November 15, 2015

"Tell Her Please Be Saving Calico Peices [sic] for Hannah for She is Making a Quilt and We Never Get Calico Here"

With these words, Anna Briggs Bentley asked a family member to remind her mother to save calico pieces for a quilt her daughter was making.  The letter was written 12th mo 14th, 1834 to relatives in Maryland from Green Hill, the Bentley's homestead in Columbiana County, Ohio.

Tile silo - all that remained of Green Hill in 2002.  Photograph by
Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Anna, her husband Joseph and their six children at the time migrated to Ohio in 1826 from depleted family land near Sandy Spring, Maryland.  They settled near Salem, Ohio, a town founded in 1806 by Quakers Zadok Street and John Stranghan.  Ohio was very much a frontier in 1826 and the Bentleys had to clear land before they could begin farming and raising crops for sale, barter, and to feed their family. Times were particularly difficult, with little or no cash to buy life's necessities.  The Bentleys, like so many new settlers in the area, had to rely, in part, upon the generosity, sharing, and labor of their neighbors and fellow-Quakers to get through the early years at Green Hill.
Anna was a prolific letter-writer, corresponding with members of her family whenever she could take time from her continuous child-bearing, illnesses, and household and gardening chores.  Fortunately, her letters have been preserved by the Maryland Historical Society and, edited by Emily Foster, were published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2002 as American Grit, A  Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier.  This remarkable collection of correspondence gives an untarnished view of life on the American frontier in the early 19th century and the hardships endured by early settlers.
Anna's letters, themselves, testify to the scarcity of cash and the products one would normally be able to obtain easily in cities farther east.  Paper was a commodity she often lacked and so made efficient use of what little she had, when she had it.  She wrote horizontally across each page as one would normally do, but then turned the page sideways and wrote horizontally across what she had written.  This technique is readable (try it!), conserved paper, and also reduced the cost of postage.  An example of this technique is shown below on a letter in the archives of Haverford College.
Portion of a letter from William D. Cope to Henry Cope, October 22, 1826.
From the Cope Evans Family Papers.  Courtesy of Quaker and Special Collections,
Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Paper was not the only thing Anna lacked during the early years at Green Hill.  Without sufficient cash income, she constantly struggled to keep her family clothed.  Once they had a small herd of sheep, wool became available to her which she, her neighbors, and her children carded, washed, and spun into yarn for making stockings and knitted items, or delivered to a local fuller who processed it into either woolen cloth or a linen/wool fabric known as linsey-woolsey.
Purchased photograph of an unknown girl spinning wool.  Collection of
Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Much of the family clothing was made from "linsey" as Anna called it.  She wrote on 1st mo 22nd, 1832:  "Thy fears, dear Mother, were too true with regard to our not getting our linsey in time.  It was taken to the fulling mill the week before the freezing cold weather began and there it staid till last 2nd day.  We got the 20 yds fulled for the he part of the family.  I cut out a pair of pantaloons for Jos 2nd day night and finished them, a monstrous pair for our monstrous Aaron, and a pair for Franklin I finished after midnight last night. [. . .]  The linsey is very good.  The other 29 yds for the she folks will be done tomorrow week."  (Foster, 136-137.)
The wool and linsey-woolsey cloth, along with flannel made of woolen yarn, formed the basis of the Bentley family wardrobe.  This, their utilitarian clothing, was supplemented by shipments of used clothing and, sometimes, fabric sent to them by their relatives back in Maryland.
