Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Ladies Aid NY Sampler #1: Ellen Collins & A New York Tulip

Block #1
New York Tulip by Barbara Schaffer

A tulip begins our 2021 appliqued BOM quilt, focused on New York's samplers and the women's work during the Civil War. Each month we look at one woman and one town's war efforts.

The woman at the center of the colorized photo is Ellen Collins
(1828-1912) working on her ledgers at the Woman's Central
Relief Association, one of the many New York Ladies' Aid organizations
we will be discussing.

The town this month is Manhattan.

New York Tulip by Becky Brown
She used repros from my Ladies's Legacy line.

When the Civil War began newspapers around the Union printed a list of items the
Sanitary Commission needed for hospitalized soldiers, 
"Quilts of cheap materials, about seven feet long by fifty inches wide,"
was a request.

Women mobilized and formed Ladies' Aid organizations, often affiliated with the national Sanitary Commission (ancestor of the Red Cross.)

The Soldiers' Aid Society of Queens sent 300 articles:
Sheets, quilts, pillow-cases and cash ($200) in the first year of the war.

New York City's Woman's Central Association for Relief (WCAR) coordinated the work of smaller regional Ladies' Aid societies like the group in Queens. Ellen Collins was second in command, in charge of supplies and funds, keeping track of incoming donations and outgoing shipments to hospitals and warehouses.

Ellen's office shipped over 20,000 quilts in the first two and a half years of war.

One of the men shipping boxes of hospital supplies
from the Cooper Union building offices
is probably Samuel Bridgham (1813-1870),
Ellen's boss. The other is probably porter George Roberts.

Bridgham was once the owner of this
quilt made at the Cooper Union art school
 for a hospital bed... 

... signed
"School of Design
Engraving Class

I am the fortunate owner of this Civil War souvenir, the source for the prints in my new Moda fabric collection Ladies' Legacy. Each print is named for a volunteer in the Woman's Central offices of the Cooper Union.

The quilt's backing is the document print for our
reproduction called Ellen's Comfort----
A very popular calico at the time,
small stars on a textured background.

We reproduced it in three colorways

Ellen Collins was a "reformer and philanthropist," 48-years old and single when the Civil War began. She came from a family of wealthy Quakers; her grandfather Isaac Collins established the family's successful printing business.  
The Collins family lived at 41 West 11th,
in what we call the West Village, 
not far from the WCAR offices.

In their 1867 account of Women's Work in the Civil War, authors Brockett, Vaughn & Bellows described Ellen's wartime role:
 "The members of the Woman's Central worked incessantly. Miss Collins was always at her post. She had never left it. Her hand held the reins taut from the beginning to the end. She alone went to the office daily, remaining after office hours, which were from nine to six, and taking home to be perfected in the still hours of night those elaborate tables of supplies and their disbursement, which formed her monthly Report to the Board of the Woman's Central. These tables are a marvel of method and clearness."
The office bought or accepted donations, "assorting, cataloguing, marking, packing, storing and final distribution of nearly half a million of articles" over the years of the war.

#1 New York Tulip by Barbara Brackman
This is the center which measures about 7" x 7"
on a 15-1/2" square block. I've left room in the
corners for the secondary pattern.

Louisa Lee Schuyler was Ellen's assistant. Louisa in an obituary for her friend recalled the office systems:
"Every day old Roberts, the faithful porter...would place the [incoming] boxes in a long row and raise the lids; every day would come a corps of young lady 'Volunteer Aids' to unpack the miscellaneous articles, sort and place them in designated bins, stamp them with the stamp of the Sanitary Commission, and repack the same boxes (one kind of article only in each box now), after which they were nailed up by Roberts, appropriately marked, and wheeled off to the store house, ready to be shipped at shortest notice. A system was adopted whereby each box could be identified and traced. Miss Collins saw to it that each was acknowledged; conducted a large correspondence; made out and sent weekly lists of supplies in hand to the headquarters of the Sanitary Commission in Washington."

When the war was over Ellen's work wasn't; she continued her philanthropies with emancipated Southerners through the Freedman's Bureau and advocated tenement reform in her neighborhood by buying decaying buildings and acting as a responsible landlord.

The Block

From a New York sampler dated 1851
We've done this tulip before---in our Yankee Diary sampler a couple of years ago.

Here's Becky's.
All I can say about the floral is it seems to have been typically New York...
a mysterious importance.

One Way To Print:

Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
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.
Add seams.

If you are using the Hearts in the Corners set you
will want to position it like this.

Above: Pattern for the Hearts.
Print it 8-1/2" wide.

New York Tulip by Denniele Bohannon

You might want to buy and print a PDF of all 12 patterns now. 

See this listing in my Etsy shop:

New Yorkers loved using images in the corners to link the different blocks. 
Sampler with leaves in the corners from the New England Quilt Museum.

