Do you have family quilts that remind you of past events? So many quilt stories disappear when quilts aren't labeled (and most weren't). But here are a few stories that ARE known--stories that take as beyond the textile itself and into the lives of the people involved in their making.
See the words Ladies Aid in the center of the quilt block on the right?
In 1893, the Ladies Aid Society of the Filley (Nebraska) Methodist Episcopal Church raised funds to support the church by having a contest. Members of the organization embroidered their names on the front. Folks who contributed ten cents got their names on the back and the woman who raised the most money got to keep the quilt. The winner had recently married and collected names (and contributions) on her wedding trip--which included a visit to the Chicago World's Fair.
During the Civil War, women organized Sanitary Commission Fairs to raise money for the cause. The quilt on the left bears General Grant's signature. It was brought back to Nebraska from the fair held in St. Louis--which raised $550,000.
The Grand Island, Nebraska, GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) chapter made this flag fundraiser quilt about 1896.
You wouldn't necessarily expect a pioneer story to emerge from this elegant crazy quilt, but the maker painted flowers onto velvet and silk while homesteading a claim in western Nebraska in the 1890s. Inspired by the wildflowers growing on the prairie, she wrote, "the first summer I copied these flowers with oil paints on silk and velvet pieces sent me from home." She was able to hire the work down required to "prove up" ... and isn't that just another story that reminds us not to make assumptions about all those pioneer women!
Do you own a quilt that tells a story from your family history?
Stephanie Grace Whitson loves including references to quiltmaking in her historical fiction. Sarah's Patchwork, a story of an orphan train child, is told through the fabrics Sarah used in the crazy quilt she uses to tell her life story to a beloved niece. Learn more about Stephanie at www.stephaniewhitson.com.
To order Sarah's Patchwork: https://www.amazon.com/Sarahs-Patchwork-Keepsake-Legacies-Book-ebook/dp/B01DV1SX9Y