Saturday, September 30, 2017

Two Antislavery Quilts

Signature Quilt with an antislavery message, about 1848,
in the collection of the Royall House.
From the Massachusetts Project & the Quilt Index.

The Royall House & Slave Quarters is a Massachusetts museum with restored colonial era buildings including the only surviving slave quarters in the northern states (I'm always doubtful about words like "only" and "first".) 

Isaac Royall was a Maine merchant with plantations in the West Indies (the Caribbean) who built a mansion in what is now Medford, Massachusetts, in the mid-18th century, described as "one of the grandest in North America.” 

The two-story brick dormitory for slaves who were
brought from the Caribbean.

At least 27 enslaved people worked on the estate. After his father's death Isaac II, a British loyalist, abandoned the colonies and the home when the Revolutionary war began. The slaves became free people by default.

The museum is open to visitors in the summer.

Isaac Royal II and his wife Elizabeth Mackintosh Royall (in blue)

Like many historic houses the museum has a rather random collection of old quilts that have been donated over the past century. Small museums rarely kept detailed acquisition notes and a collecting focus was unusual until recent decades. Whether any of the quilts have a connection to anyone who lived in the house is unknown.

The notes in the Quilt Index indicate this 
quilt has an antislavery message.

But at least two quilts have a connection to the mid-19th-century's antislavery movement, indicating someone saw a focus in the connection to the house's history as a large slave-holding estate.

Mid-19th-century silk quilt. 
Notes in the Quilt Index indicate a poem in
the center.

In the corners a detail photo reveals a printed silk:
"Plead for the Slave."

See the records for the antislavery quilts here:

You can view all the quilts in a museum collection if they are in the Quilt Index by searching by museum name. Here's a link to the quilts recorded at the Royall House.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Yankee Diary 9: Our Thoughts Are Intense

Yankee Diary #9
Our Thoughts Are Intense by Barbara Brackman

Carrie's sweetheart Lieut. E. C. Clark
 led recruiting in Ontario County in spring, 1863

From Carrie's Diary. May, 1863.
"A number of the teachers and pupils of the Academy have enlisted for the war. Among them E. C. Clarke.... They have a tent on the square and are enlisting men in Canandaigua and vicinity for the 4th N. Y. Heavy Artillery. I received a letter from Mr Noah T. Clarke's mother in Naples [a nearby village]. She had already sent three sons, Bela, William and Joseph, to the war and she is very sad because her youngest [Carrie's Edmund] has now enlisted.... I have heard that she is a beautiful singer but she says she cannot sing any more until this cruel war is over. I wish that I could write something to comfort her but I feel as Mrs [Elizabeth Barrett] Browning puts it: 'If you want a song for your Italy free, let none look at me*.' "
I found a letter from Ed Clarke to his brother at Spared & Shared blog.

At first Edmund's major problem in the Union Army was trying to not look foolish during drills.
In a letter to a friend:
"I find enough to give me good exercise both of body and mind. Sometimes I even get quite tired out. I enjoy my rest all the better. I have had command of the company for the last 3 days, drilling them and taking them out on dress parade which for a novice dealing with old soldiers is rather embarrassing and of course I have had to study tactics diligently."
A New York Heavy Artillery unit
Edmund was in M Company of the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery

A year later Carrie wrote:
"May 4, 1864. The 4th New York Heavy Artillery is having hard times in the Virginia mud and rain. They are near Culpepper."
In September she alludes to his injuries:
"My war letters come from Georgetown Hospital now. Mr Noah T. Clarke is very anxious and sends telegrams to Andrew Chesebr every day to go and see his brother."
 Georgetown, Virginia hospital where 
Edmund Clarke spent September, 1864. 

Nurses at the Georgetown Hospital.

Edmund survived and was brought home by a local doctor. The usual cool detachment of her diary drops when she sees him.
September 30. " I ... found him just a shadow of his former self. However, 'hope springs eternal in the human breast' and he says he knows he will soon be well again. This is his thirtieth birthday and it is glorious that he can spend it at home. "

This unnamed man looks like E.C. Clarke in the
History of the Fourth NY Heavy Artillery.

And here's Denniele's.
Nice fussy cut stripe in the pole!
 The Army Camp Block

The pun "Our thoughts are intense" comes from an inscription on a Maine Civil War quilt by Cornelia Dow and others: "While our fingers guide the needle, Our thoughts are intense (tents)."

Block 9 by Becky Brown

This month's block is drawn from a sampler by Dorothea Lemley, which seems to picture an army camp with its conical tents. 

Dorothea's quilt is pictured in my book
Civil War Women. Her flag inspired Block #4.

I simplified Dorothea's eagle, inspired by one in an 1863 sampler from Bedford, New York.

Cutting a 9 x 15" Finished Block

Cut a rectangle 9-1/2” x 15-1/2”.
Fold it in half to find the center vertical line and press. Place the tree trunk a little to the right of this line. You are leaving room at the bottom left for a flag to be sewn over the seam later.

Cut one of each piece on the pattern sheets. Add seams when you cut the fabric.
For the tree trunk and the branch cut bias strips.
The trunk finishes to 1/2” wide by 8-1/2” long. Cut a strip 2” x 9”
The branch finishes to 3/8” by 3”. Cut a strip 7/8” x 3-1/2”.

To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file for each.
  • Click on each of the images above and below. The leaf is on a separate sheet.
  • Right click on each and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. The eagle's wings should measure 8-1/2" across.
  • Add seam allowances when you cut the fabric.

One of the last things you are going to do as you set the blocks together is add the fourth flag you made for block 2. It goes over the seam line between another block and the camp.
But don't add it yet.

Here are Becky's blocks 1-9
Three more patterns to go = 5 more blocks.

In camp, 1862. 
Union Soldiers and a woman (perhaps a laundress) before a 
Sibley tent with a central tent pole.

Another Sibley tent on a quilt---this one with a Zouave soldier at rest---
from the 1863 album from Bedford.

I found a letter from Edward (sic) Clarke and recognized Edmund at the blog Spared & Shared:

Read the history of the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery:

See Cornelia Dow's Maine quilt at this post:

 *Carrie's quote about war is from Elizabeth Barrett Browning "Mother & Poet, 1861"

If you'd rather have the patterns in a different format I've listed all the Yankee Diary patterns for sale in my Etsy shop. Here are links to the last four blocks and the set and border:

PATTERNS 9-12 as paper patterns through the mail. $10.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Maryland Civil War Quilt?

Eagle medallion quilt with dogtooth appliqued border.

Pictures float around the internet. Pinterest posts lose credits
and copyright---captions are completely gone. 
Where did this picture come from?

It certainly looks like a Civil War quilt made in the 1860s.
The applique floral and grape vines.
The dogtooth border in Turkey red.
The color scheme.
The craftswomanship.
The canons and trumpets indicate an enthusiasm for war, something you
wouldn't see in the 1850s.

The federal shield was important in the 1860s.

Looks like some kind of a Union quilt

Here's what the actual picture looks like. It's hung against an
aluminum-sided wall (?)

Coincidentally, Debbie Cooney and I have been emailing each other lately about those bluebell-like flowers (morning glories?). Here are a few other quilts with similar applique.

Chiswell family quilt, 1848-1855, Montgomery County, Maryland
from the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection

Marylou McDonald took the above photos. I Photoshopped them to
correct the color.

Snapshot of a block from another Maryland album.

From a 1992 auction catalog from Pook & Pook.
Older blocks set together later?

Mathematical Star with applique in the center by 
Rachel K. Trundle Dawson, 
Mt. Auburn, Frederick County, Maryland.
 IQSCM #2009.039. 0042

See more about this unusual star design in a post:

Block signed Emily A. Dawson from Montgomery Co, MD.
Polly Mello's collection.

These applique designs are distinctive not only in the use of the morning-glory-like bloom
but in the free-flowing organization of the flowers and vines. Much American applique is based on more formal and less naturalistic arrangements.

Typical floral applique with roots in Germanic folk
art traditions

Debbie writes: "The Dawsons were major quiltmakers in the area of SW Montgomery Co. right on the Frederick Co. line. So we think the Frederick appliques came from the same source. The BMA quilt has signers from the same area."