Denniele Bohannon's version from the Yankee Diary.

More about the tulip here:

Links to More Information

Read Louisa Lee Schuyler's biography of Ellen Collins:

Over the first four years of the war, someone (probably Ellen)
counted almost 32,000 blankets and bedquilts shipped out of New York.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Civil War Quilt from Waccabuc, New York?

Several years ago I bought this quilt from a couple
who had purchased at a church bazaar in Westchester County,
New York.

As they recalled, they found it at a sale in 1971 at the Presbyterian Church of South Salem where it had been donated by the "grande dame" of the area Miss Constance Hunt of nearby Waccabuc.

I'd call it a Tumbling Blocks Quilt, pieced of one shape---
a 60 degree diamond.

The quilt was a family heirloom with a tale. Miss Hunt who lived from 1894 to 1985 told the buyers that the maker was her great-aunt but that woman's name was not recorded. She stitched the diamonds together in 1864 while her fiance was fighting in the Civil War in anticipation of their wedding but when he returned she decided not to marry him so she wrapped the quilt in newspapers and stored it in the attic. It remained in the attic for a century until Miss Constance, looking for a nice donation for her church, retrieved it.

Constance Hunt, a relative of many Hunts and Meads in the Westchester County township of Lewisboro, had several great-aunts, sisters of her four grandparents, some of whom lived in Ohio but most in Westchester County. Constance's mother Annis Mead Hunt attended Oberlin University, a member of the class of 1891 and moved to New York after her marriage.

Lewisboro is just west of Connecticut and north of
the Long Island Sound.

I've gone back to those great aunts born in the 1830s and '40s who might have been living at home with their parents during the war but found no likely single woman of that generation. Perhaps the maker did not marry her fiance because she had fallen for another man and married him after the war. Hannah Mead Howe born in 1834 is a possibility. She married Seth Hoyt who owned a flour mill in Cross River after the war, but then one has to wonder why the quilt didn't go with her when she went to housekeeping.

White Plains Journal, 1985

Newspaper article about Constance Hunt's memories of her Aunt Carrie Hunt's picnic chicken recipe. This Aunt Carrie, although she remained single, was born about 1860, too young to have a fiance fighting in the Civil War. But perhaps she was the maker.

Is the quilt old enough to give the story credibility? Was it made in the 1860s? Most of the fabrics are printed wools, the delaines so popular for clothing in the 1860s. Delaine is a mixed fabric of wool and cotton related to the wool and silk combination challis. The mixed fabric takes dye very well, which explains the vivid colors.

The backing is one striped wool and cotton combination fabric.
Delaine garments were quite the fashion in the 1840-1870 years.

Unknown woman in a dress that might be a striped delaine

However, most of the delaine quilts one sees (it's often used in log cabins) date to the 1870s and '80s, just the right date for Aunt Carrie Hunt to be collecting out-of-fashion dress scraps after the war.

Log cabin by Susan Messenger dated 1876 
with mixed fabrics very much like the Tumbling Blocks

I wish I had more information about the maker and the Civil War story but seven years of poking around online has produced no real candidate for a maker. If it's an 1870s or '80s quilt I guess it doesn't matter which of Miss Constance's great-aunts made it. 

A couple of weeks ago I asked 5 Know-It-All Friends of mine to look at
it. We did a recording of our session that you can watch here at YouTube.
My quilt goes first:

Julie wondered why it is only this one piece of brown fabric (perhaps silk and wool crossed) that is insect damaged. Nearly every piece of that brown is chewed but none of the other wools. Why?
We may be know-it-alls but we didn't know. Julie says she often sees that in Amish wool quilts where one fabric was exceptionally tasty.

I'm afraid my Civil War quilt (like most of them) probably has no accurate Civil War story. I was surprised at how long I clung to the story before I faced the reality that the quilt is probably from after the Civil War. You know how it is when you want to believe something. 

Oh well, I do love it.

It's in good shape even though it spent a century in an attic wrapped in
newspapers (and lunch for some long ago insects.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

No More Paper Patterrns by Mail

The U.S. Post Office is such a mess it is driving mail order services out of business. I am quitting selling books & paper patterns by mail---I sent a book December 15 and it arrived 60 days later. I will still sell PDFs in my Etsy shop.

Sorry, but I cannot afford to continue to replace missing merchandise and I'm tired of customers complaining about late deliveries. If you want to complain tell this incompetent holdover from the last incompetent administration:

You can still buy the PDFs to print yourself.

I guess it's the wave of the future.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Lydia Walden Hardiman's Civil War #2: The Massachusetts 55th


Collection Smithsonian's African-American Museum
Pineapple Quilt by Lydia Walden Hardiman

Last week we looked at Lydia Walden Hardiman's quilt
made in the 1880s according to family. 

