Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Cassandra's Circle #12: Virginia Clay Clopton's Alabama Rose

Cassandra's Circle #12: Alabama Rose for Virginia Tunstall Clay Clopton
By Becky Brown

"A Belle of the Fifties"
Virginia Tunstall Clay (1825-1915)

Brown's on Pennsylvania Avenue was little changed by the time of
this early 20th-century photo. 

Brown's Marble Hotel where Southern politicians boarded in Washington City was a lively place in the late 1850s. At a time when Senators were appointed rather than popularly elected most of the Southerners were from moneyed political families, committed to advancing the agenda of the planter aristocracy. 

Clement Clay (1816 - 1882) 

Virginia Clay's husband, son of a former Alabama senator, was elected in 1853. She came to Washington in her late twenties, ten years after their marriage. Other young families that "messed" at Brown's included South Carolina's James and Mary Chesnut, Texas's Charlotte and Louis Wigfall, and Mississippi's Jefferson and Varina Davis. The Clays became friends with all but particularly close to the Davises with Virginia Clay and Jefferson Davis becoming lifelong friends (and possibly lovers.) "Scarcely a woman in the circle ...was not acknowledged to be a wit or beauty."

Virginia's manuscript diary is in the Clay papers at Duke University
One sad note was the loss of Virginia Clay's only child who died as an infant in Washington

It's too bad Mary Chesnut did not begin keeping a diary until after these Senators joined the Confederacy. Her accounts of the fun and politics at Brown's would have been fascinating. Virginia Clay did keep a diary that she reworked as a memoir in the early-20th-century with the help of New York editor Ada Sterling and others.Virginia, however, had little of Mary Chesnut or Varina Davis's wit or gift of analysis (perhaps a good reason Varina's husband was so fond of "Ginnie" Clay.)

 #12: Alabama Rose by Denniele Bohannon

"Our 'mess' at Brown's Hotel (rendezvous of Southern Congressmen) shortly became so well known, because of the interest attaching to so many of its members," recalled Virginia. She wrote her father-in-law in 1857.
"We keep Free-soilers, Black Republicans and Bloomers on the other side of the street. They are afraid even to inquire for board at this house."
Black Republicans were any Republicans (black for their hearts or their abolitionist sentiments, I have never figured out.) Bloomers were women's rights advocates and Free-soilers were those opposed to the expansion of slavery into the west.

It was all quite exciting but, as Virginia later wrote: "We feel a little as...if we are dancing over a powder magazine."

Illustration of Virginia in the early 1860s;
she was in her late 30s during the Civil War.

The men of the Brown Hotel mess resigned or were expelled from Congress after Lincoln was elected and the group gravitated to Richmond, Virginia.

Virginia's capitol building became the capitol of the Confederacy.

Carte-de-visite related to the painting above. 
The familiar column indicates it was taken at Quinby & Company
in Charleston although other photographers
distributed it. Pretty women were collectible CDVs.

Alabama Rose by Pat Styring
Less background, more applique & some embroidery.

Virginia's husband was pictured on Confederate money.

After Appomattox the Clays joined the Davises in their flight south.
Clay was accused of planning Lincoln's assassination and spent a year in prison without trial.

Clement Clay retired to an Alabama cottage called Wildwood.
Virginia lived elsewhere most of the time. He died in 1882.
She remarried Alabama Senator David Clopton (to 
Jeff Davis's disappointment) and when widowed again lived here at the end of her life.

 #12: Alabama Rose by Susannah Pangelinan
with a few additions.

Virginia about the time her book was published in 1905

Read A Belle of the Fifties at this link:

Typescipt verified, initialed by Virginia Clay Clopton and Ada Sterling

The Block

Alabama Rose

Virginia must have been named for her father's home state.

Marie Webster showed a Virginia Rose in her 1915 book. The asymmetrical block features a classic stylized rose in the center with rotating buds---perhaps they should be love apples to remind us of Virginia Clay's charms. That Belle of the Fifties remained a Belle well into middle age.

