Saturday, March 30, 2019

Belinda McQuaid Webber's Flying Geese Quilt

Many years ago we cataloged this quilt with a Civil War story in the collection of the Kansas Museum of History. Of course, many quilts made in the last half of the 19th century would have an associated Civil War story of some kind. The 5-year war affected nearly everyone who lived through it.

Here's the link to the digital catalog at the museum:

It's a nine-block quilt with borders on two sides all pieced in two fabrics, plain white and plain chrome orange. The yellow smudge in the orange in the block above is a good clue to chrome orange as the dye tends to lose color in that way, turning yellow-green. I'd guess a date of 1875 -1900 based on the fabrics (not much information there), the pattern and the general style. We'd call it Wild Goose Chase. Was it made during the Civil War? Could have been.

I thought I'd go back 20 years later and see what I could find today.

Melinda McQuaid Webber (1847–1921)
from Find-a-Grave. Her tombstone reads Belinda

Family who donated the quilt in 1960 attributed it to Belinda McQuaid Webber of North Henderson, Illinois who moved to Kansas in the 1870s and lived in Norton County. They believed it was made in Illinois and brought to Kansas, which is quite consistent with information we found out in the Kansas Quilt Project. Quilts we saw in Kansas dating to the years 1840-1880 were likely to have been brought here.

Dugout house in Norton County, Kansas
Kansas Museum of History

The photo above may show some exceptionally primitive housing but there was little shopping for fabric going on in Norton County in the late 1870s.

Norton up by the Nebraska line.

Bank building in Norton abut 1910,
the county seat

Shopping improved fairly quickly, changes the Webber family witnessed as Belinda lived in Norton into the early 1920s.

The family story on the quilt: Belinda (also spelled Melinda) McQuaid had an understanding with Daniel Webber who gave her a gift of $6 before leaving to fight in the Civil War with the Illinois 4th Cavalry.  What concerns me about the accuracy of this story is that Belinda was 14 years old in 1861 (unless she lied later about her age---could happen).

Daniel Webber disappeared in 1863, having deserted. Sure enough, the history of Company D includes this note at the end:
Webber, Daniel   Deserted Feb. 15, 1863

She is supposed to have purchased the fabric for this quilt with that $6, although $6 probably would have bought her 60 yards of fabric or more before the war. Perhaps the $6 was for a whole trousseau.

After the war Belinda married Daniel's older brother Benjamin S. Webber (1837-1915), a veteran of the 102nd Regiment Illinois Infantry Company B, mustered out in June, 1865. They wed May 9, 1866 in their home town in Mercer County, Illinois.

The call of free Kansas land must have been very appealing as they moved to Norton County some time before the birth of their only listed daughter Jennie Fern, born in Norton in 1884. We probably have Jennie Webber Gregory to thank for keeping the quilt as she lived to be 97.

An early-20th-century Decoration Day parade in Norton
honoring veterans and casualties of the Union Army.

One would guess the Webbers are in the crowd if not the parade

The story of the $6 for fabric and the engagement is a little shaky, but Daniel did desert and Benjamin did not. So we can call it a Civil War quilt, whether it was made during the war or after.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hospital Sketches #3: Love Apple - White House Landing

Hospital Sketches Block # 3 Love Apple by Becky Brown

Our third block recalling Civil War hospitals focuses on Union hospital ships docked at White House Landing, Virginia.

Ships on the Pamunkey
Photo by Timothy O'Sullivan for the Brady Studios

White House Landing was a port on the Pamunkey River 30 miles east of Confederate capitol Richmond, Virginia. In the summer of 1862 Union General George McClellan occupied the area, using the river to supply the 100,000 Union troops he commanded there in the vain hope of capturing Richmond and ending the war in its second year.

Union troops were this close to Richmond, but McClellan frustrated
Lincoln because he could not take that ground.

The White House, a Washington/Lee home

The name came from nearby "White House," Martha Custis Washington's first married home,
which descended to her granddaughter Mary Custis Lee, who was living there when her husband Robert E. Lee joined the Confederate Army. McClellan gave Mary Lee safe passage out of the area and set up his headquarters in her family home. The house was burned when Union armies abandoned it.

Georgeanna Muirson Woolsey Bacon 1833-1906

White House Landing also became a staging area for medical ships. Among the first nurses to serve in the floating field hospitals was New Yorker Georgeanna Woolsey. The Sanitary Commission preparing to care for wounded soldiers adapted river steamers including The Daniel Webster. Some ships transported patients to the sea where larger ships moved them up the Atlantic coast to land-based Union hospitals. Georgy explained the situation to her mother in 1861.