When the Civil War began in 1861 she was 23 years old and had been married for 5 years. Lydia and husband Alexander Hardiman farmed land in southwestern Indiana's Gibson County near the town of Princeton. Lydia's family headed by Henry and Lucretia Walden likely came to Indiana from Tennessee in the early 1840s when Lydia was a young girl. As free Black settlers they were members of a tight-knit community begun in the 1830s. 

Lydia was mother to two young children when the war began, living close to her parents, sisters and brothers.
Marker for Alexander Hardiman (1837-1898)

Lydia's husband was a Civil War soldier, a veteran of the 14th Rhode Island Colored Heavy Artillery.
The Marker reads:
Co. M."
Then perhaps
"14 U.S. C. H. A."

The first question is "What was an Indiana man doing in the Rhode Island army?" 

Henry D. Walden Co I
55 Mass. Inf.

We'll begin with Lydia's father's story. Henry Walden, born in Chatham, North Carolina, was 60 years old when the war began. As an African-American, even though free and probably a free man all his life, he was excluded from the Union Army. But once Abraham Lincoln's executive order the Emancipation Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863 Lincoln decided to open the Union Armies to African-American men.

Troops were segregated by race (that went on into the 1940s) and officers were white. The best-known of these Colored Troops is the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry whose story was told in the 1989 movie Glory

Massachusetts recruited Black men all over the Union with a very effective campaign in early 1863. Henry Walden age 62 responded by heading for Readville near Boston, Massachusetts and Camp Meigs.

By the time Henry arrived the 54th was full so a 55th regiment was formed and
they accepted him. (If you've seen Glory you know he was lucky to
be in the 55th and not the 54th.)

People back in Lyles Station, Indiana must have been proud of Henry. His son-in-law Alex Hardiman followed his lead a few months later, enlisting in the 14th Rhode Island Colored Heavy Artillery at the end of 1863.

Henry's Massachusetts regiment went to Florida and then to the occupied Sea Islands near Charleston, South Carolina where they spent much of 1864, waiting to take the philosophical capitol of the Confederacy. The C.S.A. abandoned the city in February, 1865 and the 55th marched into Charleston to the delight of the black population who welcomed Yankees of their own color. Henry was likely one of the liberators of Charleston, pictured in Harper's Weekly in March, 1865.

In his history of the 55th Charles Bernard Fox recalled the day. 
"The only restriction placed on them in passing through the city would be to keep in the ranks, and that they might shout and sing as they chose....the streets...were crowded with the colored population. Cheers, blessings, prayers and songs were heard on every side. Men and women crowded to shake hands...The white population remained within their houses, but curiosity led even them to peep through the blinds at the 'black Yankees.' 

"Little disorder occurred. Some pigs, geese, and chickens came to untimely ends...some of the white inhabitants complained that the colored troops insulted them which, when it is considered that they thought it an insult for a black man to address them without first removing his hat, was also to be expected."

Charleston in 1865

Henry must have had compelling stories to tell the rest of his life. He lived to be about 83.

Alex Hardiman's Rhode Island regiment went to the Gulf of Mexico spending time in Texas and occupying Plaquemine, Louisiana to defend Union-held New Orleans. Their duty was less dramatic. An officer described the dangers as they built a fort:

"Though not comparing with the arduousness of field service, our duties were by no means slight. It must be remembered that we were in a semi-tropical country, where to an unacclimated person the climate was itself almost a deadly foe. The extreme heat produced a lethargy that was depressing in the extreme. In a few days of dry weather, the surface of the ground would be baked like a brick. Then would come most violent storms, converting the soil into a quagmire and covering it with water like a lake."

Alfred Waud's painting "Mustered Out," showing troops
 returning to Little Rock, engraved for
  Harper's Weekly in 1866.
Library of Congress

The real enemy there was disease but Alex survived, remaining in Louisiana in the first months of Reconstruction and returning to Rhode Island where he was mustered out in October. He came home to Lydia and three children; baby Paul had been born while he was gone.

The lives of Lydia and her mother Lucy while their husbands were fighting are not so easy to cipher out. Their husbands may have been motivated by the enlistment bonus as well as a desire to fight for slavery's end. Did the men receive a $100 bonus for enlisting? Did their pay go home to support their families while they were fighting?

With no paper trail we are left without answers. The next link to the families is Alex's pension records. He began to receive his war pension in May, 1887 and after his death Lydia got a widow's pension.

See Lydia Hardiman's grave here:

And read about a spectacular quilt taken somewhere in South Carolina by one of the 55th Massachusetts's white officers Captain William H. Torrey from Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Quilt historian Xenia Cord has also done a good deal of research into Indiana's African-American history. See her article "Black rural settlements in Indiana before 1860" in Indiana’s African-American Heritage, edited by Wilma L. Gibbs and published by the Indiana Historical Society in 1993.