Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Freedom's Friends #6: Mary Millburn's Canada Lily

Georgann Eglinksi
Block # 6 Canada Lily for Mary Milburn (Louisa Jones)

Mary Millburn/Louisa F. Jones from William Still's book
 The Underground Railroad
Fashion and age in her portrait look more like 1870, the time 
of the book's publication rather than the time of her escape in 1858.

Canada Lily remembers Mary Millburn who planned to run all the way to Canada but liked Boston so much she stayed. Mary changed her name to Louisa F. Jones, making her difficult to track (as someone who changed her name to Jones undoubtedly hoped.) William Still wrote a bit about her, telling us she'd been a slave to two women named Chapman in southern Virginia down by Norfolk who raised her to be ladylike in rather gentle circumstances. Yet slavery "galled her spirit" and she "was determined to escape." 

"She was able to contact members of the Underground Railroad."

Her method was fairly common in Still's accounts. She booked secret passage on a steamship to Philadelphia. 

The Union Steamship Company ran three steamers to and from Richmond to Philadelphia on Mondays and Thursdays in 1858, committed to "dispatch and care in protecting goods...." Steamships also went from Norfolk to Philadelphia, which was her route.

Sympathetic captains risked much to hide a fugitive. Captain Daniel Drayton was caught with 75 fugitives on his ship in 1848 and sent to jail but President Millard Fillmore pardoned him. Others, like
human traffickers today, profited hugely by ferrying passengers to Northern ports. Although John Atkinson did not indicate who paid his ticket or if he was even charged a fee, he told Still about traveling as "a private passenger on one of the Richmond steamers smuggled by the boat's steward."  A profiteer or a friend of the slave?

Escaping by ship

A sudden summons in the spring of 1858 told Mary/Louisa to dress in men's clothes (disguise often noted probably because cross dressing showed the perceived indignities enslaved women were forced to endure.)  

Still also told Maria Weems's story of adopting men's clothing.

Mary/Louisa's clandestine voyage may have begun similarly to a report by another Virginia fugitive that year who was advised to "come down to the steamer about dark and if all is right you will see the Underground Rail Road agent come out with some ashes as a signal."


At the dock Mary/Louisa was stowed away in a wooden crate secreted from the police officers making their "usual search" for suspicious looking African-American passengers.

A runaway from Manchester, Virginia who sometimes
called herself Mary, March, 1858.

Once uncrated in Philadelphia (I doubt she stayed in that crate on the voyage) she found William Still and the Vigilance Committee who sent her on to New York City where she was given a letter of introduction to Boston's William Lloyd Garrison, the famous publisher of The Liberator.

"Clever" Helen Eliza Benson Garrison (1811-1876)
who gave a bed to Mary when she arrived in Boston.

"I found him and his lady both to be very clever. I stopped with them the first day of my arrival here, since that Time I have been living with Mrs. [Susan Howe] Hillard. I have met with so many of my acquaintances here, that I all most imagine myself to be in the old country."
Mrs. Hillard's House
62 Pinckney Street from Google Earth
Susan Tracy Howe Hillard (1808-1879) was a 
remarkable woman about whom we wish we knew more.

"The penalty, you remember," for harboring an escaped slave, wrote Susan Hillard, "was six month's imprisonment and a thousand dollars fine." Despite husband George's government office as an attorney who issued arrest warrants for runaways found in the city in the 1850s, Susan (with George's complicity?) maintained a Boston station where, as Mary/Louisa noted, many newly free people associated with Boston's intellectual society.

Thanking William Still for his recent help Mary/Louisa wrote she had not gone to Canada as planned but stayed in Boston (she seemed to be enjoying it and she did well there.) Characterizing her as industrious Still wrote she found "a situation immediately." By the early 1870s when composing his book he reported she was a fashionable dressmaker doing a good business.

Ads for Boston dressmakers in the 1870s

The Block

Mary/Louisa's block is drawn from a Pennsylvania quilt made by friends in Luzerne County with
blocks dated 1846 when blue and buff stripes were all the rage for women's dresses.

Portrait of Vrylena Blanchard Frothingham (1812-1890)
in just such a dress with son Thomas Goddard, 
Massachusetts, about 1845
Historic New England collection

Album for George Washington Reed, 1846, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
from a Bonham's auction

Mary/Louisa and the Canada Lily (Lilium canadenseare both Virginia natives.
The wildflower blooms in clusters.

Print this on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. See the inch square for scale.
You might prefer to piece the stars and add a frame to make them the
right size. Then add the applique.

Becky Brown's adaptation

A cluster of four.

Further Reading
We don't often think of ships ferrying runaways North. Read Timothy D. Walker's Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad from the University of Massachusetts Press.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

A Trio of South Carolina Quilts

90" x 82"
The South Carolina project recorded three rather unusual quilts in York County.

 82" x 78"

Unfinished top: 82" x 78"

Each is a medallion with a relatively large center pattern. Fabrics include brown prints, some chintz- scale furnishing fabrics.

Striped furnishing fabrics

The fabrics are probably after 1820---quilts may be 1830-1850.

The border on the finished---and worn---star quilt is the same floral stripe
and the inner border here is also found in the unfinished top.