Anna wrote about one of these shipments during 8th mo 1829.  She described a large box of childrens' clothing as follows:  "There was an excellent black coat that looks like silk, a pr of cinnamon-colored trousers, ditto a very handsome buff waistcoat for Granville, a pair of nice silk stripe drilling, 1 of linnen drilling and one of light stripe pantaloons for Franklin, a waistcoat, 8 shirts, and a nice blue cloth coat with J. Kempton's name in the lining (I don't know how it came there) for Franklin, a pr drilling trousers  and 8 coats and great coat and hat for Thomas, an excellent most new furred hat for Granville, a leghorn for Franklin, a pretty little leghorn which I have trimmed for Aliceanna, a calico frock for Maria, one for Hannah, a gingham for Deborah.  Oh dear, this ain't near all [. . .].  (Foster, 102.)
By way of explanation, drilling is defined by Florence M. Montgomery in Textiles in America 1650-1870 as "a heavy linen cloth."  She defines gingham as "a striped cloth woven with multiple-stranded warps and wefts and noted for toughness of texture.  In the West, it was a cloth of pure cotton woven with dyed yarns often in stripes and checks."  Montgomery quotes Thomas Sheraton's Encyclopedia (1804-07) to provide a broad definition of calicos.  "In commerce a sort of cloth resembling linen made of cotton.  The name is taken from that of Calicut, the first place in which the Portuguese landed when they discovered the Indian trade [. . .]  Calicoes are of different kinds, plain, printed, stained, dyed, chintz, muslins, and the like all included under the general denomination of calicoes."  Leghorns were hats made from the straw of an Italian wheat and imported into America from Livorno (a city previously called Leghorn).  They were popular in various styles from the early 1800s but especially during the 1860s.
Plate from Godey's Ladies Book showing Godey's Fashions for June 1864. 
 The women are wearing leghorn hats made of straw and variously decorated.
On 8th mo 14, 1830, Anna wrote to her sister near Elkton, Maryland.  This letter reveals some of the types of fabric available to those living in Ohio by that time.  She wrote: "What a change there is in the dress of the people here since we came.  Then 1 decent calico and plenty of homemade was sufficient; now there is scarcely an old woman of my acquaintance that could not count 3 nice dresses to my 1.  They have their silks, pongees, bombazets, merinos, while poor me is as contented as any of them when I can put on a clean, whole (ragged and dirty I will not go) calico dress with cape of the same."  (Foster, 173.)
A variety of 19th century calico pieces.  Collection of Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Montgomery cites a trader in 1807 who wrote that "pongee is a peculiar kind of silk, very strong and wears a great while, that it may be had of all colors and of different qualities."  (Montgomery, 327.)  Bombazet was a worsted cloth of either plain or twill weave finished without glaze.  Merino was cloth woven from the wool of merino sheep.
By 1836, calico was being produced in large quantities in America.  Susan W. Greene cites Leander Bishop as saying that by 1836 "the United States printed one hundred and twenty million yards of calicoes.  The Hudson Calico Print Works of Marshall, Carville and Taylor was in a high state of efficiency, having 42 block printers and five printing machines, two of which printed four colors at a time, and three of them three colors.  The machines were all of the best models in England whence they had been recently imported [. . .]."  (Greene, 47.)
A variety of calicos in a four-poster child's bed quilt from the 19th century.
Collection of Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Anna's 1834 plea for calico pieces for Hannah's quilt seems to relate more to her isolation on the Ohio frontier and her lack of access to both the cash and dry goods needed to obtain it than to its general availability.  Some of the family calico dresses she refers to were existing dresses sent to her by relatives back east to be modified for her use or the use of her daughters.  Calico was, in fact, available - just not easily available to Anna.
Bishop, J. Leander.  A History of American Manufactures 1608-1860.  Philadelphia: Edward Young, 1868.
Foster, Emily (ed.).  American Grit, A Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier.  Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
Greene, Susan W.  Wearable Prints, 1760-1860, History, Materials, and Mechanics.  Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2014.
Montgomery, Florence M.  Textiles in America 1650- 1870 with Foreword by Linda Eaton.  New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 2007.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.