Emily was a cousin of Rachel Trundle Dawson's husband. See also three impressive quilts by Rachel's sister-in-law "Big Susan" Dawson (1823-1880) in your copy of the Maryland Project book A Maryland Album.

My guess: The eagle quilt is a Frederick County or Montgomery County, Maryland quilt made in the 1860s. Any ideas on where the picture's from?
UPDATE: While perusing my Encyclopedia of Applique I came across this wreath pattern. #4.55 on page 63, published as Morning Glory in The Family Magazine in 1913. I see when I turn to the back of the book that I knew nothing about The Family---just had a couple of clippings (gave them to IQSCM so I can't check them but I am sure I had no clues as to place or I'd have included it.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Found the source for the picture. In my files I have a copy that says Laura Fisher Antiques. See Laura showing Martha Stewart some patriotic quilts but not this one:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


All summer my Do List has said "Bind Yankee Diary Quilt."

This week I ...
1) Remembered where I put the quilted top.
2) Remembered where I put the binding fabric.
3) Cut the binding fabric.
4) Began to trim the quilt.

And I saw the above. We had gotten to this stage in June. As I started to trim off the excess batting and backing a corner got stuck under something and I cut a big slice in the wrong spot with the rotary cutter.

I must have screamed, put it all away and forgotten the trauma.

Well, it can be fixed. (Just about anything quilt-wise can be fixed). I have put a white patch over the top, a backing patch over the backing and stitched the batting together.

And trimmed it


I hope your Yankee Diary project is going better than mine.
Next Wednesday pattern # 9. Be careful.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Emma Civey Stahl's Pictorial Quilt

Block 11. Detail of a pictorial quilt attributed to
Emma Civey Stahl
about 1870.
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Emma Stahl's quilt is called the Women's Rights Quilt or Suffragette Quilt
because several of the vignettes picture a woman involved in the movement.

But the quilt also includes pictures of Civil War soldiers. On the left Block 5, a bearded soldier in light or faded Union blue is leaving a woman with a checked apron. On the right Block 6, he is returning.

And perhaps this is also a
war-related image, Block 9, a bearded man with a cane
and some kind of assistance dog (or perhaps just a pet).

The use of  trained guide dogs for war-blinded veterans is not thought to have begun until the first World War. But this man with a cane and two angels above him may be evidence that informal use began earlier. Dogs are always eager for a job.
The museum has a good idea of the chain of ownership of this quilt so attributing it to Emma Civey Stahl seems accurate. I could find only a little about Emma C. Stahl: The record in Pleasant Valley, Iowa, of the birth of her second child Joseph Augustus Stahl in 1880. Her husband Jacob Shelden Stahl is listed as a laborer. He was born in Ohio, she in Missouri.

Her daughter Marion Stahl Gabriel was perhaps married to William A. Gabriel, chief watch designer at the Elgin Watch Company from 1888 to 1933. Marion apparently died August 24, 1965 at an Eastern Star home in Illinois on August 24, 1965. I first saw this quilt in the 1970s at a Chicago show, which makes sense chronologically.

Block 4. That flag says Woman. Notice her glasses.

I was impressed enough to remember it to this day because it was such a knockout. At the time there was a sheet of typed paper posted next to it. I made notes on what it said. I see by her 1990 book Wrapped in Glory: Figurative Quilts & Bedcovers 1700-1900 Sandi Fox also saw that paper. She wrote:

"All too rarely does an explanatory note accompany a quilt some point someone wrote...a series of comments on the figurative blocks (Footnote: Until several years ago, there was attached to each story block a tag with a number corresponding...)

4. She was told that war has been declared and she comes home and tells the husband he will have to go to war.
5. She gets him already to go to war and now he is telling her if God spares his life he will return
6. He does return and this is their meeting. This is all of the story. But in order to fill in the Quilt there is other pictures.
9. Angels are guarding the Blind man and his Dog. Notice how he is groping is way.
11. Is the Soldiers under the Flag of Freedom....There is not another quilt like this."

The notes add much to the quilt's interpretation. For one thing it is fascinating how the quilt centers on that woman. He doesn't go off to War, she tells him he will have to go to war. See Sandi's book for the rest of the notes. The book's so cheap used you should buy two.

You can view the individual blocks at the Met's website:
See also: