Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Teamwork: Denniele & Sue's Sprouts

Blue Dot, Blue Dot-Where Might You Be?
by Denniele Bohannon, quilted by Sue Daurio

Denniele Bohannon won first prize in the Machine Applique
category with her version of Sprouts at the Missouri State Fair a few weeks ago.

Clever label inked on vintage needlework

I helped.

Denniele wanted a less time-consuming version of our Hospital Sketches applique BOM so I picked a few elements from each large block for a design appliqued to a 10' square. 

Block #3 Sprouts

Denniele changed my design, first by appliqueing to a 9-1/2" square for a finished 9" block.

And she kept changing things.

Here's the proportional drawing
3" increments
9" Finished Blocks

Sue Daurio's webpage:

Denniele's Facebook page for Louanna Mary Quilt Designs:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Keckley Quilt on Display: Details & History

Detail of a quilt attributed to dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley,
 made from scraps of Mary Todd Lincoln's dresses.

The Museum at Kent State University regularly exhibits this quilt and has it on display in the current show Ohio Quilts from the Collection, up until April, 2020.

The center features an eagle embroidered in silver thread (tarnished now)
with the word Liberty below, a poignant message from a woman born in slavery.

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907)
in her forties during the Civil War.

Quilt attributed to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley. Gift of Ross Trump
in memory of his mother, Helen Watts Trump
Kent State University Museum

Mary Todd Lincoln (1818 – 1882)
Carte-de-visite sold by the Brady Studios
The women were the same age. Lizzie dressed
more appropriately for her years.

Mary Lincoln had a serious shopping problem. After her husband was killed the widow's assets consisted primarily of the dresses she'd commissioned while she was First Lady.

The New York auction

Friends including "Washington modiste" Elizabeth Keckley organized a benefit sale of those dresses in New York, which scandalized quite a few, including the New York Herald.

"The most valuable portion of her wardrobe [is] for sale, from necessity, as it is alleged....We regret, as every sensible American must regret, to see the private affairs of Mrs. Lincoln thus brought before the public. It cannot but lead to gossip and disagreeable discussions."

A reporter interviewed Keckley, who was "daily to be seen in the establishment [auction rooms run by a Mr. Brady]... She remarks rather plausibly that no such outcry is made in France when the Empress [Eugenie] sells her wardrobe."

Brady's exhibition rooms were "packed to suffocation," but the wardrobe did not sell and Mary had to buy back the articles.We can assume that many of those dresses were made at Lizzie Keckley's establishment. Keckley did not label the fashions she made for Mrs. Lincoln, Varina Davis and other capital women so attributing the garments to any particular workshop is impossible.

Dress at the Smithsonian, worn in 1861 & 1862

Elizabeth Way who researched the Keckley/Lincoln connection for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History listed a few possible dresses.
The NMAH has "a Mary Lincoln gown, a purple velvet dress with two bodices....There’s a buffalo plaid green and white day dress with a cape at the Chicago History Museum. At the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Illinois, you’ll find a black silk dress with a strawberry motif that you’d wear to a strawberry party, which was a 19th-century Midwestern picnic tradition, but it’s disputed as to whether or not it’s a Keckley. Penn State (sic) has a quilt that Keckley made from dress fabrics, and other items are floating around in collections. For example, Howard University has a pincushion with her name on it."
Green and white plaid outfit from the 
Chicago History Museum

Sally Field portraying Mary Todd Lincoln in
the movie Lincoln

The date of the Keckley quilt is unknown but it's generally thought to be late 1860s.

Scraps left over from the Lincoln dresses may be in the 
hexagons but the intricately embroidered  panels look like 
parts of deconstructed garments. How many embroiderers
did Mary Lincoln keep busy in the early 1860s?

According to Ruth Finley the Keckley quilt was kept with other Lincoln articles. It was probably  stored in the many trunks of hoarded fabrics and dresses that Mary Lincoln held on to until she died in 1882. Son Robert Lincoln, her only surviving child, had to deal with his unstable mother and her stored trunks.

Robert Todd Lincoln (1843 – 1926) at

the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922.

Did the Lincoln family sell the quilt to Finley, who is the source for the story that the quilt was made by Keckley from Lincoln scraps? Apparently, an affidavit verifying the provenance accompanied the quilt, according to quilt historian Susan Wildemuth. The Keckley quilt is not mentioned in Finley's book Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them, published in 1929. We assume she acquired it after that date. Robert Lincoln died July 26, 1926 so he is not the seller.

Robert had two daughters Jessie Harlan Lincoln Beckwith who died in 1948 and Mary Todd Lincoln Isham who died in 1938. These women or their children may have been Finley's contacts. The Finley family sold the quilt in 1967. Karen Alexander wrote about that sale:
"Family members held a tag sale at one of the family farms in Ohio. Ross Trump, who handled the sale, reported in an interview to quilt historian Ricky Clark that few of the quilts sold.... Eventually Mr. Trump purchased several of the quilts himself, including the Lincoln Quilt."

Apparently the 1967 sale went little better than the 1867 sale.

He donated the quilt to the museum in 1994.

Purported to be Elizabeth "Lizzie" Keckley
The backdrop features Baltimore's Battle Monument...

seen on Baltimore Album Quilts. Lizzie spent a short time in Baltimore before war.

See posts on Elizabeth Keckley and this quilt:

And read much more about the ill-fated wardrobe sale:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sprouts from Hospital Sketches

This year's BOM has a simplified version.

#7 Denniele Bohannon

Cathy Patterson Buell at Big Lake Quilter
Sprouts #1

#2 Sue Hoover

#1 Erica Cannon.
Erica is fusing and then securing the edges with a quilt-
as-you-go stitch in a fabric sandwich. She's doing two sets.
This one's the Brownie.

Sometimes she makes them up

Sara Reimer Farley is doing them at 6 inches and adding what she will.

Each one is on the diagonal with a triangular base.

She's got a plan, which involves some other 6 inch blocks.

Sue Hoover has a plan too. Pineapples (#5) in the corners

Susannah Pangelinan is playing around.

38-1/2" Square
There was once an official plan. Blocks finishing to 9-1/2";
sashing finishing to 2-1/2"

Next week. Denniele cleaned up at the Missouri State Fair in the machine applique category. We'll look at her Sprouts.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Ellen Campbell Remembers the Eves

We started this search with a quest to find out a little more
about Philoclea Edgeworth Casey Eve, whose applique quilt
is in the Atlanta History Center. See last week's post:

The search took some interesting turns.

Ellen Campbell's typed transcript from the Library of Congress website.

Ellen Campbell was interviewed in Augusta when she was about ninety years old during the federal W.P.A. program in the late 1930s. A former slave, she told the women who recorded her words that she was born in 1846, a grown woman when freedom came, a slave in Philoclea Eve's household.

Photograph taken near Augusta, Georgia, about 1900
Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia

Robert E. Williams took photographs in Richmond County at the end of the 19th century.
See a photo of a woman at her quilting frame here:

Between 1937 and 1939 WPA  interviewers talked to over 200 people
who'd been enslaved in Georgia.
Adeline Cunningham was a Texas interviewee.

The Eve's plantation, Ellen Campbell indicated, was near her cabin at 1030 Brayton Street---
"All this land was fields, then, slap down to Bolzes" (perhaps neighbors named Bowles.) Ellen's house was northwest of the railroad tracks, indicating where the Eve's land was.

Her house was on this lot, the red pin in a Google Map

Ellen remembered her duties in slavery. [I have re-translated Ellen's words into English rather than the pidgin thought appropriate in the 1930s.]

Cased photo from about 1860
Carrying water to field hands was often a child's
first employment. 

"When I was about ten years old they started me toting water --- carrying water to the hands in the field." When she was twelve she tended sheep and three years later Philo gave her to Eva, who "was fixing to get married, but she couldn't on account of the war, so she brought me to town and rented me out to a lady running a boarding house. The rent was paid to my missus [Eva]."

When the girl dropped a tray the boarding housekeeper reacted by stabbing her in the head with a butcher knife. She ran home. "Miss Eva took me and washed the blood out of my head and put medicine on it and she wrote a note: 'Ellen is my slave, given to me by my mother. I wouldn't have this happen to her no more than to me. She won't come back...."

The interviewer asked if the Eves were "good to her." (Did the interviewees tell the white women what they thought they wanted to hear?)

Ellen's answer: William Eve was "the best white man anywhere around here on any of these plantations. They all owned slaves. My boss would feed them [the slaves] well."

Young women with their children on the Fripp Plantation from
the Library of Congress. 
The Eves had 40 cabins at Goodale according to the 1860 census.

Did the Eves have a house on the plantation?
"They lived in town and he came back and forth every day. It wasn't but three miles. The road ran right from the plantation and everybody who drove through it had to pay a toll [at a toll gate.] That road is where the Savannah Road is."
Did Ellen remember when the Yankees occupied Augusta?

6th Massachusetts Regiment
from the Library of Congress
"I saw them coming down the street. Every one had a canteen on his side, a blanket on his shoulder, caps cocked on one side of [his] head. The cavalry had boots on and spurs. First they set the [Negroes] free on Dead River, then they come on here to set us free. They marched straight up Broad Street to the Planters' Hotel...
The Planters Hotel about 1905
"They stayed here six months till they set this place free. When they were camping on the river bank we'd go down there and wash their clothes for a good price.

"They had hard tack to eat. They...told us to soak it in water, and fry it with the meat gravy. I haven't tasted nothing so good since. They said, 'This hard tack was what we had to live on while fighting to set you free'."
In her diary slave-owner Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas wrote about the day the Union troops arrived.
"Sunday May 7, 1865. This morning a large force of Yankees came marching into Augusta the drums beating & colours flying----surrounded by a large crowd of Negroes... Patsey said there were 800 of them."
 Freed slaves often continued working for the same people after the war, but under a different economic system that lurched forward by trial and error. In July, 1865 Charles Jones wrote his mother that Philoclea Eve "has been sued by three of her household servants for wages---a most unwarrantable procedure.... We will all have to recognize the fact that our former slaves have been set free...and if they continue with us we must pay for services rendered."

Ellen Payne, Texas interviewee

Interviewers collected testimony from 20,000 Americans who'd lived in slavery. Tennessee's Fisk University and Louisiana's Southern University began the project in 1929. The New Deal program the Federal Writer's Project continued the interviews from 1936 to 1939.

It's great to link an interviewee with her once-owners's story. Ellen Campbell's memories give us more information about the Eves and the Eves's story tells us more about Ellen.