Saturday, December 16, 2017

Nine-Patch Quilt on Hilton Head Island

Eliza Ann Summers (1844-1900)

Soon after the Civil War 23-year-old Eliza Ann Summers volunteered for a difficult job. The American Missionary Association needed women in Georgia to teach freed children on Hilton Head Island. In January, 1867 she left her home in Woodbury, Connecticut with friend Julia Benedict for a six-day coastal voyage.

Hilton Head was a sea island, blessed with a climate perfect for cultivating rice and cotton but cursed by slavery. When Union troops landed in November, 1861 planters abandoned the land leaving slaves to declare themselves free---if hungry and terribly poor.

Fish Haul/Drayton Plantation, 1862
Hilton Head
Eliza taught these people and their children.

The American Missionary Association, an abolitionist organization, changed direction and hired teachers, agriculturalists to change the island farming and missionaries to preach hope. After the war the Freedmen's Bureau and the American Missionary Association continued to teach literacy and self-sufficiency.

When Eliza landed she was still suffering from sea sickness and shock at the conditions people had to live under. In a weekly letter to sister Sallie she mentioned one comfort.
"I want to tell you about the bedquilt of mother's. Tell her I think of home every time I look at it, and I think how Aunt Ruth and we all worked to quilt it. It is on the outside of the bed and is the greatest ornament of the room"

Missionaries in Beaufort during the war.

She taught children, held adult classes and made friends among the island's African-American leaders and the Northern teachers and administrators.

She wanted to teach the children to sew but sewing required tools, thread and fabric. She asked Sallie for help. Finally in May a box arrived with used clothing for her ragged friends and students, gloves for her and fabric donated by her relations including "a little bit of dark green of Lib Hirtland's."
"The ladies went right to work and helped me cut out some patch work so that we can commence our sewing school next week. The children are very anxious to learn to sew."
Teachers at Beaufort

"I had my first sewing school today...Have not done much else but cut that calico since the box came, and have it cut nearly up. The children are piecing a bed quilt for me of it. I knew that a block a piece or two would not do them any good, and they are perfectly delighted at the idea of doing it for me. They have pieced five whole blocks and parts of several others this afternoon. The blocks are just a plain nine square, five dark and four light....

"a plain nine square, five dark and four light"

I wish I had some more light [fabric]. Could you not send me a little in a paper? But I guess the best way will be to buy a half a yard at the Head...."

Freedmen's School on Roanoke Island, Virginia

Eliza taught only one spring term on Hilton Head. In June before the malaria season she returned to Woodbury with her "nine squares." She wondered if she should take the blocks with her when she left but as she had no way to quilt it there she decided to pack it.

F.F. Hitchcock (1844-1925)

In 1869 she married Floyd Frost Hitchcock and had 5 children, 4 of whom survived her when she died in her mid-fifties in 1900.

What happened to the nine-patch stitched by her enthusiastic students on Hilton Head? Four Hitchcock children may have done it in.

Husband F.F. Hitchcock and son Henry ran a large hardware store in Woodbury. F.F. Hitchcock is still in business.

The family tombstone in Woodbury

Read Eliza's letters:
Summers, Eliza Ann. “Dear Sister”: Letters Written on Hilton Head Island, 1867. Edited by Josephine W. Martin. Beaufort, S.C.: Beaufort Book Company, 1977.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stars in a Time Warp: Finishes in 2017

Hartwell Stars
Cynthia's Second Stars in a Time Warp

The Stars in a Time Warp Quilt Along ran here in 2015. Some people finished quilts or tops this year.

Cynthia at Wabi-sabi Quilts
She alternated the 6" stars
with a half-square triangle block.

Hannah Robinson did the machine quilting.

This is Cynthia's second quilt from the Stars blocks. 

And I found Barbara Goetz's top on Instagram.
Old fashioned shirtings for the alternate blocks;
new-fashioned border.

Scrappy Squares by Barbara Schaffer.
Barbara had some left over stars, so this is her second I think.

And I have found my stack of stars. I didn't get very far. Here are fifteen
I thought about setting with an alternate chrome yellow or Turkey red
square but I don't want a quilt that big. Sashing may be the answer.

We could have a show of Stars jut made by people named Barbara. I think there are 7 Barbaras in the files. But that would mean I'd have to get mine finished.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Lincoln in Quilts: Log Cabins, Flags and Roses

Silk quilt made with campaign ribbons featuring Abraham Lincoln
by Maggie Frentz, of New Albany, Indiana.

