Saturday, December 31, 2022

Ann Mary Crittenden Coleman's Civil War

Ann Mary Butler Crittenden Coleman (1813-1891)
Perhaps in the 1880s when she was in her 60s.

Ann Mary was born in Russellville, Kentucky to politician John Jordan Crittenden and his first wife Sarah Lee Crittenden. Her mother died when she was about 11 years old. Someone---mother, stepmother Maria Innes Knox Crittenden or a teacher---taught Ann Mary to stitch fancy needlework. (She went by two names Ann Mary, it seems.)

Sarah O. Lee Crittenden (1787-1824) & John Jordan Crittenden (1787-1863),
her parents by Kentucky artist Matthew Harris Jouett

In the early 1850s three of Ann Mary's quilts represented the United States at London's Crystal Palace Exhibition (open from May 1st to October 15, 1851.) 

She and Ellen Anderson of Kentucky sent four quilts to England.

The plans made the news in the 1850s.

1850 news story, Danville, Kentucky

By then she'd been married to Louisville businessman Chapman Coleman for twenty years and had seven children at home. She'd married Chapman at 17; he was 20 years older---5 years younger than her father.

1850 Census showing her husband with $90,000 worth of real estate.
He was a banker, an insurance executive and a merchant.
Being daughter of Kentucky Governor John J. Crittenden (in office from
1848 to 1850) didn't hurt her quilts' chances to win prizes. 
He later became U.S. Senator & then a Representative during the Lincoln administration.

John Jordan Crittenden (1787-1863)

In his autobiography German refugee Gustave Koerner, a Lexington law student, described the Crittendens: "What were called in the south The 'First Families.' "

From Family Search

The 1850 census shows Ann Mary's household with 9 or 11 enslaved servants, at least 4 women who
might have assisted in the embroidery, patchwork and quilting of her masterpiece bedcovers, which had received much press for winning the Bourbon County Fair in 1849. "Mrs. Coleman has been very successful in obtaining premiums for quilts....It is about time for her to stop and give others a chance." 

Cut-throat quilt competition in Kentucky

No trace of these three quilts has been found.

One is described as embroidered with a large eagle in the center
surrounded by patriotic insignia and fruits, flowers and animals in the corners.

Louisville silk quilt from an online auction
Kentucky quilts had a reputation for elegance.

One often finds that women making outstanding quilts had relations in the fabric business and indeed her husband was apparently wholesaling fabric in 1840. Chapman Coleman died in 1850 at about 57 years of age, leaving her with 7 children and a substantial estate. The next year her stepmother Maria Innes Todd Crittenden died. The joy of sending quilts to the London exposition was tempered by loss.

Stepmother Maria Innes Todd Crittenden (1796-1851) is pictured
with her second husband on a Kentucky bank's $20 bill in 
1859, years after her death.

Elizabeth Moss Wilcox Ashley Crittenden (1804-1873) was
widowed three times

What Elizabeth Ashley, the third Mrs. Crittenden, who married John J. in 1853,
thought of this banknote is not recorded.

The widowed Ann Mary sold her house on Main Street near Washington in Louisville and took the children to Europe for several years, enrolling them in Stuttgart schools in the mid- 1850s. She returned to Kentucky in 1859 as politics became more polarized, her father in the middle of the sectionalism in a country in "wretched condition," as he described it.

Even before the war began her family fractured. Father John Crittenden became a supporter of Tennessean John Bell's new Unionist Democrat party in the Presidential election of 1860, won by Abraham Lincoln. Senator Crittenden introduced the "Crittenden Compromise" a month later, hoping to maintain the Union but his idea failed. He lost his Senate seat, then became a Representative from Kentucky. He was instrumental in keeping his splintering state in the Union.

Ann Mary, on the other hand, was in favor of a Confederate Kentucky.

Her eldest son John J. Crittenden Coleman headed South at 24, a "zealous advocate of...Southern rights" but in 1861 he and Edwin Hart editor of the Tallahassee, Florida Sentinel killed each other in a duel.

Newspaper article reprinted in the Congressional Record, February, 1861.

March, 1861, Baltimore Daily Exchange

The duel seems to have taken place before the war began in February, 1861 although family accounts of the date vary, possibly to make his death seem a more honorable war tragedy. Ann Mary was, of course, devastated.

Advice from her father: Buck up, stay home and do not
buy real estate.

Damon Eubank author of In the Shadow of the Patriarch tells us that Ann Mary surprised her father by supporting the Confederacy, her partisanship perhaps a response to son Crit's choice of loyalties & death. She discouraged his younger brother Chapman Coleman II from joining the Union army.
"It seems to me if I lose one son in the Southern army and the other in the Northern my sons will have been born in vain!"

Her family was a classic case of brother against brother.

