July 30, 2016

A Summer Break

To our readers:  We will be taking a two month break to research Quaker quilts that we will share with you in Fall.  Thank you for "sticking with us" during this research break!  We'll be back October 1st.  Have a lovely rest-of-the-summer.

Lynda & Mary

Detail of chintz in friendship quilt from upstate New York.  Collection of Lynda Salter Chenoweth.

July 16, 2016

American Quilts and Folk Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

All photographs by Mary Holton Robare.
 
 
While the focus of this blog is Quaker quilts and history, from time to time we like to share other quilt-related experiences.  Mary had the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in early July and to see their current exhibit of quilts.  The quilts on display are actually the second rotation of an exhibit that was on display through January 8th, 2016.  The current quilts will be displayed in Gallery 751 just through August 7th, 2016.

According to the Museum's website, "This exhibition features eight quilts - all recent additions to the Museum's outstanding quilt collection, only one of which has been shown at the Museum before.  The display also includes a selection of folk painting and furniture from The American Wing's collection, as well as two important paintings by [the Quaker painter] Edward Hicks (American, 1780-1840), on loan from the Peter J. Solomon Family Collection."

The quilts in this second rotation are all mid-nineteenth-century, graphically stunning, and superbly crafted.  The Museum grants permission to take non-flash photographs.

The maker of this "Star of Bethlehem Quilt" is unknown, but its label describes
it as , "Probably New Jersey, ca. 1845," acc. # 1998.87.1  Measuring 104 X 103 inches,
it was a gift of Robert E. Cole, in memory of Helen R. Cole.
 
As is most typical of the Star of Bethlehem pattern, this quilt has a large central star whose rays extend to the quilt's edges.  Four small complete stars serve as the corner blocks, and four half stars fill the spaces on the sides.  Although made in the nineteenth century, all of the fabrics remain fresh and vibrant.   The dark blue ground fabric is particularly effective - evoking the night sky and setting off the brilliant multicolored stars.
 
This quilt is described in its label as, "Mariner's Compass Quilt," Pennsylvania, 1847,
acc. # 2011.374.  It has an inscription in its center block in ink"  "Barbara Ann Miller/her quilt/
1847."  Measuring 108 X 107 inches, the quilt was a gift of the Hascoe Foundation in 2011.
 
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, ca. 1845-1848," acc. # 46.152.2. 
Made by members of the Congregation of the First Baptist Church, Middlesex County,
Perth Amboy, New Jersey, it measures  76 1/4 X 75 7/8 inches and was a gift of
Mrs. George Sands Bryan, in memory of her husband, George Sands Bryan, 1946.
 
From the Museum's website, "According to his granddaughter-in-law, Reverend George Faitute Hendricksen (1817-1894) received this quilt as a gift from his congregation during a church Harvest Festival.  A minister for over fifty years, Hendricksen served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Perth Amboy from 1845 to 1848."
 
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt, maker unknown, possibly New York ca. 1845."  Measuring
90 X 89 1/4 inches, the quilt was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Schwartz, acc. # 1973.64.
 
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt," made by Rebecca Davis ca. 1846.  Measuring
80 X 94 inches, it was a gift of Mrs. Andrew Galbraith Carey, acc. # 1980.498.3.
 
According to the Museum's website, "In the pieced blocks, the quilting stitches follow the star shapes with parallel lines.  In the plain white blocks, the quilting pattern alternates between four tulips and four leaves.  The quilt has a cotton-batting filling, and the back is of plain white woven cotton.  There are partial English design registration marks on some of pieces of fabric."
 
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt" ca. 1835.  It measures 122 X 122 inches.  Purchase, Sandbury-Mills
Fund., acc. # 1973.204.
 
"The presence of paired Baltimore orioles printed on the English chintz in the four corner blocks makes Maryland a likely candidate for the place of origin."
 
"Quilt, Star of Bethlehem pattern variation" ca. 1840-50.  Measuring 112 1/2 X 107
inches, this quilt was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Hosmer, 1948, acc. # 48.134.1.
 