The finished quilts use a good deal of what looks to be a plain navy blue, which may be a sturdy indigo cotton that is just not that common as a solid in 19th-century quilts when quiltmakers seem to have preferred prints with indigo grounds. It appears we are looking at the work of one designer who liked a bold look and had some yardage of a few fabrics. 

Addie Rawlinson Stokes Mayfield (1916-1999)

The quilts were brought in for documentation by family member Addie Stokes Mayfield in 1985.

She believed they'd been made by one of two ancestors, either Jane Cynthia Moore Rawlinson and/or Adeline Hutchison Caldwell, both of whom were of the right age to have made quilts in the 1830-1850 period.

The line of descent from Find-A-Grave

Both were residents of Rock Hill in what is now York County up by the North Carolina line. Jane's daughter's obituary tells us that she was born "at the old homestead a few miles from the city" of Rock Hill. The nieghborhood was Ebenezer.

This Rawlinson/Hutchinson Home built about 1850 no longer exists

The likely maker, Addie's great-grandmother Jane (Jennie) Cynthia Moore Rawlinson (1820-1892) received an education at "the celebrated Female Academy at Salem," North Carolina. The Salem Academy & College traces its 1772 origins to the Moravian community in what is now Winston-Salem.

A family story: Jennie Moore first saw her future husband Joel Woodward Rawlinson (1822-1888)
through a window as he passed by in a parade. She threw a rose at him. They married in 1842 and had six children. Joel must have been enrolled in some kind of military unit in the early 1840s, parading about; ever after he was referred to as Colonel J.W.  Rawlinson.

The July, 1860 census found the couple with five living children, the eldest Walter and the youngest Frederick. Joel was described as a planter with $18,000 in real estate and nearly $70,000 in other wealth, primarily in human beings. The same census listed almost 90 unnamed slaves, 12 people serving in the house.

Her husband was also a politician, elected to the South Carolina House before and after the war.

Jennie was fortunate in that her husband was not fit to be a soldier "from physical debility", but apparently he served Governor Francis Pickens as an aide.

Francis Wilkinson Pickens (1805-1869)

See what Mary Chesnut thought of Governor Pickens here:

Their son Walter joined the Lafayette Light Artillery of Charleston in early 1864 when he was 17 years old. She was also fortunate in that Private Rawlinson returned uninjured after the war.

She did lose a son during the war. Frederick, the youngest, died at 8 about 1864.

After the war the census shows us quite a bit about the Rawlinsons and their neighbors. They continued to farm with land valued less and additional property without slaves valued far less. Walter and two teenaged daughters were living with them.

If we interpret this post-war census correctly it seems that many of the freedmen were now living adjacent to the Rawlinsons with the men employed as "farm laborers." The next dwelling housed Mammy Rawlinson, perhaps 52 and her family India, Lettie and Lawrence with his wife Reese and daughter Martha. Stuarts, Johnsons, Barrys and Wallace families also seem to be headed by men working for the Rawlinsons. At the bottom here, above a line drawn perhaps to indicate the end of the list on the Rawlinson farm is Rial Rawlinson in his twenties.

Rial's unusual name comes up two years later in a Joint Congressional Committee Report taking testimony on terrorism in the Southern States.

The Ku Klux as it was called was busy attacking Black and white York Countians and Rial and a relative John were attacked and whipped.

Read the whole miserable litany of abuse in this volume of the 1872 Congressional Report here by searching for York County. (There are 13 volumes.)

Saturday, August 20, 2022

1862 Crazy Quilt?


1862 on a quilt

We know so much about crazy quilts that despite that date
 no knowledgeable person would consider this as having been
stitched during the Civil War. The style was a fad
beginning about 1882 all over the country.

The Orange County Historical Museum, which owns it, credits it to 1882---one of 4 dates on the quilt.

1814--- nothing to to with when the quilt was made

See a big photo here of what's known as the Rebecca Wall Crazy Quilt: It's quite a nice example of a crazy quilt and it's origins are somewhat confusing.

Rebecca Bennehan Wall (1898-1986)

Rebecca Wall who donated the quilt was an interesting woman (She actually had little to do with this family piece except preserving it.) She was a professional librarian who worked at various posts including the New York City Public Library and the VA Hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She lived in her home town Hillsborough in Orange County, North Carolina at various times and was a benefactor of the public library there, which maintains the Rebecca B. Wall Local History Collection to honor her.

You can probably find out quite a bit about her family there as they are proud of their connections to North Carolina politicians like North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Thomas Ruffin

Ruffin House in Hillsborough, about 1900

I'd certainly like to know more about her mother Annie Cameron Collins Wall (1862-1942.) Annie was the daughter of Annie Ruffin and George Pumpelly Collins, the wife of William Lewis Wall. The quilt passed through Annie Collins Wall to her youngest child Rebecca.

Apparently in the 1880s Annie was engaged to a young Virginia man who died of consumption before their marriage. She, his sister and his mother made this quilt with the unnamed man offering suggestions as to what should be included. 

Is this his pin, which he gave to his fiance?

His fraternity pin from his University of Virginia days and his birthdate (1862?) and graduation date (1883) are there. 

Did he also attend a Democratic 
Convention in 1883?

After his death, the story goes, his mother gave the quilt to Annie who went on to marry William Wall.

Annie's obituary in 1942

The quilt has many initials---young man, sister, mother, etc.?
His name???