We're making it an Alabama Rose. Applique to an 18-1/2" square or cut it larger and trim later.

The Pattern
One way to print these JPGS.
  • Create a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11" or a word file.
  • Click on the image above.
  • Right click on it and save it to your file.
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". Note the inch square block for reference.
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary. Do not use tools like "Fit to page."
  • Make templates.
  • Add seams when cutting fabric.

Becky Brown's set
One more to go

A 1930s variation of the Virginia Rose.

Our medallion set requires 13 blocks so the last block will be posted on the last Wednesday of January, 2021.

A Postscript: "The Jeff Davis Scandal"

The "Jeff Davis Scandal" was all over the
newspapers in July and August, 1871

"On Tuesday evening Jeff. Davis left the Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Tenn, in company with the wife of another man..... On the train from Memphis to Huntsville, Alabama:
The porters "came upon Davis and the woman in the same berth and told them that such conduct was not allowed on that road. Mr. Davis, with all the dignity of an ex-President....said he had paid for the berth and would do as he pleased. The lady turned her back....Conductor Miller was determined, and...succeeded in persuading the venerable martyr of the lost cause to get out of the lady's his shirt and drawers in presence of a number of disgusted witnesses."
The assumption, of course, is the woman was the lady from Huntsville, Virginia Clay, Rumors also named a Memphis actress named Mrs. Bowers. Everyone except the porter denied the whole story and that was the end of that.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Rowena HasBrouck's Civil War

The Hasbroucks made quilts.
Photo of one by Rowena's inlaws from Bonnie K. Hunter.

Rowena Caroline Deyo (1838-1916) married Jacob DuBois HasBrouck in December, 1860, just as South Carolina announced they would secede from a Union that had elected Abraham Lincoln. Jacob voted for Abraham Lincoln with his first vote (Rowena, of course, could not vote.)

Jacob, like Rowena, was from Ulster County, New York where French Huguenot names were commonplace and intermarriages between the many Deyos, DuBoises and Hasbroucks created webs of cousins. When he was 20 Jacob went west to Rochester, Illinois in Sangamon County. Perhaps he personally met Abraham Lincoln, eventually Sangamon's most famous resident. After a year of teaching, Jacob and a friend joined the Pike's Peak Gold Rush to what is now Denver, Colorado. In six months he returned to New York with about $75 and married Rowena.

Captain Jacob D. HasBrouck (1838-)
Collection of Historic Huguenot Street

In August 1862 he left Rowena and their son Herman Jacob, just a few weeks old, enlisting in New York's 156th Infantry. Rowena saved many of his letters, mostly from 1863 & 1864. In recent years a descendant donated 46 to the Jacob DuBois Hasbrouck Family Collection at the Historic Huguenot Street Museum in New Paltz, New York.

Letter mailed in a envelope printed for soldiers' use.
This family spelled HasBrouck with two capital letters.

In September, 1864 Jacob was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Opequan
Creek near Winchester, Virginia.

The wound was bad enough that three months later he was hospitalized with an inflamed leg. A letter from what he called the Officers' Hospital at Annapolis explained that he had left his regiment in Baltimore and beforehand shipped home a box with his possessions, including "that quilt."

Naval Academy with a temporary hospital on the grounds

Was the quilt something that Rowena had sent to him or did he pick it up from the Sanitary Commission, which distributed quilts to hospitalized soldiers?

See more about quilts at the Annapolis hospital.

Jacob was lucky enough to survive the infected leg and was discharged with a disability in March, 1865, just days before the end of the war.

Georgianna Hasbrouck's name on an album quilt, also
in the collection of Historic Huguenot Street. Bonnie Hunter took
these closeups a few years ago when she visited.

The Hasbroucks might have known quite a bit about quilts as the family had a hand in several Ulster County quilts and those in nearby counties. There were many Hasbroucks, but this album quilt seems  related to Jacob & Rowena's generation.