November 1, 2015

Remembering Frances Slocum

Two of the contemporary quilts displayed at Indiana State Museum as part of the 19 Stars exhibit were conceived and made by internationally-known fabric artist Penny Sisto.  Penny was born in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland and, while working for the British Ministry of Overseas Development, served as midwife and clinic assistant in health facilities for the Maasai, LuBukusu and Kikuyu tribes in East Africa.  Here she learned to add beading and collage methods to the needlework skills of embroidery, applique, and quilting she had learned from her grandmother.

Penny Sisto.  Our thanks to Penny for permission to use this photograph.
Penny's studio is in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, where she makes figural art quilts, many related to social justice issues.  When Indiana State Museum decided to display quilts in celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial, Penny offered two of her remarkable quilts based on Indiana history and the real-life story of Frances Slocum.
There are several early accounts of the story of Frances Slocum as well as more recent books and blog posts concerning her life.  These accounts differ on some points but the basic story is provided here.  Frances was one of ten children born to Jonathan and Ruth Tripp Slocum, a Quaker couple residing in Warwick, Rhode Island, until they left for the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania in 1777.  Here they found British troops and Native American tribes engaged in the Revolutionary War against Americans.  Other families fled the area in July 1778 when the Battle of Wyoming erupted and the British forces, in alliance with Seneca warriors, destroyed a fort near Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where the Slocums lived.  Over 300 settlers were killed during this battle and its aftermath.  Believing that their non-combative Quaker faith and friendly relations with local Native Americans would protect them, the Slocums remained where they were.  Later that fall, their homestead was attacked by three Delaware tribesmen while the men of the family were away and Frances, then age five, was abducted while her mother looked on in horror.
"The Capture of  Frances Slocum", a print appearing in the late 1860s in tabloid
accounts of the abduction.
By one account, Frances was traded to a childless Miami couple for animal pelts shortly after her kidnapping.  This couple adopted her as their own child and cared for her as she grew into a beautiful young woman with distinctive auburn hair.  They named her Maconaquah, Miami for Little Bear, and Frances easily assumed their customs and language.  She married a Delaware man named Tuck Horse in 1790 but the marriage was an unhappy one marked by domestic violence, prompting her to leave Tuck Horse and return to her adoptive parents.
Some time later, Maconaquah was walking through the forest and came upon a man who had been injured in battle.  He was a Miami warrior named Shepcoconah and Maconaquah led him home where she and her adoptive parents nursed him to health.  Once able, Shepcoconah helped Maconaquah's father provide meat and other game for the family.  Before her father died, he gave Maconaquah to Shepcoconah to be his wife.
Shepcoconah moved the family to Indiana after the War of 1812.  There they lived on the banks of the Mississinnewa River near Peru.  Shepcoconah became Chief of the Miami but gradually lost his hearing and stepped down as Chief.  During this time, he and Maconaquah had four children; two daughters who survived to adulthood and two sons who did not.
After foregoing his chiefdom, Shepcoconah moved the family farther up river about nine miles above Peru, Indiana.  Here he built a large log house for them as well as a trading post.  Soon a settlement of both whites and Native Americans grew up around the house and trading post - a settlement called Deaf Man's Village with a population of 1,154 by 1830.
Deaf Man's Village.  Watercolor by George Winter, 1839.  Courtesy of the
Tippecanoe County Historical Association, Lafayette, Indiana.
In 1835, an Indian trader named Colonel George Ewing, who spoke fluent Miami, encountered the light-skinned Maconaquah while at the trading post and inquired about her background.  She revealed to him that she was white, having been abducted fifty-seven years before by Delaware warriors.
