Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Freedom's Friends #9 Sarah Speakman McKim: Pennsylvania Tulip


Block #9, Pennsylvania Tulip for Sarah McKim by Georgann Eglinski

Sarah Allibone Speakman McKim
Chester County is just west of Philadelphia, the red dot.

Sarah grew up in a family of Quakers who maintained a shelter for fleeing slaves, a station in Uwchlan, Chester County outside Philadelphia.
Routes west and south of Philadelphia

At 27 years old she married James Miller McKim, once a Presbyterian minister from Carlisle. Family were not happy with her non-Quaker choice but she stood her ground.

October, 1840

J. Miller McKim (1810-1874) in 1851

Miller McKim described his awakening to the antislavery cause in an 1863 autobiographical speech. Waiting for a haircut from Black barber John Peck who seemed to run a lending library as well as a barber shop, McKim picked up a copy of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison's radical antislavery newspaper. Peck let him borrow it overnight. McKim read more, returning the next day.
"An argument [about slavery] arose between me and the barber, in which that gentleman had greatly the advantage."
Peck sent him home with a book by Garrison. "The scales fell from my eyes. The whole truth was revealed to me. The evil of slavery...."

Preaching abolition, 1851
Gleason's Pictorial

Pennsylvania Tulip by Becky Brown, one little extra piece, very effective.

McKim's new mission was abolition. He became a lecturer on the antislavery circuit in 1836, where he preached the radical principle of immediate freedom. After his marriage he took a job at the offices of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society as secretary, publishing agent and bookstore manager, becoming William Still's boss.

Sarah's son-in-law (twice over) wrote a memorial about her describing the city's annual Antislavery Bazaar, begun in 1840 by Miller McKim among others as "a festival of good-feeling, and Sarah McKim as a saleswoman proved an unrivaled magnet." Miller explained one idea he had to Sarah, a poultry stall. “Our farmers are to be asked to send us each a fat turkey & our abolitionists in town are to buy their Christmas dinners of us.” 

Pennsylvania Tulip by Denniele Bohannon with a few dots

Sarah gave birth to two children, Lucy in 1842 and Charles Follen McKim five years later. They also adopted niece Annie Catherine McKim. In 1855 they moved to Germantown, a neighborhood five miles from the city center, living at Hilltop at Cottage Lane and Duys' Street.

Mary Ann Day Brown (1816-1884)
in the early 1850s.

The most courageous action in Sarah's long, brave life was her decision to accompany friend Mary Ann Day Brown on her 1859 visit to her condemned husband John Brown the day before he was hung in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Mary Ann had spent the weeks between his arrest and execution in Philadelphia with Lucretia Mott and Sarah and Miller McKim whom Brown called a dear friend.

Story copied in many newspapers in December, 1859

"Mrs. McKim, knowing the value of a woman's sympathy 
and companionship under such trying
 circumstances volunteered to accompany her."

Sarah and Miller enlisted Hector Tyndale as a companion/bodyguard. The four arrived in Harper's Ferry on the last day of November. After the execution they escorted Brown's body back to Philadelphia amid threats and political posturing from authorities. Miller (and possibly Sarah) traveled with Mary Ann on a train to New York and Brown's burial.
Sarah, later in life from her memorial booklet.
"At anti-slavery meetings she sometimes sang in a way to touch all hearts."

The Block

Pennsylvania Tulip
Nothing fits our clich├ęs about the Pennsylvania Dutch more than a red and green tulip block. Sarah Allibone Speakman came from Quakers of Pennsylvania Deutsch (German) heritage. This month's block is drawn from several similar designs.

Tulip block from the Burtis family quilt in the Burlington New Jersey
Historical Society

Print the pattern on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. Note the square inch for scale.

Pennsylvania Tulip by Barbara Brackman

Oh dear, my reds are running.


Read more about the McKims in the first block of our American Stars pieced block-of-the month here:

Sarah's memorial: In Memoriam Sarah A McKim

More about the McKims:

Robert Smedley, History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, 1881:

Read Miller McKim's autobiographical memory of the first antislavery convention in 1833. The Liberator, December 25, 1863.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Nancy Dunlevy Anderson's Civil War


Nancy Dunlevy Anderson (1805-1870)
1862, Columbus, Ohio. "The first ladies of that city, those who scarcely think of doing their own sewing, have worked all winter for the soldiers. To raise money...they open bazaars, and resort to every other honest method...."
When the Civil War erupted in 1861 Nancy Dunlevy Anderson was in her mid-fifties, living with her husband Judge Thomas Jefferson Anderson in Marion, Ohio.

The 1860 census shows Nancy residing with two adult children Virgil & Anna plus Cora Spaulding,
 daughter Orrel Anderson Spaulding's child whom they raised. Orrel had died soon after Cora's birth.
Nancy had been born in Virginia. At the age of twenty the young woman with money and property of her own married a man she met on a visit to Ohio. 

They established a home in Marion, Ohio where Thomas traded in cattle and for a decade or so kept a frontier store dealing in clothing, hats and furs. The 1850 census lists him as a "Hatter." By the Civil War era he was a judge and Marion County was no longer the far edge of western culture.

Marion Historical Society
Their brick cottage at the corner of North High & East Center

Nancy gave birth to at least 10 children. Son James House Anderson (1833-1912) was appointed Consul in Hamburg, Germany in March, 1861 by Abraham Lincoln.He and his wife Princess Ann Miller Anderson (1837-1913) received  many informative letters telling Princie and James and us about life in wartime Marion.   

A few days after the war's beginning:
"Annie is working on the flags all day and is still at work. The young ladies make and present them to the companies."

Ohio Regimental Flag

April, 1862
Annie went to Soldiers' Aid Society meetings bringing Nancy's donations.

Camp Chase prisoners of war

Nancy heard from a friend who'd seen 800 Confederate prisoners at Camp Chase in Columbus in March, 1862:
"A motley set, dressed in garments of every conceivable style, material and color: yellow, red, blue, gray, butternut, etc. Around some dirty old bed quilts were thrown, pieces of carpeting, ragged blankets, etc.

See a post about the wardrobe of Confederate prisoners here: 

She and Annie missed going to the Great Western Sanitary Fair in Cincinnati in December, 1863 due to Nancy's illnesses.

"I have a great desire to [attend] but my health is hardly good enough to undergo the fatigue. Annie intended to make some fancy articles...but I was so ill she could not find the time....Cone frames...would have been very salable."

Nancy died at 65 years old five years after the war was over. Here is her grave:

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Label for Your American Stars Quilt


Print this label on pretreated cotton. It should be 7" wide
with plenty of room for your name, the date you finished
and where you live.

The last block is scheduled for the second Wednesday of December the 14th.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Georgia Adams Lane & A "No Nothings Fancy" Quilt

Applique quilt with a good deal of family information.
The pattern is distinctive, a variation of a reel or pineapple
design that is sometimes called Chestnut Burr or Tobacco Leaf...

as from the family of Betty Meek who told the Louisiana project when they brought in this version similar in pattern. The quilts share a common fabric, a red-brown solid that we've been calling Oxblood Brown over at the QuiltHistorySouth Facebook group. Good clue to after 1880, particularly when used in applique with teal blues and greens and chrome orange solid cottons.

The quilt, attributed to Georgia Ann Adams Lane, looks to be nine blocks,
 quilted in lines echoing the applique, a clue to "after 1880" but not
as strong a clue as pattern and fabrics.

However, the quilt is inscribed 1860, the year Georgia Ann Adams
married Robert Mayne Lane in Jasper County, Georgia.

Here she is in the 1860 Jasper County census a few months before the marriage
 living with her parents Edward & Julia Adams, 5 younger siblings and Robert Lane a farmer
like her father (perhaps working for her father.)

The family story accompanying the quilt tells us
Georgia dyed the fabrics herself and the family called
 the pattern "No Nothings Fancy."

Library of Congress
The Know-Nothings or American Party were a short-lived political party of
the 1850s with a paranoid platform based on anti-immigration.

The Indiana State Museum owns this quilt
with the name "Fancy Know Nothing."

Georgia's is an interesting political reference from a Southern woman. 

