Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Cassandra's Circle #9: Sally "Buck" Preston's Lost Love

Cassandra's Circle #9 Lost Love for Buck Preston by Becky Brown

Sarah Campbell Buchanan Preston Lowdnes (1842-1880)
Known as Buck

Buck Preston was the star among the young women in Mary Chesnut's circle in Richmond and Columbia. "All men worship Buck. How can they help it, she is so lovely," wrote Mary.

Buck must have received dozens of proposals during the war when she was in her early twenties. But she was coy and kept many suitors on a string. Mary saw the cause of all the broken hearts. "Buck was never so decided in her 'Nos' as [sister Mamie]." 

Buck,"who always reads what [Mary wrote in the diary], and makes comments of assent or dissent" wrote an amendment to this entry, claiming her "Nos" were "Not so loud, at least."

John Bell Hood (1831-1879)
Hood lost a leg and the use of one arm.
He spent recovery time in Mary's Richmond circle.

One of the men dangling on her string was Confederate General John Bell Hood from Kentucky. On seeing her in a pheasant feather hat the "blunt soldier [said] to the girl: 'You look mighty pretty in that hat...I surrendered at first sight'."

S.C. Preston

The romance between Buck Preston and Sam Hood is a diary theme. Mary kept a running commentary despite the fact that Buck read everything she wrote.

Mary was rather enamored of the unfortunate General herself:
"Hood with his sad Quixote face...tall, thin, and shy; has blue eyes and light hair; a tawny beard, and a vast amount of it, covering the lower part of his face, the whole appearance that of awkward strength....The fierce light of Hood's eyes I can never forget."

#9 Lost Love by Denniele Bohannon

Hood was terribly crippled by his injuries. “Buck can’t help it. She must flirt….She does not care for the man. It is sympathy with the wounded soldier. Helpless Hood.”

Mary records an incident when Buck gracefully assisted him in a crowd.
"The General was leaning against the wall, Buck standing guard by him...held out her arm to protect him from the rush. After they had all passed she handed him his crutches, and they, too, moved slowly away. [Varina] Davis said: 'Any woman in Richmond would have done the same joyfully, but few could do it so gracefully. Buck is made so conspicuous by her beauty, whatever she does can not fail to attract attention.' "

Mary kept a CDV portrait of Buck's father, friend John Smith Preston, in
her photo album. The pictures show Quinby's stage set in Charleston.

Lost Love by Pat Styring. She filled up the corners in her own fashion.

Confusing sympathy for love, Buck accepted a ring. Her family (particularly sister Mamie) opposed marriage to a backwoods Kentuckian and the couple parted. In retrospect Buck told Mary she'd wished he'd been more persistent.

A few weeks after the war ended:
 "Mrs. Huger says Buck has lost twenty pound[s]. since I last saw her & is a perfect wreck. Mrs P[reston] ought either to have broken her engagement or to have permitted the marriage. [Buck] rides with R. Lowndes."

Anna Marie Hennen Hood (1837-1879)

Buck and Hood married others after the war. Hood became a cotton broker in New Orleans where he wed Anna Marie Hennen a month after Buck's marriage in 1868. The Hoods had 11 children, including three sets of twins.

Composite picture of the Hood family in 1879.
Hood and his wife died in a yellow fever epidemic in 1879 leaving
ten orphans. P.T. Beauregard and other old friends used this photo to raise money
for their care.

Rawlins Lowndes (1838-1919)

Buck died the year after Hood in Charleston. She'd married a man of her own aristocratic class, planter Rawlins Lowndes in March, 1868. Rawly had been a wartime aide to her uncle General Wade Hampton.

The Caspar Shutt/Lowndes home

Buck died at 38 leaving three children. Lowndes remarried and raised her children in the family home at 51 East Bay Street in Charleston.

The Block

Everybody loved Buck so a heart is at the center of Block #9...

drawn from a friendship quilt top made in Cumberland County,
New Jersey

Offered in an online auction

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. 
  • Make templates.
  • Add seams when cutting fabric.

For the star cut a square 17" and fold into quarters. Make a template of the pattern and
lay it on the folds. Add seams and cut.

The sprouting star is an unusual design but there are a few examples,
this one a block recorded by the New Jersey project and the Quilt Index.

Pat's corners with a triple fruit.

Minimalism in a quilt from about 1900

Pat Styring's Blocks 1-9.

Mine needs stems, 9" block

Dots always add a certain
Je ne sais quoi

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Copying a Confiscated Quilt

Rose of the Desert by Willie Bridges Allen (1867-1942)
 Pinola, Mississippi. 1933.

This variation of the very popular 19th-century pattern Whig Rose or Democrat Rose was made in 1933, according to the woman who brought it in for documentation by the Arizona Project. Mamye Allen Steen (1906-1993) remembered the family story that her mother Willie Bridges Allen copied the design from an old quilt her mother had made before the Civil War.