Picture of Frances Slocum, signed Jennie Brownscombe, from the book Frances Slocum; The Lost
Sister of Wyoming by Martha Bennett Phelps, 1916.  Source of image: Creative Commons,
Ewing sent a letter recounting his meeting with Maconaquah to the postmaster of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who was also the publisher of the local newspaper, The Lancaster Intelligencer.  Nothing was done with the letter until August 1837 when a new owner of the newspaper came across it and published this part of Ewing's letter:  "There is now living in this place among the Miami Tribe of Indians, an aged white woman who, a few days ago told me that she was taken away from her father's house on or near the Susquehanna River when she was very young.  She says her father's name was Slocum, that he was a Quaker and wore a large-brimmed hat."
The Slocum family had unsuccessfully searched for Frances from the day she was abducted.  When they got word of the letter, they began corresponding with Colonel Ewing and two of Frances's brothers and one of her sisters made a trip to Deaf Man's Village to try to identify their sister.  Her identity was confirmed by an injury to one of her fingers inflicted by one of her brothers with a hammer when they were children.  A second meeting took place while they were there. This one was in Peru with Maconaquah traveling to her family bearing a haunch of venison as a gift.  They tried to convince her to return with them to Pennsylvania but she refused, preferring to live among the people, customs, and language of her childhood and maturity. 
A treaty between the Miami and the U.S. Government enacted in 1840 threatened to cause the forced removal of Maconaquah, her family, and other tribal members to Kansas.  She appealed this provision, requesting permission for her family to stay.  Her case was argued by John Quincy Adams before Congress and she and her heirs were granted by law the land where they lived in the amount of one square mile (640 acres).  Maconaquah died at her home on March 9, 1847.  She was seventy-four years old and was buried next to the log cabin where her husband and two sons were buried.  In 1900, both her white and Native American descendants erected a monument to her and her husband on the site.
The grave of Frances Slocum, Slocum Cemetery, Somerset, Indiana.  Author: Sarah Stierch. 
Source of image: Creative Commons.
The story of Maconaquah inspired Penny Sisto to make two quilts related to Frances and her life.  The first, titled Frances Slocum's Landscape, is shown below.
Frances Slocum's Landscape.  Maker: Penny Sisto.  Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Use of photograph courtesy of Penny Sisto and Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Penny shared this about the work by email:  "The portrait quilt shows Frances Slocum as an older woman who stands strong in her Journey.  She is steadfast and yet in her eyes a great sorrow hides.  She is a woman who has had to find her own place in the universe.  I show her in 'see spirit' as a white Crane - graceful, still, and a good hunter/provider."  (By "see spirit", Penny means that when she visualizes Frances's Medicine Spirit, she sees her as a White Crane.)
The second quilt, titled Frances Slocum's Totem, captures the child's memories of her abduction.
Frances Slocum's Totem.  Maker: Penny Sisto. Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Use of photograph courtesy of Penny Sisto and Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana.
In Penny's words:  "The totem quilt shows the child Frances Slocum remembering her kidnapping as a child would, in a series of vignettes - the men on horseback, bright flashes of color and faces against the moon lit sky.  Her adopted Grandmother speaking to her about the snowy white Medicine deer, the visions she saw in the tipi by the fire, Grandmother morphing to Sacred Bear, Leaping Salmon in the rivers.  The memories stack one atop the other forming a totem."
We are grateful to Penny for sharing her thoughts and for helping us introduce you to her remarkable quilts.
Sources: Public Member Trees, Stauton/Stanton Family Tree, accessed 10/25/2015.
Cottman, George S.  "Sketch of Frances Slocum" in The Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1905.
McKinney, Helen E.  "Frances Slocum: White Woman In a Native American Culture" in Pioneer Times USA, An Online Journal of Living History, at
Personal correspondence with Penny Sisto.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.