Sketch from the Library of Congress
The Daniel Webster, a side wheeler steamship, had been a mail boat.
In 1862, Joel Cook described the Pamunkey fleet.
"The North seemed to have been ransacked to find all the queer, old, worn-out steamboats and broken-down barges and canal-boats. Steamboats which had, from age or debility, been discarded from Northern pleasure-lines, and which during 1861 suddenly disappeared from Northern bays and rivers, were found plying up and down the York and Pamunky Rivers. Old tow-boats, familiar servants to the ship-owners of large cities, long, lank propellers, which neither nature nor art ever intended to be models either of speed or beauty, sprightly tugs, once frisking about in Northern harbors, all had been transferred to the Pamunky, where they puffed and labored and made the hills echo their shrill whistles."

Love Apple by Bettina Havig

In 1862 the Daniel Webster arrived in New York with patients from Yorktown, Virginia. There are no women nurses mentioned although those nurses with initials might have been female names. Families read the papers daily for news of injured soldiers. See the list of wounded at the bottom from New York regiments.

The Elm City was a permanent floating hospital at White House Landing. Georgy said she jumped "round from boat to boat," while sister Eliza was on the Ocean Queen.

Hospital flags were yellow and green
This one is from the Atlanta History Center

Sister Harriett also served on a ship, writing that she spent her first day, a Sunday, on deck "sewing upon a hospital flag fifteen by eight, and singing hymns to take the edge off this secular occupation. It is to be run up at once in case we encounter the [ironclad Confederate] Merrimac." (At the time sewing on Sundays was frowned upon by many Christians.)

Love Apple by Janet Perkins

Hospital volunteers had to pass muster by Superintendent of Army Nurses Dorothea Dix. Georgy, in her late twenties, recalled her interview:
"First one must be just so old, and no older [Georgy was too young.] Have eyes and nose and mouth expressing such traits, and no others,  [She was too pretty.] Must be willing to scrub floors...Finally, however, by dint of taking the flowers out of my bonnet and the flounce off my dress...I succeeded in getting myself looked upon with mitigated disapprobation."
She fainted on the first day, but soon earned a reputation for competence and coolness. 

Idealized view of a hospital transport ship on the Tennessee River

Dix was well-known for her emphasis on plain, middle-aged nurses. Her greatest fear seems to have been that her nurse corps would earn a reputation as a marriage market, a place for fortune hunters and flibbertigibbets to take advantage of wounded soldiers or lonely doctors. There was to be NO flirting or falling in love...
Particularly with Confederate patients.

Patchwork (?) on a hospital bed aboard ship

Georgy had already fallen in love---with a doctor, Francis Bacon, who became Director General of  Union hospitals in the South. Never assigned to the same hospitals she and Frank wrote each other during the war and married soon after. You can be sure she kept those letters secret from her superiors.

The name is wrong here; the ship is the Red Rover.

Threee Woolsey sisters in Normandy headdresses 
at the fundraising Metropolitan Fair in NewYork City in 1864.
Although the women were nurses this is not nursing headgear.
Four Woolsey sisters worked in hospitals during the war.

The Block

Love Apple by Marty Webster

19th-century block

Variations of this fruit were popular with applique artists; we see
them as pomegranates, an ancient symbol of fertility.

Still Life with Fruit by Jacob van Walscapelle, 1675

...Which is why the pattern is also called Love Apple.

Detroit Free Press, 1932

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.


Following the aesthetic theory that "Less is More" and easier to applique I show you Becky's blocks and mine. I put everything that would fit into mine. Becky's finishes to 20"; mine to 18". (She say No---hers finish to 18" too.)

Also notice that as I am the Queen of Directionality, I did the block backwards. There is really no backwards in applique.

Cut 8-1/2" x 8-1/2" background.

#3 Love Apple Sprouts
 Denniele Bohannon. Her block finishes at 9"

Subtract then Add

Sometimes "More is More."

After the War 
Georgeanna Woolsey & Frank Bacon spent the rest of their lives in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was a lecturer at Yale University. Together they founded the pioneering Connecticut Training School for Nurses, which prepared women for the nursing role with which we are familiar. 

Connecticut Training School for Nurses,
Class of 1899

Block 3 is a directional block, going in a corner.

Sampler quilt with block dated 1852, Preble County, Ohio.
Perhaps set and bordered later.

Extra Reading:

Mary Custis Lee's White House was burned by retreating Union troops in 1862.

Read more about White House Landing and the Lee family association with it

Love Apple by Kathryn Jones

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Margaret Banks Eason's Civil War

Quilt dated 1844-1845, Charleston Museum
Made to celebrate the Charleston marriage between 
Margaret Thompson Banks and James Monroe Eason

This beautiful quilt, one of a group of Eason family quilts from South Carolina, has been well-documented. I became interested in it while writing about the printed panel used in some of the blocks for the blog Merikay Waldvogel and I do on chintz panels.

