Saturday, October 12, 2019

Susannah Deering Lohry's Grant Quilt: And a Few Digressions

The California Project's book Ho For California! pictured this collage showing front and back of a quilt made by Susannah Deering Lohry (about 1824-1883) in El Dorado County, perhaps in the 1870s. The back recycles a campaign banner for Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

We can't see much of the patchwork side but the pattern looks to be a variation of Birds in the Air,
a two patch of two different sized half-square triangles.

Here's a similar design from my collection,
a little older with some newer patches.

Wallace's Farmer called it  Birds of the Air in 1928

This one's more like Susannah Lohry's with 9 small triangles in each block,
again older with a chintz border.

It's hard to figure out how big the hand-painted banner on the reverse is, but it may be fairly large as it was probably designed as a parade banner during U.S. Grant's 1868 or 1872 Presidential campaigns. The quilt has preserved the banner, which is worth more than the patchwork side.

Similar campaign banner from Heritage Auctions

We might guess the Lohrys had Republican sentiments. The family kept the quilt, their bible and a good deal of information about Susan and Adam Lohry. And in the age of the internet we can find a little more.

Susannah Deering was from Kentucky, marrying German immigrant Adam Lohry in 1843. She gave birth to several children in New Franklin, Missouri, a town of Kentucky immigrants on the Missouri River north of Boonville.

Santa Fe Trail marker at Old Franklin, closer to (and often in) to
the Missouri River than New Franklin

New Franklin was an important town on the road west when the great Western migrations began after gold was discovered in California in 1849. The Lohrys joined the thousands on the overland trail, arriving in Northern California in the fall of 1853. They settled in the boom town of Uniontown on the American River in California's Gold Country. 

Uniontown was near California's first world-shaking gold discovery but Adam Lohry chose a more practical occupation than prospecting. He opened a store on the banks of the American River, selling goods to the miners, acting as a banker and prospering.

Google map aerial photo showing Uniontown (Lotus) today

The Placerville Guards march through town during the Civil War
Placerville was larger than Uniontown, although the
architecture doesn't look any more sophisticated.

When the Civil War began in 1861 California, a free state so far away from the fighting, was not affected in any great fashion. But all that gold was attractive bait for Southern partisans who tried ideas large and small. One big idea that failed: Creating a secessionist Confederate California state. 

Private in the Petaluma Guard, which put
down Confederate unrest in Healdsburg

A small idea that succeeded: A local stage robbery:

This story has a very familiar ring

In 1864 "the two coaches of the Pioneer Stage line were stopped by six men, armed with shotguns and pistols, and eight sacks of bullion taken away....They demanded the [Wells Fargo] treasure box...ordered to throw out the bullion [The driver] replied 'Come and get it.' And while two of them covered him with their guns, two others came and took the bullion."

Andy Devine and George Bancroft in the movie Stagecoach

The robbers took three sacks of bullion from the second coach. "The 'captain' of the band...handed to him the following receipt: 'This is to certify that I have received from Wells, Fargo & Co., the sum of $ --- cash, for the purpose of outfitting recruits enlisted in California for the Confederate States Army.' "

Lohry store in the 1940s.

The war may have been far away but mining camp life must have been tough. Susan's daughter Johanna (Anna) who traveled the overland trail as an infant was later described as a "lady of irrepressible determination and force of character," and we might guess her mother was too. Taking several young children across the country, living in a mining camp for the rest of her life, giving birth to ten children on the frontier and running a store after her husband's death took determination. 

Lohry store today.
 Unionville's name changed to Lotus, California

The Lohrys suffered tragedies too. In 1858 the children accidentally set the house on fire, destroying it completely. Of her ten children only four daughters survived Susan. One of the girls eloped, much to her father's anger, and one of the girls (maybe the same girl) married a man who stole the gold out of the Lohry store safe about 1880.

The American River moves fast enough in 
April to sweep one downstream quickly.

Adam threw himself into the American River soon after the theft in April, 1880. There was no prettying up a suicide in the Gold Country. In August 20, 1880 the papers reported the recovery of the body of the "well-known merchant at Uniontown who committed suicide by drowning...near Jayhawk" and Shingle Springs. The family memory is that "Susan placed an ad in the Placerville Mountain Democrat, offering a fifty-dollar reward for the recovery of Adam's body."

Susan died a few years later in Lotus/Uniontown in February, 1883.

Susan was not fortunate in her sons-in-law. At 24 Anna married Lotus Press proprietor George Washington Gallanar in 1876, moving to San Francisco and Sacramento and then in 1888 south to the pretty little coastal town of Pacific Grove near Monterey. Their son Frederick was born in 1877.

Pacific Grove in the early 20th century
"In 1889 Mr. Gallanar commenced the publication of the Pacific Grove Review and conducted the same until Mrs. Gallanar assumed control in 1890. The following year she became sole owner and editor of the Review, and now conducts its publication." 
They did like a cover-up in Pacific Grove. George Gallanar had a drinking problem and he seems to have disappeared from Anna's life in 1890, but not from the newspapers. In 1903 he shot and killed a man named Pete Garman in Redding during railroad labor troubles and served several years in San Quentin. While in prison his second wife Hannah Kuhn Gallanar visited him daily with a lunch and a smuggled bottle of whiskey. 

Hannah Kuhn Gallanar obtained a divorce in 1908 after three children. The 1920 census found George on the outside, living in Richmond near Oakland and married to Izola Gallanar. He died in Dallas, Texas in 1940.

"She hath done what she could."

But I digress. Anna Lohry Gallanar and her newspaper would be an interesting topic to follow, however,  the subject here is Civil War Quilts. 


kathyinozarks said...

This was very interesting-thanks for sharing your research

Jeanne said...

I LOVE this article! I know this is about a particular person, Susannah, but it sounds just like the history of my area also. We had a gold rush, settlers, outlaws, Nancy Van Dusen and her daughter Belle, even some property at the end of my road with a restaurant "once owned by Andy Devine."

Kathy Duncan said...

Anna (Lohry) Gallanar's story is fascinating, and I enjoyed digressing into it this afternoon. If you want to know more, it is on my blog. You always find the most interesting women in history - not just quilt history.

Judy said...

Thank you! I loved it! I went to Pacific Grove High School and we lived in “hangtown,” Placerville. Love the gold country, and visited highway 49 all the time. We lived there and in Jackson, CA. I will look on your blog. Great information!!

Pat said...

Thanks for this post. Would someone please tell the rest of Anna's story???

Kerry said...

That was fascinating research! Thank you - spellbound to the end! I love this side of quilting history too!

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