Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Antebellum Album #10: Carolina Lily

Antebellum Album #10 Carolina Lily by Becky Brown

We're familiar with many variations of the Carolina Lily as a repeat block. It's surprising to me, though, how many needlewomen thought it a good fit for a sampler album quilt.

Caroline Drakel of Hunterdon County, New Jersey
included several versions.

The Carolinas were home to many girl's academies. Among the best documented: the Burwell School
in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Sketch of the Burwell School from memory

 Margaret Anna Robertson Burwell (1810 - 1871),
perhaps about 1865.

Anna Burwell ran the school for twenty years before the Civil War and raised ten of her own children while husband Robert was minister at the local Presbyterian Church. His salary was small and the school helped them make ends meet.

Like the Burwell school, Kentucky's Bardstown School 
attracted a small group of local girls plus a few Southern boarders.
The very full skirts date this photo to about 1860.

Anna's alumnae include about 200 girls over the two decades. I found mention of only one from north of Virginia.

Block from a friendship quilt made for Fanny Holt's sister.
Fabrics and style (log cabin of shirting prints) indicate a
date after 1880.
Alamance County Historical Society Collection.

Frances Ann Holt of North Carolina's wealthy Holt textile family spent her twelfth year there in 1849. Bess Beatty in her book on the Holt Family outlined the curriculum: "Academics in the morning, Ornamentals ---notably music, painting, and needlework----in the afternoon." 

Tulip quilt 1850-1875.
Fanny Holt's sister-in-law Elizabeth Ann Mebane Holt (1830-1895)
was quite a quiltmaker. The North Carolina project documented
her quilts and included this one in their book North Carolina Quilts.

The school attracted boarders and day pupils from the area with a few from Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

Miss Anna "claimed that her intention was 'to teach the young Ladies to 'think'," writes Beatty, "but apparently she did not intend that they think much about challenging their ascribed sphere." Girls should aspire to "a meek & quiet spirit."  And here we have the major contrast between a typical New England academy like Mary Lyon's Mount Holyoke (see Block #2) and the more common small school of the era emphasizing ornamental subjects. 

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (Keckly) (1818-1907)
About 1860
Moorland-Spingham Research Center, Howard University.

There was at least one young woman at the Burwell School who refused to accept her proper sphere.  When the Burwells came to North Carolina from Virginia in 1835 they brought a 17-year-old slave.  Elizabeth Hobbs was born in 1818 to Agnes, an enslaved seamstress in Robert Burwell's family. Elizabeth's biological father was Armistead Burwell (1777-1841) patriarch at Dinwiddie Courthouse plantation with over fifty slaves, Agnes's husband was George Pleasant Hobbs, slave on a nearby plantation, eventually taken west---"gone forever," Elizabeth said in her memoir. She thought enough of her lost stepfather to name her own son George.

Elizabeth recalled her seven years at Burwell as life's low point. She did the work of three servants, she remembered, caring for the student's clothes, cleaning their rooms and sewing.

But that was not the worst. Anna Burwell reacted to her independence and "stubborn pride" by commissioning a schoolmaster to strip her and beat her---weekly. Elizabeth's had the last word about Anna Burwell and her portrait is not pretty:
The minister "was burdened with a helpless wife, a girl that he had married in the humble walks of life. She was morbidly sensitive, and imagined that I regarded her with contemptuous feelings because she was of poor parentage."
Burwell School before restoration

Violent beatings were still not the most horrible memories:
 "For four years a white-man...had base designs upon me. I do not care to dwell upon this subject, for it is one that is fraught with pain. Suffice it to say, that he persecuted me for four years, and I-I- became a mother."
Elizabeth did not reveal her rapist's name but son George William Kirkland's father was neighbor Alexander J. Kirkland who died 18 months after the birth with symptoms of liver failure from alcohol abuse. He was 33.

Alexander Kirkland's tombstone eulogizes him as
"a dutiful son, a tender husband, a fond father, a loyal friend,
an honest man, a Christian gentleman."

Elizabeth Keckley's story of Anna Burwell is at odds with community memory of the school mistress. But once again Elizabeth had the last word. 2018 is the 200th anniversary of her birth and the Burwell School does itself proud by celebrating her life all year in the Keckley Bicentennial.

Carolina Lily by Mark Lauer

It is hard for us to make sense of the relationships between the Burwells, the Kirklands and the Hobbses. We see monumental cruelty and hypocrisy but they saw society differently. We might recall at least three "dogmas of the proper sphere."

1) People believed in a natural law, an order of hierarchy in a Christian world. One's earthly job was to accept one's place in the social ladder. Nobility lorded it over the gentry, gentry over the workman, the workman over his wife, the white man over the darker, the master over the slave. Elizabeth and people like Mary Lyon of the Holyoke School hoped for a  modern perspective and did what they could to change things. Anna Burwell believed it her religious duty to discourage change.
Read more about the ladder at this post I wrote a few years ago in considering women's rights:

2) Enslaved African-Americans had "No Rights Which the White Man was Bound to Respect," according to a 1857 Supreme Court Decision. Although Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley had bought her freedom by 1857, the Court concisely phrased the stark reason why Alexander Kirkland was viewed as "an honest man" and she was vilified for accusing him in her memoirs.

3) And, of course, we are all too familiar today with what can happen when any woman of any class accuses a man of sexual abuse.