This fragile quilt takes a lot of room to display horizontally so the curators at the Indiana State Museum decided to give it a place of honor in it's own show---and then they invited some other Lincoln quilts for a Lincoln extravaganza this winter in Indianapolis.

Lincoln in Quilts: Log Cabins, Flags and Roses is at Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis through February 19, 2018.

Here's an honored guest on loan from Kent State University's Museum:

Elizabeth Keckley's silk quilt using scraps from
Mary Todd Lincoln's dresses.
Also featured, a Log Cabin quilt made by Mrs. William Latta of Indiana, with the family story that the black crepes were recycled from mourning drapery on the Indiana State House during Lincoln's nationwide funeral.

Embroidered Lincoln portrait quilt by Lucy Frost of Dubuque, Iowa

The Museum is showing their basket quilt with a Union flag by Martha McFeely Fry, which was the inspiration for Block #5 in this year's Yankee Diary quilt.

See a post about that quilt here:

The show looks to be a feast for Civil War quilt enthusiasts.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lincoln Museum Quilt Kit Giveaway

The Lincoln Museum Quilt
84" x 96"
Deb Rowden and Friends

THE GIVE-AWAY IS OVER. Lori is the winner. I picked an arbitrary number (not a random number) of 24 and she was the 24th commenter. Since I read her blog at Humble Quilts I feel like I know her. So Deb & I will pack up some fabric and send it to her to add to her stash.

I read all 167 comments! Thanks so much for writing.

If you want to buy a box of plaids and a 7-page pattern let me know by emailing me at
The starter kit is about 2-1/2 yards of woven fabric pieces in lights & darks for $33 (includes U.S. postage.)

A representative selection of wovens from our tubs which we will
press, compress and send to you. 

Here's more about the pattern:

I love checking the details in the bedding of Jane Austen movies, Civil War re-enactments and museum period rooms. As a busy-body, I am not above writing a note to offer unsolicited advice to film directors, fantasy corporals and curators. About ten years ago Deb Rowden and I wrote to the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois, telling them that the vintage quilt covering young Abe Lincoln's parents’ bed in the cabin exhibit was an anachronism---vintage, but the wrong vintage.

We were thrilled when they took us up on our offer to make a reproduction quilt more in keeping with the time period. We made a quilt for the bed there.

Here it is covering the 20th-century quilt that was on the bed.

And we wrote a pattern booklet for Kansas City Star Books
about the experience with a pattern for the star and squares quilt
pieced of woven plaids and stripes.

People made their own versions...

of plaids and stripes and checks.
This is Kim's stash at Thread Heads Unite.
And her blocks.

The Lincoln Museum Quilt: A Reproduction for Abe's Frontier Family is now out-of-print. Neither of us has any extra copies. So we digitized it.

You can buy it as a PDF for $5 to print yourself in my Etsy shop.

Or I'll print it out in black and white and mail it
to you for $8.

Lynn Schumaker's version

If you don't win you can buy a starter kit with the pattern and about 2-1/2 yards of woven fabric pieces in lights & darks from us for $33 (includes U.S. postage). Just send me an email

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Quilts Buried With the Silver ---or should have been

Center of a chintz quilt,
perhaps made between 1825 & 1850.

The Arizona Quilt Project has a good photo of this 
cut-out-chintz quilt on the Quilt Index.

110" x 112"
Quilted in an all-over diamond grid and bound with a tape. The quilt looked to be in good condition when it was examined in 1987.

The unknown maker used two floral panels that
Merikay Waldvogel has identified.

The center seems to be her Panel #6
and the corners just like this one from a North Carolina quilt.

Detail of a quilt with the same corner panel in the
collection of the Wayne County Historical Society
in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The peacock panel along the edges was also popular with quilters

In Chintz Quilts from the Poos Collection
it is identified as Peacock in Tree with Hen.
See another peacock print here:

The quilt certainly looks Southern, pre-Civil War. Its journey to Arizona is described in the family story, which is easily filled out with online genealogical information.

The quilt, according to his great-granddaughter, was stolen by James N. Bull as he marched with Sherman's Army. James N. Bull (1829-1890) was a member of the 93rd Illinois Infantry (Company F) as it says on his grave.

Sherman's Army destroying railway lines.