October 16, 2015

"19 Stars: Quilts of Indiana's Past and Present" - Indiana State Museum Celebrates Indiana's Bicentennial

A major quilt exhibition was hanging at the Indiana State Museum while members of the American Quilt Study Group were holding their annual Seminar in Indianapolis last month.  The exhibition featured nineteen historic star-patterned quilts in the Museum's collections and nineteen quilts of star-theme made by contemporary quilt makers, most specifically for the exhibition.  The purpose of the exhibition was celebration of Indiana as the nineteenth state admitted to the Union.

Exhibition staff were on hand to answer questions about the quilts, give permission to photograph the quilts, and hand out detailed descriptions of those quilts that were part of the Museum's collections.

The following are a few of the contemporary quilts on display.  All photographs are by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.

Bohemian Fireworks made by contemporary quilt maker Sandra Peterson.
The Culver Black Horse Troupe.  Makers: Judy Laval Morton, Lydia Stoll,
and Miriam Graber.
Tranquility.  Makers: Terri Degen Kolb and Cathy Franks.
Chicken & Stars.  Makers: Sherry McConnell and Linda Lupton.  A message
is placed on the lower right corner of the quilt.  It reads: "Eat more beef!"
Stars and Sparks.  Makers:  Judy Tescher and Elaine Reed.
Indiana Sunburst.  Makers: Judy Laval Morton, Lydia Stoll, and
Miriam Graber.  The portion of this quilt within the central red border appears
 to have been inspired by a quilt made by Mary (Betsy) Totten
Polhemus Williams (1781-1861) of New York.  The "Totten Quilt" is dated
 1825-1835 and is a holding of the Smithsonian National Museum of
American History (object number TE*T08153).
Encircled Stars.  Maker: Anita Hardwick.
There were two gallery spaces used for this exhibition - one for the contemporary quilts and another for the historic quilts.  Standing in the hallway leading to these spaces, there is a stunning view of Indianapolis through large glass walls with a crane protruding upward from an industrial exhibition on the floor below.
The second gallery room contained nineteen historic quilts that are holdings of the Indiana State Museum.  Here is a sampling of these wonderful quilts.
Eight Pointed Star pattern pieced comforter quilt, 1926.  Indiana State Museum,
Indianapolis, Indiana.  Museum ID No. 71.968.063.0520.
The name "C.F. Norris" with the date 1926 is embroidered on the upper right hand border of this quilt.  According to Indiana State Museum object records, the quilt belonged to the family of William F. Norris.  He was a druggist in South Whitley, Indiana, from 1901-1950.  Museum records include a family history and newspaper clippings along with information about Mrs. Norris's button collection.
Feathered Star pattern red/green pieced quilt, ca. 1840-1870.  Indiana State Museum,
Indianapolis, Indiana.  Museum ID No. 71.969.091.0057.
The maker of this quilt is unknown but the donor, Audra Rosemary Breedlove (Mrs. Bryan) Harris said that it was used by Elsie Myrtle Barlow Breedlove (1880-1962).  Elsie was born in Brownsburg, Indiana, and married Fred M. Breedlove on February 12, 1909 in Indianapolis.
Lone Star, Blazing Star or Star of Bethlehem pattern pieced quilt, 1880. Indiana
State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana.  Museum ID No. 71.2010.068.0001.
This quilt was made by Anna Marie Arnold Clemmons for her husband Joseph T. Clemmons on the occasion of his thirty-fourth birthday.  They lived in Fountaintown, Shelby County, Indiana, at the time the quilt was made.
Detail of the Anna Marie Arnold Clemmons quilt.  The inscription, embroidered in red chain stitch, reads:
"J. Clemmon [sic] married A W Arnold March 22, 1866."  A second inscription on the right, bottom corner of
 the quilt reads: "Presented to J Clemmons on his 34 birthday by his wife."
Blazing Star pattern quadrant pieced quilt, 1860-1880.  Indiana State Museum,
Indianapolis, Indiana.  Museum ID No. 71.981.011.0001.
The maker of this quilt is unknown.  It was used in Tipton County, Indiana, by the donor's grandparents, Catherine (1848-1927) and William T. Carr (1848-1928).
Stars/Goose Foot pattern quilt, 1930-1940.  Indiana State Museum,
Indianapolis, Indiana.  Museum ID No. 71.989.01.401.
This Amish quilt was made by Sarah Miller Troyer in Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana.  It is a reversible quilt with the back side displaying a Plain Quilt/Hollow Square pattern using a medium blue cotton sateen field with quadruple borders.  Attached to the back is an original David Pottinger muslin label that says the quilt was made by Sarah Miller Troyer for her daughter Ella (Troyer) Schmucker in Goshen, Indiana, ca. 1935.
The variety of star-themed quilts used for the Indiana State Museum's 19 Stars exhibition highlighted the creativity of both historic and contemporary quilt makers and produced an interesting and informative experience for all who attended.
The exhibition did not, however, contain only star-themed quilts.  Some of the contemporary quilts hung among the "stars" depicted or symbolized events in Indiana history. Two of these quilts, made by international fabric artist Penny Sisto, will be the subject of our next post.
Our thanks to the Indiana State Museum for permission to photograph the exhibition quilts and for the detailed object records cited here.
Newell, Aimee E.  "More Than Warmth: Gift Quilts by Aging Women in Antebellum America."  In Uncoverings 2008, Volume 29 of the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group, Laurel Horton ed.  (The Totten Quilt is featured in this article along with a color photograph.)
Notes taken by Lynda Salter Chenoweth while viewing the exhibition.
Object records provided by the Indiana State Museum.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.



