Saturday, October 8, 2022

The Battle Family Quilts, Edgecombe County North Carolina

Star quilt associated with Mary Eliza Battle Dancy Pittman (1829-1905) given to the North Carolina Museum of History in 1964 by Cornelia Pittman Battle. Miss Battle donated 13 family quilts from her Tarboro, North Carolina home, Cool Springs Plantation.

Cool Springs plantation house, 8 miles east of the town of Rocky Mount, 
burned at the end of the 19th century.

This one looks to be about 1840-1860.

The earliest looks to be a corded and stuffed white work piece,
probably made about 1810-1840 when the style was popular. 

This one was probably made by an older member of the Battle family. Curator Diana Bell-Kite in her recent catalog QuiltSpeak attributes it to Mary Eliza's mother Sarah Harriet Westray Battle (1802-1840) who became the second wife of James Smith Battle in 1822, a likely time and event to occasion such an elaborate bedcover.

A few others with chintz scraps could have been
Sallie Battle's as the fabrics look early enough. 
Is this a baby quilt?

The photos are from the Quilt Index and the North Carolina project which recorded the Museum's quilts

Sallie Battle did not live long enough to have had access to the fabrics in the quilt above as it like several of the others uses prints likely to have been produced after her 1840 death.

Mary Eliza Battle (1829-1905)

Mary Eliza lost her mother when she was about 11; her father when she was 25. 

Colonial Williamsburg owns this award from
the Warrenton Female Academy

St. Mary's
Collection of the University of North Carolina

She boarded at the Warrenton Female Academy and then the Episcopal girls' school St. Mary's in Raleigh, founded in 1842, which promised to give her a "thorough and excellent education equal to the best that can be obtained in the city of New York, or in any Northern school."

Wedding picture (?) from the
North Carolina Museum of History

At about 30 Mary Eliza Battle married widower William Francis Dancy (1818-1860) in 1858. She and the State Senator soon had a boy but the infant succumbed to whooping cough. When she was again pregnant her husband died on a trip to Philadelphia. She gave birth three months later to Francis Battle Dancy in August, 1860.

Her second husband Dr. Newsom Jones Pittman (1822-1893) was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Pittman was a widower with two girls when they married in 1867. The couple added two more girls to the family.

Mary Eliza's papers are preserved in the North Carolina Digital Collection. They include many letters from her first husband.

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