The Know Nothings were far more active in the north
where mobs attacked Catholic institutions and sent
Plug Uglies to beat up German and Irish immigrants.

A Plug Ugly

In the second year of the Civil War Robert M. Layne left his pregnant wife to join the local Jasper Volunteers sent north to fight in Virginia. Within weeks he was wounded and died shortly before his daughter Roberta Mayne Lane was born.

Robert is actually buried in Jackson, Georgia

The 1870 census finds Georgia and Roberta living with Georgia's parents and then she disappears from the records.

Is she the Georgia Lane that married S.A.H. Wilkes in Jasper County in 1871?

There are many mysteries about this quilt including where I found the pictures of the quilt and the typed information. (sigh!)

My guess is the quilt is now in a U.D.C. collection in Atlanta,
 based on the last paragraphs on the information sheet, 
donated by Georgia's grandson's wife, who had the wonderful maiden
 name of  Florrie Alamo Harp (1894-1987)

I have a hard time believing it was made in 1860.

A close look at the inscription reveals it is cross-stitch but not
the kind of counted cross stitch you see in the early to mid-19th century.
More a larger, looser imitation of the earlier style.

Does it commemorate Georgia's 1860 marriage, short and perhaps sweet?

QuiltHistorySouth Facebook group: Ask to join:

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Lizzie Alsop's Civil War


Elizabeth Maxwell Alsop Wynne (1846-1933)

Elizabeth Alsop's diary is in the Virginia Historical Society where we can assume this photograph resides. She's a young teenager here, wearing the off-the-shoulder fashion girls wore until they "came out."

Virginian Lizzie Alsop began keeping a diary at 15 years old in 1862 when she was a student at Richmond's Southern Female Institute, but war intervened with her education and she returned to her parents' home in Fredericksburg, Virginia in time for the Union occupation of the town (April through the end of 1862.)  The wealthy family left the city for about a month in December, 1862, perhaps going to her mother's family's plantation Fenton near Warrenton.

Fredericksburg during the War

When the war began Joseph and Sarah Ann French Alsop had 5 children ranging from a ten year old girl to boys in their twenties who served in the Confederate Army (and survived.) They maintained about 50 slaves at their country and city houses. Returning to the the Fredericksburg house at the end of the year Lizzie described it as, 

"very much injured, every room rendered not inhabitable except two. …When any one asks Father how much they injured him he says I can tell you much better what they left, than what they destroyed. However we fared better than some....[I] find destruction less than I had anticipated; true almost every room has a ball through it and the garden is much torn to pieces."

Collection of the Gettysburg National Park
David English Henderson painted a picture of what could
 very well be the Alsops and their three daughters
 in "The Return to Fredericksburg After the Battle."

The adolescent view of war's depredations often
focuses on material goods, like this guitar with no strings.

Another Fredericksburg Confederate complained: They...put their wounded on the feather beds, which are consequently all stained up...cut up the sewing machine, & threw the wooden part into the garden, but carried off the machinery."

Lizzie sewed nearly every day during the war but did not mention patchwork or quilts except for one diary entry: "August 22, 1862. I am making a chair bottom of patch-work, and like it exceedingly."

She worked on clothing for herself but doesn't specify many other projects. Her housework increased as her enslaved household help ran away.
“Three of our servants have already left, viz; Georgianna, Mary Ann, and John. The others can leave whenever they feel so disposed."  May 25, 1862
She faced defeat in April, 1865:
“How hard it is! How hard! Seeing them (our enemies) walking our streets, forcing our grey-headed fathers to take the oath [of allegiance to the Union]; and feeling that our cause is lost." 

The Journal of Elizabeth Maxwell Alsop Wynne, 1862–1926 is in the Virginia Historical Society's collection of Wynne Family Papers, 1809- 1967. ( Mss1 W9927) It has not been transcribed to read on line but Andrew Talkov's 2013 Master's Thesis features a transcription viewable here:

See Lizzie's Find-a-Grave site:

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

American Stars #11: Keepsake Star for the Sedgwicks & Freemans


             American Stars #11 Keepsake Star by Becky Brown

Keepsake Star is an original design for the Sedgwicks and the Freemans of Massachusetts. The Sedgwicks were another English family who came to America in the mid-17th-century "Great Migration" of Puritans looking for freedom of religion.

