Saturday, February 27, 2021

Poindexters & Staples: A Missouri Quilt


Quilt attributed to the Poindexter family, Cooper County, Missouri, 1852
Collection of the DAR Museum

Mary Ann Poindexter's mother & sisters made this quilt dated 1852 for her marriage to John Marshall Staples on September 30, 1852.

Her mother Elizabeth Daniel Poindexter was born in Todd County, Kentucky about 1807 and married Peter Poindexter on September 12, 1825.

This record seems to be dated 1831

In the early 1830s the Poindexters moved to Illinois with three young children and stayed about ten years. Elizabeth gave birth to two children in Illinois and after about a decade they moved west to Missouri, settling near the town of Lone Elm in Cooper County, 10 miles south of Boonville where Peter was recorded in the 1840 census. 

Cooper County and Boonville are the heart of Missouri's Little Dixie
area along the Missouri River.
The store at Lone Elm about 1900

A few years later her husband disappears from the records. The 1850 census finds Elizabeth living as head of her household with eight children, the youngest Sally was five. Had he died in the late 1840s? 

The rose looks to be pieced rather than appliqued.

Preparations for daughter Mary Ann's 1852 wedding to John Marshall Staples are said to have included stitching this quilt. 

Elizabeth's daughters Verlinda and Martha, 22 and 18, may have contributed as did girls Susan, Elizabeth and Sally all under ten. Martha had married about six months earlier than her older sister. Did Martha Poindexter Cullars get an elegant quilt too?

Outbuilding captioned as a slave cabin in Cooper County
photographed in the 1930s. Library of Congress

Missouri was a slave state. Although the economy did not encourage large-scale plantation farming, many Cooper County immigrants brought slaves with them. We might guess the Poindexters and the Staples maintained slaves in their households and a check of the 1850 Cooper County slave schedule lists 14 with the Staples family before John married Mary Ann. 

Mother Elizabeth did not live to see the Civil War in Missouri; she died in 1858 at 51. That year her youngest Sally (only 13?) also is recorded as marrying.

A Missourian, unknown member of the U.S. Colored Troops

A young man named Anderson Staples who said he had been a slave in John Staples's home joined the Union Army's Colored Troops Company H from Boonville in 1863. He was born in Missouri about 1842 to parents Jane and Samuel Poindexter who received a pension for his service.

Jane and Samuel's marriage was recorded in 1868 by the Missouri Freedman's Bureau. (They were not actually married in 1868; in October they and many other Missouri slave couples recorded their standing unions.)

The African-American Poindexters may have come from Kentucky with Elizabeth and Peter. Jane may very well have had a hand in this quilt.

Scalloped swags, bow knots and buds with a grapevine are appliqued in the border.

Anderson's story ends with his enlistment. Perhaps he died young in the war as his pension went to his parents and not a wife. 

The earliest record I've found in the files of Family Search is from 1873, a check going to Private Anderson Staples's parents who lived in Boonville. 

If the Poindexters and the Staples walked through 
Boonville's old neighborhoods today they would find it familiar.

Mary Ann's husband John Staples died in May, 1865 a few weeks after the truce at Appomattox Courthouse. She was left with five children under twelve; the youngest girl Johnnie Marshall Staples born that year named for her father after his death.

The widowed Mary Ann gave the quilt as a wedding present to her younger sister Elizabeth who married William Park Gunn on August 18, 1872. The Gunns moved to Sherman, Texas taking the quilt with them.

See the quilt here at the Quilt Index in the D.A.R. Museum files.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

2021 BOM Ladies Aid New York Sampler


Quilt attributed to Susannah Butts Adsitt Boots
Dutchess County, New York 
International Quilt Museum

Sampler applique quilts were the fashion all over the U.S. in the
1840-1870 period.

Quilt made for James Humeston
Found in the New York quilt project

New Yorkers were caught up in the fad.

Quilt from the Blauvelt family, New York
Sotheby's Auction

Sampler dated 1876-1877
Doyle Auction

New Yorkers continued to make them when the fashion faded elsewhere.

