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.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Day at Philadelphia’s Great Central Fair

On June 25, 1864 Emilie Davis and Sarah Wister, living together in Germantown, Pennsylvania, “went to town [Philadelphia].” In her diary entry for the day Emilie wrote they went “to see the great Fair…I was delighted with the fair it was beautiful.” She enjoyed herself so much she made an extra note at the end of her annual pocket diary where she had a little more room to write.

Displays at the Great Central Fair
held in Logan Square June 7-28, 1864
“Visited the [fair] with Mrs. Wister it certainly was worth going to. We visited all the Principle Places of interest. When I came out I had seen so much I hardly could recollect who I had seen. I saw a perfect deal of handsome work but I did not see any done by any colored person. There might of been some things there I did not see.”
Detail of the New Jersey booth in Philadelphia

Emilie herself was a "colored person,” a young Philadelphia seamstress and domestic worker who avoided Philadelphia’s hot and sickly summers by seeking an annual situation as a maid in the suburbs. Summer, 1864 took her to the Wisters in Germantown.

Wait staff at the Fair's Dining Room
Let's hope Emilie got to eat lunch with all those guys.
She may have known some of them.

Emilie was probably right about the lack of displays by her own community. The fair's committee and the U.S. Sanitary Commission generally excluded African-Americans, according to city historian Kerry Bryan. "Black congregations such as St. Thomas African Episcopal Church formed their own sanitary committees, which raised funds and channeled supplies to the U.S. Colored Troops and other Union soldiers."

Emilie was a member of Philadelphia's First African-Presbyterian
Church, then at the corner of 
7th & Shippen (Bainbridge).

We know a good deal about Emilie Frances Davis ( 1838-1889) through the daily diary entries she kept during the Civil War. Employer Sarah Butler Wister (1835-1908) also kept a Civil War diary, but we know far more about her because she was a link between two 19th-century celebrities.

Her mother was actress Fanny Kemble; her son novelist Owen Wister who wrote The Virginian.

Sarah Butler and Owen Wister's Germantown home in 1860
when Owen II was born on the right. They moved to a nearby
house that is no longer there.

On June 7th, 1864 Emilie “started for Germantown” to live with Dr. Owen Wister, Sarah and four-year-old Owen Wister II. “It is very pleasant out in Germantown.” But she was soon lonesome for young friends from the city and Sarah did not leave her much idle time. “Mrs. Wister is sure to find something for me as soon as I have finished one piece, she has another." Duties included cleaning the house and caring for Owen.

"Dr. Barnum's Self-Sewer" display at the fair. Perhaps the
women were convinced by this demonstration that Sarah Wister needed one.

Emilie also sewed, practicing on a new sewing machine, probably purchased by the Wisters. It’s confusing during the summer whether Emilie is “out” in Germantown or back “in town,” On August 15th she noted “Things glum as usual…out here.“ The next day: “I have been sewing on the machine, It gives me a great deal of trouble.” Despite her emotional ups and downs she enjoyed her summer at the Wisters, according to biographer Karsonya Wise Whitehead.

By the end of September she seemed to be back in the city at her boarding house with no more mention of the machine or the Wisters. October 10: "I have been sewing away.”

It’s pleasant to imagine Emilie and Sarah, both in their late twenties, spending a day at the Philadelphia Sanitary Commission Fair, pointing out their favorite displays and buying a few knicknacks for the cause. Sarah, a member of  the fair committee, had probably attended several times but she may have thought her servant would enjoy a visit before it closed.

The temporary building was supposedly constructed in 40 days.

See more about the Philadelphia Fair:

Needlework and other hand made items.
School children made afghans, pincushions and quilts to sell.
One display mentioned in the souvenir book was a quilt by Martha Washington.

As a member of Philadelphia's social elite Sarah Butler Wister
was on the fair committee in charge of
"Relics, Curiosities and Autographs"

Sarah Butler Wister (1835-1908)
Collection of the Connelly Library
La Salle University

Emilie Frances Davis married George Bustill White in 1866. They had five children.

Read Emilie Davis's 1863-1865 diaries in one of two ways.
Online: Villanova University has transcribed the diary and made it available on line:

In print: Notes from a Colored Girl by Karsonya Wise Whitehead.
See Kaye Wise Whitehead talk about the diary in this video: