Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Herbarium #4: Poplar Flower for Julia Hieronymous Tevis


Herbarium #4: Poplar Flower for Julia Hieronymus Tevis
by Denniele Bohannon

The Tulip Poplar is Kentucky's official state tree, perfect to recall Julia Tevis who left a mark on American women's education with her school in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Filson Historical Society Collection
Julia Ann Hieronymous Tevis (1799 - 1880)
She headed the Science Hill Female Academy from 1825 to 1879.

The building still stands in Shelbyville. The school closed in 1939.

Filson Historical Society Collection
Julia seated left with students and teachers (possibly her son and daughter
among the teachers.)

Poplar Flower by Becky Brown

Julia had enjoyed a fine education in Washington City & Georgetown, first under Mrs. Simpson who emphasized needlework:

She next boarded at Mrs. Stone's where she continued learning to be an ornament to society in the teens. She made use of her experience when her father suffered a financial reverse and she was forced to support herself. Mrs. Stone sent her off with patterns for art classes and white velvet for her students to paint with floral designs for fancy dresses and reticules.

Julia taught piano and French too.  

Filson Historical Society Collection
John Tevis (1792-1861) at about 68 by Charles V. Bond
Julia wrote she had never seen him laugh during their courtship.

She married John Tevis a Methodist circuit riding minister in 1824 and the following year they worked with the Methodist Church to start a Kentucky school when there were at least two other Kentucky female academies with good reputations, staffed by Catholic nuns. "A good Protestant school was much needed," she recalled in her autobiography. "Young ladies of Protestant family, educated in Romanish institutions of learning, returned to their families thoroughly imbued with Romanism."

Science Hill was in the city of Shelbyville in Shelby County.

1840, Louisville Courier

Poplar Flower by Becky Collis

Julia intended her students to be more than ornaments to society. Aside from Methodist piety, philosophy and theology, she added a science curriculum of geology, chemistry and astronomy although botanizing does not seem to have been stressed.

MESDA Collection
Julia wrote of spending her evenings drawing patterns for student needlework.
This sampler by Shelbyville resident Amacettee Younger (1811-1826) might have been
worked at Science Hill in the school's first year.

The Block

Three poplar flowers in our eight similar quilts,
only one colored the way a poplar bloom actually looks.

 The tree's flowers and leaves resemble
yellow tulips.

Liriodendron tulipifera distribution

Fast growing and one of the tallest hardwoods in the U.S.

The tulip tree or tulip poplar grows throughout the eastern United States. Knowing its habitat doesn't help at all with figuring out where the botanizers who created the quilts found their "Poplar Flower." "Eastern U.S." but we knew that.

Print the pattern sheets on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. 
Check the inch square for accuracy and adjust if necessary.

Julia doesn't mention quilts often; she seems more interested in embroidery but when she was a girl at Mrs. Stone's Washington City school she had to put up with the younger boarders---like having 7 little sisters:

Trying to use the Tulip Tree's natural color in my very busy black & white
background might not be the best design.
What if I added a red dot?

It all may be too much.

We'll just hope the finished top works as a whole.

Robyn Gragg redrew the tulip flower to fit a pentagram for
her prizewinning Gloria.

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