states, the State Archives has a newspaper reppository as well. Good luck to thhe people working on this project!

Unknown said...

Wow! I did not expect to see my photos used online in a blog post about our quilt! I had no idea!

There's not much left of Farina, though there is a small-town local interest paper, "The Farina News", that I believe is still published. We have done a great deal of genealogy and research in the areas of Fayette and Clay Counties in Illinois, but there are still some mysteries that have yet to be solved.

We did have this quilt appraised at one point and that appraiser seemed to think the fabrics were pre turn of the century, but I don't know personally and haven't spent time on researching the quilt itself. There are a number of quilts that were handed down in the family that are quite special. The Wells women were quilters then, and that remains true to this day!

Chris Wells