Saturday, March 11, 2023

Susan Hutchinson Spearman's Civil War


Star quilt in a four block set, about 1890-1920

It's always interesting to find a group of quilts and tops attributed to one maker, these from the Quilt Index and the South Carolina Project, attributed to Susan Aveline Hutchinson Spearman (1837/8-1918) of Williamston, Anderson County. 

Williamston is a small town in the Upstate region with a natural spring
that made it a resort.

In her 80 years Susan may have stitched many quilts. She and her husband William Morrison Spearman were both South Carolina natives, said to have been married in 1854 when Susan was 16 and William about 23. Son William Yancy had been born in 1856 but died as a one-year-old.

When the Civil War commenced in the spring of 1861 the young couple were farming and according to the census had a two-year old daughter Margaret. No mention was made of 1-year-old Mary Jane. William was doing somewhat well as a farmer with $1500 worth of land, and $500 in other property, perhaps some enslaved farm hands.

William, in his early 30s, joined the Confederate Army and in 1863 came home to recover from an illness. After returning to his unit in Mississippi he suffered a relapse, was hospitalized at Walker's Division Hospital in Shubuta, Mississippi and died there in September. Twenty-five-year-old Susan is  remembered as always regretting that she did not pay to bring his remains home. He is buried in Lauderdale, Mississippi.

The South was full of widows who wore black
all their years like this young woman in deep mourning
gathering solace from her Bible.

Susan remained single the rest of her life, raising her two daughters. She received a pension probably beginning in the 1880s but her many in-laws and relatives might have contributed to her welfare during her fifty years of widowhood. The family who brought the quilts for documentation (women married to her descendants) remembered that she lived six months of the year with each of her daughters, probably a common shared housing solution at the time.

Photo about 1900 at the Williamston springs. Susan and/or her
family may have been in the picture.

Top descended to a great-grandson's wife, documented in 1984.
Bold tulips were common applique in the South after the Civil War.

Susan's quilts are quite typical of Southern vernacular quilts of the late 19th- and early-20th century. We can guess she made these while she was in her later years---50 to 80. The family recalled others not documented.

Another popular Southern design called 
Rocky Mountain or Crown of Thorns in the South.

The black prints indicate a quilt made after 1890 or so.
Complicated designs in inexpensive cottons were Southern style.

From about the same time, same fabric style, a Log Cabin top, very much a national
rather than regional design.

When Susan Hutchinson Spearman died in 1918 she requested that
her husband's letters be buried with her. She must have missed him
terribly most of her life.


1 comment:

QuiltGranma said...

So many women were widowed in the war, so few men available to help them after it. Such a sad time in our country!