Ann Mary's brother George Bibb Crittenden (1812-1880)
in a U.S. uniform before he resigned to become
a Confederate General

Her father, deeply mortified by her brother George's defection

Brother Union General Thomas Leonidas Crittenden (1819-1893)

An unlikely story of Civil War spying, published in 1909

Ann Mary moved to Baltimore, another place with fractured loyalties. She and her father argued over partisanship by letter:

"I don't think I love the rebellion but I accept it, as the best thing that remains.....This country can never be one again." Soon after her letter he died on the campaign trail at the end of July, 1863.

Louisville Courier Journal

Writing occupied her time. In 1866 she and her daughters translated a German book about Frederick the Great and several others by Luise Muhlbach.

Ann Mary also published a biography of her father after the war.

With an apologetic preface for being female

An 1870 book on Southern writers tells us she was one of the successful petitioners
to free Jefferson Davis.

1880 Census: "GMa" Ann at 67 is living with an extended family
 headed by daughter Florence's husband in Louisville.

She died in Louisville in 1891.

I found no mention of the three quilts after the flurry of attention in the 1850s but perhaps her husband's death divided her life into two eras; the quilts were part of the past.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Freedom's Friends #10: Elijah Shaw Birds of a Feather


Freedom's Friends: Block #10 Birds of a Feather
by Becky Brown

Birds of a Feather remembers Elijah Shaw who found many friends "on the road," escaping from slavery. Elijah was typical of those who sought help at the offices of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, a young man who escaped slavery by crossing into Pennsylvania from the slave states directly south of its border, the Mason-Dixon line. He was 23 and apparently came overland to freedom in 1858.

The Mason/Dixon line (blue above) divides North and South, running along Pennsylvania's and Delaware's borders with Maryland and Virginia. Most of the fugitives who came through Philadelphia came from Maryland and Virginia. Elijah came from a town called Maryland Line or New Market in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Office manager William Still may have been indulging in a bit of bragging about his agents and station masters when he described Elijah's "luck on the road," finding "accommodations and privileges... were so much greater than he had ever dreamed of....delighted to find that the Committee...forwarded [him] on 'without money and without price'." 

A young man telling his story

Those birds of a feather, young men walking to freedom, disappear from history. Elijah may have gone on to Canada; he fades from the record.

1838, upscale family served by slaves

Georgann Eglinski fussy cut a wacky stripe to make the birds' beaks.

We don't know enough about Elijah but he and William left an ugly portrait of the woman who had once owned him, the wife of Dr. Ephraim Bell of the town named Maryland Line. Her name was Julia A. Dagon (Dagan) Bell, "a most tyrannical mischievous and stingy as she could live, wouldn't give [slaves] enough to eat or wear." He seems to have been a house servant under her control.

Julia A. Dagon Bell 1803-1875
Be nice or it may come back to haunt you.

"She would make a practice of rapping the broomstick around the heads of either men, women, or children when she got raised, which was pretty often."

Elijah wrote that he was "resolute" in resisting her abuse, warning her that if she struck him "he would scald her with hot tea," which seemed to deter her and her broomstick. 

Dr Bell recommending midwife Hester Henam Graham
in Baltimore, 1819.

Julia Dagan had married Ephraim Bell (1793-1875) in 1835, a physician Elijah described as "a very clever and nice man." Bell was also a Baltimore County politician; they had two daughters and lived in a "German-style" three-story house built in the early 1830s, which may still be standing.

The 1850 census listed 5 enslaved people at the Bells, none of them fitting Elijah's description. Slaves were not named in these slave schedules but there may be a clue to who they were in the 1870 census which lists five African-Americans living at the Bell home: Jane Ho???? (Family Search reads the name as Honory) and her three children plus Daniel ??? (Hillen) 23. Jane is 39 in 1870; she may be either the 19 or 20 year-old female listed twenty years earlier. Daniel now 23 might have been the 5-year-old boy.

Thomas Nast "Emancipation," 1863
A cheery view of a family in freedom.

The Block

Our 10th pattern is drawn from a Maryland album quilt with blocks dated 1844 to 1846, a rather early sampler sold at a Pook & Pook Pennsylvania Auction in 2009, signed by members of the Hollingsworth family of Harford County, Maryland plus Bensons & Parkinsons, etc. 

The birds reflect the proximity of
Pennsylvania and its German folkloric style 
(see #8 the Pennsylvania Tulips.)
Like Maryland Line, Harford County is also in Northern Maryland.

Using the Birds of a Feather in a diagonal block setting.

Elijah's Birds go in the 8 edge blocks to fill out the diagonal set. The sprig-shaped tree goes in the four corners. For the edge blocks you need 16 cardinals and 12 sprigs. 
William Still's account of Elijah Shaw.

Read more about the Hollingsworth quilt:

Robyn Gragg takes the patterns and runs off in her own direction
producing some amazing quilts.

Freedom's Friends by Robyn Gragg
Always glad to provide her with a starting point....