Hourglass or Broken Dishes quilt with embroidery and the words
"Mother Sheridan" under a silk portrait of Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan 1831–1888
Similar to this portrait widely printed at the Civil War hero's death.
Collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art
70-1/2" x 64", 1880s
The curators assume it to have been stitched by Irene Rucker Sheridan, the General's wife.
Perhaps a mourning quilt.
Irene in the center, a very ill Phil Sheridan on the right, his brother
Michael standing and Michael's wife on the left, late 1880s.
The girls dressed as triplets included a pair of twins and a sister a year older.
The youngest Phil, Jr. was 8 when his father died.
Irene may have begun the piece soon after his death when embroidered silk quilts were all the rage. Widowed at 32 years old she must have framed herself narrowly as "Mother Sheridan," raising their four children. An attractive woman, a Washington socialite, she never remarried, telling would-be matchmakers she'd "rather be Phil Sheridan's widow than any living man's wife."
Irene Sheridan (1856-1938) lived well into the 20th century, at home in
Washington with her three unmarried daughters for fifty years.
Their brick home at 2221 Massachusetts Street NW still stands.
Congress awarded the widow a one-time sum of $50,000, which apparently kept them in style.
Sheridan & Union Forever at the time of his 1875 wedding.
(Possibly Dorothy Yoerger Kiehl of Columbus, Ohio.)