Saturday, September 29, 2018

Buried With the Silver: Unintended Consequences

Markett, Mary Caroline Markett, Alabama.
Michigan project & the Quilt Index.

According to the family tale:
"This quilt is a family heirloom made by my grandmothers grandmother who lived in southern Alabama. During the Civil War the family silver and other valuables were wrapped in the quilt, placed in an iron pot and buried in the ground to keep the Yankee troops from plundering."

This week: variations on the central Rose of Sharon applique with family stories that they were saved from Yankee raiders by being buried outside the house.

But: According to the history of the 102nd Illinois Infantry, marching through Springfield, Georgia in December, 1864, removing valuables from the houses had unexpected consequences.
"A guarding the houses of citizens. But alas, for those over prudent citizens! They buried their household goods in grounds adjoining their houses, and the soldiers have discovered them. An almost endless variety of articles have been exhumed. Some are bringing away clothing, other blankets, other fine dishes, silver spoons, etc. "

Quilt from the McClure family. Collection of the Mountain Heritage Center.

"The quilt supposedly was buried during the Civil War to keep it safe from Federal troops, probably stationed in east Tennessee. Another version has it that the family silver was wrapped in the quilt and buried to protect it from theft by the troops."

Stuffed quilting in the McClure quilt.

"Quilt made by the mother of Walter Jackson Vickers (born in 1889) Sweetland, WV. It was buried underground, along with silver, during the Civil War, so it would not be confiscated by soldiers."

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Antebellum Album #9: Lexington Belle

Antebellum Album Block #9
Lexington Belle by Mark Lauer

In the 1830's when Kentucky was considered the American West, Lexington considered itself the Athens of the West. Two French immigrants ran a school in that frontier outpost, an elegant touch in a small American city. 
Lexington just before the Civil War

Waldemare and Charlotte Leclerc Mentelle were supporters of the King, royalists who escaped revolutionary Paris in 1792. Their skills: manners, dancing and the French language. About 1805 Mme. Mentelle began taking student boarders on their farm outside Lexington on land donated to the refugees by Mary Todd Russell Wickcliffe, a wealthy Lexingtonian.

Among the boarders was Mary Russell Wickcliffe's great niece Mary Ann Todd, daughter of Kentucky State Representative and business man Robert Smith Todd. The younger Mary's mother had died after the birth of her seventh child when Mary Ann was six. Two years later Robert remarried. 

Mary's first school was the Shelby Female Academy
housed in this building near Gratz Park, known
today as the Ridgely House.

One solution to conflict between stepmother and Mary was to board the 8-year-old at a nearby school. Mary Ann spent weekends at home, weekdays at the Shelby Female Academy.

Portrait of Mrs. Moore's class of young students in a Kentucky silk
quilt from Bourbon & Harrison Counties, 1893.
Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. #1987.80

After graduation Mary Ann moved on to Mentelle’s for Young Ladies out on the Richmond Pike. The Mentelles'  Rose Hill farm was across the road from Ashland, the home of Kentucky's well-known politician "Henry of the West."

The view from Mantelles' school:
Ashland with Senator Henry Clay and dog in the front yard.
The Mantelles daughter Marie married Clay's son Thomas in 1837.

"My early home was truly at a boarding school," wrote Mary to friend Elizabeth Keckley in later life.

Teacher and young students in the 1840s

Madame provided that home for Mary between 1831 and 1836 and gave her an excellent grounding in French, literature and dancing. Mary became a fluent French speaker who read French books for entertainment throughout her life and spent several years of her widowhood in France. 

Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882), nicknamed "The Republican Queen,"
 considered herself on a par with Queen Victoria and
 French Empress Eugenie.

From Madame she also absorbed aristocratic pretensions that did her no good in her future life as First Lady Mary Lincoln. 

Members of Lexington's upper class were kind to the Mentelles, supporting their farming and schooling enterprises. When Madame died in 1860 her obituary praised, "Her lofty character, her pure life and great intellect in this community, where she has been loved, honored and venerated for half a century." But Madame left letters to her parents in France revealing the feelings were not mutual. "Lexington has no amiable virtues---its citizens have terrible manners..." 

When she was 20 Mary Todd moved north to Springfield, Illinois with her sisters
far away from their stepmother. There she met lawyer Abraham Lincoln.

The Block

Album block in a quilt documented in the
Massachusetts project.

Variations on the block we tend to call Flying Geese were
popular with mid-19th-century quilters for albums and repeat block quilts.

This month's pattern, BlockBase #2902 is one of the oldest
published versions.
  • An Effective Square (rather a dull name) about 1910
  • Baltimore Belle about the same time
  • And Flying Geese in 1929
The name Lexington Belle can recall the Civil War's "Republican Queen."

Lexington Belle by Becky Brown

Cutting a 12" Block

A - Cut 4 squares 2-7/8".

B - Cut 1 square 8-3/8" Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. You need 4 large triangles.

C - Cut 4 squares for the geese 3-1/4". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 8 triangles.

D - Cut 6 squares 3-5/8". Cut each into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. You need 24 small triangles.

E - Cut 1 square 3-7/8".


Lexington Belle by Denniele Bohannon

I try to include a regional album variation that relates to the monthly story's location. What kind of album quilt might Mary Todd have made? Strangely enough I have not been able to find one antebellum album quilt from the entire state of Kentucky. See a post on the curious lack of Kentucky pre-war signature quilts here:

1930s visual interpretation of 1830's travel time from New York
to the greater United States. One could get to NY in 6 days
 by ship from Charleston but it took 2 weeks to travel from Kentucky.

