Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Southern Quilt Linking North and South

Cut-out Chintz Album Quilt
Kansas Museum of History

About ten years ago Betty saw a photo of this quilt in my book Quilts from the Civil War.

At the time we knew something about the quilt. It was the first quilt in the collection of the Kansas State Historical Society, women's work accepted only because of its link to the Civil War. Needlework was not really of much interest until the validation of material culture and women's history in the late 20th century.

Those of us working at the Museum in the late 20th century could tell by the style and the story that it was a Southern quilt made before the Civil War. The signatures told us that it was likely a Mellichamp family quilt.

In 1924 Ann Prentice Holyoke donated it to the Society telling curators that her husband Union soldier George T. Holyoke had come across it during the war in Louisiana or Mississippi. He bought it from another soldier and shipped it to his wife in Illinois. At the time Ann was raising her young son Albert while George served from September, 1862 till the end of the War. 

The Holyoke tombstone
"Husband & Wife
Faithful & Devoted"
There is no death date for Ann.

Both George and Ann are buried in Galesburg, Illinois where they lived much of their lives as farmers. She and George had married in 1850. George's father William Holyoke also lived in Galesburg and is recorded as a member of  Illinois Anti-slavery Societies in the 1830s and '40s. Members of the Holyoke family were active abolitionists before the war.

George was a private in Company K of the 45th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, according to researcher William S. Scott. His Regiment fought under Sherman in the march from Savannah through the Carolinas so he might have bought the quilt not far from its original owners.

The quilt is in Kansas because the Holyokes moved to Kansas where George died in Topeka in 1894. Ann appreciated the quilt's beauty and tried to find the rightful owners. She hoped the society would continue the search.

In the 21st century Betty recognized the name Mellichamp in the caption in my book and her letter helped a group of volunteer researchers find out much more. Merikay Waldvogel and Bets Ramsey published more information in their book Southern Quilts: Surviving Relics of the Civil War.

William S. Scott concluded that most of the signers lived in the St. Andrews community on James Island just south of Charleston in South Carolina and some lived in Charleston. A likely date for the quilt's making was after 1845, which is consistent with the block-style chintz applique.

48 inscribed names include Mellichamps, 
Cromwells, Hintons and Rivers, all James Island families.

Betty's great-great grandfather was Joseph Hinton Mellichamp whose inked signature is on the quilt. Dr. Mellichamp (1829 - 1903) was a well-known botanist and physician who was from James Island. Mellichamps had been residents of James Island since the American Revolution.

Map of James Island in the collection of the Charleston Museum
possibly drawn by Robert Eliott Mellichamp (1836-1919) 
who also signed the quilt. Robert served in Manigault's Battalion.
Charleston is the grid at the top. 

Mellichamp watched a pitcher plant consume an insect
in his kitchen.

Dr. Mellichamp's life is well-documented as his botanical work was innovative. He is known for having observed that the pitcher plant is actually carnivorous. He moved south to Bluffton in Beaufort County on the Georgia border where he practiced medicine and coastal botany. He married Sarah E. Pope in 1848 and she may have signed the quilt too as "Sarah A. Mellichamp" is one of the signatures. During the war he served as a surgeon in the Confederate army and was one of the few Mellichamps of his generation to survive the war.

Betty's great-grandmother Mary Adams Mellichamp's home was occupied by Union troops, according to her family story. Bluffton was first occupied by Confederate forces and then in 1863 attacked by Union troops. Two-thirds of the town's buildings were destroyed, including the doctor's house.

At least two deer were on the quilt. One has deteriorated.

