Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Herbarium #11: Wood Bine For the Tool of the Trade

Herbarium #11: Wood Bine for the Tools of the Trade by Becky Collis

"Wood Bine," is the name embroidered on the botanical sampler in the collection of the Shelburne Museum. 

The plant looks like what we out here in Kansas call Bindweed, Convolvulus, an unwelcome guest in the garden. The botanist however, is not necessarily a gardener. She collects what she comes across and enjoys the variety in the hardy weed.

Wood Bine by Kathy Suprenant

A pair of botanizers 
She may be gathering flowers for their decorating possibilities but
he is a serious botanizer. Evidence: his vasculum.

Painted tin vasculum, a container
to protect one's finds in the field.

You could probably imprison butterflies you
caught with your net in there too.

Wood Bine by Denniele Bohannon

A vasculum is a container for carrying specimens. The word comes
from the Latin for a small vessel --- as in one's vascular system of blood vessels.

Wood Bine by Becky Brown

The Block

Remarkably, all 8 vintage samplers have similar versions of the Wood Bine with leaves,
 buds and florals on a double loop.

Robyn Gragg redrafted the woodbine for the corners of her Gloria.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Civil War Quilts For Sale


A couple of weeks ago I typed the words Civil War Quilt in ebay's search feature and got 54 hits; about half were reproductions and repro fabrics (good place to buy some.)

But 26 were purported to be quilts either from the Civil War era, in "Civil War colors" or with souvenirs like ribbons or scraps of Civil War uniforms.

Eleven of those seemed somewhat accurate.

Fifteen seemed far-fetched or downright manipulative. The worst offender this Double Wedding Ring--- "vintage Civil War"---Do not pay $422 for a quilt made about 30 years ago in China.

Those edges with no binding (back & front turned in) are a good
clue to a late 20th-century quilt imported from China.

There always seems to be a wool quilt "made of scraps of Civil War uniforms."
This one is $149----
No documentation, oral history, uniform specialist's opinion, etc.

Now I know you regular readers are not going to fall for any of this
and misleadingly advertised quilts are certainly not the most dangerous lies on the internet.

But, oh, it makes me mad!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Mary Alice Catlett Vance's Civil War


Quilt associated with Mary Alice Catlett Vance (1863-1948)
"MAC Age 16... August 20 79," the year she married.
Anderson, South Carolina.
Photo from the North Carolina project & the Quilt Index.

Mary Alice Catlett was born during the Civil War, the third of the family. Father John Pinkney Catlett was a horse and mule trader in Anderson, South Carolina, who never enlisted in the Confederate army (Tennessee-born and rumored to be a Union sympathizer.) 

Mary Alice married into an important Carolina political family. In 1879 she wed David Mitchell Vance (1852-1926?) of Asheville, North Carolina, son of Confederate General Robert Brank Vance and nephew of North Carolina's Civil War Governor Zebulon Vance.

Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894)
Uncle-in-law Zeb Vance was North Carolina's governor during the War, 
elected in 1862, the year this portrait was taken.

While the marriage into a North Carolina political family may have seemed a marital coup in the high-stakes scheme of female ambition, David Mitchell Vance was an unfortunate choice. 

The quilt is pictured in the book North Carolina Quilts where Kathy Sullivan tells us that Alice and her husband separated some time after daughter Lucy's birth in 1888. In early-20th-century directories she is listed as a widow. David apparently died in a mental institution. (He had a first cousin also named David Mitchell Vance (1857-1894), one more complication in the story.)

Mary Alice's tale is all too common (and all too commonly left untold) but she left many records. See two posts on her life here:

Her connection to Zebulon Vance is rather relevant today as the ex-governor of the Confederate state of North Carolina was prohibited from running for a second term as Governor after the war in 1868 by the 14th Amendment which states: 
"No person shall ... hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same."

One could see the need for such an Amendment summarized in two opinions published in Evansville, Indiana newspapers in 1867 and 1868:

Eventually Zeb Vance returned to political office. 

From Julie Silber's inventory

The pattern in the quilt, while unusual, is something of a regional phenomenon. Those four lobes are pieced or appliqued around a typical post-Civil-War favorite design of wheels with spiky points and skillful patchwork in solid fabrics.

Online auction....5 blocks
Michelle Yeo drew a pattern for "Abbeville County."

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Washington Whirlwind #1: Whirlwind


Washington Whirlwind #1: Whirlwind by Jeanne Arnieri

Whirlwind is the theme here for the 2024 BOM on the Lincoln White House. We could focus on some tragic aspects of war's whirlwind: fatal illness, fallen soldiers, dysfunctional families and assassination, but we'll begin on a lighter note: In the first years---some boisterous boys, the White House children during the Lincoln administration.

Thomas Lincoln, known as Tad, was born in Springfield,
 Illinois April 3, 1853. When his father assumed the
 Presidency Tad was about 8 years old.

Brother William Wallace Lincoln, born December 21, 1850,
was 11. The boys were quite different in personality and 
skills, but they were a formidable team bent on mischief
in the first year of the Lincoln Presidency.

Brady Studios, 1862
Gilder Lehrman Institute Collection
Willie, standing, and Tad with their mother's cousin Captain Lockwood Marcus Todd (1823-1894). Differences in posture illuminate the brothers' differences. Did Tad (or his father) ever sit up straight?

This year's pieced Block of the Month series will focus on the Lincoln White House and the boys at the center of the whirlwind there. The Lincoln boys had accomplices in a pair of neighbors.

Halsey Cook Taft & Horatio Nelson Taft 
Holly on the left was Tad's age, Bud a year older than Willie.

Julia Taft Bayne (1845-1933)

 Whirlwind by Becky Collis

Their older sister Julia Taft remembered the White House days in newspaper articles syndicated about 1930, which were collected into her 1931 book Tad Lincoln's Father. We'll draw the monthly stories for Washington Whirlwind from hers and other White House memoirs, letters and diaries.

1931, publicity for Julia's book
Julia recalls here that Lincoln retrieved her "crazy-patch pieces" when she dropped them
but a little fact checking would have reminded her crazy-patch quilts were not being
made till 20 years later. We'll do some fact checking on Julia's memoir over the year.

The boys were "two healthy, rollicking Western boys, never accustomed to restraint." Julia contrasted the brothers, recalling Willie Lincoln as "lovable, bright, sensible, sweet-tempered and gentle mannered" as opposed to his little brother who "had a quick fiery temper, very affectionate when he chose but implacable in his dislikes." And it's Tad who is the Whirlwind here.

The Block

Whirlwind from the mid-20th-century
Purple and yellow are color complements, a contrast popular
in the 1930s.

Becky Brown is sashing her 12 blocks in black and white.

Whirlwind was published by Ruby Short McKim in 1929 in one of the first of the syndicated pattern features. It's BlockBase+ number 1266 (A to D) varying in shading patterns.

We're doing 12" blocks this year. Here are cutting instructions for #1 Whirlwind:

Here's a link to the introduction with sets, etc.

For the standard grid set:

For the blocks---if you are starting from scratch I'd get 6 fat quarters for the lights, mediums and darks.