The red bird is cut from panel number 11. See a post here:

When I did a little looking into the quilt I found the family has recorded seven chintz quilts attributed to the Banks/Eason/Dodderer families of Charleston.

Enough to keep a quilt historian busy for a while.

But in this post I am going to focus on Margaret Thompson Banks Eason (1826-1886) who was married March 23, 1847 at the age of 19. We assume this quilt has something to do with that event as the names inked on the blocks included members of her extended family and in-laws and the bride and groom's blocks are central. 

Margaret was a member of Charleston's business/merchant class. Her father Hugh Rose Banks (1799-1878), born of a Scottish immigrant, has a block right above the bride's and groom's in the quilt. Is that a camellia, a magnolia? Camellia, says Amy in the comments.

Mother Caroline Thompson Mann Banks (1804-1884) has a block with a camellia
similar to her husband's in the bottom center of the photo below. 
Her age is there too: 40 years at the time of the wedding.

The Bankses were in the dry goods business with a store at 41 Haynes Street at the time of the wedding.

The store was right around the corner from King Street,
Charleston's main shopping street.

In 1850 South Carolina had the highest per capita income of any state in the Union (we are counting free people with income here, ignoring the hundreds of thousands of slaves) and a good deal of that money was spent on King Street. The Banks were probably doing nicely.

King Street in 1870, rebuilt after the war.
F.A. Nowell, photographer

James Eason in 1859
From Find-a-Grave

Groom James Monroe Eason was Margaret's second cousin-once removed, son of the founder of the iron foundry Dotterer and Eason, which built railroad engines in the early days of railroading (the 1830s).  He and his brother Thomas Dotterer Eason inherited the firm on the Cooper River and changed the name.

The Eason foundry was the largest in the state.

The Dotterers married the Easons.
Charleston was a town of cousins.

From Find-a-Grave

Between 1848 and 1861 Margaret gave birth to at least six children.
The year the Civil War began her last child Leon Eugene died as an infant.
One more hardship in a difficult year.

Is the border a single striped print from which the sashing's been cut?

When the war began the Eason Brothers foundry turned to war manufacturing---cannons and iron-clad gunboats. Radical Confederate James was elected to the South Carolina legislature where he served throughout the war. Margaret was busy with housekeeping and those five surviving children. She left a receipt book/recipe book that was sold on eBay several years ago. Writer Deb Barshafsky bought the manuscript and has written an article about it for Augusta magazine. See "Cannons & Confederate Cakes" at this link:

James's block is cut from the border of panel #11.

Meeting Street in the last year of the war

The Easons lived at 15 Drake Street when the war began. Charleston soon became the center of Union shelling from ships off shore and guns on the islands with the Eason works a major target. Margaret, like many Charlestonians, evacuated to the country while Charleston underwent nearly 600 days of siege atop a disastrous fire in 1861.

J M Eason & Bro was a target because it was probably the largest,
most efficient foundry in the South, building two ironclads to defend Charleston
from the Union shelling. They succeeded in setting the buildings afire in 1863.

What looks like a dock here with a ladder on it is actually the iron-clad
CSS The Chicora, an Eason-built ship.

The second, larger Eason iron-clad finished in 1863 was named CSS Charleston. These innovative ships cost a fortune, whether ordered from Richmond, Charleston or England. 

A gunboat festival in Charleston

Women raised money to buy them with Gunboat Fairs. Bryding Adams Henley cites the Charleston as one of the boats built with the women's contributions. Among the donations she found mention of six quilts from Alabama, three (?) of which survive in Alabama museum collections.

Gunboat quilt
Collection of the Montgomery museum
The First White House of the Confederacy

The Charleston, one of the ladies's gunboats, defended the city from 1863 till the Union occupation of Charleston in February, 1865 when the Confederate navy deliberately burned and sunk her.

The Eason home
from a Guide to Charleston in 1875

The Easons remained at their Drake Street home after the war. Daughter Maggie Eason Whilden was married there in 1882, according to her obituary. Her husband Frank Fleetwood Whilden wed her sister Lily after Maggie's death in 1923.

Perhaps a photograph of the same house, long gone now.
Margaret probably died in this house in 1886.

Read Bryding Adams Henley's paper "Alabama Gunboat Quilts" in Uncoverings Volume 8, 1987 at the Quilt Index by clicking here:

And see a post on the topic from 2014 here:

I'm collecting information on quilts made by families in the dry goods business like the Banks/ Easons. See a post:

Block closeups are from a digital book by Eason descendants Virginia Eason Winn and Julie King Winn Sellers who donated the remarkable quilt, which they found in a box in a family attic, to the Charleston Museum. Click to see The Eason-Banks Family Quilt :A Long Journey Home

See Margaret's Find-a-Grave file here: