Saturday, July 2, 2022

A Civil War Quilt?

From the Wyoming Project and the Quilt Index: A Civil War Quilt?

The family story passed through 4 generations tells us:

"According to [the informant's] mother-in-law, Mary Grace Skeels Way [1912-2003], it was made for her maternal grandfather, Orrin Adolphus Augustus Gardner by his first wife, Mary Stone Gardner. The patterned blocks were made by neighbors, including one man. Mary pieced and quilted and bound it and sent it to Orrin, who was fighting in the Civil War. After the war, Orrin decided to move to Kansas and Mary refused to move. They divorced. This is the only mention of Mary, she is not even listed in the family Bible or any family trees."
Orrin Gardner's handsome gravestone in Washington, Kansas

Orrin Augustus Adolphus Gardner (1833-1915)
From His Obituary

O.A.A. Gardner is well-documented. Born in Meigs County, Ohio, he grew up in Davenport, Iowa and enlisted in the 11th Iowa Infantry (Company A). He spent much of the war stationed in Mexico, Missouri as a telegrapher. The women in his life are also fairly well recorded so we can figure out who likely made the quilt (and who refused to go to Kansas.)

The family farmed near Belleville and retired to town in their later years.
The quiltmaker given credit by her great-granddaughter is
 Mary Stone Gardner (1810-1891) who came to Kansas in the early 1870's
 with sons Orrin and C.O. (Charles) Gardner. 

1850 Census Scott County, Iowa
Orrin's father Dr. Caleb H. Gardner was a physician in Iowa,
and as he is only worth about $200 in 1850, not a very prosperous doctor.

Mary---Orrin's mother, not a wife--- was born in Athens County, Ohio and spent many years in Iowa. She made a temporary stop in Indiana as a daughter Phebe was born there. The quilt seems likely to have been made by her, perhaps the applique blocks begun in the 1860s for Orrin while he was in the Army and possibly finished later in Kansas. Did the quilt accompany him during the war?

Orrin married three times.

1) Louisa Elizabeth West (1843-1933) of Mexico, Missouri, married 1863. This is the woman who may have refused to move to Kansas. Her obituary tells us she was a life-long Missourian, leaving Audrain County for Columbia for a few years but no farther west. Louisa never remarried after their divorce (she was a Catholic, religion that viewed remarriage as spiritual bigamy.) 

The 1880 census shows Louisa working as a music teacher to support their two sons James and Ernest Gardner, living with her mother, brothers and sisters. Louisa may have made some of the applique blocks during the war, but the quilt that passed down in Orrin's second family was unlikely to have been finished by her. Her obituary tells us she "was married in 1863 to O.A.A. Gardner, provost marshal for the Union Army. Mr. Gardner was an officer under General U. S. Grant who later became President of the United States and the General and members of his staff in this section at the time of the wedding, were present at the ceremony."

General U.S. Grant was busy in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863 and probably did not attend the wedding.

2) Emma Beauchamp -(About 1856-1888), married in 1876, died at almost 33 years old.

3) Maria Bailey (1825 - 1902), married 1890.

These last two Kansas wives probably had nothing to do with the quilt. 

The quilt with its 10 blocks alternating with plain white squares and a red strip border doesn't tell us much about when or where it was made, except that we wouldn't be surprised to see such a quilt in Ohio, Indiana or eastern Iowa when Mary Stone Gardner lived there.

Quilt attributed to Ohio with blocks dated 1852.

Most of the blocks were common around the country mid-century.

3 versions of a flowering tree

A standard applique style done with a little more grace here.

So while the family story got a little muddled as to who was a wife and who
was a mother, the basic actors were recalled and now we have them straightened out.

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