"Unfortunately, little is known about the provenance of this quilt; however, it can be dated to the mid-nineteenth century by the type and palette of the brightly colored calicos.  The clear hues of the reds and yellows are especially notable.  This cheerful palette is shared by other quilts in the American Wing's collection, such as 46.152.2, 1980.498.3, and 2011.374, all of which can be accurately dated to the second half of the 1840s."
 
Mary wishes she had easy access to these quilts and the time to conduct an in-depth study of some of  them - study that might reveal a Quaker connection here and there!  But, for now, we decided to just share these stunning quilts with all of you.
 
You can find out more information, and see additional, high-quality photographs of the quilts (including a few detail shots) by visiting the Museum's website.
 
Sources: 
 
All information herein came directly from the exhibit labels or the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 



July 1, 2016

Independence Day

July 4th is the day set aside each year to celebrate American independence.  With the date fast approaching, Lynda noted that the main fabric in a reproduction quilt she is making celebrates, not only independence, but also the "illustrious sons" of this country's liberty.  The quilt she is reproducing is not a Quaker quilt, but rather an Ohio Star quilt made in the 1840s that is part of a private collection.  Given the coming holiday, however, she thought it appropriate to acknowledge the commemoration of American independence by writing about the reproduction fabric she is using in her quilt.

The original quilt has Ohio Star blocks separated by blocks of a light-red pillar print.  The border of the original quilt is a blue pillar print.  Lynda was unable to find appropriately-colored reproduction pillar print fabrics but remembered that she had a piece of fabric in her stash that might well do to separate the blocks of Ohio Stars.  This fabric was produced by Windham Fabrics as part of its Williamsburg line and is titled "America Presenting at the Altar of Liberty Medallions of Her Illustrious Sons."  It is a reproduction of an English furnishing fabric printed about 1785 for the American market.

Partial panel from the Windham reproduction fabric "America Presenting at the
Altar of Liberty Medallions of Her Illustrious Sons," Windham pattern No. 30747. 
All photographs by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
 
The  commemorative fabrics produced in England for American consumption so soon after American independence indicate the value seen by the British in exploiting the new American market, regardless of the British defeat that produced it.  These fabrics were copper-plate printed on cotton or linen, using single colors of red, blue, purple, or brown, and depicting allegorical, mythological, and historic figures copied from existing paintings and prints of the time.

The fabric Lynda is using depicts George Washington being crowned with a wreath by a figure of Fame.  The personification of Liberty attends an altar to the right assisted by Minerva, Commerce, and another symbolic figure.  (These are located to the right of the altar and are shown in the photograph below.)  Washington is accompanied by America, designated by her feather headdress, holding a medallion featuring the portraits of two men.  According to Florence Montgomery:  "The artist of this grandiose allegorical scene relied on the engraving by Valentine Green, after John Trumbull's painting of the youthful George Washington, and on portrait engravings of famous Americans by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, published in both French and English editions."  (Montgomery, 279,)

Minerva, Commerce and another figure to the right of the Altar of Liberty.  Detail of the
Windham Fabrics reproduction fabric titled "America Presenting at the Altar of Liberty
Medallions of Her Illustrious Sons."
 
The portraits portrayed on the fabric's medallions include those of  Benedict Arnold, Silas Deane, John Dickinson (a Quaker), William Henry Drayton, Benjamin Franklin, Horatio Gates, John Jay, John Laurens, Joseph Reed, William Thompson, and Fredrich Wilhelm Von Steuben.
 
 " Benedict Arnold?," one might ask! Prior to his defection to the British in 1780, Arnold was considered a hero of the Revolutionary War.  Two years after his defection, the war ended with the Battle of Yorktown and the American defeat of the British.  The fabric depicting Benedict Arnold on one of the medallions was printed about 1785 but probably was designed earlier.  Perhaps word of Arnold's treacherous actions had not reached England before the fabric plates were engraved.
 
Benedict Arnold.  Source of image:  Wikimedia Commons.
 
Evidence of the use of figures on textiles that were copied from other media is provided by the figure of George Washington on a similar fabric of the same period titled "The Apotheosis of Washington and Franklin."  The standing figure of Washington on both fabrics is identical with the exception that  his head is bare on the fabric shown above but bears a hat on the Apotheosis fabric.  This fabric shows him standing, reins in hand, in a chariot drawn by leopards and accompanied by a figure of America holding a plaque that reads:  "American Independence, 1776."  Above them, Benjamin Franklin and Athena are portrayed being led by Liberty toward the Temple of Fame carrying a banner that reads: "Where Liberty Dwells There Is My Country."
 
Lynda's reproduction quilt top (soon to be quilt) contains other elements reminiscent of American independence.  These are the stars that separate blocks of the commemorative fabric.
 
Portion of Lynda's reproduction quilt top showing the use of Ohio Star blocks
to separate the blocks of commemorative fabric.
 
The fabrics used for the Ohio Stars are reproduction fabrics from Lynda's stash, some of them from the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) fabric line titled "Circa 1825" by Sharon Yenter & Jason Yenter for In The Beginning Fabrics (2014).  The following photographs show fabrics from this line.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lynda had been wondering what to call this quilt, once it is finished.  Since it inspired this post, she has decided to call it Independence Day.
 
 Happy 4th of July to all of our American readers!  And, have a lovely summer to our other readers throughout the world.  We thank you all for visiting our blog.
 
Sources:
 
Affleck, Diane L. Fagan and Paul Hudson.  Celebration and Remembrance, Commemorative Textiles in America, 1790-1990. Lowell, MA:  Museum of American Textile History, 1990.
 
Frankliniana Data Base, The Philips Museum of Art, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA accessed 6/26/ 2016 at http://www.benfranklin300.org/frankliniana/result.php?id=679&sec=1.
 
 Montgomery, Florence M.  Printed Textiles, English and American Cottons and Linens, 1700-1860.  New York: The Viking Press, 1970.
 
Powell, G. Julie.  The Fabric of Persuasion, Two Hundred Years of Political Quilts.  Chadds Ford, PA:  Brandywine River Museum, 2000.
 
(c)  Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2016.
 

 
 
 
 




June 15, 2016

Some History of Apple Pie Ridge

The story of the Apple Pie Ridge Star quilt block applique pattern begins with Janney Wilson, the former owner of the Hollingsworth Family Quilt.  According to his cousin Janney Lupton, Wilson pointed to one of the corner blocks of this quilt and declared to her that, "My grandmother called that an Apple Pie Ridge Star."  You can see this pattern in the four corners of the quilt, as well as in the column farthest right.

Hollingsworth Family Quilt, 1858.  Collection of the
Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society.  Photograph
by Barbara Tricarico.
 
Janney Lupton, who made a reproduction of this quilt, was the first to publish the name "Apple Pie Ridge Star" in an article for the magazine Traditional Quilter.  Since then, the name has appeared in just a few other publications and, in truth, Janney Wilson and his grandmother are the only people who knew it as such (as far as we know).  Nonetheless, the name has gained wide appeal in the quilting community. A variation of a fleur-de-lis medallion, the pattern is also referred to as Snowflake, True Lover's Knot, Conventional Scroll, and a Kansas Pattern.  One quilter even called it a Lobster.  Like many quilt block pattern names, "Apple Pie Ridge Star" appears to be a local name for a pattern observed elsewhere under different names.
 
Hollingsworth Family Quilt, detail.  Photograph by Mary
Holton Robare.
 
Apple Pie Ridge is an approximately nine-mile stretch of road in an area of countryside just outside of Winchester in Frederick County, Virginia.  Quaker settlers arrived there from Pennsylvania in the 1730s.  Nineteenth-century accounts invariably report good relations between the new Quaker immigrants and Native Americans who originally populated the land.  In A History of the Valley of Virginia, the author wrote, "Tradition relates that several tracts of land were purchased by Quakers from the Indians on Apple Pie Ridge," and that "the Indians never were known to disturb people residing on the land so purchased."  From today's standpoint, one wishes we had more knowledge of Native American perspectives.
 
Not all of the earliest immigrant settlers on the Ridge were Quakers but Friends were a dominant presence.  They maintained two Meetings, "Upper Ridge" and "Lower Ridge", and Quaker records are peppered with references to the locale.
 
The area was originally surveyed with the help of a young sixteen-year-old, pre-presidential George Washington around 1749.  When one of his early jobs was resurveyed in 1854, the surveyor remarked, "I have never followed a more accurate survey, either in calls, lines, or quality."
 
