Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Stolen Quilt in Arkansas

Block from a South Carolina album quilt made in the 1840s. 
Collection of the Charleston Museum

Newspaper accounts tell of a quilt captured during the Civil War in 1864 in Boone County, Arkansas. General Frederick Steele's Federal Armies marched through the state in 1863, taking control of the Northern area above Little Rock and skirmishing in the Southern half until Lincoln removed him from Arkansas command in the summer of 1864.
"During the late war, it will be remembered by many of our oldest citizens that Gen. Steele's army of Federal solders made a raid through this county, robbing and plundering the people on their route. In the year 1864 they visited the residence of Mr. Lewis Thomas...[and took] a quilt that was prized very highly by the family."
The quilt was "an album or friendship quilt...made in South Carolina."

Album quilt made for Eleanor Israel Joseph Solomons by friends
in South Carolina and Georgia, 1851-1854

Not many South Carolina antebellum albums have survived.We'd certainly like to see what the Thomas family quilt looked like.

Star is Valley Springs, Arkansas in Boone County in the Ozarks up by the Missouri line. 
Other, mostly larger towns were sites of bigger battles.

The event precipitating the newspaper articles: A woman named Amelia Campbell Chapline (1855-1921) from Boone County who had the album quilt in her possession published a notice in 1890 describing it. "I would like to dispose of [it]. I would like to correspond with some of the heirs of Lewis Thomas."

Lewis Thomas's grandson Logan remembered that the quilt had belonged to his Grandmother.

Henry Clay Caldwell (1832-1915)

He also remembered a Union Colonel with the Third Iowa Cavalry named Henry Clay Caldwell. An Iowan who'd been a Lincoln delegate at the 1860 nominating convention, Caldwell was nevertheless born in Virginia and felt enough sympathy with the Arkansans that he remained there as a Federal Judge appointed by Lincoln. H.C. Caldwell tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Union soldiers from looting the Thomas house.

The long-lost quilt was restored to the Thomas family.

Album Quilt from South Carolina from the Townsend/Pope families, 
1850-1857,  now in the Shelburne Museum, stolen in the war

The quilt looted in Arkansas may not have been as elaborate as
the South Carolina albums shown here but we can wonder.

Album quilt made for Newton Parker, South Carolina,
North Carolina project & the Quilt Index.

See another post on an Arkansas Ozarks quilt here:

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