October 1, 2015

American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) Seminar 2015: A Look at Indiana State Museum's Amish Crib Quilts

One of the tours offered this year at AQSG's Seminar in Indianapolis was a behind-the-scenes look at Amish crib quilts in the storage area of Indiana State Museum.

Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana.  Source of photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The Museum's Amish collections consist mainly of quilts, clothing, toys, dolls, and home furnishings collected by David Pottinger and purchased from him in 1988 as the Pottinger Amish Collection.  David Pottinger traveled frequently to northern Indiana for work purposes and in 1977 moved to Honeyville, Indiana, in the heart of Indiana's Amish settlement.
In her Keynote Address at Seminar, Janneken Smucker, Assistant Professor of History at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, described how Pottinger became integrated into the Amish community as a trusted neighbor and friend, developing an admiration and interest in the Amish members of his community and the household objects they made for daily use.  According to Smucker: "Pottinger's presence in this community shaped not only the market for Midwestern Amish quilts -which was virtually untapped prior to his attention- but the way many Amish began to think about their own quilts."
Pottinger purchased the quilts he collected directly from Amish families who wished to sell them.  His personal acquaintance with these families enabled him to meticulously document each quilt's history including who made it, for whom, when, and on what occasion.  The information he collected was recorded in ink on pieces of muslin which he basted to the back of each quilt.
Our access to the storage rooms where the Amish crib quilts were laid out for viewing began with a ride on a massive freight elevator used to move museum holdings from one floor to another.  Inside, you felt as if the ascent would take you to a large artist's loft and an array of massive canvases. Two locked doors led to the storage area where we were greeted by one of the Museum's curators who, with a helper, conducted the quilt turnings that followed.
Amish crib quilts laid out on a bed and two tables at the Indiana State Museum.
All photographs by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Following is a sampling of the many crib quilts we saw, admired, and discussed during this rare behind-the-scenes opportunity.
The green quilt shown here on top of other quilts was made ca. 1880 by Suzanne (Mrs. Seth) Smucker of Nappanee, Indiana.  It measures 47" X 33".  Suzanne was born in 1844 and passed away in 1913.  Her children were born 1877-1892.  The quilt was passed down through the family to Suzanne's granddaughter, Mrs. Dan Yoder, who lives in Medford, Wisconsin.  The quilt fabrics are all cotton except for one blue wool or cotton/wool mixture.  The quilting displays nine stitches to the inch through a thin batt.  It is backed by a single piece of dark blue-green cotton.  (Museum ID No. 71.989.01.455.)
This Nine Patch crib quilt was made ca. 1890 by Catherine D. Hochstetler who married Aaron Beechy in 1877.  They lived in Emma, LeGrange County, Indiana. Catherine was born in 1868 and passed away in 1950.  The quilt was purchased from her grandson, Levi L. Yoder, and was acquired as part of the David Pottinger Collection of Amish Quilts.  The quilt measures 43" X 29" and is comprised of pieced Nine Patch wool blocks en pointe.  (Museum ID No. 71.989.01.441.)
This Sixteen Point Star crib quilt was made by Susie A. Schrock Miller (Mrs. Henry L. Miller) of Topeka, Indiana, ca. 1911-1927.  It measures 54" X 39".  The navy fabric is pieced in several places on all blocks to form the desired size.  It is quilted with navy thread nine stitches per inch and the back is comprised of five irregularly sized pieces of dark blue cotton.  The quilt displays an original Pottinger muslin label sewn to the back.  Susie was born December 13, 1888 and was known to be one of the area's best quilt makers.  She and her husband had eight children between 1911-1927.  The quilt was purchased from her granddaughter Mrs. Owen Hershberger. (Museum ID No. 71.989.001.0437.)