The area appears as "Apple Pie Ridge" on a map as early as 1809.
 
"Map of Frederick, Berkeley, & Jefferson counties in the state of Virginia," 1809, detail.
Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
 
In 1758, Lord Fairfax sent a request on behalf of Lewis Neill (a resident of Frederick County, Virginia) for "some Golden Pipin, Nonpareil, Aromatic, and Meldar Apple grafts [...]"
 
Reportedly, William H. Brown's orchard had been planted on the Ridge with the help of Friends exiled from Philadelphia to Virginia during the Revolutionary War.  Another account suggests Revolutionary War-era Hessian prisoners planted the orchard.  Either way, the history suggests orchards were an important part of the locale as early as the 1700s.
 
 
There are several colorful legends about how this still-picturesque countryside received its name.  One story is that those aforementioned Revolutionary War-era Hessian prisoners of war walked "north to the ridge on Sunday afternoons to enjoy the delicious apple pies cooked by Quaker housewives."  Another version suggests the name derived from glimpses of Quaker ladies through windows of their horse-drawn carriages carrying apple pies made for after-worship fellowship.  Most humorous is the suggestion that Quaker-made apple pies "were so tough that the Hessians sometimes used them as brakes or chokes for their wagons as they traveled the ridge."  Regardless of how the ridge got its name, it apparently involved Quakers and apple pies.
 
One of the earliest Quaker houses on Apple Pie Ridge, "Cherry Row", is still standing, beautifully restored and maintained.
 
"Cherry Row" built 1794.  Courtesy of the Powers Family.
 
David Lupton began construction of Cherry Row in 1794.  It was a model for its time, boasting (reportedly) the first windows hung on weights in the Shenandoah Valley, water brought into the house through pipes from a spring, and built-in cabinetry.  There was also "[. . .] a vaulted wine cellar, but the master of the house abandoned the use of that beverage after hearing a temperance talk at Hopewell Meeting."
 
There are several mid-nineteenth century quilts made by the Quakers of Apple Pie Ridge, and even more that contain the names of its residents inscribed in ink on their blocks.  Four of their signature album quilts contain so-called "Apple Pie Ridge Stars."  They share several other quilt block patterns as well, but none have such a charming name.  It is now attached in so many minds to one particular pattern.
 
By sharing this brief history, the hope is that familiarity might allow imaginative readers to consider the "Apple Pie Ridge Star" in relation to a past time, place, and community in the Valley of Virginia.
 
Sources:
 
Joliffe, William.  The Joliffe Neill and Janney Families of Virginia 1652 - 1893.  Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1893.
 
Kercheval, Samuel.  A History of the Valley of Virginia, Sixth Printing, Fourth Edition.  Harrisburg, VA: C. J. Carrier Company, 1833.
 
Lupton, Janney.  "Hollingsworth Revisited: A Labor of Love."  In Traditional Quilter, November, 1998.
 
Quarles, Garland R.  Some Old Homes in Frederick County, Virginia.  Winchester, VA: Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, 1999.
 
Robare, Mary Holton.  "The Apple Pie Ridge Star."  In Blanket Statements, 88, edited by Gaye Ingram.  Lincoln, NE: American Quilt Study Group, 2007.
 
Varle, Charles and Benjamin Jones.  Map of Frederick, Berkeley, & Jefferson counties in the state of Virginia.  Philadelphia: s.n., 1809.  Retrieved from the Library of Congress at http://www.loc.gov/item/2008621756.  Accessed June 8, 2016.
 
Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society web site accessed June 8, 2016.
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2016.
 



 
 
 

June 1, 2016

Penn Dry Goods Market & a New (Old) Apple Pie Ridge Star

On Saturday, May 14th, Mary had the pleasure of presenting a lecture on the "Apple Pie Ridge Star" quilt block pattern at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, during its Penn Dry Goods Market event.  You may remember reading about this pattern in three of our 2012  posts on February 3rd, February 12th, and November 11th.  The pattern, which is essentially a variation of a fleur-de-lis medallion, is known by many names including (among others) "Snowflake" and a "Kansas Pattern."

Hollingsworth Family Quilt, c. 1858, detail.  Collection of the Winchester-Frederick
County Historical Society, Winchester, Virginia.  All photos in this post by
Mary Holton Robare.

Apple Pie Ridge Star was a name assigned to the pattern by Janney Wilson when he pointed to the corner of a quilt he owned at the time and declared to his cousin, "My grandmother called that an Apple Pie Ridge Star."  Janney Lupton, the cousin to whom he was talking, subsequently published the name in a magazine article for Traditional Quilter in 1997. Since then, the name has caught on in the quilting community.

Much to Mary's delight, two of her friends, Paul and Nancy Hahn, were vending for the Antiques Show portion of the Penn Dry Goods Market events.  Below are two views of their booth.

 

 
Paul had just discovered an unfinished quilt top block, dated 1848, in the booth of another dealer, Ani DeFazio.  Not being familiar with the pattern, Paul was simply interested in its early fabric, date, and inscription.  It was not until Nancy looked more closely that she recognized the pattern from previous discussions about it with Mary.  And, thus, another so-called "Apple Pie Ridge Star" was found!
 
It was Ani's understanding that the block was originally found in Pennsylvania.  Although there is no connection in its provenance to the area of Virginia countryside called the Apple Pie Ridge, the pattern of this block is identical to the block Janney Wilson identified as "Apple Pie Ridge Star."
 
Appliqued so-called "Apple Pie Ridge Star," dated 1848.  Collection
of Paul and Nancy Hahn.
 
The earliest American dated and documented example of this pattern on a quilt block occurred in Baltimore in 1844, but within just a few years it appears on quilts from other states as well.  Of the approximately fifty examples of quilts containing Apple Pie Ridge Stars that Mary has studied, the "stars" are made of predominantly red fabric.  As more examples of the pattern come to light, other colors may be found but for now, the blue and tan colors of this fabric make this block unusual.
 
Its inscription is still legible.  By entering the first line in a search of Google Books, Mary was able to identify the verse, which is transcribed below.
 
May future years still give to thee
A clear unclouded brow
And innocence  and loveliness
Be with thee then as now.
 
August 12th 1848  Roxanna S. Sawyer
 
 
The verse is from A Golden Gift: A Token for All Season by Josiah Moody Fletcher.  Published in 1846 by J. Buffum, its editor J. M. Fletcher prefaced the book by explaining:  "In this little volume the compiler has endeavored to unite a collection, which, by combining poetic talent and high moral sentiment with the social and intellectual, should form an elegant and appropriate present for all seasons and occasions."
 
Who was Roxanna S. Sawyer?  Without any context other than a name and the date 1848, Mary wasn't sure an identification was possible.  Amazingly though, a Roxanna Stewart Sawyer (born 1837-1839, died 1909)  turned up in searches of census, cemetery, and death records.  Her name was occasionally connected by family relationships to other, identical individuals.
 
Roxanna was the daughter of a physician, Jacob Sawyer, and his wife Mary Ann (McGowan).  The family lived in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  Roxanna never married.  Since she retained her maiden name throughout her life, it was possible to track her through records until her death in 1909.  She was buried in the Carlisle Public Graveyard.
 
Interestingly, this Roxanna was just about eleven years old when her name was written in ink on the block.  We know from the plethora of existing historical needlework samplers that girls as young as five or six years old were capable of very fine work, but there may be another explanation for her name appearing on the block.  A name inscribed on a block did not necessarily mean that the block was made and inscribed by the person whose name appears.  For example, even names of deceased individuals appear on blocks of historical quilts, so unless a block was made and inscribed by a ghost, such blocks were inscribed by others to denote someone else's identity.  Whether this was done for a living or deceased individual, this type of signature is called an "allograph."  It is possible that someone else signed the block for Roxanna.
 
A couple of additional cautionary notes:  although preliminary research does not find other likely individuals with a name that fits the timeframe of the inscription we must consider the possibility that this is not the correct identification of Roxanna.  As to why this block was made, we will never know if it was intended for a quilt that was completed, minus Roxanna's block, or for whom it was being made.  However, we are thrilled to have one more early, dated example of the block pattern many now call the Apple Pie Ridge Star.
 
