Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Antebellum Album #5: Cross & Crown

Block 5: Cross and Crown by Denniele Bohannon

Our fifth Antebellum Album block is a version of a pattern we might call Bear's Paw or Goose Tracks. This month's focus is a Massachusetts public school.

Charlotte Louise Bridges Forten (1837-1914)
 perhaps the 1870s.

Like many 19th-century girls looking for an education, sixteen-year-old Lottie Forten left home to board with family friends while attending a girls' school as a day student. She'd grown up in Philadelphia where her father considered the available schools second rate. The only available schools for the Fortens were segregated colored schools. Free black Thomas Forten refused to send his daughter to a second-rate school.

Essex Street, Salem, about 1870

Another opportunity appeared in 1853. Lottie was invited to Salem, Massachusetts, which prided itself on a colonial tradition of free public schools. Nearly ten years earlier Salem became the first city in Massachusetts to integrate those schools after a boycott of the "inferior" separate school by black parents. Lottie boarded with the Remond family, activists in the desegregation battle.

In 1818 Sarah Ann Pollard, a student at Salem's 
Clarrisa Lawrence School for African-American girls, 
stitched this sampler now in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg.

Salem schools may have been Integrated by law but Lottie was the only pupil of color in the Higginson Grammar School for Girls. Her diary details the emotional ups and downs of a shy, self-disciplined but self-deprecating teenager who was periodically bed ridden with "lung fever."

Charlotte traveled from Philadelphia north to to Salem
to find a good school

Although many of Higginson's 200 students were undoubtedly unkind (Lottie marveled that "every colored person is not a misanthrope") she made good friends such as Sarah Brown (Brownie) who kept in touch through letters after leaving Salem. Fitting in was difficult but Lottie benefited from principal Mary Lakeman Sheperd's attention and mentoring. Mary Sheperd, about 12 years older than her star student, also remained a lifelong friend.

Charlotte graduated from Salem Normal School 
(teachers' college) in 1856.

Lottie enrolled in the Salem Normal School, again as the only black student and first black graduate.  She was then hired by the Salem public schools as the first black school teacher to teach white children. 

Cross and Crown by Becky Brown

The Block
Cross and Crown seems a good block for Charlotte who was cursed or blessed by always being "first". 
"Miranda B Ervine/California"
More likely from California, Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh
rather than the more famous west coast state.

The block was quite popular for early friendship quilts.

Quilt dated 1842 - 1848, Caroline Bradley Magruder.
Documented in the Maryland project and in their book
A Maryland Album: Quiltmaking Traditions, 1644-1934

In the 1840s and '50s these nine patches were usually appliqued rather than pieced.  In the example below the quiltmaker began with white corner squares and appliqued 2 green triangles and one green square on top of the white.

"David Raber
Lebanon, Pa
January 12, 1848"
Applique stitches.
You'd start with a pieced pink nine-patch and add the red applique pieces.
But we are not doing applique this year!

Cross and Crown By Denniele Bohannon
More about that pattern here:

The pieced design based on equal size nine-patch squares
is not in BlockBase or my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns 
because it wasn't published in this proportion. It should be on this page.
 I'm writing it in my copy as #1713.5.

A pieced block of different proportions.

We're familiar, however, with numerous pieced variations based on a narrower center strip. Here are a few 20th century names for BlockBase 1863 a and b.

Appliqued blocks tend to be equal nine patches
while the pieced version have narrower center strips.

Cutting a 12" Finished, Pieced Block

A - Cut 4 dark squares 2-1/2".

B - Cut 2 dark and 2 light squares 3-1/4". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.

You need 8 light triangles and 8 dark.

C - Cut 4 dark and 1 light squares 4-1/2". This is a correction.

D - Cut 2 light squares 4-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 4.

Cross and Crown by Pat Styring

The Civil War & After

Charlotte spent some of her Civil War on St. Helena Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, where she continued her diary. She taught freed slaves for two years until her health required she return North.

The Penn School on St. Helen Island founded in 1862.
Northern teachers volunteered to maintain
schools on Union-occupied territory during the war.

