Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Ladies' Aid Sampler #2: Prize Cows

Ladies' Aid Sampler #2 Cow by Becky Brown

E. Dezendorf's block in an 1855 quilt from Rockland County
sold at a Skinner's Auction.

Block corners in this quilt are visually connected by four sprigs
rather than four hearts.

Now, you might think a cow is an odd image for
an album quilt but not in New York, 

It's got to be a New York quilt; it has horses and cows.
From an old Quilt Engagement Calendar

#2 Cow by Barbara Schaffer

Quilt dated 1852 for Elizabeth Griffiths, attributed to members of the 
Middletown Baptist Church (now Pearl River)
Rockland County, New York
Collection of the Orangetown Museum

Orange County, just a few miles north of Manhattan, enjoyed a reputation as one of the most reliable sources of milk for the city.

Farmers who subscribed to the Rural New Yorker would
have had many images of farm animals for inspiration.

Menagerie of domestic and wild animals on a sampler dated 1860-1862
from the Blauvelt, Van Houten & Thomas families of Rockland County.

People in Rockland and Orange Counties, home to many farm families who
raised prize cattle, were fond of cows on quilts. Note Blauvelts &
Van Houtens.

When the Civil War began, the small villages in Orange County responded to the requests for soldiers' clothing and bedding. But in September 1862 the Tri-State Union chided the ladies of Port Jervis for their lack of ambition:
"In Newburgh, Middetown, Montgomery, Goshen, Warwick, and in fact---all of our sister towns 'Ladies' Aid Societies' have already been organized...In this village we believe nothing has as yet been done...."

A few days later Mrs. H. H. Farnum (Abigail St. John Farnum 1817-1874), and Mrs S.E. Cunningham, (Sarah Elizabeth Cunningham 1811-1890) formed a Port Jervis Ladies' Aid Society. Like many of the women who headed the Sanitary Commission's local agencies, these women were prominent citizens.

Port Jervis in 1860, The Germantown School
Minisink Valley Historical Society

The Farnums were rated the wealthiest people in town in a later obituary. Abigail's husband Henry was a banker and a dry goods merchant. While the Farnums raised money for the cause they also contributed their own. In 1862 Mr. Farnum offered a $10 bounty to men joining a local company.

Reunion of an Orange County regiment "The Orange Blossoms"
at their monument in Goshen.

Sarah E. Cunningham spoke for the Ladies' Aid Society towards the end of the war when they welcomed home a local regiment who marched through town and into Lockwood's Hall where they were met with a dinner prepared by the Aid Society and a rather eloquent speech by Sarah.
"Nearly three years have elapsed since you left our village a gallant band, pledged to support your country's flag, her honor, and her laws....Nobly have you redeemed that pledge; your diminished ranks attest it....the tattered remnants of your beautiful flag...attest it. Of all the brilliant constellation that once adorned that flag, but one star remains...the star of Hope."

Battle worn flags were revered souvenirs.
The ladies of Orange County had sent this hand made 
flag to the boys in 1864.
Photos were sold to raise funds.

The post-war years were not happy for Abigail Farnum. In 1867 she was seriously injured in a carriage accident and spent the next few years traveling in search of health. She died in Washington on a trip home from Florida at 56 in 1874. Her husband remarried in 1879 to his brother's widow Diana Zearfoss Farnum shortly before his death in 1879. Diana did not live long but inherited a good deal of Farnum money. In her will she left $8,000 of it to the town to construct an impressive soldier's monument.

The memorial was dedicated in 1886.

Diana Farnum's name is prominently featured

The Block

#2 Cow by Denniele Bohannon

Surly cow escapes

Print this sheet out 8-1/2" x 11".

#2 Cow by Barbara Brackman

See more Rockland County albums here:

Collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of
American History

Hester Willard , Emily Taylor and Mary H Taylor lived in Norristown, Pennsylvania. OK--- not all cows are from New York.

Hester Willard To her Sister Mary Norriston April 12 1842.
This little emblem of respect 
I send my Dearest friend to see
Trust not its motto with neglect
It is dear friend remember

About 1880 from an album in Julie Silber's inventory.
It's got to be a New York Quilt.
(Possibly New Jersey)

Quilt dated 1852 for Elizabeth Griffiths
Collection of the Orangetown Museum

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Varina Anne "Winnie" Davis: Divided Hearts


Varina Davis with her namesake Varina Anne "Winnie" (1864-1898) at the end of the Civil War. Winnie was great consolation to her mother who did not get to spend much time with her once the Confederate cause was lost.

One of the stories that didn't fit into my book Divided Hearts: A Civil War Friendship Quilt is the tale of Winnie Davis whose romance was victim of the North/South divide---but decades after the war was over.

Winnie and her nurse Ellen Barnes
American Civil War Museum Collection
Do a search for Winnie in their collections
and see quite a few objects.

Varina and Jefferson Davis's youngest child was born in Richmond's Confederate White House during the war's last year. After the Davises fled Richmond and her father was imprisoned Winnie and her mother accompanied him to prison at Fortress Monroe where Varina perhaps began this silk quilt.

Sere, yellowing autumn leaves. Each plant in Varina's quilt
had symbolism

Winnie's sisters and brothers went into Canadian exile cared for by their grandmother Margaret Kempe Howell and the baby joined them there.

The Davis children in Canada, a photograph sold after the war.