Sources:
 
Thank you to Ani DeFazio of Ani DiFazio Antiques, Fine 18th & 19th Century Antiques, ani.difazio.antiques@gmail.com, and to Paul and Nancy Hahn for sharing the new (old)
Apple Pie Ridge Star.
 
Ancestry.com Find a Grave Index, 1600s -Current (2012) and U.S. City Directories,  1822 - 1995 (2011).
 
"United States Census, 1900" database with images, FamilySearch/  Accessed 16 May 2016: Roxanna Sawyer in the household of Daniel A. Sawyer, Carlisle borough Ward 4, Cumberland, Pennsylvania, United States citing sheet 11B, family 266, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Admin, n.d.)  FHL microfilm 1,241,400.
 
Wills, 1750-1908; Admin Books, 1750-1906.  Author Cumberland County (Pennsylvania).  Register of Wills, Probate Place: Cumberland Pennsylvania.
 
Year: 1870, Census Place: Carlisle West Ward, Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1332; Page: 321A; image: 373949; Family History Library Film: 552831.
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2016.
 


 


May 16, 2016

Remembering Family and Friends by Name

Friendship quilts bearing inscribed names, verses, and art work appeared in America in the 1840s, peaked in popularity in the 1850s, and then slowly declined as a favored quilt-type through the 1870s.  By that time, the deprivation caused by the Civil War had begun to turn to prosperity and women turned to new fads in quilt making, especially the crazy-quilt that featured richer fabrics than cottons and were often embellished with ribbons, lace, beads, and embroidery.  The cotton friendship quilt did not disappear, however, and is made to this day for special occasions and fund raising purposes.

Single-pattern friendship quilt dated 1869 from Belmont County, Ohio.
The quilt measures 79 1/2 X 89 inches.  Names are inscribed on the cross-bars
of all of the blocks.  "Forget Me Not" is inscribed on a block bearing the name of
Ann Davis from Sulphur Springs, Perry County, Ohio.  Collection of Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
 
Close-up of the block bearing the name Ann Davis.  The sentiment "Forget Me
Not" is inscribed on the lower left and is underlined by the inscriber.
 
The popularity of the inscribed friendship quilt during the nineteenth century was caused, in part, by the sense of community these quilts conveyed.  They provided a way for family and friends to gather together to make something for a loved and respected member of their community - something that documented and commemorated that community and acknowledged significant life events such as marriage or the departure of families from their communities.  Members of the Religious Society of Friends, in particular, documented family and community relationships and events in this way.
 
The inscriptions of names on friendship quilts was accomplished by writing directly on quilt blocks in ink, stamping names or using name stencils applied by ink, or stitching names on blocks using embroidery or cross-stitch.
 
Hand-written name (Hannah Starr) and town (Newfield) on a friendship quilt from upstate
New York, ca. 1840-1850.  Collection of Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
 
Example of the imprint of a metal stamp, first inked and then applied to a friendship
quilt block for later signature within the decorative motif.  Type could also be set in
metal stamps like this, providing the name at the same time the stamp was applied.
Collection of Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
 
Typeset or stenciled name on a signature quilt made about 1875 in Bethlehem,
New Hampshire.  Collection of Pamela Weeks.  Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
 
Writing directly on fabric with ink using quill or steel pens was a skill often taught to girls in schools of the early to mid-nineteenth century.  It is difficult to do without smudging or causing the ink to pool or run because of inconsistent ink application and the fabric density of weave.  Not surprisingly, many nineteenth century signature quilts were inscribed by only one trained and experienced hand.  The name or names to be applied to each quilt block were written on paper and basted to the block.  These annotated blocks were then given to the experienced inscriber who added the names.
 
Block with name (Sarah Hoover) written on paper and basted to the block.  Collection of
Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
 
Example of an inexperienced hand.  A block inscribed by Mary Ann Curtis of Newfield, New York.
Hard-to-read inscriptions such as this can often be clarified using photo editing software to lighten
the ink spread, increase the sharpness of the signature image, and remove "fuzziness."
 