The Mellichamps who remained on James Island fared no better. Fort Sumter is on the northeastern edge of the Island. Victoria Alice Mellichamp Burch (1852-1928) whose father Edward Henry Mellichamp died in a Union prison camp in Maryland, left a memoir of a childhood spent under bombardment.
"We were then living at Fort Johnson on James Island, and thus witnessed the firing upon of the "Star of the West" [at Fort Sumter, the first battle between North and South] ....Shortly after this, as a military necessity, we were obliged to vacate our house, it being a good site for a mortar battery, so we went further up the island, and our house was blown up just before the battle of Fort Sumter, as it interfered with the range of the guns....From James Island we moved to Charleston, remaining there until December, 1861, when with many others we were burned out in the great fire which swept the city from water's edge to water's edge, destroying about one-half. We lost all our household goods, saving but little more than our clothing....
"After this we refugeed in Sumter, where we lived about two years before going out into the country about five miles from the town, staying there until the close of the war. One afternoon, most unexpectedly, a negro boy came galloping past yelling: "The Yankees are coming!" In a moment all was confusion, all trying to secrete their valuables, silver, jewelry, provisions, everything that they supposed would be destroyed. I became possessed with the idea that the Yankees would certainly want my dolls, so I got a box, in which I packed the dolls and their clothing and then buried them so securely that they never could be found again."
It's difficult to trace the quilt from its Charleston area home to Yankee hands, but its survival among all the destruction is remarkable.

 Alice Mellichamp Burch's memoir "A Child's Recollections of the War" was published in South Carolina Women's Narratives. Read it here on page 155.

Read about the quilt here at the Kansas Historical Society's webpage.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yankee Diary 10: Leaves of Autumn

Yankee Diary 10: Leaves of Autumn
by Becky Brown

Susan Elizabeth Daggett 1841-1931

Susie Daggett was a leader in Carrie's Canandaigua "Society," first called the Young Ladies' Sewing Society and once the war began the Young Ladies Aid Society. At a YLAS meeting the secretary:
"reported that in one year's time we made in our society 133 pairs of drawers, 101 shirts, 4 pairs socks for soldiers, and 54 garments for the families of soldiers."

Carrie's grandparents house

In January, 1863, the Society met at the Beals/Richards home for a supper and sewing. After the young ladies left Grandmother Beals examined the garments to "see how much we had accomplished and if we had made them well. Mary Field made a pair of drawers with No. 90 thread. [This would be a fine thread.] She said she wanted them to look fine and I am sure they did."

From Carrie's Diary:
"Most of us wrote notes [to] put inside the garments for the soldiers in the hospitals. Sarah Gibson Howell has had an answer to her letter. His name is Foster — a Major. She expects him to come and see her soon."
The notes inside the underwear (What did Grandmother think!!!) were a form of social networking. Many romances including Gippie Howell's began with a soldier writing a thank you letter for a quilt or hand-knitted socks. 

Benjamin Brown Foster

Carrie's friend Gippie Howell (1842-1897) married Major Benjamin Brown Foster from Maine about a year after she began writing him. Carrie did not mention a quilt made for Sarah and the Major, although according to society rules any member marrying a soldier was to get the gift of a flag bed quilt.

You may recall that Susie Daggett swore she'd never marry but the women were to "make her a quilt just the same." After the Civil War Susie moved to Connecticut with her parents.

Center of the Old Maid's Quilt
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

She never married and when she turned 30 her old friends in Canandaigua sent her the quilt she'd demanded 11 years earlier. The quilt was a joke, an "Old Maid's Quilt," inscribed in the center with a caricature of a homely knitter.

Shelly Zegart wrote an article about the Daggett quilt called "Old Maid, New Woman" for Quilt Digest 4 in 1986, noting that the central cartoon was drawn by a young minister (Frederick B. Allen was a minister at Canandaigua's Congregational church in 1871).
"This block, donated by the pastor, Mr. Allen, consisted of a pen-picture of a spinster with her knitting work, her hair done up in a ridiculous little knot. This, by the way, was not intended to be an exact likeness of any member of the society."

Susie Daggett spent two years at Vassar College for women teaching Ancient History and was an administrator in the 1870s. She lived many years in New Haven, Connecticut with her sister Mary who also remained single.

"Leaves of Autumn" by Becky Brown

Susie died in 1931 after giving her Old Maid's Quilt to another society member, Clara Willson Coleman (1840-1924), Clara passed it to her daughter Susan Daggett Coleman Wilbur (1867-1948). The quilt is now in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Presented by YLAS (The Young Ladies Aid Society) 

Susie Daggett's Old Maid's Quilt
made by the YLAS

Block 10, a brown stripe from Baltimore Blues 
on a navy background.
Denniele Bohannon
See how her classes are going at her Facebook page

The Leaves of Autumn
This month's applique is drawn from the gold-colored leaf on Susie's quilt. You'll need three.

