Saturday, January 16, 2021

Eagle Quilt #1: Margaret Moore Means's Civil War


Medallion quilt with a federal eagle documented in the South Carolina
Quilt History Project

Thirty-five years ago the family member Nancy Means (1917-2013) who brought in the quilt didn't know too much about it. She thought her great-uncle's wife might have made it. Margaret Ann Moore Means (1834-1879), called Ann, was married to Nancy's great uncle Samuel Clowney Means (1830-1915.)  Nancy found it in a trunk that had belonged to Samuel Means.

The worksheet on this quilt tells us it is blue and yellow.
Slides have a tendency to shift color dramatically over the decades.

If Margaret Ann Moore Means stitched this quilt she would have done so between the years 1855 and her death at 44 in 1879. We have a Union allusion here in a quilt attributed to a woman whose slave-owning family were secessionist sympathizers in upland South Carolina during the Civil War decades. Ann's brother died as a Confederate soldier and her husband was a Confederate Captain, making the eagles unlikely symbolism in a South Carolina quilt made 1855-1879.

See a preview here:

The Moores were of such social standing that they have left a long paper trail, which can help us understand this quilt. Descendant Tom Moore Craig has edited a book of family letters Upcountry South Carolina Goes to War: Letters of the Anderson, Brockman, and Moore Families. Many of the letters are in the collections of the University of South Carolina.

The family owned at least two plantations near the city of Spartanburg. This one, built about 1800, was where Ann Moore Means spent much of her life. The Greek revival porch, like so many in the South, was added to a two-story single house (one room wide) in the mid-19th-century. The house burned in 1977.

Walnut Grove, another family home, has survived to become a 
historic house museum. Begun as a mid-18th-century log house it
looks like it did when the Moores, Meanses, Andersons & Brockmans visited.

(I can assure you those Brockmans are no relation to me!)

Spartanburg County is in upland South Carolina, the Piedmont.
Ann's Moore family owned more than 2,500 acres.

The community of Moore in red is southwest of
Spartanburg in the top right corner of this map from
Craig's book.

Ann's school is now Limestone University

Letters include Ann's 15-year-old brother Andrew's gossipy 1853 note to"Sister" when she was boarding at the Limestone Springs Female High School in Gaffney. 

Andrew Charles Moore (1838-1862)
from a county history in 1910.
They called him "Bud."

An obliging brother, he tells her of fashions, festivities and engagements, including a family visit to Dr. Means's house (her future in-laws.) Ann's widowed mother and brothers were running the family plantation and had sold most of their cotton in Columbia for ten cents a bale [I assume that's 10 cents per pound.]. Best of all: He reports on the dry goods situation:

Mr. Posey in Spartanburg has "handsome muslins" up from Charleston, but Ma had bought Ann a "lowered poplin dress [fabric] which though rather dark for the season looks very modest and retiring" from a "little dutch pedlar." Ma was planning to make up the dress. The fabric was actually "not very fine" but would do for school as it "requires very little washing." [I wonder if that is not a "flowered poplin dress"]

Now, a brother who would write you a letter like that is a prize among men. And it must have broken her heart when he was killed at the Battle of Second Manassas in August, 1862, shot in the head when he was 24.

Spartanburg in 1890, the commercial center of the area
Spartanburg Public Library Collection

The Spartanburg Spartan tells us the groom had been
living in Florida.

In December, 1856 Ann married Samuel Clowney Means (1830-1915). The following year a Mrs. M. Means, possibly Margaret Ann Means, won a third prize for a quilt at the second annual Spartanburg Fair in fall, 1857. 

Ann's brothers, just the right age, were anxious to join the Confederate army. Thomas remembered in a letter to a son about his first attempt to get involved in the fighting while still a student at South Carolina College.

"The class of '61 left college in Nov, only a few days before commencement...Port Royal was likely to fall." But the College Company "got no farther than the Washington Race Course, Charleston....we were out about a month." They returned to school for a while.
See his 1902 letter here:

Stephen Moore, an enslaved blacksmith at Fredonia, accompanied Ann's brother Andrew to war and brought his body back home, a story recalled by Stephen's daughter Fannie Moore, who would have been about 13 at the time. Another story, supported by a family letter, is that Andrew was buried in Virginia by his brother Thomas and the stone in Spartanburg County is a memorial rather than a tombstone.

Fannie Moore (1849-1940)
 lived in Asheville, North Carolina in the 1930s.
The 1880 census found her in Reidsville, Spartanburg County,
 living with her parents Stephen & Rachel Moore.

The 1937 interview with Fanny when she was in her eighties is a classic of the W.P.A. narratives. Read her unhappy memories here:

Samuel Clowney Means (1830-1915) joined The South Carolina First Infantry (Hagood's Infantry.) Both brother Andrew and husband Samuel fought at Second Manassas and Ann and her enslaved companion Louisa traveled by rail to Virginia about that time, hoping to meet with both. But she missed seeing them; Andrew died and she was told a false rumor that Samuel had been wounded. (He survived until Hagood's Infantry's surrender in 1865 and returned home.)

Samuel's commander General Johnson Hagood (1829-1898),
 probably a Means relative, was elected Governor
 for a term in 1880.

Samuel C. Means was a wealthy farmer before the war with $16,000
 in land and $12,600 in property, mostly human beings.

Ann spent the war surrounded by Moore and Means family members, raising their only child Andrew James Means born in March, 1858.

October, 1861

Perhaps she and her mother joined the Spartanburg Soldier's Aid & Relief Society, formed in 1861: "To provide garments, hospital stores, and other comforts for our sick and wounded furnish underclothing, socks, and other articles needed for our soldiers in the field.

Nancy Miller Montgomery Moore Evins (1804-1862)
from Craig's book.

A few weeks before Fort Sumter while Samuel was mustering in anticipation of war and Ann was staying with one of the many other Margarets in the family, their boy spent time with his grandmother Nancy Miller Montgomery Moore living at Fredonia. Nancy judged the three-year-old "a fine little fellow."

Nancy did not live to hear of son Andrew's death in August; she died at 57 in March, 1862, but she may have learned of her husband's son Andrew Moore Evins's death that same month.

Prisoner of War Camp at Johnson's Island by G. W. Melvin

Ann's only surviving sibling Thomas buried his brother and fought on. Taken prisoner in 1865 he spent the last months of the war Johnson’s Island prison in Ohio. He married Mary Elizabeth Anderson (1843-1921) soon after he returned home to Fredonia, the house empty except for stored cotton bales.

Thomas John Moore (1843-1919) in the early 20th century

Wife Mary Anderson Moore gave birth to eight children, six of who grew to adulthood. The Moore household at Fredonia may have been one bright spot in the sad post war years.

"The just die young and are happy."

Ann & Samuel's only child Jimmie Means died weeks before his 17th birthday in an 1875 gun accident while hunting, according to family history. Margaret Ann Moore Means survived him by four years until May, 1879. The widowed Samuel may have put this quilt in a trunk, forgotten for generations.

Photoshopped to be bluer

It seems Ann made quilts but with all the family history we can guess that Ann would not have thought a federal eagle appropriate imagery during her lifetime.

She and her family are buried in the Nazareth Presbyterian
Church yard. From Find-a-Grave.

Next week: Who made the quilt?

See Susan Rivers's exploration of the Moore family country here:

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