Saturday, May 28, 2022

North Scituate Massachusetts SAS Quilt


New England Quilt Museum
Quilt made for a Union soldier

So many album quilts were made for the Sanitary Commission to distribute
to Union hospitals but so few survive.

Below is a story from the National Tribune, a Union veteran's newspaper, about 20 years after war's end. Mrs. Edwin Bailey of North Scituate, Massachusetts recalled making such a quilt, assisted by her 6-year-old son, one of ten children. The Sanitary Commission sent the quilt to Washington and she did not hear of it again.

Mrs. Bailey is probably Margaret McCartnay Dyas Bailey (about 1813- 1896)
of North Scituate, Massachusetts, who died at 81 in 1896.

Margaret's death record shows that her parents were British immigrants. She was born in Maine.

Margaret married Edwin Bailey on May 3, 1837. When the war began she was in her late 40s. The 1860 census shows them with 8 resident children; two sons James and Samuel were Mariners, sailors. John, who would join the Army of the Potomac was 17, and the youngest Frank who helped on the quilt was four.

The 1880 census again lists Edwin as a carpenter but in the post-War boom he was more a builder or a real estate developer.

That year they took a train California to visit children.

In the 1880s they rented out a house in North Scituate (theirs?) for summer
vacationers in the ocean-side resort.

Resorts in North Scituate

" a builder of considerable prominence"

Margaret donated funds to liberal causes. 

In 1889 the country was shocked by a mass lynching at Barnwell, South Carolina.

Boston Transcript, 1889
Margaret joined Thomas Higginson in sending a donation
for the families of the murdered men.

We don't know what the North Scituate quilt looked like although Margaret described it as having white squares in the block centers with names and longer inscriptions.

Rather the standard look. 
See more of the surviving quilts here:

From the Fort Hill Sewing Circle, dated 1864
Hingham, Massachusetts
International Quilt Museum

Detail from the New England Quilt Museum's example.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Freedom's Friends #3: Charity Still--- Wreath of Hearts


Block #3 Wreath of Hearts by Becky Brown

Sydney Steele/Charity Still (ca. 1780?-1857)

Assuming a new identity, Charity Still must have chosen her name carefully. Charity, a Christian attribute, is often symbolized by a heart so a wreath of hearts will recall this resourceful woman. She was born with the name Sydney (Cidney) on Maryland's eastern shore, a slave in the Griffith family on a plantation known as Edmonson's Reserve.

Caroline County in orange

Her husband Levin Steele had purchased his freedom and relocated to Burlington, New Jersey. Sydney escaped from Maryland with their young children, probably before 1810, joining him in the town along the Delaware River. But she and her four children were recaptured. She and her girls were sent back to Maryland. Her two boys Peter and Levin were sold South. Undeterred, she escaped again with her two daughters, rejoining Levin Sr. (now named Levin Still) in New Jersey where they had many more children born into freedom. Charity gave birth to 18 children in all; the youngest William was born in 1821.

Sydney/Charity traveled the 120 miles
between slavery and freedom twice.

One lost boy Levin died in slavery in Alabama but the other Peter managed to buy his own freedom decades later. He traveled north where he sought assistance in the Philadelphia Anti Slavery Society offices about 1850. Peter told his biographer that when he peered in the window of the North Fifth Street office he was impressed to see a young Black man writing at a desk. "He was graceful in his bearing and dressed with extreme neatness." This was William Still who specialized in uniting lost families.

Peter Steele Gist. (1801 - ?) 
He used the name of his last slave-owner Gist.

William asked Peter Gist for his history.
"I was stolen away from the Delaware river with my brother Levin, when I was about six years old. My father's name was Levin, and my mother's name was Sidney; and we had two sisters--one name 'Merica and the other Charity....

William Still (1821-1902)

 After listening to the story the clerk, holding on to his emotions, asked:

 "Suppose I should tell you that I am your brother?... My father's name was Levin, and my mother's name is Sidney; and they lost two boys named Levin and Peter, about the time you speak of. I have often heard my mother mourn about those two children, and I am sure you must be one of them."

Peter was quite suspicious, sure this was another trick to steal him back into slavery, but William and his two Philadelphia sisters Mary and Kitty persuaded Peter they truly were his kin and took him to see his mother. 

Indian Mills store, about 1930

Mother Charity was living near Medford, New Jersey in Indian Mills. Husband Levin had died in 1842. They were all afraid the shock would kill her but this was not a weak woman. She and Peter had a joyful reunion and he had the opportunity to visit her again at the home his well-to-do brother Dr. James Still provided.

The Still house in Indian Mills is now gone but James Still's medical office to the left
still stands.