Mayme Allen Steen's grandmother was Lorenda (Lorinda) Chandler Bridges (1840-) from Simpson County, Mississippi, who was in her twenties, unmarried during the war, living with her parents Probate Judge William Chandler and Martha Powell Chandler. The Chandlers were prosperous before the war; the 1860 slave scheduled lists 22 enslaved people for William B. Chandler, more than most farmers in the county.

Mayme about the time her mother made the copy.
Portraits are from their Find-a-Grave sites

Mayme told the project that her mother's quilt "was copied from a quilt made by her mother, Lorenda  Chandler Bridges, which was confiscated by Union troops during the Civil War. The quilt was later returned to her as a favor by the Union officer."

We find no pictures of  the original quilt so we don't know how accurate Willie's copy was. Did the original have a scalloped edge?

And how accurate was the family story? The people of Simpson County, Mississippi, were victims of Union raiders in 1863 and 1864; first Grierson's Raid, a diversion by Union troops to direct Confederate attention away from Grant's campaign to capture Vicksburg.

Grierson with his hand on his chin and his staff.

For over two weeks in April & May, 1863 Colonel Benjamin Grierson's 1700 soldiers created havoc with the property destruction Grant used to demoralize Confederate civilians, a "brilliant expedition," wrote Grant. The Chandler family and their quilt may have been in Grierson's path through central Mississippi. 

Grierson made the cover of Harper's in June, 1863.

After the war Lorenda married Private R. L. Bridges of  Company B, 16th Mississippi Regiment and moved to Limestone, Texas where they were recorded in the 1870 census with Willie aged 2 and her older sister Beulah. Soon after Lorenda died and Bridges took his daughters back to the small community of  Pinola, Mississippi.

Husband (Robert?) remarried and he died in 1913 about the time the hotel in Pinola was built.

Quiltmaker Willie Bridges Allen (1867-1942)
Named for her grandfather Judge William Chandler ?

Willie Bridges married Thomas Wiley Allen (1862-1918). In 1935 Willie and Mayme told the Jackson Clarion Ledger about the lost and found quilt. Mrs. L.T. Steen, Mayme, did not mention the copy so it may be that her mother made it after the newspaper article.

The article goes into more detail about how the quilts was stolen and returned. In February, 1864 (The date indicates the quilt may have been taken during Sherman's Meridian Campaign across Mississippi) the Chandlers were told that "The Yankees Were Coming." A company camped near them took the quilt and much else. The next day their Captain had the effrontery to ask for a "good old fashioned Southern dinner," and the women complied. Seventeen-year-old Lorenda complained during the meal about losing her quilt. He sent the quilt back that afternoon.

The quilt was lost and found twice. Lorenda took the quilt to Texas and when her widowed husband returned he shipped it to New Orleans but the trunk was misdirected and did not arrive back in Mississippi until a year and a half had passed. The quilt was yellowed when they saw it again.

Telling that story to the reporter might have inspired Willie to make the copy that her daughter carried to Arizona when she moved to Tucson.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Endless Stairs---A Quilt for Our Times

Endless Stairs, quilt from about 1900

A simple pattern to consider some complex philosophies of the past.

BlockBase #1110, a simple four-patch
published as Endless Stairs in several early 
20th - century periodicals

We are living through difficult times as people try to understand prejudices of the past---prejudices freely expressed by historical figures we respect. We also have to face the history of economic systems that made that bigotry systemic. Of course, none is more controversial, disturbing and contemporary as the question of  how to view the American history of slavery.

People unfamiliar with history tend to paint any historic figure with any involvement in slavery with the same brush. Slavery is bad; therefore Ulysses S. Grant whose wife inherited slaves is bad. This generalization is overkill. Contempt should be reserved for people who advocated slavery so strongly they defended it with incendiary rhetoric and were willing to go to war over it, for example John Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, James Henry Hammond and Robert Barnwell Rhett.

James Henry Hammond of South Carolina
"Slavery [is] the greatest of all the great blessings which a kind Providence has bestowed upon our glorious region… As a class, I say it boldly; there is not a happier, more contented race upon the face of the earth." James Henry Hammond, 1836

It is also difficult for us to imagine a person living in slavery and not rebelling but our perspective ignores the extremely important Christian concepts that directed life in Western cultures for centuries.
“[Our] foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Savannah Republican, March, 1861 

Scala Naturae by Charles Bonnet, 1781

Life was based on hierarchies. Before the Enlightenment, the age of Rational Thought and Revolution, Western people had consistent ways of thinking about society, people and their relations to each other. 

As in this ancient explanation of the social network.
God at the top, rocks at the bottom.

