Abigail May Alcott's famous daughter Louisa May Alcott gave us many pictures of her New England mother in her fiction and letters. Louisa created the enduring portrait of her Marmee in Little Women but left out shadings of the strong-willed woman who managed and essentially supported a difficult husband, suffered through three or four unsuccessful pregnancies and four very successful ones, inspired that sturdy family of four girls through 22 moves in 30 years and practiced a life-long devotion to abolition and the needs of society's unfortunates.
Her daughter recalled her own commitment to the antislavery cause learned from her mother's actions. Louisa remembered finding an escaped slave in the oven when she was a child.
"I became an Abolitionist at a very early age, but have never been able to decide whether I was made so by seeing the portrait of George Thompson hidden under a bed... or because I was saved from drowning in the Frog Pond [in Boston] some years later by a colored boy. However that may be, the conversion was genuine; and my greatest pride is in the fact that I lived to know the brave men and women who did so much for the cause, and that I had a very small share in the war which put an end to a great wrong." Louisa Alcott
Her mother was one of the brave women in Concord who welcomed more than one runaway into their own homes. During the Civil War, when Abba was in her early sixties, she's noted as a member not only of the local soldiers' aid societies, donating clothing and supplies to hospitalized Union troops, but also of the Concord's Ladies's Antislavery Society.
Many in Concord firmly believed from the first shot that the Civil War must end in slavery's abolition. Yet, as Canadian Samuel Gale wrote in 1862 with a hundred dollar contribution for Boston's Ladies Anti-Slavery "Anniversary" event:
"Civil war has broken out, and the Government of the United States appears wrongfully averse to banish slavery from amongst them."
Before the war women's antislavery groups had raised money to help fugitives, fund public education and support like-minded politicians with antislavery fairs each Christmas season but Lydia Maria Child, head of the Massachusetts groups, changed tactics in the late 1850s by initiating a subscription-only one-day event every January. The Anti-Slavery Subscription Anniversary parties, which continued through the war and after, raised more money than the fairs.
Rather than spending weeks making items to sell and soliciting donations of food, hardware and knicknacks, the women asked supporters to send cash.
Abba's sister-in-law Mary Goddard May was one of the women behind the first no-nonsense event inviting people to Boston's Music Hall for a day and evening of conversation, consultation and "addresses"---inspirational speeches.
Dorry Emmer's 8" blocks were inspired by a snowy day in her Virginia yard last month.
"One small bush was still holding onto it's red leaves so there will be just a flash of red in each block along with the browns for the deciduous trees and green for the evergreens with a white with some gloss to it for the snowy background."
The month's block has no BlockBase number, no published pattern source or name, but a nine-patch hidden inside a variable star is so logical we'll begin with this variation and call it Hidden Star to remember John in the Alcott's oven. (Just remember I made this up and don't be telling anybody it's an Underground Railroad code.)
12” Block (3” Grid)
D - 2-1/2"
16” Block (4” Grid)A—4-1/2”
D - 3-1/8" (Denniele cut 3-1/4" and trimmed.)
Make 4 B/C Units.
Add A to ends of 2 of those.
Make a Nine Patch of the D squares.
Add B/C Units to either side.
"Marmee was much changed...wears caps."
“Every woman with a feeling heart and thinking head is answerable to her God, if she do not plead the cause of the oppressed.” Abba's journal.
Abba also made quilts.
See a link here to a post on Abba's quilts.http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2016/02/orchard-house-alcott-quilts-and.html
She was badly burned on her hand and face when she was a baby and that scarred hand may have been a handicapping condition when it came to sewing---nevertheless, she persisted.
I once did a Moda fabric collection Old Cambridge Pike with three prints referring to the Alcotts. You may still have some in the scrapbag (scrap room.)
This month's set is basic: 12 sampler stars + 13 alternate unpieced squares. I used the paisley stripe from Ladies' Legacy in my EQ8 mock-up. (In shops in March.) Any large scale print would be a dramatic contrast.
Further Reading (& Watching:)
Eva LaPlante, descendant of Abba's family the Mays, has published two books about Abigail Alcott.
My Heart Is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa’s Motherhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1451620675/ref=rdr_ext_sb_ti_sims_1
Watch a 45 minute You Tube presentation by Eva:
The book begins with Eva and daughter going through a trunk in an attic: "Inside the trunk, beneath feathered ladies's hats and a nineteenth-century quilt...."