Like quiltmakers in Philadelphia, Charleston and Baltimore
they had their own sampler style...

...which has inspired our 2021 applique Block of the Month.
Ladies' Aid New York Sampler

We'll do 12 relatively simple applique blocks this year, each based on
a New York favorite.

 The monthly history will feature people active in
the Soldiers' Aid Societies in the state during the Civil War.
The first post will be up here on March 31st.

Chief model maker Becky Brown is using prints from
my latest Moda repro fabric collection Ladies' Legacy---
which we hope will be delivered to shops in March.

New New Yorker Barbara Schaffer will be diving into her stash of reproduction

She must have a storage locker full of good greens.

Fabric Requirements

Our 12 fanciful blocks will finish to 18". 
Correction: That is 15"

Suggested sets require 2-3/4 yards if you want each background the same.
For the applique: Scraps of red, green, blue, browns etc. or
    4 fat quarters of greens & reds, 3 of brown & blue.

Antique shown at Quilts in the Barn in Australia
(I'm betting its from New York State.)

You will notice that New Yorkers liked to link their blocks by including applique in the corners. Our suggested set gives you optional hearts in the corner of each block.

45" x 60"

If you want to use the hearts in the corners you'll need 1-1/2 yards of red (or green or whatever)...

Rockland County, New York
Skinner Auction

We'll get started five weeks from today. Meanwhile you can join our Facebook group:


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Photograph from Virginia 1855

Beth sent this incredible photo from her family. She's descended from the boy in the wide brimmed hat, Jeremiah Morton Halsey (1852-1921.) His brother Robert Ogden (1854-1939) is the baby. Looking at Robert Ogden (called Ogden) we can guess the photo was taken the year after his birth in 1855. We can also guess the five older people were enslaved at the Halsey farm in Orange County, Virginia.

Girl, perhaps in her mid teens,
wearing a corset under her cotton dress.
Short sleeves would be typical work clothing.

I Photoshopped Beth's daguerreotype, taking out scratches and spots and improving the contrast.

And showed it to costume historian Lynne Zacek Bassett who was impressed by the dress the bareheaded woman on the right is wearing. Those flared sleeves were quite fashionable in 1855. The other dresses are more typical work clothing. Lynne also noted the women are wearing corsets. (Costume historians always notice the underwear.)

Could this be a wedding picture featuring the bride in the flared sleeves and the well-dressed groom holding Morton Halsey on his lap?

The happy event would explain the proud look on the woman holding Ogden. Was she the bride's mother? Notice how she has created a little triad with the younger woman and the baby. (Also would explain the bride's harried look---brides always a little stressed.) Is she showing off a wedding ring?

No one recorded the names of the Black people. Tracking them will be made easier by the
fact that Beth's family are keepers of family history. 

Family home in the late 19th century. 
The boy's parents Joseph Jackson Halsey (1823-1907)
 & Mildred Morton Halsey stand on the front porch.

The Halseys left a good deal of paper in that house, which the family has donated to the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Letters and a notebook kept by Mildred during the Civil War have been studied by historians and quoted in many books. One hopes a researcher could find references to slaves who lived there and connect them to the portrait.

Joseph Jackson Halsey was born in New York and attended Princeton University. After graduation he emigrated to Virginia to teach and in 1845 opened a school the Fredericksburg Classical & Scientific Athenaeum. He soon married the only daughter of a well-to-do US Congressman who owned 21 slaves according to the 1850 census. Joseph adopted the Southern planter style life and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Mildred Jackson Morton (1825-1906) married Joseph Halsey in 1846
The 1870 house 

Joseph tried to sell the place in the summer of 1860 to "any gentleman wishing a really desirable residence [on 500 acres], within four hours ride of Washington city." The times were unstable. He kept it.

Numbers of enslaved people were tallied in the 1850 and 1860 censuses (each male slave counted as 3/5th of a man in apportioning population for political purposes) but no names were recorded. Joseph Halsey was listed with three people in 1850 but the 1860 census just before the war records 17, showing his accumulating wealth from his law practice and his plantations.