Why no album quilts in the midst of the 1840s and '50s fad? Traveling between Kentucky and coastal cities was not so easy as travel between Philadelphia and Charleston. One could not take an Atlantic coast steamship to Kentucky. Kentuckians on their way to Boston combined Ohio River travel, stage coaches and short line railroads. Kentucky was rather isolated, one reason few Kentuckians are found in the rolls of schools in Philadelphia, Burlington or Hartford. Did this relative isolation result in Kentucky missing the album quilt fad?  But Ohio was just across the Ohio River and we can find many album quilts from that state. Perhaps it was just a matter of taste.

Album dated 1847 and 1848, with blocks signed Fairmount & 
Miamisburg, Ohio, & Hardy County, Virginia
from the West Virginia project & the Quilt Index.

What kind of quilt might Mary Todd have made---if she indeed made quilts? 

Block inscribed John Lewis (1784-1858) principal of the 
Georgetown Female Academy in Kentucky

My guess: a silk hexagon or some kind of English paper pieced mosaic design. Some of the most interesting mosaic quilts were made in Kentucky.
See a post about Mary Todd Lincoln and quilts here:

A Sentiment for August

A cherub with a banner from a star block in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
(Andrew Grauel was a coffee roaster by profession.)

To see an inspiring selection of inking go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art's search page and search for Quilt Block.

Lexington Belle by Denniele Bohannon

During the War & After

Lexington Belle by Pat Styring

Mary Todd Lincoln in the 1850s

Mary Ann Todd married Abraham Lincoln in 1842 when she was 22. She, of course, is easy to track through the Civil War, when she was First Lady. Privilege did not keep her from misery.

She suffered incredible losses with all of her four boys but one dying before she did and of course, witnessing the horrific assassination of her husband in 1865. During the War her Kentucky relatives chose the Confederacy and two half-brothers were killed in battle as was a brother-in-law.

1871 Photo with a ghostly
 Abraham Lincoln superimposed

She was so unstable that her remaining son Robert had her institutionalized at one point---a sad end to the story of a small girl banished to a boarding school.

Lexington Belle by Mark Lauer

Read more about Mary Ann Todd's younger years in Jean Harvey Baker's Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography.
And more about the pattern here:

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Red, White & Blue Veterans' Name Quilts

Quilt with veteran's names dated 1891,
 James Brownell chapter (#26)of the Women's Relief Corps,
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Red, white and blue name quilts were quite the fashion between 1880 and 1915 as fundraisers for the Union veterans' associations, often made by the Women's Relief Corps auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic.

Women's Relief Corps #126 from Laura Fisher.

Each Women's Relief Corps chapter was numbered. I found two 126's, one in Marion? and one in Revere, Massachusetts.
Maybe the red, white and blue quilts were not as big a fad as the fashion for giant hair ribbons...

But never the less, they were a popular trend.

Eight-Pointed Star Quilt, Women’s Relief Corps, 1894, Mancelona, Michigan
The Museum at Michigan State University.

Women's Relief Corps members in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin

Rail Fence signature quilt, Bristol Connecticut, 1885
Connecticut project & the Quilt Index.
Collection of the Bristol Historical Society

Remarkably, this quilt is mentioned in an 1885 account of the town's history.
"One of the most unique schemes for aiding the Grand Army, is that represented by a large, though incomplete, bed Quilt hanging on the east side. In the center are the badges of Gilbert TW Thompson Post GAR and the Ladies’ Relief Corps, No 4. Every third block---all the blocks being three inches long by one wide---is white, on each of which Miss Keziah Peck, of the Corps, has written in indelible ink the name of some person who has paid a dime for that purpose. The ladies have done all the sewing. There are now nearly seven hundred names on the quilt, which is to be finished in time for their fair next winter. The blocks are red, white, and blue."
The major problem with making quilts in those years was the fugitive nature of the new synthetic dyes for cottons. If the women invested in Turkey reds and indigo blues, fabric colored with natural dyes, the reds and blues remain fresh today. But new dyes were cheaper, and probably interesting in their innovative shades. The synthetic blues, however, were prone to fade to gray.

Ohio Star signature quilt, 1880 - 1881, by Sarah F. Gallup, 
Leominster, Massachusetts to benefit the G.A.R. 
Massachusetts project & the Quilt Index. 
Signatures are from celebrities such as U.S. Grant, Mary Livermore and Bronson Alcott. Sarah was active in the Leominster W.R.C. #31, Senior Vice President in 1881.

And the reds to pale salmon pink.

1902, Berlin, Wisconsin, John Williams Post #4 of the WRC. 

 The pattern is Arkansas Traveler, named for an old fiddle tune. (BlockBase #1400)

Made by women of the Capt. James A. Williamson Circle of the G.A.R.
Collection of the Iowa Historical Society.

Ohio Star, made by the W.R.C in Peacham, Vermont

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Errors in Etsy Shop Patterns for Antebellum Album #9 & 10

Mistakes were made!

Judy & Martha have been quite helpful in acting as volunteer technical editors. They've pointed out two errors in the PDF of patterns 9-12 you can purchase in my Etsy shop. If you have not bought these patterns (either in the mail or by downloading the PDF) you can ignore this post.

Pattern #9 will be up next Wednesday September 26th and it will be corrected.

Here's the problem with Pattern #9.

The cutting directions for piece D were wrong. You need to cut the square into 4 triangles not 2. And you only need to cut 6 squares. Sorry for any extra cutting.

For Pattern #10.
The problem is that the length of the strip for piece D is wrong. I told you it should be 6" long. Too short. It needs to be 7-3/8". Becky corrected this once. I forgot.

PS: We also mispelled precision.

Thanks to Judy, Martha and Becky.