Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Hospital Sketches #1: Periwinkle Wreath - The Union Hotel

Block #1 Hospital Sketches
Periwinkle Wreath by Becky Brown

We begin the Hospital Sketches applique sampler with Periwinkle Wreath, recalling the Union Hotel Hospital in Georgetown, Washington City.

Union Hotel Hospital 
During the Civil War

Hannah Anderson Chandler Ropes (1809-1863) was the matron
at the makeshift hospital.

Matrons were more housekeepers than medical assistants. Hannah would have been in charge of the kitchen, the laundry and the female nurses, although she certainly worked one on one with patients. Hannah was in her early fifties when she arrived in summer, 1862, readying the building to take wounded from the Seven Days campaign near Richmond, Virginia. 

Louisa called it the Hurley-Burley House Hospital

Right before Christmas Hannah welcomed a new volunteer: "We are cheered by the arrival of Miss Alcott from Concord---the prospect of a really good nurse, a gentlewoman who can do more than merely keep the patients from falling out of bed." The respect was mutual, Louisa May Alcott, about thirty, found "Mrs. Ropes very motherly & kind."

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
Louisa published her Hospital Sketches under the pen name "Trib Periwinkle,"
inspiration for our first floral block.

Periwinkle Wreath by Bettina Havig

In a letter to another veteran of the Union Hospital, Louisa wrote:
"My ward is the lower one & I parade that region like a stout brown ghost from six in the morning till nine at night haunting & haunted for when not doing something I am endeavoring to decide what comes next being sure some body is in need of my maternal fussing."

Trib Periwinkle recalled her dwelling at the Hurley Burley House:
"The windows suffered compound fractures...narrow iron beds, spread with thin mattresses like plasters, furnished with pillows in the last stages of consumption... A mirror (let us be elegant!) of the dimensions of a muffin and about as reflective." 
What a writer she was!

Patients in a ward built as a hospital with emphasis on
ventilation to keep air-borne diseases from spreading.
The Union Hospital had few windows.

The wards were no better: A more perfect pestilence-box than this house I never saw.”

An extremely rosy picture, supposedly of a ward at the Union Hospital---
Jenny Lind spool beds for everyone.

Armies were desperate for spaces to care for the overwhelming number of sick and wounded. Louisa arrived soon after the Battle of Fredericksburg. Her patients died of trauma, infection and field amputations but also of measles, pneumonia, typhoid and dysentery. 

Illustration of Louisa in the ward from
a 20th-century edition of Hospital Sketches

In early January Hannah wrote her daughter Alice:
"Miss Alcott and I worked together over four dying men and saved all but one....but whether [due to] our sympathy for the poor fellows or we took cold, I know not, but we both have pneumonia and have suffered terribly."
Back in Concord Louisa's letters stopped. Young neighbor Julian Hawthorne remembered:
"A hush of suspense fell upon us. Then came an official dispatch from the front. Miss LA had caught the fever and was being invalided home....on my way to and from school I would call at the house for news and go away heavy hearted. Mrs. Alcott would shake her head, pale and sad, and [Sister] Abby's eyelids were red and her smiles gone."
Hannah notified Bronson Alcott to come to Washington. On January 20th, the day Louisa's father arrived, Hannah Ropes died with her daughter Alice at hand.

Orchard House, the Alcott home in Concord during the Civil War.
From the Orchard House Museum

Wrote Julian: Louisa "returned at last a white, tragic mask of what she had been but with a glimmer of a smile in the depths of her sunken eyes."

The Block

Periwinkle Wreath by Janet Perkins
Janet and Bettina are each using a single monochrome print
for their backgrounds.

Wreaths with flowers on the north/south axis and buds on the diagonals
are one of the most popular of 19th century applique designs.

See a post about the history of appliqued wreath blocks here:

Here we've changed the traditional rose to a flower based on five,
a purple periwinkle

To Print:
Create a word file or a new empty JPG file.
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file. Be sure the square is about 1" in size.

For the background cut a square 18-1/2"
Add seam allowances to the pattern pieces if you are doing traditional applique

Me, Barbara, I'm using reproduction calicoes from my stash and my purple box is pretty empty.
But periwinkles come in pink too. The backgrounds are pieced a la Piece O'Cake applique. I cut 9-1/2" squares of light prints and pieced them randomly together. Ouch! The red solid is bleeding.


Becky is doing some addition---here she's filled the empty space in the middle of the wreath with another floral. She's designed a class in how to make applique your own and addition is a theme.