Looking for corresponding ages in the slave schedules and the photo we find a woman who was 35 in 1850 and 60 ten years later. 

The seated woman does not look 60, perhaps she was only 45. The woman standing in the window-pane check dress looks to be somewhere between 16 and forty.---perhaps the woman listed as 35 in 1860 (#8 on the list.)

The actual census listings of 1850 and 1860 are no help. Only free people were recorded. Above the Halseys with their eldest child Fanny, two years old in 1850.

The 1860 census tells us a free man's worth:
Joseph owned $25,500 worth of real estate and $15,200 worth of other property
(mostly people.)

We learn nothing of any Black names---but the later censuses might offer some clues.

Here are the Halseys after the war in 1870, still worth $30,000 in real estate and $7,500 in other property. Four of their children are living at home with the youngest being Thomas born during the war. Morton is a student at the Virginia Military Institute.

The clues are in their neighbors. Above Joseph's listing is John B. Holladay, a 25-year-old Black  farmer worth $600. Below Thomas's name is the Melton or Milton family, father Douglass (perhaps a nod to Frederick Douglass) and mother Sarah, parents of Richard and Kate. Douglass is a farm hand. Down the road is the Cave family (not the wealthy white Caves of Virginia) but the B for Black farmhand Harrison Cave who is 50 and appears to be unmarried. His large family goes into the next page.

Were Douglass Melton, John Holladay, Harrison Cave and their families living in houses that were once part of the Halsey plantations? The same places they had always lived but where they had been invisible to census takers?

In 1900 the neighbors are different---Browns & Harrisons, but there is still a Black male named Douglas, 10-year-old Douglas Mallory who lives with the Halseys as a servant.

There are a lot of leads to follow here. 

Joseph's advertisement for his school in 1845 from the Richmond Enquirer

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ladies's Legacy & a Nine Diamond


My latest repro fabric line for Moda is due in shops any day now.
It says March delivery up there on the left.

The fabrics in Ladies' Legacy are drawn from a quilt in my collection
made by the women art students at the Cooper Union school
in New York, probably close to the end of the Civil War.
See more about the quilt here:

Becky Brown is using it for one of the models for our next applique BOM
Ladies' Aid New York Sampler (more about that next week) and with the leftovers she
pieced a Nine Diamond Quilt.

Here's her plan.

The Ladies Legacy prints are primary colors red, blue & green
plus browns and whites for neutrals but she thought the quilt needed some
yellow, so she found some in her stash.

She writes: 

"When I finished the applique blocks for LADIES' AID SAMPLER, I was still in love with the LADIES' LEGACY fabrics so I started sewing squares to make 9-patch blocks. I added corners and thought it was a pretty cool block and kept sewing while keeping an eye on my dwindling stack of fabrics.This one was going to be a bed quilt, so I started adding some other fabrics, mostly yellows and greens to extend the fabrics to assure that I'd have enough blocks. 64 blocks needed for a 72 x 72" quilt plus borders. I like square quilts because they work as a topper on about any size bed. The best thing about this quilt may be the border - just look what that beautiful frame does to elevate this simple quilt. 2-1/2 yards of border fabric was used to make this quilt - love that there are 4 repeats of two designs. The other four strips of the border fabric were narrower and used to prance around the LADIES' AID quilt. Oh my, such wonderful fabric!

THEN what a delight when I was reading your new book and learned that I had made Nine-Diamond blocks! Of course, and that's what I'm calling this quilt that I will gift to my sister, once I get it machine quilted."

The pattern she picked was first published in Hearth & Home
magazine about 1900 as Cross Roads to Jerico (sic) number 2385 in
my new Encyclopedia. When I was in Tennessee many years ago
I tried to call it that and the natives told me I was wrong. It
was a Nine Diamond.

And a Nine Diamond it is.
Her blocks are 9" square. She shaded them in counterchange
fashion, meaning that what is light in one block is dark in the next.

Mitering the paisley stripe in the border.

Her finished top is 82" square.

I'm glad she likes the fabric!

Simple pattern, great for beginners and a beautiful Civil-War era reproduction quilt. Thank you, Becky, once again.