Badly smudged or indecipherable signatures cannot be attributed only to those who were inexperienced in writing on fabric with ink.  The inks, themselves, were often to blame.  Up until the 1840s and the advent of indelible carbon and silver nitrate inks, most permanent inks were made from nutgalls, which contain tannic acid, and ferrous sulfate.  These inks were commercially manufactured but could also be made at home and they continued to be homemade products, of inconsistent quality, well into the nineteenth century.
 
Cellulose materials, which include paper, cotton, and linen, undergo a chemical reaction called hydrolysis when they come into contact with acids.  This reaction causes the fibers of linen and cotton to become brittle and break over time, disintegrating the areas on a quilt where a signature or other writing had been placed.  In addition, holes and deterioration in printed fabrics of the nineteenth century, especially those with brown or black design elements, is usually caused by acids in the mordant used in the dyeing process.
 
A striking example of fabric deterioration from the use of acidic ink is provided by a quilt top in the collections of the Litchfield Historical Society in Litchfield, Connecticut.  The quilt top was made in 1857 by Mrs. Ruth Pierce Cogswell (1765-1862) for Mary Pierce.  Mrs. Cogswell was ninety-three years old at the time she inscribed verses from the Old Testament on four of the quilt tops corner blocks using iron gall ink.  Sadly, indelible carbon inks were available commercially at the time and would not have produced the deterioration shown below.
 
Quilt top made by Mrs. Ruth Pierce Cogswell, 1857.  Collection of the Litchfield
Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut.  Object number 1920-02-1.  Photograph
courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society.
 
Full photograph of the quilt top made by Mrs. Ruth Pierce Cogswell.  Size of top is
87 1/2 X 87 1/2 inches.  Collection of the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield,
Connecticut.  Photograph courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society.
 
We are fortunate that so many inscribed friendship quilts have survived from the nineteenth century.  By remembering people by name, these quilts provide fertile research opportunities for us to gain insight into the relationships and the social and historical context of lives lived over a century ago.  It is always regretful when a life that could have been known through research is "lost" because the ink used to remember that life disintegrated the fabric leaving nothing behind.
 
Sources:
 
Our thanks to Alex Dubois of the Litchfield Historical Society for the photographs of the Cogswell quilt top.
 
Calvalho, David.  Forty Centuries of Ink.  Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2006.
 
Chenoweth, Lynda Salter.  Philena's Friendship Quilt:  A Quaker Farewell to Ohio.  Athens, OH:  Ohio University Press, 2009.
 
Fox, Sandi.  For Purpose and Pleasure, Quilting Together in Nineteenth Century America.  Nashville: The Rutledge Hill Press, 1995.
 
Ordonez, Margaret T.  "Ink Damage on Nineteenth Century Cotton Signature Quilts." In Uncoverings 1992, 148-168.  San Francisco:  American Quilt Study Group, 1993.
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2016.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 

May 1, 2016

Naming Names

Anyone who has tried to research people named on nineteenth-century inscribed quilts can attest to the difficulty, at times, of determining just who is who.  This difficulty comes from the existence of more than one quilt block displaying the same first and last name.  Sometimes this is because one person made and inscribed her name on multiple blocks for the same quilt.  Commonly, however, several members of the same family, some bearing the same first and last names, appear on the quilt's blocks. The challenge, in this case, is to do sufficient genealogical research to understand the family relationships and generations represented on the quilt.

Emigrants to America in the eighteenth-century brought with them established child naming traditions from the various countries, and within countries the various regions, in which they had lived.  While these traditions changed and evolved over time, they often resulted in the reuse of the same family first names, and the use of family surnames as middle names, down through the generations.

Chosen first and middle names frequently reflected the desire to honor prior family members from both the mother's and father's lines.  Sometimes, rather than a family connection, chosen first or middle names were selected from Hebrew or biblical sources, especially for girls, to reinforce religious convictions or precepts.  These names then passed down through the generations as subsequent children were named to honor a former family member who had received such a name.  In nineteenth-century America, some parents also chose to name children after a famous person from the worlds of literature, politics, art, or social action.  The one constant, regardless of historical naming tradition, was that these traditions were not followed rigidly and cannot be relied upon to decipher family relationships.
 