Sedgwicks left voluminous files in the Massachusetts Historical Society plus
 many portraits and this keepsake, a chain of gold beads donated in 1884.

The jewelry's donor was William Minot whose late wife Katherine Sedgwick Minot (1820-1880) had inherited the beads from her aunt Catherine Maria Sedgwick. After losing some, he had the remaining beads refashioned from a necklace into a bracelet.

Minot may have asked the jeweler to engrave the name of the original owner
of the necklace. "Mumbet" is on the clasp.

Catherine Maria inherited the beads from Elizabeth Freeman, whom she called Mumbet. Elizabeth, a freed slave, was essentially Catherine's foster mother.

Massachusetts Historical Society
 Elizabeth Freeman (c. 1744-1829) in 1811, wearing her beads.
Miniature on ivory by Catherine Maria's sister-in-law,
amateur artist Susan Anne Livingston Ridley Sedgwick.

Both Catherine Maria and Susan Sedgwick were published authors. As one of our contemporary Sedgwicks, John, author of a family biography, told N.P.R. about family keepsakes in 2007:
"[Sedgwicks] wrote everything down. They wrote to each other. They kept journals. They wrote books. Just prolific and brilliant writers."
And they kept their papers. The Sedgwick collection is one of the largest in the Massachusetts Historical Society. John Sedgwick used those papers to write In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family, his perspective on hereditary bipolar disorder.

Pamela Dwight Sedgwick (1753-1807)
From The Republican Court or American Society
 in the Days of Washington, 1855
Pamela was a popular English novel for whom many girls were named.
This portrait seems a romanticized version of the painting below.

A "New England matron...conspicuous for a charming face, and an air and manner of singular refinement and grace,” according to a man who met her at Martha Washington's first Presidential reception. Pamela---Catherine Maria's mother---was unfortunately afflicted with chronic depression. 
"My mother may have had a constitutional tendency to insanity....the terrible weight of domestic cares will sufficiently account for her mental illness without supposing a cerebral tendency which her descendants may have inherited....Mumbet was the only person who could tranquillize my mother when her mind was disordered...." Catherine Maria Sedgwick

Domestic cares? Pamela gave birth 10 times (chronic postpartum depression?). Seven children lived to adulthood. Her husband was rarely at home serving in the Washington administration and later politics as Senator from Massachusetts.  

Portrait of Catherine Maria and Pamela by Joseph Steward
Perhaps in the collection of Bedwell House

Keepsake Star by Denniele Bohannon

The family of a prominent lawyer had many servants. Elizabeth Freeman was the housekeeper, born into slavery in colonial New York. When Hannah Hogeboom married John Ashley, enslaved Bett and her sister were sent with her to Sheffield, Massachusetts.

Ashley house is now a historic house museum in Sheffield.

Bett often told Catherine Maria about the Ashleys. He was "the most benign of men;" Hannah Hogeboom Ashley was "a shrew, untamable."

Bett had four children, at least one of whom lived with her at the Ashleys. During the Revolution Bett heard talk of independence and freedom, deducing she was entitled to both. She contacted a lawyer, Theodore Sedgwick.

Events as Catharine Maria recalled them.

Yale University Library
Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813) by John Trumball

Bett made sense to Sedgwick who perhaps was looking for just such a case. He and Tapping Reeve sued Ashley for the freedom of Bett and a fellow slave. In 1781, the court in Great Barrington found for Brom and Bett v. J. Ashley Esq., freeing the two and awarding them 30 shillings in damages. Bett took the legal name Elizabeth Freeman and went to work as a paid servant in the Sedgwick home where the children called her MammaBet or Mumbet.

When Catherine was about 17 her mother died, as she recalled in a letter to a young relative:

Authors today, having read the Sedgwick papers, tell us the terribly depressed Pamela, in and out of asylums, may have poisoned herself.

