Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Antebellum Album #1: Wandering Lover

Block # 1 Wandering Lover by Becky Brown

The first block in our 2018 series Antebellum Album features Indiana Fletcher whose family tells us much about cross border relationships North and South before the Civil War.

Unknown class and teacher

Throughout the year we'll explore women's academies and signature quilts in the 1840s and '50s. We'll look at school girls whose lives were interrupted by the American Civil War and examine album quilts. Each month I'll post a free pattern for a favorite signature block from those early friendship quilts.

Indiana Fletcher 1828-1900

Indiana Fletcher was a woman whose ties to North and South were tightened during her school years. Born in 1828, Indiana's unusual name celebrated her Uncle Calvin's new home on the western frontier. Calvin and Elijah Fletcher were Vermonters who refused to stay put. Seeking opportunity far from his parents' New England farm, Indiana's father Elijah wound up as a Yankee school teacher near Lynchburg, Virginia. He married well-to-do student Maria Antoinette Crawford and in short time became a Southerner--- a slave holder at his Sweet Briar plantation.

Indie and sister Betty benefited from their mother's family money and father's faith in education---"the best fortune we can give our children." Indiana traveled north to St. Mary's Hall in Burlington, New Jersey and the class of 1843.

Indie attended school across the Mason-Dixon line, 
which runs between Maryland and Pennsylvania
southwest of Burlington New Jersey, the star at the top.
Sweet Briar is the lower star.

The Episcopal school overlooking the Delaware River was five years old.  St Mary's was later named Doane Academy after founder George Washington Doane, who believed girls' curricula should be the same as boys'. He and wife Eliza built Riverside, an Italianate mansion next to the school, with Eliza's money from her first husband. Eliza also used that inheritance to support the school in the early years while it became established as a women's academy with a national reputation.

 Doane Academy still provides an education for young men and women.

The Doane's home, Riverside.

St. Mary's influenced Indiana in many ways. Perhaps the most concrete was the makeover she and Betty planned for their Virginia family home, improving the brick farmhouse with a tower on either side, ala Riverside. Father Elijah wrote, "This is a project of my Daughters, and as I rarely deny to gratify any of their desires, have consented this." Remodeling also dictated travels to New York City to buy furniture and keep in touch with friends made in school.

Sweet Briar in Virginia in the early 20th century.
 One can see the bones of
a Southern plantation between the towers.

Burlington, New Jersey was not only home to important 19th-century boarding schools but also to some of the earliest album quilts. We have no evidence that Indie Fletcher ever contributed to a quilt but as a fashionable young woman in Burlington she must have been aware of the new fad for patchwork albums. Our first signature block---just like Indie---has links to Indiana and New Jersey.

The Block

Block 1
by Mark Lauer
We have four modelmakers this year and two
of them are making two sets so you're going to
get lots of ideas. Mark's doing one traditional
red, yellow & green set.

1843 Signature quilt from Burlington, New Jersey
Collection of Conner Prairie Museum in Indiana

A nine-patch variation is not something we might pick for an album block but in the antebellum years that white center square was seen as the perfect spot for a name and sentiment. No applique in this block of the month! But you might get ideas. Those buds stitched in the corners are pretty cute. 

I've seen two albums dated 1842 and 1843 with the pictured pattern---both from New Jersey and both attributed to Quakers. The quilt directly above with sashing is the cover quilt on the New Jersey Quilts book. Variations were common for albums from the complex version above to a simpler version below.

Online Auction. Quilt looks to be about 1880-1910.
The pattern is BlockBase #1700

I've picked a pattern of medium complexity: #1700 in BlockBase. (#1702 is for the ambitious---54 small HST's per block.)

Late 19th-century version of #1702

The oldest published name I've found is Wandering Lover, published in Hearth & Home magazine in 1895, an appropriate name for Southerner Indie and a certain New York minister, two people divided by Civil War.

Mark's second set is done in the bright and black
repros we call neon prints today---black novelty
prints from about 1910.

Cutting a 12" Block
A—Cut 3 background squares 4-7/8” Cut each in half diagonally. You need six large triangles.

B— Cut 9 dark and 3 light squares 2-7/8”. Cut each in half diagonally. You need 18 dark and 6 light of the smaller triangles.

C--- Cut 3 squares 4-1/2”.

Block 1 by Pat Styring
Pat is doing her distinctive collage-like interpretation: a little applique,
a lot of fussy-cutting.

The Civil War & After

Indiana Fletcher Williams, perhaps in the 1880s.

When Civil War broke out Indie was a rich single woman, a 33-year-old slave-holder living on the family plantation. Her personal war was less painful than that of many Virginians. Sweet Briar remained safe from fighting so many of her trials were just tribulations. The railroads no longer ran; food and goods were scarce. And she missed her Northern travels.

Pass for travel in Virginia right after the War.

Indie applied for a pass to cross into the Union from Virginia. In 1864 she asked Uncle Calvin to recommend her, hoping to escape the South where "fortunes are vanishing like the glories of the setting sun." Calvin Fletcher refused to vouch for her loyalty, fearing she'd try to get her hands on the Vermont family farm, but I would guess Indiana's motivation to cross the lines was more romance than greed.

