Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Ladies Aid Album #5: Union Flag


Block #5 Union Flag
by Bettina Havig

In July, 1862 Potsdam, New York celebrated 
Independence Day during the Civil War's first full year.

The Potsdam Ladies' Sanitary Association asked those attending ceremonies to bring
a used item from home to donate to the soldiers, "one or more articles of apparel or bedding."

How many charitable families gave up a valuable quilt for the soldiers' comfort?

This well-worn sampler once belonged to Lt. George Anson Stocking
of Connecticut. Did his family send it to him or did he obtain it in in the field in Virginia?
See more about his quilt:

Ellen Collins keeping her ledgers in New York City

Although executives in the Sanitary Commission and the Ladies' Relief societies prided themselves on their bookkeeping Virginia Gunn in her authoritative AQSG paper "Quilts for Union Soldiers in the Civil War" notes that nobody kept totals of all the donated quilts during five years of war. Gunn's best estimate is 250,000, which includes quilts stitched just for the war effort and those family bedcovers sent to the front.

Block #5 Union Flag
by Becky Brown

One imagines pre-1860 quilts carried away in all their chintz glory. Gunn found records of a "Blanket Raid" in the early weeks of the war in which women in Cleveland, Ohio went door to door gathering 729 bedcovers for soldiers:  "Delicate rose blankets, chintz quilts, thick counterpanes." Who could refuse their neighbors?

What happened to those quarter of a million Union quilts?

Gunn hypothesized that most "made for soldiers did not survive the war or hard use in the years which followed. Many became lost or destroyed in the heat of battle....When field hospitals moved, they often left behind piles of quilts and comforts caked with blood and dirt."

Potsdam in 1870

Potsdam in St. Lawrence County is about 100 miles southwest
of Montreal, Canada

Potsdam Public Museum Collection

Members of Potsdam's Ladies Auxiliary Relief Association posed in 1861; most are unidentified but Mrs. Henry Knowles, Mrs. C.W. Leete (Directress) & Mrs. H.N. Redway are listed among them. As widow of a Methodist minister Sophronia Stone Leete (1806-1899) was the perfect figure to direct the Ladies' Aid organization. We wish we knew which woman she is in the photo but as she was 55 when the war began perhaps she is the tall woman in the top row.

Block #5 Union Flag
by Denniele Bohannon

Son Charles II with his son and grandchild about 1912.

Sophronia (1799-1857) was minister Charles Ward Leete's second wife, marrying him in 1833 and taking on his two young boys. She then had two boys and two girls with Charles. As a Methodist minister, often transferred, Charles worked in many northern New York towns such as Vernon in Oneida County where he probably met Sophronia. Potsdam was their principal home. Charles died in 1857 at 57 years old leaving Sophronia to worry about several sons and stepsons.
"The articles [the ladies] forwarded to the camps and to the Sanitary Commission in New York were extremely generous..... "
On Thanksgiving Day, 1861, the ladies of Potsdam earned $100 by giving a supper for the benefit of the Ladies Aid Association. The members of the Relief Association met at the Fireman's Hall every Thursday and Friday. 

Fireman's Hall, 1909

From Potsdam Public Museum blog

Accounts of the Women's Central Relief  1863

 The Potsdam Ladies' $5 may seem small compared to banker August Belmont's $100 donation but in 1860 that $5 was worth what $150 is today.

117th Regiment Silk Battle Flag
New York State Military Museum Collection

Sophronia's charity work must have been a distraction from worry over youngest son William who enlisted in Co. A, 117th Regiment, N. Y. Volunteers in August, 1862 when he was 17. Fortunate enough to survive three years of  battles like Cold Harbor and Petersburg he returned home in June, 1865.

The Block
Union Flag

The block is drawn from one in a New York sampler
known as the Oneida Community Best Quilt
made in the late 1870s at the communal living society.
(There was a second best quilt too.)

Sashing has faded to a pale tan.

UPDATE: Found Barbara Schaffer's block in the email quagmire. It's too good not to post.

The pattern. Print it out 8-1/2 x 11".
Applique to a square cut 15-1/2"

Robyn Revelle Gragg's Union Flag has a few additions.

Notice that Bettina appliqued her stripe to a piece
of white and then appliqued that to the background.

Denniele's Blocks 1-5

More About Sophronia

Sophronia's descendants cared enough about her
memory to frame this piece of toile from her furnishings
and write a few notes.

"This bit of chintz 
1st Sophronia Stone
2nd William Stone Leete
3rd Adaline Leete ?
Original frame from ?? Grandma Leete's Vernon house where I saw it as a child "

This Leete memorabilia is for sale in Glee Krueger's online shop:
Perhaps someone should buy it and donate it to the Potsdam Public Museum.

The Potsdam Public Museum has several quilts in their
online catalog. Here's an unfinished top (1880-1910?) is an unusual applique
with typical New York style linking the blocks in a secondary pattern .

Read more about the Oneida Community Best Quilt here:


Denniele said...

I love this block!

QuiltGranma said...

i am a patriotic person and thank you for this pattern, that I plan on using.

Barbara said...

Thanks for the update, Barbara!