The shape resembles a poplar leaf, which to a classical scholar might represent the "Groves of Academe," perhaps a reference to Miss Daggett's position teaching Ancient History at Vassar.  Another 19th-century meaning from the "Language of Flowers" characterized the poplar---leafless in winter---as meaning sadness or melancholy, a possible reference to Susie's advanced age of 30.  

Cutting a 9" Finished Block
Cut 3 background squares 9-1/2" (or larger and trim to 9-1/2" after applique and pressing.)
Fold into 4 triangles and press to give you guide lines for placement.

Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file. The leaf should measure 7-1/4" from top edge to the bottom.
Adjust the printed page size if necessary.

One of Becky's leaves

Cut 3 leaf shapes and applique.
When the leaf blocks are finished you can set the upper right section....

And the lower right section.

Two blocks to go.

Cabinet card photo by a clever photographer

Read Shelly Zegart's "Old Maid, New Woman" online here: 

Read the inscriptions on Susie's quilt in Sandi Fox's book Wrapped in Glory.
One of the kinder thoughts:
"We made this quilt for our dear Sue
May her joys be many and her sorrows few!"
See the quilt donated by Shelly Zegart in the LACMA collection at this page:

You can buy the paper patterns for Blocks 9-12 now in my Etsy shop. Click here for a PDF you print yourself for $6.

Here's the link for patterns 9-12 that I'll print and mail to you for $10.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Martha Ann Barlow's Quilt for Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln
Copy of a photo by Wenderoth and Taylor, 1864
Library of Congress

The New York Times noted a silk quilt displayed at the Soldier's Fair in Washington in the summer of 1866. The two-sided quilt, which had been loaned by Mary Todd Lincoln, widow of the President, was described as:
"A silk bed-quilt, on which much tasteful needlework is displayed. It bears in the centre a blue star in a white field, on which are lesser stars corresponding with the number of States [which] MR. LINCOLN believed to be in the Union after the rebellious attempt to shatter the Government had been defeated. Among these stars is the national eagle, and around it the motto, "E Pluribus Unum". The quilt is bordered with stripes of red and white. On the other side, in splendid embroidery, are represented beautiful flowers, the All-seeing Eye which watches over our country's industry, and an arm-chair representing the Chair of State. This specimen of needlework was a present to MR. LINCOLN from MRS. WILLIAM BARLOW, of Oregon, in 1861."
Martha Ann Partlow Allen Barlow (1822-1902) was a well-known Oregon pioneer. She came west in 1850 with her second husband Dr. William Richardson Allen, who died soon after, leaving her with six children. She married a third time (and a third William) in 1852. She and William Barlow had three more children and thrived in Clackamas County where they founded the city of Barlow.

The Barlows' second mansion, built after the first burned. 
The Barlow House survives near Barlow in western Oregon.
We'd guess Martha is in the photo from the late 19th century.
UPDATE: Dustin noticed the deer on a leash

Martha, a Virginia native, brought two African-American servants with her and built a Southern style mansion, but apparently her heart was with the Union as she named her last child, born in 1859, Cassius Union Barlow.  The Barlows celebrated Lincoln's inauguration with a dinner and ball in March, 1861. The pair were active in the Sanitary Commission during the War.

Senator James W. Nesmith of Oregon
was one of  only two Democrats to vote for the 13th
Amendment to abolish slavery.

In  December 1861 she sent her silk quilt to the President in the hands of the new state's first Senator James W. Nesmith. Apparently the Lincoln family kept it through the War, and after Lincoln's assassination Mary Lincoln loaned it for exhibit at the Washington Fair in the summer of 1866.

In 1899 the bedcover seems to have been back in Martha Barlow's hands.  She exhibited it in the window of  The Dalles Times-Mountaineer newspaper office with the Thank-You letter from Lincoln.

