Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Westering Women Finishes in Red

Joanne at Thread Head is FINISHED quilting her Westering Women sampler.

She used the traditional set with what looks 
to be 2-1/2"   finished sashing (she says 2"----5" border)
and found the perfect red floral for a border.

Martha used a similar border with a different color scheme.
My theory is red is always good.

Click here to see Rod's red, white and blue set in the Way West design:

Next Week: Block 3 of Yankee Diary

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cornelia Calhoun's Quilt

John C. Calhoun's South Carolina home Fort Hill, which is part of Clemson University, has shown several quilts over the years. Calhoun was the major spokesman for secessionists and pro-slavery Southerners in the first half of the 19th century. 

John C. Calhoun 1782-1850

He and wife Floride had seven children who survived infancy. I noticed this cut-out chintz applique in a photo, which said  it was made by his daughter Martha Cornelia Calhoun. 

Cornelia's quilt is often shown on a bed in the master bedroom.
This postcard may be from the 1960s or '70s

Cornelia's sister Anna Calhoun Clemson and her husband founded Clemson University
in Clemson, South Carolina, on family land.

The Fort Hill historic home recently posted pictures of the quilt
on their Facebook page. I brightened them up a little so the details
are visible.

Martha Cornelia, always called Cornelia in her family, was born in Georgetown, Virginia,  while her father was Secretary of War under President James Monroe. She was handicapped by deafness and a spinal disorder and used a wheelchair.  Her health was always a concern to her family. Cornelia died rather suddenly at the age of 33 in 1857.

Her chintz applique quilt is done in patchwork style
common in the Carolinas before the Civil War.

The all-over quilting design, concentric quarter circles that we might call fans, was quite popular in the South in the last decades of the 19th century and into the 20th. Is it typical of Carolina quilts during Cornelia's lifetime (1824-1857)? Was her chintz applique quilted before her 1857 death or after? Can't say from the photos and, since I see so few Southern pre-war quilts, I probably couldn't say if I saw it in the cloth.

The Charleston Museum's site is a great place to see South Carolina's antebellum quilts. Search for quilt here:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Trio of Eagle Borders

I tend to think of appliqued eagles as a symbol more popular before the Civil War than during.

But this trio of border eagles indicates that an eagle border might be perfect for
a Civil War reproduction quilt.

The blue eagle is from a quilt date-inscribed 1865
  in the collection of the 
International Quilt Study Center & Museum.
# 2006.043.0157

Four Block Quilt # 1 from IQSC
From the James collection. The Jameses thought it was probably an Ohio quilt.

Quilt #2 is from the Ohio Historical Society
Made by Eliza Jane Secrest (1838-1924) of Mt. Zion, Ohio. Estimated family date, about 1858

Quilt #3
I thought these red & green examples were the same quilt. Careful looking reveals the block patterns are similar, but the border leaves are different. This quilt, which I found on Pinterest, has only two eagles in the border at top and bottom. I bet these are all from Ohio. Notice the doves in all three florals.

I'm quite familiar with the eagles as I drew a pattern for one years ago for our Sunflower Pattern Co-operative.

It was based on the 1865 red, white & blue quilt.

Barbara Fritchie Star pieced by Shirlene Wedd, appliqued by Jean Stanclift
and hand quilted by Anne Thomas. 2000, 90" x 90"

Karla Menaugh & I did a couple of Barbara Fritchie star quilts with our friends at the Sunflower Pattern Co-operative.

Karla did the all-pieced version below. You can barely see the inscription we embroidered into the border, but it's a line from John Greenleaf Whittier's Civil War poem Barbara Fritchie.

We still have a few of the pattern packets available in our Etsy Store. Once they are gone (soon!) we are planning to do a digital download but getting all 7 paper pattern sheets into a printable PDF is still confounding us.

See more here:

Read more about the Civil War symbolism in a Barbara Fritchie Star at this post:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Yankee Diary: Susan B Anthony's Star

Denniele's Block #2
with a ghostly Susan B

March 8 is International Women's Day so we're celebrating today
with Block #2 from the Yankee Diary Quilt, Susan B.'s Star.

In the 1870s Susan B. Anthony was tried in the Canandaigua New York Courthouse for "knowingly voting without having a lawful right to vote." Carrie Richards, our Yankee Diarist, was living nearby at the time and undoubtedly well aware of the trial, which received national attention.

Read more about the Canandaigua trial here:

Daisyusanh posted her red,white & blue block on Instagram.




Our Flickr page managed by Dustin:

Post your blocks on the Flickr page or Instagram or send pix to me and I'll post them for you.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Quilts Buried with the Silver 2 North & South

Cut-out-chintz block quilt in the Collection of the Charleston Museum.
Attached to the quilt is a note reading:
"Got wet and stained the night of Sherman's Raid."

Sherman's troops destroyed the Southern infrastructure
and terrified the population.

The North Carolina project noted they "documented a great many quilts that families believe were buried during the war. This may have been because the quilts were valued highly, or perhaps because they were suitable wrappers for silver and other family valuables."