Sprouts #1

Each month you'll get a Sprouts design, an adaptation of the traditional pattern, using just a few of the elements from the more complex pattern, sized to fit 8-1/2" finished backgrounds. 
For Sprouts #1:
  • Cut a 9" square
  • Cut 1 each of pieces A, B, C, D, E & G.
  • And two leaves F.
  • You'll need stems for the monthly sprouts so you might want to make some 1/2 finished bias ahead of time. You'll use about 5-6" each month.

Denniele Bohannon's #1 Periwinkle Sprout
 8-1/2" x 8-1/2" 
UPDATE: Denniele reminds me her blocks are 9-1/2" finished.
Gives her more room for a longer stem.

She's using the aqua solid as a background for all her Sprouts
and pastel prints for the raw-edge, machine applique.
Blue dots are a recurring theme.

After the War:

Louisa's few weeks at the Union Hospital affected her for the rest of her life. We know her, of course, as the successful author of Little Women, in which she writes unforgettably of Marmee fetching her soldier husband home to Concord, an echo of Louisa and her father's journey from the Union Hotel Hospital.

Tribulation Periwinkle's coat of arms from
Hospital Sketches

Louisa's first real publishing success was Trib Periwinkle's Hospital Sketches.

Although rich and lionized she never enjoyed consistent health again until her death at the age of 55. Reading her letters and other accounts one gets the feeling she suffered a form of post traumatic stress syndrome after her six weeks at the Union Hospital. Anxiety and depression were never far away again. She believed she'd been poisoned permanently by the mercury treatment administered for her Union Hospital illness. She suffered from joint pain and exhaustion, perhaps a serious autoimmune disorder like arthritis, thyroid disorder or lupus; perhaps a cancer like lymphoma or leukemia.

Louisa May Alcott sat for American portrait
painter George Healy while living in Rome in 1870
when she was not yet 40 years old.

Spending six weeks in the Union Hotel Hospital was a wonderful if terrible experience for Louisa. She asserted her independence, obtained real life experience for her writing and became a publishing star with Hospital Sketches.

 Elizabeth Tobias Dixon, Paris Indiana
Indiana project & the Quilt Index.
Addition---see how many buds you can fit in one wreath.

Subtraction ---No buds, 12 leaves.

Quilt dated 1863, Addie Little on a label.
Collection of the Museum at Michigan State University
Six of the 16 blocks are wreaths, indicating their importance
in album iconography.

Extra Reading:

Here's an online version of Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches:

Alice Ropes Skinner saved her mother's hospital papers but they were not published until 1980 as Civil War Nurse: The Diary & Letters of Hannah Ropes.
See a preview here:

Louisa's unpublished letter to Hannah Stevenson from the Curtis Stevenson Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Quilt for a Civil War Nurse: Sarah Graham Palmer Young

Quilt made for Sarah A. Graham Palmer Young
State Historical Museum of Iowa

We're beginning our Hospital Sketches BOM Wednesday so I thought I'd look for quilts associated with women hospital workers who served during the Civil War. The State Historical Museum of Iowa owns this red and white signature quilt made for Sarah Graham Palmer Young about the turn of the 20th century.

The picture, while indistinct, gives us a good idea of the quilt's style, probably Turkey red and white cotton squares with embroidered names images and sentiments, a popular look at the time. In 1896 the Clinton Corps #10 of the Women's Relief Corps, Union veterans' auxiliary, presented an "embroidered commemorative counterpane" to Sarah Young to celebrate her 65th birthday, likely this quilt.

Sarah Palmer Young (1830 or 1831-1908)
The portrait is from her 1867 memoir of her Civil War experiences.

The subtitle of the book is "Ninth Corps Hospital Matron"

Sorting out her role and identity reveals that Aunt Becky was a nickname she chose during the War. The wounded soldiers tended to call her "Mother," a name that she at 30 years old did not like. So she suggested Aunt Becky and by that name she became quite famous as an Army nurse.

Her story, which began with her 1867 memoir, eclipsed many of the true events recorded in the book. When she died in 1908 dozens of newspapers printed this short obituary, identifying her "Aunt Becky Young, the first woman to offer herself as a nurse when the civil war broke out...."

The accurate role of matron, administering hospital food services and housekeeping, had evolved into nurse and the superlative first was often used to describe her pioneering patriotism as the "First Civil War Nurse."

Her quarters depicted in her memoir, a rather spacious view of her tent,
her cloth home

She recorded that she left her home in Ithaca, New York in September, 1862, almost a year and a half after Fort Sumter, to join Company G of the 109th Regiment of the New York Volunteers and find a place to volunteer at a hospital in Beltville, Maryland. The regiment was guarding railroads in Laurel and Annapolis Junction. 