In 1865 the 93rd Illinois was marching through the South with Sherman. The week the war ended in mid-April, 1865 they were in Raleigh, North Carolina, having marched from Tennessee down through Georgia and then up into the Carolinas.

James was married to Lydia A. Albro. They had three sons when he enlisted from Fenton, Illinois, including Milton Ezra Bull who was 6 years old when his father returned in the summer of 1865 with the quilt that Milton eventually inherited. Lydia must have taken great care of the quilt as it survived her four (or five) boys---to say nothing of a Civil War.

After the War the Bulls left Illinois for the Dakota Territory where they settled north of what is now Sioux Falls in Clark County, South Dakota. Lydia and James are both buried in Rose Hill Cemetery there. James died in 1890 and Lydia in 1927, a year before son Milton whose daughter Effie Maude Bull (1889-?) then inherited the quilt. It went to her brother James Leland Bull, father of the 1987 owner. The owner had lived in the Northwest and took the quilt with her when she moved to Arizona.

House in Atlanta after Sherman took the city in late 1864.

We can imagine the Southern woman who lost that beautiful quilt had a few words to say about Sherman's Army, but she might be pleased to find her heirloom bedcover so well taken care of
despite its march from the Southern coast to the Northwest and down to Sun City, Arizona.

Thirty years after the photo we can hope it's still as well cared for.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Yankee Diary 11: Victory is Grant-ed

Block 12
Victory is Grant-ed
From Carrie's Diary:
April 10, 1865
"We were quietly eating our breakfast this morning about 7 o'clock, when our church bell commenced to ring, then the Methodist bell, and now all the bells in town are ringing.... 

Methodist Church in Canandaigua.
Photo by Carrie's friend Augustus Coleman
"I saw Capt. Aldrich passing, so I rushed to the window and he waved his hat. I raised the window and asked him what was the matter? He came to the front door where I met him and he almost shook my hand off and said, 'The war is over. We have Lee's surrender, with his own name signed.' I am going down town now, to see for myself, what is going on.
Chauncey S Aldridge is second from left.
"Later—I have returned and I never saw such performances in my life. Every man has a bell or a horn, and every girl a flag and a little bell, and everyone is tied with red, white and blue ribbons. I am going down town again now, with my flag in one hand and bell in the other and make all the noise I can.... "
Before electricity made glowing nighttime windows commonplace, 
towns celebrated by "illuminating" windows. 
Here a print of an illumination and parade 
 for Lincoln's election in New York City.
"Have been out walking for the last hour and a half, looking at the brilliant illuminations, transparencies and everything else and I don't believe I was ever so tired in my life. The bells have not stopped ringing more than five minutes all day and every one is glad to see Canandaigua startled out of its propriety for once. 
The Atwater Block about 1910
 just before it was torn down for the new post office
"The Court House, Atwater Block, and hotel have about two dozen candles in each window throughout, besides flags and mottoes of every description....'Victory is Grant-ed' is in large red, white and blue letters in front of Atwater Block."
Union General Grant accepts Confederate General Lee's surrender,
April 9, 1865

The Block

Block # 11
Becky Brown

The celebratory dog and bird block is adapted from one in an album
quilt dated 1861-1862 from Rockland County, New York.

Read a post on that quilt here:

A flag goes over the seam line between blocks 11 and 9.

Cutting a 12" finished block
Cut a background square 12-1/2" x 12-1/2" or larger and trim to 12-1/2" after applique and pressing.
Fold the background in half and half again and press for guide lines for placement.

Print this JPG out full size. It should just fit on an 8-1/2" wide sheet.
Add seams. Cut 1 of every piece.

Applique the dog and bird

When you are appliquéing the dog begin with his chin and leave his mouth unstitched so you can add a flag pole later over the seam line between Block 11 and Block 9.

Lori Kukuk quilted my Yankee Diary on her long arm machine.

You have a leftover flag from Block #2. Cut the flag pole 1" x 6-1/2" and turn the sides under so you have a strip finishing to 1/2" wide. The flag might be a little large but you can easily trim the stripes. I let mine overlap the pole in Block 9.

Insert the flag pole in the dog's mouth and finish stitching that down while you applique the pole.

Yankee Diary (lower left detail) by Denniele Bohannon

You can now set the lower left section.

One more block to go.

Becky's flag is smaller than mine & Denniele's

Ron Chernow's new Grant biography is a hefty read but if the size puts you off just read chapter 23 on Lee's Surrender.