Kings inherited a divine right to rule; the rest of creation was born into an endless stair of rank---the Great Chain of Being. Nobility lorded it over the gentry, gentry over the workman, the workman over his wife. Every creature fit into a social order. Lions headed the animal kingdom; dogs were higher on the scale than cats; brunettes more attractive than redheads, white Europeans closer to God than darker peoples. Christian theology made it easy to understand.

A German allegory of the medieval feudal order with its Endless Stairs

"Such duty as the subject owes the prince 
Even such a woman oweth to her husband…" 
Taming of the Shrew

Laws, custom and religion taught all their place and trained them to be content with their fate. Women easily accepted they were subservient and inferior to men. Slaves in every Western culture were beneath their masters. Questioning the system required a liberalism in thinking that was beyond most people.

It's all very unpleasant to consider but change does not occur without unpleasantness. One might want to ponder philosophies as one cuts rectangles and pieces an Endless Stair.

72" x 72"
8" Finished Blocks
64 of them

256 dark strips & 256 white strips

I first wrote about this in 2103 in the Grandmother's Choice Block of the Month, considering why women accepted their perch on a stair below men. It's even more relevant today.

Early version of a single rectangle pattern
Date: Based on the blue rainbow or fondu prints---1840s.

Unknown Maker, Pieced Quilt (Bricks)
93 3/4 x 83 1/4 inches
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia Smith Melton

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Haskins Crazy Quilts: Three Family Treasures

The Haskins family of New England created this cotton crazy quilt
with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the upper corner.
It's really not a Civil War quilt---except for the memorial to
a President assassinated about 30 years before it was made.
However, exploring the context and certainly looking at the quilt(s) are entertaining activities.

82 x 69"
The quilt with the Lincoln portrait is in the Shelburne Museum, attributed to
Delphia Noice Haskins (1816-1892) or her daughter
 Ada M. Haskins Pierce (1850- ?)

Animals, domestic and exotic, are featured.
The museum bought this piece in 1956.

Delphia (1816-) spent her later years in Rochester, Windsor County, Vermont, having also lived in Granville, Addison County, Vermont and Claremont, New Hampshire. An alternative name is Adelpha Noyes Haskins. Her husband was Samuel Glover Haskins (1813-1887) 
When her son Benoni Haskins married Ella Randall of Woodstock, Vermont in 1870 her name is listed as Delphi A Haskins. Benoni was born in Claremont, New Hampshire and at 27 was a "Merchant" in Rochester (possibly Benoni supplied the cotton for the quilts.)

Ada moved to Waterbury, Connecticut after marrying Charles F. Pierce in March, 1877

Three years later the census found Delphia living in Rochester with her husband and daughter Mariett. She  had at least three children, Benoni, Marriett and Ada.

The quilt picturing Lincoln is one of three similar quilts attributed to the family.
Human figures populate each.

Over the years the quilt with the Lincoln portrait has been discussed and dated to various times:
"At the time this quilt was made, Delphia Haskins and her husband, Samuel, were living in Rochester, Vermont, and operating a tailoring business with their seven daughters. It is likely that Delphia made this quilt as a wedding present for her daughter, Ada, who was married in 1877. Two other appliqu├ęd crazy quilts, almost identical to this one, are still owned by members of the Haskins family and were probably made for other daughters." 
Black cottons in styles popular after 1890

 We know more about dating quilts today. These quilts were definitely not made in the 1870s---style and fabrics are wrong for those years. Cotton crazies and many of the prints (e.g.1888 campaign fabric) are more likely to date from the 1890s and into the 20th century.

Mother Delphia died of pneumonia at 76 in February 1892 in Rochester, leading us to assume her daughters as the quiltmakers. The idea of the family being in the tailoring business is intriguing---professional seamstresses.

The other two quilts are oriented on the diagonal, repeating
crows, deer and human figures...

each of which look to be as much a portrait as Abraham Lincoln's block.

Images of  President Benjamin Harrison and Levi Morton from an
1888 campaign textile are included to the left of a house block.

This quilt is on the cover of Henry Joyce's 
Shelburne catalog Art of the Needle, which pictures
all three quilts.

The third quilt, still in private hands, is also oriented on the diagonal has many duplicate or similar blocks, animals, portraits and a house.

Quirky as the quilts are they seem to be one family's interpretation of several patchwork fashions of the era...

1) Crazy quilts---although the crazy, irregular pieces are secondary to the portraits and animals.

2) Outline embroidery. There aren't many actual outlined blocks but one can imagine that several appliqued portraits and animals were inspired by that extremely popular imagery.

A cherub

3) Noah's Ark quilts. This fashion, about content rather than technique, has been studied less but nevertheless it was quite the thing to make quilts picturing animals wild and domestic, probably as entertainment for children.

Read more about Noah's Ark quilts here:

Noah's Ark---pairs of animals in Georgia artist
Harriet Powers's quilt in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.