UPDATE: Abelian pointed out in the comments that Martha was not exhibiting the quilt in Oregon. The relic discussed was the Thank You letter from Lincoln. So we can't track the quilt beyond the 1866 Fair when Mary Lincoln loaned it.
So here's the rewrite:

In 1899 Martha Barlow exhibited her Lincoln letter in the window of  The Dalles Times-Mountaineer newspaper office.

She also showed the Lincoln letter to the editor of the Oregon City Press, which printed the contents.

"Letter Written by the President to Wm. Barlow in 1861. Mrs. Wm Barlow, who was visiting relatives in this city this week, left at the Press office an envelope and letter that was received from President Lincoln in acknowledging a quilt sent by Mrs. Barlow to President Lincoln with Senator J. W. Nesmith, when he went to take up the duties of senator. The letter is as follows:

'Executive Mansion, Washington, December 2, 1861. My Dear Sir: Allow me to tender you my sincere thanks for the kind terms in which you presented in behalf of Mrs. Barlow the beautiful bedspread which I have just received from the hands of Mr. Nesmith. Be kind enough to convey to her my grateful acknowledgements of her goodness and believe me very truly Your obedient servant A. Lincoln.' "
Martha's silk quilt is distinctive enough that we'd recognize it if we came across it. We are looking for a two-sided bedcover, perhaps quilted. On one side: Floral embroidery with the symbol of the All Seeing Eye and an Arm Chair. 

Masonic symbol, the All-Seeing Eye, embroidered on a Masonic apron.

On the other side: Starry field in blue with an eagle and the national motto "E Pluribus Unum" bordered by red and white stripes.

Block in a crazy quilt dated 1884 by Mabel Priest Robbins (1859-1939)
Boxborough, Massachusetts.
Collection of the New England Quilt Museum.
Photo from the Quilt Index.

Typical late-19th-century outline embroidery with
an eagle and the national motto in the ribbon below.
The embroidery on the 1861 quilt would have likely been filled in with thread
rather than outline embroidery as in the eagle above.

Center of the quilt by Elizabeth Keckley
in the collection of Kent State University Museum.
The eagle was done in silver thread, which has tarnished.

There's some confusion with another quilt connected to Mrs. Lincoln. Elizabeth Keckley, her friend and dressmaker, made a quilt with an eagle in the center from the First Lady's dress fabrics. It may also have been sold for charity. But the Barlow quilt is a different quilt.
See the Keckley quilt here:

The first place I looked for the Barlow quilt was in the Quilt Index which has digitized the findings of the Oregon Quilt Project. Surprisingly there is an embroidered and appliqued Oregon quilt with the words "E Pluribus Unum" but this is not it
Quilt with 25 stars by Anna Huber Creitz (1872-ca. 1995).
made in the mid-20th century (although the date is 1831). One wonders
if Portland resident Anna Creitz might have seen the Lincoln quilt.

Finding the Barlow quilt would be nice, to say nothing of finding the letter from Lincoln.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Repro Prints Fall 2017

Cheddar & Friends - Pam Buda

I've been checking out reproduction prints in shops this fall. I found some fabric collections echoing the Civil War era.
Abundant Blessings - Kim Diehl

I was looking for madder red and browns, chintz-scale prints, Turkey reds, double pinks, chrome oranges and yellows, Prussian blues and overdyed greens.

Prairie Basics - Pam Buda

Timeless - Jo Morton

Many of the lines are more suitable for end-of-the-19th century reproduction quilts.
Greenish browns rather than reddish-browns.

American Swatch Book -Judie Rothermel

It's a good time to build that "Circa 1900" stash: wine-colored reds, pinks, navy blues, 
cadet blues (gray-blues), grays and blacks.

Nineteenth-Century School Dresses - Judie Rothermel

Kindred Spirits Sisters - Jill Shaulis

And shirtings on white grounds or tan

Prairie Shirtings - Pam Buda

Sycamore -Jan Patek

Crystal Farm - Edyta Sitar

It's not a great season to build that Civil War stash. My motto is "Buy 'Em When You See 'Em." At least a half a yard. Don't dither when you see good brights like Turkey red and greens. Those prints and colors are offered in limited fashion because they cater to a limited customer base:


We'll see what fall Quilt Market brings in the way of early-19th to mid-19th century repros.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Nurse in Uniform: What War?

Nurse Amelia Mazzara (1831 - 1897)
Collection of the California Historical Society

Photos of Civil War nurses are rare. Nurse Mazzara's picture was published in the California Historical Society Quarterly with a caption dating it to about 1862. She seems to be wearing a uniform. The bodice has triple rows of soutache or braid on the collar, cuffs and running down the the front. She has an arm band like one we'd see today on a Red Cross nurse. Her white, almost floor-length apron is pinned onto the bodice and perhaps buttoned at the waist. She may be wearing a cap that doesn't show in the photo.

See the article with the photo here:

But, I'm becoming suspicious that it's not an 1862 photograph and she is not wearing a Civil War nurse outfit.

The caption says it is a Bradley & Rulofson photo. These San Francisco photographers did not travel to any battle fronts so the photo was probably taken in their studio after their partnership began in 1861. Amelia's husband, sculptor Pietro Mezzara worked on the premises of the Bradley & Rulofson Studio in the 1860s and '70s.

Amelia Mezzara was indeed a Civil War nurse but one wonders why a Civil War nurse was photographed in San Francisco, so far from any battlefields. Amelia Victorien Foulon du Groudre Mezzara was born in France. Husband Pietro, inspired by the Gold Rush, came to California in 1850. He found some success as a sculptor, particularly in cutting life-like cameos.

Pietro Mezzara's bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln,
1865, melted in the great San Francisco fire of 1906.

At the end of the century a San Francisco newspaper article explained Amelia's service as a nurse with the Union Army. She was in New York in 1861 hoping to join her husband in California but had to wait three months for a sailing date. Believing (like many optimists) that the Civil War would last three months she volunteered to join Dorothy Dix's corps of nurses and went South with Hooker's Division. "Mme. Mezzara remained faithfully at her post until Richmond came down."

Amelia finally made it to California after the war. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 she bravely traveled to France to use her nursing skills in her native country.

Railroad cars as hospitals in the Franco-Prussian War

She received a medal in France and another from French women back in San Francisco.

Mezzara sculpture on the state capitol in Sacramento

Pietro Mezzara returned to Europe about the same time Amelia sailed and never came back to the U.S. After the war was over in 1871 Amelia supported herself by teaching French in San Francisco.

Newspaper portrait from the 1890s.

In 1896 she was awarded a Union Nurse's Pension after becoming disabled in a fall from a streetcar. At the time an article in the San Francisco Call included an interview:
" 'I do not care to see myself written up as anything of a heroine,' said the gentlewoman yesterday. 'The world has many women who did as much and more than I have accomplished among the wounded soldiers, and their names have never been mentioned in the newspapers. The work of nursing was hard always, as nurses in the hospitals fared like the troops, but I have ever received the utmost kindness and courtesy from foes as well as friends. The graceful commendation of the two great republics and those who honored me with their approving testimonials, is recompense far above my deserts.' "
She died the following year of "paralysis of the brain," probably a stroke.
After reading Amelia's story and trying to figure out when the photo was taken, I believe that uniform with a red cross arm band is her French uniform from the Franco-Prussian war.

Detail of a field hospital during the French-German War of 
1870-1871. See the rest of the photo in the collection of the
Oregon Health & Science University Library here:

The red cross as an identifier was developed in 1863 when international signers to the Geneva Convention agreed that medical personnel should easily be distinguished by a simple badge. The red cross on the white background was a reverse of the Swiss flag, a nation that prided itself on its neutrality.

Is that a red cross on the nurse's apron in
this Swiss hospital?

During our Civil War field hospitals were identified with a yellow and green H.
See a post on the flags with the H here:

There's really no evidence I've seen that Amelia's photo was taken in 1863.

P.S. Many captions will tell you this photo is of Civil War nurses in outlandish caps. Not true. They are women dressed in regional French headgear at New York's Sanitary Fair.

I found this photo floating around the internet.
Hospital No 9. Summer '63' "

I don't think there were any uniforms as such for nurses during the Civil War other than a discreet dark dress and a pinned apron.

UPDATE: See Harriet Douglas Whetten's photo at the Wisconsin Historical Society here: