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:


Susie H said...

Loved the story here of Indiana. Brought back memories of my mother's college, Wilson College in Chambersburg PA. It too was an all-women liberal arts school and she loved it there. I still take her back every five years to her reunions. Sadly her class of 1955 is dwindling.

Thank you for this block and history lesson. I should love to visit Sweet Briar next trip east.

Suzanne A said...

I will enjoy sending this post to my daughter's mother-in-law, a Sweet Briar alum.

Denniele said...

Love the story about Indiana. All the blocks are stunning....there will be so many variations floating about.

Rina Spina said...

Thank you for this block and the history lesson!
This reminded me of my first visit to the states in 1997, we visited some friends in Anderson Indiana, and they brought us to Conner Prairie Historic Park and to a Quilt Museum in Muncie. This was the first time I saw a quilt, and then I fell in love with this wonderful handwork art! Since then I thaught myself to make little things that looks like quilt. I’m still not an expert quilter, but now I know how to make a quilt!
Thanks a lot Barbara.
Greetings from Sicily, Rina.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

Wonderful history lesson! This is going to be fun. I'm really looking forward to seeing Mark's "neon" version each month. I seem to be stuck in the 1890's!

Mark Lauer said...

Everyone's blocks look great! Looking forward to seeing more later!

Jeanne said...

Thank you for the new series Barbara!

Karen said...

Oh how I wish I wasn't still working and could retire today! Well what's another year! I am on break from my job and can't wait to get home and read this post most thoroughly! You are truly gifted and I appreciate all of the effort you put into this blog. Thank you!

Dorry said...

Yes! Here we go, led on another adventure through history by the redoubtable Ms Barbara Brackman. Barbara provides us with the stories and inspiration and we supply the fabrics and expertise. I am so looking forward to this. Last year I got distracted by an overly exhausting calendar and have not yet finished my blocks for the Yankee Diary but there's still time. Thanks so much for continuing to expand our minds and inspire us to stitch along Barbara. The added bonus of the inked flourish intrigues me.

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

This is very exciting, the new BOM. Nice to see different styles and color ways. I love the whole idea of connections between north and south... thank you Barbara!

Faunacoco said...

I’m very excited to be a part of this journey. The stories of lives long ago are inspiring, and the quilt blocks make one feel connected to our foremothers and fathers. I have never done a quilt along and finally feel I am able to take the plunge. Have been enjoying your books, Barbara. Thank you for this!

CecileD said...

Thank you for this new adventure !
If I want to share on Instagram, do you have a hashtag please ?
Thank you :)

Barbara Brackman said...

I'm working on that Instagram thing. Cecile why don't you start one?
Antebellum Album Quilt

CecileD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CecileD said...

Oh and I have made my block this afternoon ! It was sooo fun ! :)

Jeanne said...

Barbara, would you prefer that we share pics someplace else rather than Flickr?

siamkitty said...

I have inherited a red and quilt made by one of my ancestors that uses a variation of this pattern. Same block repeated over and over, never measured it, but it is a small block and very striking. Wish mother had never removed the info that was pinned to the quilt.

Barbara Brackman said...

Continue to post on Flickr if you like. I am trying to do a Facebook page just for this topic. And I will do an Instagram page. I'll keep you posted.

Jeanne said...

Thanks! I'll watch for further developments :)

helen said...

Beautiful block and interesting story, thank you!
I will be making my block this afternoon! :))
I am looking forward, too, seeing all the different styles and color ways!
Best wishes!

newsie said...

I lived near Sweet Briar for a while so it was lovely to read about its history. Looking forward to trying out this block!

Alycia said...

I LOVE history and your commentary gives so much meaning to this quilt block. Thank you so much!

Barbara Brackman said...


I think Denielle did it. Thank you DB

Judy said...

I worked on block 1. Just wish I was better at color placement. One nice thing is that I can redo it at a later time!

Sharon Lee said...

Thank you for the history, and bringing to us these beautiful quilts. Look forward to learning more.

Anonymous said...

I feel I should know the answer to this, but when completed should the block be 12 inches or 12.5 inches square? And will there be a Flickr album for this year? Thanks

Rina Spina said...

Beautiful and easy block. I decided to make two in different colors!
Thank you for this new great adventure,

Mcirishannie f/k/a quilt til you wilt said...

I just put together 26 of the 52 blocks from the 2010-11 quilt. And here I am again! My hubby just laughed when I told him I was going to join in on this one! I love the history. Thanks for keeping this history alive

Robert Smith said...

Well, explanation. This time gathered a huge knowledge from this site. Want some more.Thanks

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I really enjoyed your blog Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

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