Carolyn tells us that the Dr. James Still Historic Site on Church Road in Medford, New Jersey was recently renovated. She drove past it every day on her way home from work until she retired.

The Block

Wreath of Hearts by Barbara Brackman

Print this out on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. See the inch square for scale.

A wreath of eight hearts was rather popular. Many artists filled in
the corners with more flora.

Block in an album from Fishkill, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sampler recorded by the Tennessee Project
Blocks of eight repeats sometimes look as if
they need more corner motifs.

Jeanne Arnieri's small-scale version
Or more in the center

Wreath of Hearts by Georgann Eglinski

Or both


Her family's story will be told in a new Caroline County, Maryland site devoted to Still history to be situated in this cabin.

Robyn Gragg revised the heart wreath for a corner motif.

Read More:

Those Stills were born writers and story tellers.

Peter told his story to Kate E. Reynolds Pickard (1824-1864). Once he made the acquaintance of his northern family he still had to get wife Vina and children out of slavery. He tells the whole tale in The Kidnapped and the Ransomed. Recollections of Peter Still and His Wife 'Vina,' after Forty Years of Slavery, published in 1856. That must be Vina on the title page. Did the royalties buy Vina's freedom?

Read the book at this link:

And see a letter from Kate Pickard about how she met Peter in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in the collection of The Peter Still Digital Edition at Rutgers University.

Read the autobiography of Dr. James Still (1811-1882), Charity's son born in 1811. He recalls his childhood in a happy if very poor family and tells a bit more of his mother's tale and of her death from a stroke in 1857.,+James.+Early+Recollections+and+Life&printsec=frontcover

I did a version years ago in some reproduction prints.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Edna Cable Stanton's Civil War

Quilt attributed to Edna Cable Stanton (1828-1890)
Johnson County, Tennessee
Pieced & appliqued about 1880?
Quilted by Anna Stout in 1953

The repeat: The family called it Shooting Star.
The Tennessee project recorded it in the 1980s.

More traditional version in a York County, South Carolina album.

Quilts of Tennessee documented two quilts attributed to Edna Stanton, which look to have been made about the same time, possibly the 1880s. Perhaps the chrome orange petals in the Shooting Star were left over from this pieced star.

The chrome orange is showing color loss typical of the dye
when it comes in contact with acid solutions.

Joy Branham, one of the frequent posters on our QuiltHistorySouth Facebook page showed us this family quilt:
"Made by my husband's great-great-grandmother Edna Cable Stanton in Johnson County, Tennessee. 'Big Edna' Stanton (she was six feet tall) was a midwife and farmer, widowed when her husband died in the Civil War. This quilt top, which was made sometime after the War, descended to her great-granddaughter Mara Branham, who had it quilted by Anna Stout in 1953. Mara always called it Shooting Star. I'm inclined to think that it started out as lilies and never had the leaves added!"

Edna Melinda Cable Stanton was born in 1828 in Carter, East Tennessee to Mary Whitehead and Conrad Cable. When the Civil War began in 1861 she was in her early thirties, married for about 4 years to William Garrett Stanton and living in Johnson County, Tennessee raising two young boys Casper and Andrew. Mary was born that year, we can hope some consolation for a lost girl Amanda listed on the 1860 census but not after. William is recorded as 21 here but he was about 36. They may have lived near Dry Run, a small Johnson County community.

Somewhere near Butler.

The Stantons were poor people. He is listed as a farm laborer, perhaps working on the neighbor Dugger farm. Edna's sister Rhoda married a Dugger. 

William Stanton joined the Confederate forces in September, 1863, leaving Edna with a baby John and probably pregnant with Julia who was born in 1864, the year her father was killed.

Edna's 1890 widow's pension records tell us a few things. Private Stanton was in the army for 6 months before he was killed and Edna's name was pronounced Edney.

In 1870 the census shows us Edna had some assets in land and personal
property but Casper and Andrew at 11 and 12 may have been the family support,
working as farm laborers.

Casper Thomas Stanton (1858-1935) and wife Madora Grimmett (1869-1933)
from Casper's Oklahoma grave site:

In 1880 Edna was living with three of her children Andrew, Mary and John along with Hannah, possibly Andrew's wife and grandson Thomas. Also living there was Manerva Vaught, a Black woman in her mid 60s, listed as a Servant.

Manerva Vaught (1813-1912)

Manerva is buried in a cemetery on Dry Run Road

As Manerva lived with the family she may have had a hand in these
late-19th-century quilts.

The well-worn star has a striped cover on one side to protect the edge,
a small gesture toward preservation.

The quilts certainly speak of  the women's lives in post war Tennessee, a great family heritage.