Jane and Charles Hasbrouck signed several blocks.

The album may have been made by their family. Charles and his eldest
son Roefil are listed as Merchants in the 1860 census. Georgianna is 14.
Mary who also signed a block was 16 in 1860.

Many of the blocks are Turkey red prints, others are plain.
The popular album design known as Chimney Sweep is
an unusual variation. Patchwork blocks are not square
but alternate with plain white squares.

The border is also unusual, a vine of apples....

Quite appropriate for Ulster County, as a local website tells us that the Dutch and the French Huguenots who immigrated in the 17th-century planted orchards that were the roots of a thriving 19th-century commercial farming region.

The New York Project and the Quilt Index tell us there are 56 names.

A quilt with a tree border, perhaps a little earlier, seen the same day by the N.Y. project,
attributed to Margaret Hasbrouck of Ulster County.

See another Hasbrouck quilt, a little earlier at this post:

Humeston, Iowa about 1910
Jacob was also a banker in Humeston.

After the war Jacob and Rowena went west to Iowa in the late 1868 with their three small boys. Jacob farmed in Wayne County down by the Missouri state line. The family prospered and added three girls and another boy. Several children continued moving west when they grew up.

In 1905 Jacob died and Rowena returned to her family in Ulster County. She kept in touch with her Humeston friends by subscribing to the newspaper and she wrote a note in 1909 describing a boating festival on the Hudson River. (I bet she missed that New York river when she was living in Iowa; she was married in a hotel overlooking the Hudson.) 

The Chariton River runs through Wayne County, Iowa.
It's not the Hudson.

Rowena's 1916 obituary.
She lived to be 78.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2021 Pieced BOM: Hands All Around: Alcotts at War

It recently occurred to me that there is a new year coming up in a week or two and we need a new pieced block of the month. How about: 

Twelve stellar blocks celebrating the Alcott Family of Concord, Massachusetts, their friends and associates during the Civil War. 

Hands All Around will feature a variety of simple sawtooth stars, good for kids, beginning piecers—-or anyone who loves the geometry of traditional patchwork. 

A dance at the Marches, Little Women.
"Hands All Around" is a dance figure.

Our stories go back to Louisa May Alcott's Civil War experiences. She's remembered for Little Women, which may be the great American Civil War novel with its tale of the March family but Little Women is fiction. 
Collection of Orchard House
Abigail May and Bronson Alcott & two daughters, 
Louisa on the ground (naturally) & Anna Pratt between
them with her son at the end of the Civil War.

We’ll look at the March family’s counterparts, real-life Alcotts, and how they fought the war against slavery. 

Free patterns on the second Wednesday of every month in 2021 at this Civil War Quilts blog. 
Patterns can be made up in 8”, 12” or 16” blocks. The sampler blocks will be set with alternate blocks (pieced or plain) to make quilts 40", 60" or 80" square (without any borders.) I did these digital sketches in EQ8 thinking of a chocolate and strawberry color scheme.

 Becky Brown is using a brown & blue palette
from one of my collections from a few years ago, Baltimore Blues

Denniele has plans---Can't wait to see what happens!

We'll look at several set ideas, the most basic alternating the 12 pieced sampler blocks with 13 plain blocks.  Another alternates the various star blocks with a smaller sawtooth star design.

And then there is a square in a square.

And if you are in the mood to make 13 curved blocks.... 

Now I see what Denniele is up to!

Rough estimate of yardage for a 60" quilt top of 12" blocks if you are using a basic two-shade color scheme:

3 yards of the lighter color

2 yards of the darker

But most of us will be using scraps---reproductions or up-to-date prints.

Look for the first block on Wednesday January 13, 2021.

And join our Facebook Group:


You might want to buy the complete pattern at my Etsy shop. There are two options.

Download a PDF of the 15 page pattern now at this link for $12:

Or for U.S. customers I will print a black & white copy of all 12 blocks for $15 (includes postage.)