James Henry Williams 

Frustrated travel plans may have included a visit to Dobbs Ferry, New York, where J.H. Williams was an Episcopal minister. Once the war ended Williams visited Sweet Briar and married Indie soon after. Daughter Maria Georgiana (Daisy) was born in 1867. The Fletchers' fortune did not vanish with the  Confederacy's setting sun and she and Williams continued to prosper throughout the century, dividing their time between New York and Virginia, while Daisy attended Manhattan schools.

Daisy Williams (1867 -1884)
Sadly, their only child inherited a debilitating disease and died at the age of 16.

Her broken-hearted parents moved permanently to New York. In 1889 when J.H. Williams died his will requested Indiana use their fortune and Virginia land to establish a women's school in Daisy's memory. You may be familiar with Sweet Briar, a private women's liberal arts college on 3,000 acres near Lynchburg.

Sweet Briar College in 1914, fourteen years after 

Indiana Fletcher Williams's death.

Indie's mansion still stands
Sweet Briar College was recently named a top 
ten small school in Forbes' Magazines survey.

Denniele Bohannon is also doing two sets in
high contrast brights. This is from her pink set.

And this one with more triangles is from
her blue set. BlockBase #1701.

Sentiment for July

Each month I'll show an inked flourish from
a mid-century album. You might want to print it
and trace it. 
Or try some free-hand grape vines with your signature.

Information about the Fletcher/Williams family is abundant. I first read Indie's tale in a group biography of her father's family. Our Family Dreams is by Daniel Blake Smith.

Album sold at Hindman Auctions about 15 years ago
with a variation of this month's block on the top row next to the willow tree.

If you'd prefer you can buy the patterns for Antebellum Album in my Etsy shop. I've packaged blocks 1-4, which you can buy as a PDF to print yourself  for $5. Or I'll print it on my black & white printer and mail it to you for $9. You'll be getting patterns January through April ahead of everyone else so don't be telling anybody. Here are the links:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Losing David Leche

Lieut David Leche 1825-1862

"In Memory Of Lieut. David H. Leche. Co.D 2nd Reg. 
Pennsylvania Cavalry, born in Baltimore, Md. June 2, 1825. He fell in the service 
of his country at Bacon`s Creek near Accoquan.
 Dec 28, 1862 in the 38th year of his life. 
He was a devoted husband and a dedicated father. A good man."

620,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War, each leaving broken-hearted family and friends. This one casualty tells us something about the ease with which people crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Leche died for the Union but he had once been a slaveholder in Maryland. 

Union soldier David Harmanus Leche of the Pequea [Peck-Way] Dragoons (2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry) died on December 28, 1862, near Fredericksburg, Virginia in what was known as Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart`s Christmas Raid. 

Leche, 36-years old, joined the Union Army in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, leaving wife Harriet Ann Sample Leche (1828-1896) with seven children to care for. Hattie Leche (perhaps pronounced Leech) never remarried.

Born in Baltimore he and Hattie began married life on a farm with 8 slaves, according to the 1850 census.
Collection of the Historical Society of Baltimore County
Lime Spring Farm in northeastern Baltimore County
might have been a wedding present for David and Hattie
from his parents Jane and David Leche.

In 1858 they sold their 222 acres and moved to Hattie's home county Lancaster in the free state of Pennsylvania. Both David's parents had died in the early 1850s.

David's mother Jane had been born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Jane Weakley (1792-1855) married Irish immigrant David Leche in 1819 and moved to Baltimore where her husband was a successful dealer in textiles, a dry goods merchant. 

1845 advertisement for David Leche & Son,
which was at the corner of Charles and Fayette Streets...

near the Greek Revival-style
Charles Street Methodist-Episcopal Church

Jane Weakley Leche left at least one quilt

now in the collection of the Virginia Quilt Museum.
They estimate it to date from about 1825.

Another Maryland quilt features the same fountain in the center.
Jane combined several prints.

Jane had access to the newest imported goods at the Leche store, framing her cut-out chintz center with a brown up-to-date floral. 

The brown print had a background of what was called a fancy machine ground,
a fine net.

And triangles of Turkey red.
The best photos of Jane's quilt are at Kara Mason and Teri Young's blog post:

David was Jane's only child so the quilt might have come down through his family and the five children he left. She died five years before the war began, leaving a small heirloom from her generation.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Yankee Diary: Links to Free Patterns

1 Kristi
Tulip & Liberty

In this post:
 Links to all the blocks for Yankee Diary,
our 2017 Block of the Month.

Click on the links to see the pattern instructions.

2 Terry
Susan B.'s Star

3 Vrooman's Quilts
Double Ties

4 Jeanne
Right Makes Might

5 Bear Necessities
Union Basket

6  Rina 
Heart & Hand

7 ColvinKiwiQuilts
Valentine for Noah Clarke's Brother

8 Lin 
Checkerboard Filler

9 Tonko
Our Thoughts are Intense

10 Danice
Leaves of Autumn

11 Denniele 
Victory is Grant-ed

12 Becky
Yankee Mourning

Yankee Diary by Becky

Setting the Quilt

Checkerboard border

Denniele's Ribbon of Stars Border
Thanks to everybody---model makers and readers.

And remember  you can buy the patterns.

 As PDFs to print yourself .

Or I'll mail them to  you as paper patterns.

Click on these links to my Etsy shop.