American Civil War Museum Collection
Sampler signed Winnie Davis
stitched at her school in Karlsrhue Germany
It is signed Winnie Dawis, a Germanic spelling.

Once their father was released from jail the family fled to Europe. Winnie spent her younger years in a German boarding school, returning to the United States in the early 1880s as a 17-year-old who'd grown up abroad. 

American Civil War Museum Collection
Mother Varina Davis stitched this silk quilt recalling "The 
Lost Cause" as the short-lived butterfly in the center.

Winnie was glad to become her father's companion and help meet, joining him in his travels to promote his book, unveil monuments and give speeches at reunions. In the mid-1880s publicists for the Southern image dubbed the girl who grew up in Europe as "The Daughter of the Confederacy" a role she seemed glad to take on.

Winnie Davis Cigars

She maintained a high profile in the press. A search for her name in newspapers in the last half of the century yields almost 80,000 hits. Fame came with a price, however.

In 1886 she visited family friends in New York and met Alfred Wilkinson, a Syracuse patent lawyer  They fell in love and became secretly engaged. 

April 1890, Sandusky, Ohio

The press North and South was vicious.

Winnie could not have fallen for a more controversial fiancé unless perhaps she'd chosen Robert Lincoln or a grandson of Union General Benjamin Butler.

Alfred's mother was Charlotte Coffin May Wilkinson, first cousin to Louisa May Alcott. Louisa's mother Abba May Alcott was quite close to her brother Samuel Joseph May and their daughters born a few weeks apart grew up as good friends. Charlotte had only brothers and Louisa signed her letters "Your sister-in-love," according to May descendant Eve LaPlante, author of Marmee & Louisa.

Charlotte's father Reverend Samuel Joseph May was an outspoken and infamous antislavery activist in the years before the Civil War. Born in Boston he became a Unitarian minister in Syracuse in 1845. Alfred was thus the grandson of one of  the leading abolitionists---anathema to die-hard Confederates like his father-in-law to be.

Alfred Wilkinson known as Fred
Fred was 3 years old when the war began

In 1889 Wilkinson visited Winnie's parents in Mississippi to ask for her hand. Mother Varina approved.
Father Jefferson told her he felt her "death would be preferable." For himself death came soon in December, 1889 while Winnie was back in Paris, followed by Fred who persuaded her the time was right to announce their engagement. When they returned to America in summer, 1890 they were shocked to find the hatred their love inspired among obsessive Southerners like Jubal Early, the "Watchdog of the Confederacy."

Winnie reading a letter to her sister Margaret,
a commercial cabinet card sold in the 1890s.
Did Winnie have an eating disorder? She is quite thin.

The Daughter of the Confederacy submitted to her public image and her late father's wishes, breaking the engagement "due to ill health." Again the press was unmerciful bringing up Alfred's recent business losses and Winnie's imaginary engagement to a more suitable Southerner.

Wichita Eagle, February 1891

Passion flower from her mother's quilt

Winnie moved with her mother to New York City but she never saw Fred again. Neither of them ever married.

Winnie spent her time publishing two romance novels, joining the city's social life with trips South to ornament Confederate reunions. Biographers write of her sadness and illness in those New York years.

Her physical health deteriorated due to a mysterious illness ---described as chronic gastritis---and she died at 34 years old in September, 1898 in Rhode Island.

The single butterfly from her mother's quilt.

"The girl to country true,
May ne'er in wedlock give their hand
To those who wore the blue."

One more sacrifice for the Lost Cause.

Two relevant biographies:

Joan E Cashin's First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis 

Heath Hardage Lee's Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Forgiving Sets for Sampler Blocks



When stitching 12 different star blocks you are going to have different sizes. In theory the EQ8
patterns for a 12" block will produced a variety of stars all nicely measuring 12-1/2" before sewing them together. But the nature of samplers is uncooperative. Different seam allowances when you are sewing, more seams in one block than another, more easing to fit, etc = Different size blocks.

 The set above is not very forgiving.
Perhaps a different set will make your life easier.

One solution is to turn each 12" square on point and
piece it into another square. You now have a block finishing
(in theory) to 17".

Cut the triangles a little larger than what the pattern calls for. My handy-dandy, blue Fons & Porter's Quilters Need to Know Card tells me to cut squares 18-1/4" to set a 12" finished block. Cut them larger---19".
Cut into triangles with 2 cuts.

Deirdre Bond-Abel used this square-in-a-square solution for sampler blocks for her Hat Creek Quilts
pattern Hopkins Quilt.

You could set these side by side but here's what Deirdre did:

She pieced them into strips and then joined the strips together with an offset or half-drop repeat giving her a traditional streak-of-lightning or zig-zag look. See more here about her pattern:

Another option was used by several stitchers for last year's pieced BOM Yankee Notions.

Here's Shawn Priggle's in progress.
It looks to me like he framed each sampler square in a yellow frame.
He could then narrowly trim the yellow in any blocks that were larger than the rest
and get them all the same size before he sashed with the dotted black.

(He's such a stitch-meister that they probably did not need trimming but for the rest of us...)

Jean Etheridge had a similar solution.
Her frames are different prints, which would make it
even harder to notice that one was 2" and one 2-1/8".

Make the frames a little larger because you are going to trim
them and you want some room to fudge.

See Shawn's and Jean's quilts and other finished Yankee Notions tops here: