Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Antebellum Album #3 Friendship Star

Antebellum Album #3 Friendship Star
 by Mark Lauer in traditional prints

Album quilt top dated 1844 through 1858 in the collection of the 
North Carolina Museum of History (H.2000.96.2). 
Six signers in this top included their homes: 
three from South Carolina and three from New York.  

"The gift is small as you plainly may see
And given as a token of friendship from me
Mary Ellen Barnes
New York
March 15th 1845"

What did these people who lived so far away from each other in the 1840s and 1850s have in common? 
Wincy P Wadsworth, Cheraw, S.C. 1851
Wincy is indeed her name. She's listed as 29 years
old in the 1850 SC census.

Wondering about those antebellum connections inspired this series. Constance Fenimore Woolson's school experience may offer us some clues.

Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894)
 graduated from Madame Chegary's in 1858, 
about the time of this portrait.

She traveled from Cleveland, Ohio to New York City to board at the fashionable school known as Madame Chegaray's. Constance was an ambitious girl, a talented writer, eager to learn the mathematics, writing composition and science offered at home by the Cleveland Female Seminary, run by a graduate of Mary Lyon's Mount Holyoke. Her parents, however, believed she needed finishing rather than more education. Madame Chégaray's Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies emphasized conversational French, manners, dancing, music, drawing and classical literature, what were called "ornamentals." 

A late-19th century woman described the program:
"Other schools might have public examinations, and aim at higher education, but Mme. Chegaray knew nothing of such innovations. She tried simply to make her pupils gracefully feminine, and she accomplished much good in a mannerless generation." 

An unflattering portrait of
Madame Héloise Chegary (1792-1889) at 95 in the 
New York Sun. Pupils called her Tante (Aunt)

The school's mistress Héloise (Eloise) Désabaye Chégaray supported her family by teaching. Before the French Revolution the Désabayes lived in Paris "in great style" supported by their investments in the French colony of Santo Domingo (Haiti) where her mother's family had lived for over a century. Santo Domingo's slave rebellion overturned the ruling class and by 1797 colonial income vanished. Heloise's penniless family emigrated to New Jersey's Royalist French community.

Mark's other set of blocks. He's doing two.

Too young to actually teach, Heloise found work at Miss Sophia Hay's Academy in New Brunswick, New Jersey and then at two French academies in New York City. In 1814 when she was 22 she opened her own school near Washington Square.

In 1827 she married Frenchman Fulgence Chégaray, listed as a merchant on Houston Street in 1834. In the 1820s he invested in a New York/South American Steamboat Association navigating the Amazon, a financial fiasco that dragged through the courts beyond his death in 1872. Unable to rely on his income, she maintained the school after marriage.

The Academy moved several times over the years. When Constance
attended it seems to have been at #11 East 28th Street.

"For more than half a century, Madame Chégaray trained and instructed the daughters of New Yorkers of the better class...celebrated for amiability and beauty, high breeding and graceful manners," lauded her obituary.

In the late 1850s, Constance found herself to be one of only three Northern girls among the dozens of boarders in New York. The many Southern belles defined themselves as "The Daughters of Carolina." Constance did not define herself as a Daughter of Ohio yet she felt quite out of place. 

An illustration from Woolson's Anne illustrates
the classic conflict---a "mannerless generation."

Constance might have been happier at Mount Holyoke School (see last month's post) and in the long run Tante Chegaray might have wished her there. Rejecting Tante's view of women as ornamental wives, Constance earned a living as a famous novelist. Her best selling Anne (1880) told of Anne's unhappy schooldays at school with a barely fictionalized Tante Moreau. Everyone in New York recognized the elderly "artificial and French" school mistress.

In the 1840s the school's neighborhood was Union Square 

New Yorker Marian Campbell Gouverneur (1821-1914), a generation older than Constance, found her 1830s schoolmates more congenial. 
"About a hundred pupils, a large number of whom were from the Southern States. How well I remember the extreme loyalty of the Southern girls to their native soil! I can close my eyes and read the opening sentence of a composition written by one of my comrades, Elodie Toutant [of Louisiana], a sister of General Pierre G. T. Beauregard of the Confederate Army—'The South, the South, the beautiful South, the garden spot of the United States.' This chivalric devotion to the soil whence they sprang apparently was literally breathed into my Southern school companions from the very beginning of their lives....although I was born, reared and educated in a Northern State, I had a tender feeling for the South, which still lingers with me, for most of the friendships I formed at Madame Chegaray's were with Southern girls."
The Block

Block 3 by Becky Brown
Fussy cutting phenomenon

A version of this month's star from about 1875-1900.

 The Ladies' Art Company may have been the first to publish it as "Album Block" about 1900 but their drawing was rather awkward.

Ladies' Art Company #352, 
early 20th century

With a central octagon rather than a circle it's BlockBase #3588. The Kansas City Star inspired a small revival with their 1933 "Friendship Quilt" pattern.

In the block's mid-19th-century heyday several variations added challenges

Small centers and an octagonal block in a quilt dated 1843-1845
Burlington, New Jersey
New Jersey Project & the Quilt Index 

On point. 
Quilt from the Arizona Project & the Quilt Index 

And below with curves

Quilt dated 1845 from the collection of the New Jersey State Museum

Hannah Hoyt  (1805-1871) was founder and principal of New Jersey's
New Brunswick Female Institute. Students made this gift for her.

Signature Quilt dated 1884-1889 from the
Rhode Island Project & the Quilt Index.

We are piecing the design with the octagon in the center.

Cutting a 12" Finished Block
A - Cut 4 squares 4" x 4".
B - Cut 1 square 6-1/4". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.

You need 4 triangles.
C & D - Use the templates to cut 8 of C and 1 of piece D.

To Print: 
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 out 8-1/2" x 11".
Adjust the printed page size if necessary so the line indicated is the right size.
Becky cautions: Be sure your pattern prints out correctly and that 3-1/2" sewing line is right. Mine printed out a smidge smaller so I used my proportion wheel to size it up to 3-1/2" and adjusted my printer to 107% to print my pattern. Here's a link to a post on printers:

Block 3 by Pat Styring
Pat's using fabric with words to evoke the handwriting in an album

Do note that Wincy, Temperance and Mary Ellen who stitched the NY/SC album took a short cut of sorts. They seem to have appliqued a white circle in the center of a pieced star for inking. Temperance's below looks reverse appliqued.

"Temperance B. Hamilton
April 16th /49 Bennettsville" 
(Probably South Carolina although there is a Bennetsville, NY)

This quilt from North and South is so well documented it's worth looking at the museum's photos. Do a search for the New York/South Carolina quilt at the North Carolina Museum site, which is a bit hard to navigate. You can just search for Quilt but the best way I've been able to find it is by using the accession number in the Keyword slot: H.2000.96.2. You could also search for Wincy. The photos of each inscription are lovely.

The Civil War & After

Constance, perhaps about 1880

Constance returned to Cleveland to accept a proposal from dashing Zephaniah Swift Spalding (1837-1927) who enlisted when the Civil War began and rose to a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Twenty-seventh Ohio Infantry.

Zeph Spalding after the War.

While her fiance was fighting she was active in the local soldiers' aid societies, assisting in the Great Northern Ohio Sanitary Fair in 1864. Their romance did not survive the war years. They realized they'd changed. He sailed for Hawaii, first as a secret government agent and then as an entrepreneur in the sugar industry, marrying the boss's daughter in 1871. Constance also left Cleveland. She led a well-documented life as a best-selling novelist, remaining single and becoming close friends with Henry James. She wrote about the South after the war and maintained ties with her academy classmates.

Sentiment for March

An octagon or a circle?
Ink a bird with a banner and no one will notice your stitching.

Constance's tale is a fascinating American biography. Read the book by Anne Boyd Rioux: Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist.

And you can see Marian Campbell Gouverneur's 1911 memoir on line. As I Remember: Recollections of American Society During the Nineteenth Century. 

I wonder if Miss Woolson and Mrs. Gouverneur were acquainted and if so---Did they had absolutely anything to say to each other?

Potholder quilt (blocks individually quilted and bound) from the Maine State Museum
Note the star in bright red print.

Denniele Bohannon's blue & white and pink & black blocks.



Suzanne A said...

Re New York-Southern connections New York City not only educated a great many children of the Southern planter class, it financed their parents' lifestyle in many instances. All but a few of the major plantation owners carried substantial debt to finance their seasonal business, growing crops, and their extravagant tastes. Lincoln did not win New York City.

It was never that hard to travel by packet boat from New York City to Charleston and back, that was a regular and frequently traveled route. The first father-in-law of quiltmaker Jane Burt Vail Smith of New York City was an esteemed and successful Captain of passenger ships, always sailing the latest model it seems on that route exclusively, and he was just one of many. His wife and maybe Jane herself later on kept a boarding house near what is now South Street Seaport just for other Captains and their families. Jane's father-in-law died unfortunately of yellow fever which he probably contracted in Charleston.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

O.k., I'm ready to start now. I'm usually 3 months behind so it doesn't bother me (much). Cyndi Black reproduced that potholder quilt in 6" blocks so I think I will follow her lead and make mine 6" as well. If you choose a complicated one, I just may have to applique it - wink!

Nancy A. Bekofske said...

So nice to read about Constance in your post. Several years back I read her biography by Anne Boyd Rioux and reviewed it at

Lizzy D said...

"A - Cut 4 squares 4" x 4". These are the corners. Shouldn't they be cut 4 1/2" to finish 4" on a 12 " finished [12 1/2 raw edge] block?



Barbara Brackman said...

Lizzy--pattern testers did not indicate that 4" was wrong. It's not a nine patch. Cut larger if you like and then trim.

Lizzy D said...

Yes I am drafting this and now I see it is not based on 9 equal segments. My error. Sorry for confuson.

Rina Spina said...

This has been a hard one! I had trouble on print the template, but now I'm ready to cut my fabrics. Hope that it will turn out fine.

esther said...

I'm making mine 6", can you provide any measurements for that? thanks!!