 In her study of child naming traditions in early New England, Gloria L. Main found it was common practice to name children after a preceding relative or, in the case of some religions, after a godparent (who was often a grandparent).  What differed among groups from different regions in New England was the family member from whom a name was chosen for the first born boy and girl, and for subsequent children.
 
 
 
According to David Hackett Fischer, the Quakers settling in America had a naming tradition that honored both the father's and mother's line in equal measure.
 
First born boy was named after the mother's father.
Second born boy was named after the father's father.
Third born boy was named after the father.
 
First born girl was named after the father's mother.
Second born girl was named after the mother's mother.
Third born girl was named after the mother.
 
It was also common practice among the Quakers to adopt the maiden name of either the father's or mother's mother as part of girls' names.  These naming traditions, however, were not always followed by members of the Religious Society of Friends, providing flexibility in the choice of names given to many Quaker children.  They were followed often enough, however, to account for people bearing the same names down through the generations.
 
Center of Philena Cooper Hambleton's quilt, 1853, bearing the names of her six
sisters-and-brothers-in-law.  Collection of Lynda Salter Chenoweth.  Photograph
by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
 
The Benjamin Hambleton family of Columbiana County, Ohio, provides an interesting example of both traditional and non-traditional child naming in a single, early nineteenth-century Quaker family.
 
Benjamin Hambleton married Ann Hanna, the great-aunt of Senator Marcus Hanna of Ohio, in June of 1815 and had nine children by her, seven of whom survived.
 
Ann Hanna (1797-1867) and Benjamin (1789-1865) Hambleton.
All photographs of the Hambleton family courtesy of the Jerome Walker family.
 
Their first child was a daughter whom they named Rachel after Benjamin's mother.  Rachel was born in 1816.
 
Their fourth child and second girl was named Catherine Hanna after Ann's mother Catherine and Ann's maiden name.  Catherine was born in 1822.
 
Catherine Hanna Hambleton (1822-1893).
 
Their ninth child and third surviving girl was named Martha Kester, Kester being the maiden name of Benjamin's mother.  Martha was born in 1833.
 
Martha Kester Hambleton (1833-1923),
 
All three of their surviving daughters were named according to Quaker naming traditions.  But then we get to the sons!
 
The Hambletons were vociferous and active abolitionists whose home in Butler Township, Columbiana County, Ohio, was a station on the Underground Railroad leading north to Lake Erie.  Benjamin, his oldest daughter Rachel, and his oldest son Osborn, were members of the local New Garden Anti-Slavery Society.  His son Osborn founded the Forest Home Anti-Slavery Society in Poweshiek County, Iowa, after he and his wife Philena moved west in 1854-55.
 
The flexibility in choosing names for Quaker children is aptly illustrated by the names given to Ann's and Benjamin's sons.
 
Their first born son was named Osborn after Charles Osborn, a local abolitionist and editor of the Lisbon, Ohio, anti-slavery newspaper The Philanthropist.
 
Osborn Hambleton (1818-1882).
 
Their second son was named Levi after the noted abolitionist Levi Coffin.
 
Levi Hambleton (1820-1899).
 
Their third son was named Joel Garretson after another Midwestern abolitionist.
 
Joel Garretson Hambleton (1824-1912).
 
Their fourth son was named Thomas Clarkson after the Englishman Thomas Clarkson who founded the British Committee for the Abolition of the African Slave Trade in 1787.
 
Thomas Clarkson Hambleton ((1831-1903).
 
None of the Hambleton boys were named according to the Quaker naming tradition cited earlier, but all of the girls were.  Perhaps like many Puritan families who chose to give their children biblical names based on their religious convictions, the Hambletons chose to select the names for their male children based on social and political convictions that were compatible with their religious beliefs in equality and social justice.
 
Sources:
 
Chenoweth, Lynda Salter.  Philena's Friendship Quilt: A Quaker Farewell to Ohio.  Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009.
 
Fischer, David Hackett.  Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America.  New York: 1989.
 
Hambleton, Chalkley.  Genealogical Record of the Hambleton Family.  Chicago: Published for the author, 1887.
 
Main, Gloria L.  "Naming Children in Early New England" in Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XXVII:I (Summer 1996), 1-27.
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2016.