Saturday, July 30, 2022

1903 "Patriotic Quilt"


A log cabin with poetry on the roof

And a portrait of a young Abraham Lincoln above.
The text:
"Oh why should the spirit of mortal be proud"

After Lincoln's assassination "Mortality," a poem by William Knox, was publicized as his

As in this black-bordered mourning flyer.

The cabin and portrait are from a top shown recently at the Horace Greeley House in Chappaqua, New York in an exhibit sponsored by the New Castle Historical Society

Lincoln's picture seems to be in the top left area of the border.

Pictures are hard to come by but it seems to be an image-packed applique of nine blocks
with an Americana theme. They call it the Patriotic Quilt and give it a date of 1903.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Freedom's Friends #5 Amy Cassey Remond & Society Rose

Freedom's Friends #5 by Becky Brown
Society Rose for Amy Matilda Williams Cassey Remond (1809-1856)

Library Company of Philadelphia Collection
Amy Matilda Cassey's bound album.
Roses were popular imagery in albums: paper and patchwork.

This month's rose recalls Amy Matilda, an early member of the Philadelphia Female Anti Slavery Society founded in 1833.

Amy Matilda Williams (she seems to have gone by first & middle names) was born in New York into a free-Black family of abolition activists. In 1825 when she was 17 her father Episcopal minister Peter Williams arranged a marriage to Philadelphia barber Joseph Cassey, 36 years old.

Cassey was a business success, dressing hair, selling perfume, and making wigs for men and women at a time when piles of ornament and hair, real and fake, were the fashion for women Black and white. 

French fashion plate, 1825
Joseph was born in the French West Indies, foreign panache that helped
his reputation.

Amy Matilda spent her decades as a young wife as a prominent member of Philadelphia's African- American community of free people, the nation's largest. Her husband was thought to be the second richest Black man in the city---having invested in real estate and banking.

The impressive Cassey House, built in 1846, still stands
on Society Hill. (243 Delancey Street)

But she did not lead a shallow life in luxury; she was active in Philadelphia's antislavery community, as evidenced by her membership in the PFASS and her bound album, now in the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia. 

Watercolor (or lithograph?) in Amy Matilda's bound album
in the collection. Several friends in the PFASS signed pages,
wrote poetry and painted flowers. This rose is attributed to
Sarah Mapps Douglass.

Society Rose by Georgann Eglinski

The City of Brotherly Love is also the
City of Historical Markers.
One for the Casseys.

Amy Matilda gave birth to several children (probably eight with six surviving to adulthood---Alfred, Peter, Sarah, Henry and Frank are named.) She added one more by adopting 9-year-old Annie Wood (1831–1879) whose mother and aunt had died, orphaning her twice. Her children were antislavery activists themselves. Amy's son Peter Williams Cassey, born 1831, became a notable Episcopal minister in California. Alfred Smith Cassey (1829-1903) was important in demanding equal treatment for Black troops during the Civil War.  

Two Cassey sons Alfred and J.W. (?) signed this Civil War
Recruitment poster.

Society Rose by Barbara Brackman

In 1848 Joseph Cassey left her a rich widow (his estate estimated at $75,000.) 

Charles Lenox Remond (1810-1873)
The Remond family was also in the hairdressing business
although they made their money in catering and restauranting.

Through antislavery circles she met Charles Remond, a year younger than she. Remond of a prosperous Salem, Massachusetts family was a well-traveled lecturer on the abolition circuit spending a year in Europe and talking in Philadelphia frequently. After marrying Charles she moved with her children to Salem, where she lived the rest of her life.

The Liberator out of Boston kept like-minded
people up-to-date on the antislavery world. Charles
and sister Sarah often lectured together.

Amy Matilda was not an orator like her sister-in-law; she stayed behind the scenes, good at linking people, organizing events and running women's groups.

Mrs. Remond is elected Vice-President of the Salem
Female Antislavery Society in 1855. She was on their
Antislavery Fair committee in the early 1850s.

Charlotte Forten (1837-1914)
Portrait from her Aunt Annie Wood Webb's papers
and Salem State University

Amy Matilda was "the loveliest of women," according to Charlotte Forten who boarded with the Remonds in Salem from 1853 to 1856. Lottie was adopted daughter Annie Wood's niece, a smart fifteen-year-old who wanted a good education, something Philadelphia schools did not offer Black children. But Salem's activists had managed to mandate integrated schools and Charlotte boarded with the Remonds where she felt quite at home. Her diary is our best account of Amy Matilda, Charlotte's well-loved substitute mother, "the best and kindest of friends to me." 

Charlotte found three happy years in high school in Salem (perhaps living at 9 Dean Street.) She loved Amy Matilda and her family, but Amy began a sudden decline in in summer 1856, dying in August. Lottie was heart-broken.

The Block
Society Rose

A central rose with four buds is classic applique.
It fits the square block and within the structure
there is much opportunity for creativity.

Sorry I forgot the pattern but here it is in 2 sheets.
Print on an 8-1/2 x 11" sheet and note the inch square for scale.

Similar block in the album for Ella Maria Deacon (1811-1894) in
the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Blocks are dated 1841 & 1842, early in the album fad.
Quaker Ella lived in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Burlington County
in the Delaware River Valley.

Society Rose by Denniele Bohannon

With dots large and small added

"LAB 1841" from Amy Matilda's bound album

High Society Rose is a recent hybrid climber.

My blocks 1-5

Amy Matilda Cassey Remond's Grave:

The Philadelphia house:

In 1865 William Still bought the Cassey House:
" I purchased within the last 3 or 4 weeks 2 three/ story brick houses on Lombard above 4th St. This property was formerly owned by Jos. Cassey (the father of the Cassey’s) who lived & died there. The house that he lived in is a very nice house & just about the kind of a one I have been  hunting for, yet I am not as yet inclined to go there to live. That part of Lombard St. is pretty genteel & quiet, you know, but still I have some prejudices against Lombard St. and may hesitate for sometime before consenting to move there. I bought the property at Sheriff Sale and got it quite cheap or I should not have bought it of course."

Amy Matilda's Album

Further Reading:
Charlotte Forten Grimke's diaries: The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimk√©

Glasgow, Kristen Hillaire, Dissertation
Charlotte Forten: Coming of Age as a Radical Teenage Abolitionist, 1854-1856 

Society Rose by Robyn Gragg

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Lydia White & Her Free Produce Store

The Liberator, 1831

Lydia White (1788-1871) of Philadelphia was a pioneer in the Quaker idea of free-labor cotton, textiles and yarns produced not by the slaves of the American South but by wage-earning farm workers.

She maintained a "Free-Labor Store" in the vicinity of 5th & Cherry Streets from 1830 through 1846. Working with fellow Hicksite Quakers she endeavored to find free-labor cottons, sell them as cheaply as possible and convince her fellow anti-slavery activists that it was worth paying a little more for goods produced by requited labor (as they called it.)

The neighborhood
Cherry Street, corner 4th and near 6th, 1859
Frederick De Bourg Richards
Library Company of Philadelphia

 In 1831 Lydia politely complained about the difficulties in her new business plan to William Garrison, editor of The Liberator, who'd ordered some goods:

Letter in the Collection of the Massachusetts 
Abolition Collection

 "We are very sorry it is not in our power to furnish thee with the articles written for it as truly mortifying to have to say that we have not enough of either of the articles on hand at present worth sending Have been repeatedly disappointed in getting goods manufactured, but do not wish to blame the manufacturers believing the fault lay with us (more particularly the citizens of Phila) whose minds are happily so far [un]enlightened on this deeply interesting subject as to give a decided preference to free labour produce."

"Are daily expecting wadding and Knitting Cotton....The quality of the cotton purchased last spring will not do to make fine shirtings or sewing cotton. A person has commenced weaving some of it on power loom for sheeting and if we find the price will answer intend employing him to weave other goods of such textures as the cotton will admit."

Business improved in the 1840s as Friends sought more free-labor goods to sell and formed the American Free Produce Association that maintained a Free Labor Ware-House.


"Lydia White...advertised ginghams, canton flannel, and muslin in several qualities, table diaper, bird eye towels, buff pantaloon stripes, cotton batting, bed-ticking, calicoes, stockings, knitting cotton, lampwicks, and other articles. Most...made from one thousand dollars worth of 'free Texas cotton' which the Association received at the end of 1841. Early in 1843 business had improved so that they were able to reduce prices 10 per cent."  
Henry J. Cadbury, "The Free Produce Movement: A Quaker Protest Against Slavery," Bulletin of Friends' Historical Association, Spring, 1943. 
Lydia seems to have been a single woman who left few details about her life. 

"We have removed our free labour dry goods No 42 North fourth St and bound with our kind friends Joseph Sharpless and wife, find the change very agreeable They and their daughter Mary with my partner Leah Gell wish to be affectionately remembered to thee."

In 1846, nearing sixty, she sold her store to Joel Fisher.

Anna Hollowell (1838-1913), standing right behind 
her grandmother Quaker Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott's granddaughter Anna D. Hollowell recalled shopping at the free labor stores when she was a child. Quality was an issue for children too.

" 'Free calicoes could seldom be called handsome; free umbrellas were hideous and free candies an abomination. (I have with me a free umbrella and a pocket made of nankeen cotton, free and high priced....Children...preferred good candy to consistent convictions.") Anna D. Hollowell paper published in the Medford Historical Register in 1909

Read Anna Hallowell's memoir online here:

Posts on Free Produce

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Hospital Sketches Exhibit Opens Today


Meliss Swanson, Hospital Sketches
I bet we could have hung 50 versions of our 2019 Block of the Month
Hospital Sketches at the show opening today at the New England Quilt Museum.
But some like Meliss's had other dates scheduled.

The main problem is there was only room in the gallery for 15.
So I couldn't fit all 50 in.
See more here:

Denise Fowler Panter, wool applique

And some were not finished in time

Heidi Kapszukiewicz

Bettina Havig is hand quilting....

Janet Olmstead

Lorraine Hofmann

Trudi Wessink

Vicki Wendel
Some substituted their own blocks.

Seven Sisters Quilting

Pam Manning
Some used blocks from other projects ---Pam used
both Cassandra's Circle and Hospital Sketches blocks.

It's certainly rewarding to see how many of you stitched the pattern and what a fascinating variety of individual looks you achieved.
I hope you can get to Lowell, Massachusetts to see the show between now and October 1st.

Maybe I need to rent the armory in New York City to show them
all in five years...

Kathy Delaney

Join our Facebook group to see more pictures. And post yours.

I did a little catalog you can buy on See a preview here:

And see more here: