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.


Denniele said...

Becky, your blocks make me think I can applique....they are so lovely! I love the Old Maid's Quilt...what a rebel she was. Thanks for the mention, BB

Rina Spina said...

This story is so interesting, the last name of one of my friends is Daggett, her husband’s family are from Maine.
I’m not good yet with applique, but I enjoyed this year BOM to do practice. I will try to finish blocks 8,9,10 before you will post November’s Block.
So I have only four weeks!
Greetings from Sicily! Rina.

Danice G said...

More interesting history. Women sometimes get overlooked in history (and even nowadays). Thank goodness some people do appreciate all of the fine works women have done in the past and still do today.

Jeanne said...

Oh, I like leaf blocks for October! Enjoyed the article also. I AM catching up! :)

UplayOnline said...

I love the Old Maid's Quilt...what a rebel she was. Thanks for the mention, BB