The Burwell School on its two acres is a historic site.
See more here:

The Block

Carolina Lily by Mark Lauer

Dozens of variations of the triple-floral have been
published and stitched since the 1840s. You might
want to do a traditional block in this 12" format. But I said

So we are sewing the simple variation at top left above:
BlockBase #765.01: Tulip attributed to the Alice Brooks/Laura Wheeler syndicate in the 1930s.

Cutting a 12" Block
See the templates for D & E below.

A - Cut 1 square 4-1/4". Cut diagonally into 2 triangles.

B- Cut 1 square 6-3/8". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. You need 2 triangles.

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

D- Cut 4 rectangles 2-7/8" wide by 7-3/8" long and trim these at 45 degree angles into diamonds as shown. You need 4 diamonds.

E- Cut 2 rectangles 3-7/8" wide by 13-1/4" long. trim these at 45 degree angles into the leaf shapes as shown.You need 2 leaves.

F - Cut 1 square 6". Cut diagonally into 2 triangles. You need 1.

Cutting D
Becky explains it best:

A Sentiment for October

Wreath from a quilt dated 1847

3" for piece C.

During the War & After

Carolina Lily by Pat Styring

Following these women from the Burwell School into the Civil War only reveals more grief. Elizabeth lost son George at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in Missouri; Frances Holt's first husband was killed in 1863 and two of Anna Burwell's sons died during the war.

Mrs. Keckley & Mrs. Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's film “Lincoln:” 
Gloria Reuben & Sally Field. 
Elizabeth's memoir told us much about the Lincolns' relationship.

Elizabeth Keckley became Mary Lincoln's dressmaker and perhaps the historical character of the twenty-teens.

Read her memoir: Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House

Looking at this month's block and this quilt above (circa 1850) from
the Connecticut Quilt Project and the Quilt Index...

Antebellum Album
63.75" x 63.75"

I thought of another set for the 12 Antebellum Album blocks (10 shown above). Set them on point with half a star as the edge. You've got room in the center for a 13th---maybe an inked wreath with an inscription.

I drew the quilt up in EQ7 with 3" finished sashing. For the blocks around the edge I used the top right half of this month's block. Stitch 8 of the half blocks and then 4 corner blocks pieced of  A & D. 

You'll need extra yardage for the diamonds in the edge and the sash:
Pink & green---1/2 yard each
Sashing and backgrounds for the edge blocks---3 yards. You should be able to get the binding out of that too.

Cutting the Sashing 
18 strips 3-1/2" x 12-1/2"
2 strips 3-1/2" x 18-1/2"
2 strips 3-1/2" x 48-1/2"
2 strips 3-1/2" x 78-1/2"
See another version of the on-point setting at this post:

 Denniele added a seam to piece E.

And changed the whole thing up here.

More to read:
Bess Beatty, Alamance: The Holt Family and Industrialization in a North Carolina county, 1837-1900

The Book of Burwell Students.

Sampler dated 1863 from the Nebraska project & the Quilt Index
An idea for nine album blocks

And another idea.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Quilt Willed to Freed People

 Gardner/Garner Families Appliqued Quilt, 
Shelby, North Carolina. Estimated date 1825-1850,
National Museum of American History, Gift of Mrs. Eva A. Warren

The photos are not too clear but we can see the pattern, a large
star/feather design we'd call a Princess Feather.

See the cataloging information here:

I  have a photo file of these early Princess Feathers.

I'm the volunteer quilt curator at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and we have a well-worn example signed and dated "Mary Somerville, 1818". I was struck by how much the two quilts have in common, mainly cut-out chintz framing the central design of a star and feathers.

I've never been able to find Mary Somerville but the more I look at this file of early quilts
the more I think I should confine my search to the Southern states.

Here's one attributed to Tabitha Bynum at the May Museum
in Farmville, North Carolina

From the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts MESDA collection

The fabric in the Gardner quilt below looks like it's been cut from one or two furnishing scale prints, 
one a basket of fruit with a large melon perhaps on top; the other (may be the same print)
has a serpentine red stripe.

The printing style of red, blue and white was
quite the fashion in the early 19th century.

Related print style, generally dated from about 1810-1830, printed in England

The Gardner/Garner quilt has many interesting features. Most interesting is the trail of ownership from its making about 1830 down to Eva Alice Warren's 1970 gift to the Smithsonian. Eva Schenck Warren was a descendant of Flora Garner, born a slave on the Gardner plantation in Shelby, Cleveland County, North Carolina. Eva's family story is that Elizabeth Gardner, one of the former plantation owner's kin, willed her possessions to the freed people after the Civil War. Flora Garner received this family quilt and passed it down to Eva's mother Emma Lilly Schenck.

Flora may have been familiar with this Gardner/Webb house in Shelby, built in 1850 (layers of Greek Revivalism added later.) In 1850 Shelby the Cleveland County Seat was described as "just a wide place in the road, mostly woods and all frame buildings." 

The Gardners and Garners are related to the powerful Gardner family of Shelby, North Carolina, chiefly remembered for Oliver Max Gardner (1882-1847), Governor from 1928 to 1933. 

Faye Webb Gardner at dedication of a sign marking Governor
O. Max Gardner's birthplace, on Marion Street at Martin Street in Shelby.

He and wife Fay Webb Gardner donated funds for Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs.

The Household Arts Department at the school that would become
Gardner-Webb University, about 1915.

Eva Warren wrote an autobiography in her 1973 book Watch What is Lacking in Negro Progress. This hard to find book (in several university libraries) might give us more information about the quilt and Eva's family.