After the war she worked for the Treasury Department in Washington and married Reverend Francis J. Grimk√©. She died in 1914, praised as an exemplary minister’s wife and a poet, writer and lecturer in her own right.

By Mark Lauer

Sentiment for May

This little flourish, full of good wishes, resembles 
a Union shield so would make an appropriate Union sentiment.

Southern segregated school after the war

Charlotte Forten Grimke’s diaries have been published in several forms. The most comprehensive is edited by Brenda Stevenson: Journals of Charlotte L. Forten Grimke (Schomberg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers. Oxford University Press, 1998.)
See a preview here:

Cross and Crown by Mark Lauer

1842 - 1844 from the Rieff family and others, Pennsylvania
Collection of Gail Bakkom.
 Quilt Index Signature Project

I show an album sampler each month with the monthly pattern in it but I cannot find this block in a sampler. Apparently it was most often used for repeat block signature quilts.

For those of you who want to plan ahead: Buy the PDF's for patterns 5-8 on Etsy.

Or I'll mail you a black & white copy.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Quilts Buried With the Silver-Or Should Have Been

Quilt by Jane McCullough Mosby (1785-1877)
Estimated date 1840-1860

This chintz quilt's journey tells us a little about Virginia's Civil War. It's pictured in a website about the culture in the Upper Shenandoah Valley, exhibited at the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum in 1995.

The quilt was loaned by the family who also kept the tale that it had been "stolen by federal soldiers during the Civil War, given to a black family, and purchased back by Jane's daughter."

I color corrected their pink photo by shifting it greener.
I think this would be more accurate.

Jane McCullough Mosby was born in Baltimore but spent most of her life in Staunton, (pronounced Stanton) Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, Augusta County. Jenny McCullough married Armistead Mosby on March 29, 1809 or 1810 (depending on the source) when she was about 25 years old.

The block chintz quilt is a distinctive style, typical of the twenty years before the Civil War. If  made in 1850 Jenny Mosby would have been 65 years old when she stitched the quilt.

Staunton right before the war

Armistead M. Mosby (1787- 1861) is described as one of three merchants in Staunton who
"supplied, not only the home demand, but a portion of eastern Virginia, with saddlery, leather and tinware, making frequent trips to the south of James river, in wagons, to sell or barter the products of their shops." Jenny and Armistead had one daughter Sarah Elizabeth born in 1812.

Lewis Miller's sketchbook of Virginia scenes includes
this one of Staunton slaves who've been sold 
walking to Tennessee.

Merchants like Armistead in early 19th-century Virginia were slaveholders. Records from 1827 list six people---Albert, Anthony, Dick, Frank, Lucy and Maria---in indentures. (Perhaps Lucy and Maria worked on the quilt.) I actually wouldn't be surprised to find it to be Sarah's quilt rather than her mother's. And lately I have been looking at quilts with Broderie Perse blocks and wondering how many of them were purchased from professional quiltmakers.

See a post on Virginia quiltmakers who made quilts similar to this one:

The Mosbys were members of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton. This building erected in 1855 and enlarged in 1870 would have been familiar to the family. The Episcopal/Presbyterian congregation established the Virginia Female Institute in 1844 with Armistead on the board. Daughter Sarah may have been a teacher of drawing and painting there.

Sarah married Alexander Taylor, described in her obituary as a "prominent merchant of Staunton in his day. She leaves two children, Alexander Taylor of Gainesville, Fla., and Mrs. Margaret S. Weller of this city."

Jenny's husband died in his eighties
just as the Civil War began.

Staunton, the valley's major city, was primarily in Confederate hands during the war and in the midst of many Virginia battles. Sarah Mosby Taylor was recalled in her obituary as a "ministering angel" to Confederate soldiers in those years. Union troops occupied the town for a week in June,1864, setting fires and confiscating food and valuables, events repeated four months later and in the last weeks of the war in 1865.

Postwar history tells us of "widespread hunger and a severe shortage of hard currency." We can imagine the widowed Jenny, near 80, suffering the indignity of losing her quilt to Federal soldiers. During the battles a confiscated quilt might wind up warming a soldier in camp but the quilt may have been taken during Reconstruction days and given to one of the freedpeople, perhaps a Staunton resident or one of the new migrants who arrived looking for work in the city. Somehow daughter Sarah managed to find enough cash or barter to trade for the quilt's return.

Another of Jenny Mosby's legacies is the Bessie Weller school
in Staunton, named for her great-granddaughter, a school nurse.

Edward L. Ayers has studied Augusta County and the Civil War, comparing it to adjacent Franklin County, Pennsylvania. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863 expands our view of the culture in those years with particular attention to the lives of the African-Americans living there.

See a preview here of the prize-winning social history:

The Lewis Miller sketch is from his Sketchbook of Virginia Landscapes in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum of Folk Art---more insight into the area.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Westering Women Samplers

Kay B

I've found some Westering Women finishes on the internet.

Great fabric choices here.

Fishmermaidman Posted Mom's quilt on Instagram

Ann L at the GardenofNeedles blog

See a post a few months ago on more finished Westering Women samplers

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Military Memory in a Sampler

Eagle with cannons, a liberty cap and 9 stars,
block from a mid-19th-century applique sampler.
Mexican War or Civil War?

I've been collecting photos of applique samplers for next
year's block of the month. Here's one that seem to have
some Civil War imagery in a center block.
But then again it could be the Mexican War of the late 1840s.

All I know about it is that dealers Kelter-Malc√©  advertised it about 30 years ago in a 1990 issue of 
the Clarion/Folk Art magazine from the American Museum of Folk Art.

They sold a lot of great quilts and are still selling antiques in Bridgehampton, New York.
A recent profile:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Quaker Pride---Block History

I tossed 20 of your blocks into a digital quilt.

Looks pretty good.

Dated 1851, made by students at the Five Point School
in Warren County, Ohio. Ohio Historical Society Collection.

I have many photos of this block because it was so popular as an album choice and because I like the way it works in design. The earliest dated examples I have in the photo files are from 1841 and 1842 at the beginning of the signature quilt craze.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Date: 1841. Signatures include
Mary Ann Skerrett, E.B. Phillips, George S. Lang,
Julian Phillips, and E. Phillips, Philadelphia

Collection of the Salem County Historical Society in New Jersey.
The makers lived in Mullica Hill in Gloucester County.

Samuel Gillingham was a Philadelphia Quaker

Very similar quilt attributed to Elizabeth Prickett of Burlington County from the Gloucester County Historical Society Museum. Striped sashing looks good whether the blocks are set on the square or on point.

Another dated 1841-1842 from the New Jersey Project

As Jessica Nicholl wrote three decades ago in her catalog: Quilted For Friends: Delaware Valley Signature Quilts: "Friends [Quakers] found the idea of memory quilt particularly compelling."
Nicholl studied several of these quilts and found they had signatures in common.

And then there are some fragments & blocks.

Presented to the Revd. Thomas P Hunt by the 
Ladies Total Abstinence Society, Philadelphia, 1842. 

Maybe this man: a famous temperance preacher who died in Philadelphia in 1876.
The fragment above was from an online auction.

Nicholl also lists an 1841 quilt made by the Female Jefferson Total Abstinence Society 
Presented to the Daughters of the Reverend Thomas and Anna Hunt
in the Atwater Kent/ Philadelphia History Museum Collection.

A fragment 1841-1842 that was once in Julie Silber's inventory, now
in Sandra Starley's collection.

Evalina L. Shaw's block, 1841

1842 Angelina Venable, a set of 12 blocks

At least two in a sampler album dated 1842, also in the Starley collection.

The block continued popular in the Delaware River Valley and spread to other regions. Here's a great version from the collection of the Mercer Museum, dated 1843-1844. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

The Delaware River Valley in eastern Pennsylvania
& western New Jersey.
The heart of album quilt country.