Cotton Boll made by Temperance Neely Smoot
From the North Carolina project and the Quilt Index.
"According to the family this quilt was put in a trunk along with 
other valuables and hidden in a swamp to protect it from Union invaders.

It makes sense that most of the quilts with stories of being buried or hidden are connected to quilts by Southern women, as Yankee raids of Southern land were far more common than Confederate raids on the North.
Quilt buried on Clinch Mountain
Tennessee State Library

Jeananne Wright bought this quilt with a note pinned 
to it saying the Pope family buried the quilt 
for safekeeping before the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas in 1862.

Quilt by M.E. Poyner, Paducah, Kentucky.
Collection Bill Volkening
Found during the Kentucky project
where the family noted it was buried to protect it from raids.

Quilt attributed to Catherine Nead (1793-?), Pennsylvania
The family was said to have wrapped their valuables in quilts
to carry them from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, when
Confederate troops set the town on fire.

Chambersburg near the Maryland border was raided three times by Southern soldiers.

How accurate are the stories?
There is much evidence that quilts and other bedding were a prime target for raiding soldiers on both sides.

One of the more enduring tales about quilt patterns
is Ruby Short McKim's 1929 story about how the original quilt
in the pattern Order No 11 was stolen from the Kreegar family
by raiding Union troops.

Note the bedding being jayhawked off Missourians' porch in 
George Caleb Bingham's
painting of Order Number 11.

This high-style South Carolina chintz quilt was
stolen by a Union soldier and wound up at the Kansas
State Historical Society.

Rose Tree Quilt
Stolen from a Southern clothesline by a Southern soldier
who cut a hole in the center to wear it as a poncho.

From Southern Quilts: Surviving Relics of the Civil War by Bets Ramsey & Merikay Waldvogel.

See this recent post on Sheriff Jones losing a quilt during the pre-War Kansas Troubles.

Cold soldiers were looking for blankets of any kind. Hiding the quilts seems logical even if burying them doesn't. Metal boxes, wooden trunks, rubber tarps might protect the quilts as well as the silver.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Way West: Blazing a Trail

Way West: Blazing a Trail by Barbara Schaffer

Barbara has finished her Westering Womne sampler!
She used traditional fabrics with the nontraditional set.

See more photos here:

I've been collecting pictures of innovative sets for samplers. Maybe one will inspire you to get these blocks on the road.

Whose? Set for 12 blocks: simple and balanced.

Cotton & Steel. Vice Versa, 2016 set for 16 Blocks.

Irelleb posted this Instagram picture of her
set of Elizabeth Dackson's Lucky Star BOM
12 Blocks

Flying Squares set for 13 blocks from

See a few more innovative sets at this post:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quilts Buried with the Silver 1

Whig's Defeat or Missouri Beauty.
The Arizona Quilt Project recorded this quilt's family names and story.
It was kept in a tree during Civil War battles to keep marauding soldiers from
stealing it.

Quilt books have told us stories about quilts being buried, hidden and
stashed away during the Civil War ever since people have been writing quilt books.

Marie Webster's 1915 book showed an applique Virginia Rose "buried along with family silver and other valuables to protect it from depredations by...soldiers."

The New Jersey project saw a quilt from Georgia
that came with the story that it had been buried there.
Most of these quilt pictures are from the Quilt Index.
I did a search for words like "buried", "hidden" and "Civil War."

McClure Family Quilt
Mountain Heritage Center Collection
Documented by the North Carolina project.
"Some of the information is family lore through our grandmother and some is from histories developed by various family members. The quilt supposedly was buried during the Civil War to keep it safe from Federal troops, probably stationed in east Tennessee. Another version has it that the family silver was wrapped in the quilt and buried to protect it from theft by the troops."

Often these are exceptional quilts, the family's best quilt.

Quilt by Adaline Green, the Arizona Project:
Hidden in a hollow log.

And often the quilts are damaged---with holes, fading
or stains.

Quilt by Mary Caroline Markett from the Michigan project.
 The silver was wrapped in the quilt and all were buried in an iron pot.

The Kentucky project documented this faded quilt, called Missouri Belle by the family, with the story that it was hidden in a haystack.

An unusual Arkansas quilt made of six swag borders looks to have been stitched of the end-of-the-19th-century solid colors that were so prone to fading to a dun-colored tan. The family story was more elaborate:
"Due to looting by soldiers and bushwhackers, the quilt and other family possessions were buried in a wooden box. The quilt was damaged, and the lighter shades of the fabric were used to mend it after the war."
That family myth is unlikely. A more accurate caption for the quilt above might be:
This post-Civil-War quilt was made from both fugitive and color-fast reds and greens. The applique colored with natural dyes like Turkey red retained a good deal of their color. The reds and greens derived from the new and experimental synthetic dyes lost most of their color and faded to tan.
But we are dealing with myth here. The stories of the quilts being buried and damaged tell us a lot about how families passed on stories of the Civil War. Sometimes accurate history is not the point.