Fairly soon she found a role as kitchen supervisor, a common occupation for female hospital workers who ordered provisions, supervised the cooks, oversaw food, bedding and clothing donations and sometimes fed the soldiers themselves. In off-times they soothed patients, wrote their letters and changed their dressings.

Much of what we would consider nursing today was
confined to men, sometimes recovering prisoners, sometimes
paid workers, occasional volunteers and in the South conscripted slaves.

When she left New York Sarah A. Graham Palmer was a widow with two young girls, whom she left in family care. She had married Abel O. Palmer in 1849.

She moved on to a hospital in City Point, a miserable place during the long siege of Petersburg, Virginia in 1864 and 1865. She kept a diary during the war but only the pages from the last few months there survive (see the end of the book) where she confides her loneliness and misery at the deaths she witnessed as she made her rounds in her "bed-tick dress." By then she was a salaried Union Army employee, earning $12 a month, which was never easy to collect.

Sarah Palmer Young, photo published at the end of the century
in a volume of women's biographies

Once the war was over she saw the grand celebratory parade in Washington and arrived back in New York in June, finally receiving a check for $165 in back pay. But she was without a job and had two daughters to support. Her fellow veterans of the 109th suggested a "memorial should be presented to Congress...asking an appropriation of two thousand dollars with which to purchase her home." 

But she'd considered an option open to ladies in reduced circumstances, writing a book. According to the preface in her book (the preface has none of the authentic voice of her diary entries) she replied "Let those who would help me buy a book....Congress has enough of its own little bills to pay."

The book was published in 1867 and sold enough copies to make Aunt Becky somewhat of a legend in superlatives. That year she also remarried, moving to Des Moines, Iowa with new husband David C. Young, listed in a county history as a contractor, and daughters Belle Innis Palmer, about 14 and an unnamed younger daughter.

Her 67th birthday warranted a giant party... the whole city of
Des Moines turning out to give the good old soul an ovation.

After 1880 Sarah as Aunt Becky became a fixture in the newspapers as well as an in-demand speaker at Decoration Day ceremonies, Union veteran reunions and G.A.R. parades. It's a little difficult to understand why this particular woman, one of hundreds of hospital volunteers, achieved such fame. Her book probably contributed, but it also may be that Sarah was good at book marketing. Perhaps she brought books with her to the veterans' encampments and the graveyard events.

Or maybe she was just good copy in an era of blue and gray reunions
when Union army nurses were lauded even in Richmond, Virginia newspapers.

She might also have been using her story to publicize two other causes, one the War in the Philippines for which she sponsored a Sanitary Commission, benefiting wounded soldiers. The other--- the movement to provide federal pensions for female Civil War "nurses". In 1896 she began receiving a monthly pension of $20 under the 1892 "Army Nurses Pension Act," which required a good deal of public pressure to persuade Congress to pass.

Iowa's State Historical Museum has another patchwork gift made for Sarah Young, " silk and wool blocks ... presented to Aunt Becky Young by units of the Woman's Relief Corps in Iowa and by her fashioned into a quilt. The quilt was still unbound at the time of her death in 1906." Both quilts were donated to a Daughters of Union Veterans group named for Aunt Becky Young when daughter Belle Palmer Bolton died in 1936 and later transferred to the Historical Museum.

Read the book by Sarah Palmer, The Story of Aunt Becky's Army Life (New York: J.F. Trow, 1867)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Reproduction Turkey Reds

You may be thinking of the classic red and green applique
style for your Hospital Sketches BOM that starts next week.

Then you'll need some Turkey red reproduction prints.
I've done posts on the topic several times in recent years.

Here's one from 4 years ago.

I thought I'd look around at what was available in 2019 (far fewer repros available now than then.) Here are some I found recently.

Paula Barnes, Baltimore House, Marcus Brothers, 2019

Provencal, paisley border stripe by American Jane

Les Fleurs de Nantes by Michelle Yeo for Penny Rose Fabrics

Manzanita Grove by Barbara J. Eikmeier for Paint Brush Studio/Fabriquilt

It might be easier to find a solid Turkey red reproduction.
You want a bright blue-red rather than a brownish red.

But it's difficult to get a good blue-red with today's dyes. Do test your reds for running. (I should have done that before I used a solid red in Block #1. It bled when I got it wet to take the paper out.)
Soak the red with a piece of white.
If it bleeds onto the white THROW IT OUT.
Do not put it back in the box with the other reds.
Or use it with dark backgrounds where the bleeding isn't so noticeable.