America boasted few women novelists in 1827

Catherine Maria became a popular and prolific author developing an American perspective on novels and historical fiction. She also wrote magazine sketches, using memories of Mumbet. In March, 1846 she published one of the first nostalgic articles about quiltmaking "The Patch-Work Quilt" in  
The Columbian Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine, in which the narrator visits an older Black woman who had been a servant in her home for decades. The older woman, called Lilly here, shows:
"What is called a beggar's-patch-work, formed of hexagonal bits of calico and silk [with] a bit of your mother's wedding gown....Lilly produced it from a store of quilts which she has been in her whole life amassing....they are story-books-family legends."

Example of Beggar's-Patch-work

A few years later Catherine told the story of Mumbet using her name in the sketch "Slavery in New England" in the British Bentley's Miscellany Volume 34, 1853. British traveler and abolitionist Harriet Martineau, who'd met the Sedgwicks in Massachusetts, had earlier told her own version of Mum Bet's tale in her 1838 book Retrospect of Western Travel. (See links to Catherine Maria's writing below.)

Keepsake Star by Jeanne Arnieri

The Block

Keepsake Star is based on BlockBase #1249, a rather
modernistic star designed for the little magazine
Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee in the 1960s.

Additional diagonal seams make it more complex with no Y seams.
Print the pattern on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. Note the square inch for scale.

Later Generations

Elizabeth Freeman's children were probably fathered by Jacob "Jack" Burghardt, also enslaved in the Ashley family. Othello Burghardt (1789-1882) may have been their son, born when Elizabeth was in her forties. His grandson was another American Star William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, famous as writer and activist W.E.B. Du Bois, a founder of the N.A.A.C.P.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963)
 photographed in 1946 by Carl Van Vechten who 
often used textiles and quilts for backdrops.

The Sedgwick family has been wealthy, creative and industrious for generations, resulting in several famous and once-famous members. There have been lawyers aplenty and published authors and many women who married well (and others....) 

Sarah Price Ashburner Sedgwick Darwin (1839-1902)

Sarah Sedgwick married Charles Darwin's eldest son William and moved to England.

Theodore Sedgwick III (1811-1859)
Brady Studios

Her father Theodore Sedgwick III, Pamela Dwight Sedgwick's grandson (1811-1859) was president of the American Crystal Palace Association. He supervised the extraordinary building for America's first international exposition in 1852.

Avery Library Columbia University
New York's Crystal Palace by Victor Provost

During the Civil War several Sedgwicks joined the Union Army. Sarah Darwin's nephew Arthur of the 20th Massachusetts Volunteers survived Libbey Prison.  Her brother William Dwight Sedgwick of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteers was killed at the Battle of Antietam in 1862.

Major General John Sedgwick (1813-1864)

His uncle John Sedgwick was the highest-ranking Union casualty, killed at Spotsylvania Courthouse. Sedgwick County, Kansas is named for him. Those of us who have spent time in Wichita are well aware of the over-confident General's last words: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."

Edith Minturn Sedgwick (1943-1971)
In our own time there are actresses: Edie Sedgwick died of a drug overdose in Andy Warhol's orbit

Kyra Minturn Sedgwick (b 1965) with husband Kevin Bacon
And once we get around to Kevin Bacon in the chain of links it's time to quit.

A dozen Keepsake Stars by Denniele Bohannon
Photoshopped in an all-over repeat

Further Reading

See Harriet Martineau's story of Mumbet in this link to her Retrospect of Western Travel

Read Catherine Maria Sedgwick's "Slavery in New England," an account of Elizabeth Freeman's life in Bentleys Miscellany, 1853, page 417.

Catherine Maria mentions Elizabeth/Mumbet often in memoirs and letters and magazine articles.

Dewey, Mary E. Dewey. Life and Letters of Catharine M. Sedgwick, 1871.

Timothy Kensley, The Sedgwicks in Love: Courtship, Engagement & Marriage in the Early Republic.

Mary Kelley, The Power of Her Sympathy: The Autobiography and Journal of Catharine Maria Sedgwick, 1993.

John Sedgwick, In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family. Preview:

The town of Sheffield is raising funds to install a 7-foot bronze statue of Elizabeth Freeman by Brian Hanlon.

Harriet Martineau's 1838 account of Elizabeth Freeman.