See this post on fixing bleeding reds:

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rebecca Everingham Wadley's Family Quilt

The Georgia project in their book Georgia Quilts published a photo of this chintz applique quilt 
"Maker unknown, possibly an enlsaved African woman, ca 1800-1830 (104-1/2" x 110". Hand appliqued and hand quilted chintz. Collection of the Sidney Lanier Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy Macon (Bibb County)."

The photograph is indistinct but we can see it is a classic Southern-style chintz applique with a central vase surrounded by four smaller floral vases, a few appliqued motifs and a wide chintz border.

The smaller vases look to have been cut from a piece of chintz
rather than constructed.

Perhaps this pillar print with a basket-like capital....

...used as a floral container in the corners of a chintz
quilt in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

Rebecca Barnard Everingham Wadley (1819 - 1905)

The quilt was passed on in Rebecca Wadley's family. Her genealogy is a bit confused as she was raised by a couple who may have been an aunt and uncle or a great aunt and uncle, Sarah and John Weber Barnard Everingham. John Everingham was a ship captain, a privateer during the War of 1812 whose ship the Saucy Jack sailed out of Charleston, South Carolina. They apparently also lived in Savannah, Georgia.

Anita Zaleski Weinraub in Georgia Quilts tells of a label stitched to the quilt's reverse, which indicates that Everingham bought an African woman in Charleston (probably before transporting Africans to the U.S. was outlawed in 1807.)  This unnamed woman became the household's skilled seamstress and she is thought to have stitched the quilt. It is thought of as a Georgia quilt.

Everingham's will dated 1815 asked that his wife eventually emancipate two male slaves and "Old Sally."
Information from an Everingham family genealogy site:

If the quilt was indeed made between 1800 and 1830 the woman referred to might have been Sally, old in 1815. 

Quilt dated 1837 attributed to Susan Pritchard Kirkwood,
Charleston, South Carolina. IQSCM collection.
The majority of the date-inscribed chintz quilts in our files are from after 1830.

But newer thinking about these Charleston chintz quilts is that they tend to be from 1820 to 1850, which doesn't eliminate Sally, but we have seen so many similar Carolina quilts that we doubt the story of a home-made quilt. Families tend to think a talented great-grandmother stitched the chintz bedcovers or a family slave made them under her mistress's supervision. In our research into panel quilts from the Carolinas, Merikay Waldvogel and I have come to the conclusion that rather than being the product of individual families, the quilts were a luxury purchase, bought or commissioned at one or more workshops.

See our blog on just one topic here:

Quilt dated 1833, E.H.R., collection of Merikay Waldvogel

The source of the Wadley family quilt is open to argument but there is ample evidence it became the property of Rebecca Everingham Wadley, wife of post-Civil War railroad magnate William M. Wadley.

The label on the quilt's back goes on to say the elder Rebecca Everingham "gave the quilt to her great-niece Rebecca Wadley who gave it to her daughter Tracy Wadley in 1905."

Rebecca Wadley who died in 1905 had nine children, none of them named Tracy, but her son George Dole Wadley (1857-1930) married a woman named Georgia Eliza Tracy in 1883. They had two children: Sarah Lois Wadley (named for her aunt) and Edward Dorr Tracy Wadley. It's likely through this family that the quilt passed to Macon's Daughters of the Confederacy organization. Sarah L. Wadley Burt lived in Bolingbroke, Georgia near Macon on the family estate Great Hill Place. In 1947 she gave her aunt Sarah's papers to the University of North Carolina (the diary referred to in the last post.)

That Georgia estate, named for William M. Wadley's New Hampshire birthplace, was bought in 1873 as his retirement home, although he never seems to have retired. He was enormously successful in the railroad business and he also built and ran steamships as part of his Southern transportation network. 

In 1880 he launched the Rebecca Everingham, named for his wife.

The Rebecca Everingham came to a sad end, blowing up near Florence, Alabama in 1884, killing many passengers and crew. 

The real Rebecca Everingham lived a long life into the 20th century. We know her through daughter Sarah's diary but Rebecca kept one of her own, passed through her daughter Mary Milen Wadley Raoul to Emory University, which contains "a manuscript diary kept by Rebecca Barnard Everingham Wadley (Feb. 6, 1878 - May 4, 1881)." A diary by a rich Georgia woman about 60 years old may not be as eventful as daughter Sarah's Civil War diary but we can hope she kept up quilting and that she mentioned it.

The Everingham/Wadleys are certainly an interesting Southern family.