The black and yellow Concentric Rectangles quilt seen at the top of this photograph is unusual for an Indiana Amish Quilt.  This pattern is more typical of those used for Amish quilts in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  This medallion-style quilt was made by Mary Hostetler (Mrs. Daniel F.) Bontrager ca. 1915 in LeGrange, Indiana.  It measure 36 1/2" X 34".  The quilting stitches average seven per inch, applied through a thin batt that appears to be an older quilt.  The backing is the same golden yellow sateen used on the front  of the quilt.  (Museum ID No. 71.989.001.0439.)
The Flower Basket quilt in the foreground was made by Susanna (Mrs. John H.) Yoder in Topeka, Indiana between 1920 and 1930.  It measure 35" X 39" and is backed with burgundy fabric featuring a cream muslin provenance label in one corner.  Susanna was born in 1869 and died in April, 1943 in Topeka.  The quilt passed to her daughter's son, Levi Noah Eash, who sold it to David Pottinger.  (Museum ID No. 71.989.001.0430.)
This Amish Crazy Patch quilt was made by Susan (Mrs. Joseph C.) Smucker for her children who were born in Ohio.  It was purchased by David Pottinger in Goshen, Indiana, from her oldest daughter, Mary Ellen (Mrs. Menno D.) Hershberger, who may have brought it with her to Indiana from Ohio.  Her mother, Susan, married Joseph C. Smucker in Geauga County, Ohio, in 1916 and had eight children there between 1918 and 1931.  The quilt measure 40" X 34" and is comprised of cotton and wool pieces of varying shapes.  The patches are outlined in red feather stitching.  A provenance label is attached to the back.  (Museum ID No. 71.989.01.434.)
The following photographs are provided to illustrate the variety of crib quilts in the collection we were shown.  Although detailed descriptions were provided to us of all of the quilts we viewed, only the foregoing descriptions are presented here.  You may visit the web site of Indiana State Museum at for more information about these quilts.
Our trip to the Indiana State Museum included, in addition to the viewing of the Pottinger Amish Collection of crib quilts, an exhibition of 20th and 21st century quilts honoring the statehood of Indiana.  This exhibition, titled Nineteen Stars for the Nineteenth State, will be the subject of our last post about Seminar in Indianapolis.
Many thanks to the knowledgeable and helpful staff of the Indiana State Museum for an enjoyable and informative visit!!
Description of the Keynote Address given by Janneken Smucker at the AQSG web site at
Kathleen McLary.  Amish Style: Clothing, Home Furnishings, Toys, Dolls and Quilts.  Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1993.
Museum object records provided by Indiana State Museum.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.





September 19, 2015

The American Quilt Study Group Seminar in Indianapolis

More than 230 members of the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) met for their thirty-sixth annual Seminar in Indianapolis, Indiana, September 9th through 13th.  Lynda was there and will share the experience with you in this and our next two posts.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, downtown Indianapolis, 1904.  Source of
photograph: Wikimedia Commons.
The mission of AQSG is to promote the highest standards for interdisciplinary quilt-related studies and to provide opportunities for study, research, and the publication of works that advance the knowledge of quilts and related subjects. The main purpose of the annual Seminar is to provide a venue for researchers to present their original research.  This year we heard four research papers, two of which concerned Quaker quilts.
Linda Baumgarten, curator of textiles and costumes at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia, presented a paper titled "Vase-Pattern Wholecloth Quilts in the Eighteenth-Century Quaker Community" and Terry T. Terrell, an independent quilt researcher, presented "The Elizabeth Stanton Inscribed Quaker Quilt" - a quilt made in Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century.  The third  presenter was Gail Bakkom whose past career in theatrical costuming led to her interest in quilts.  Her research topic was "Candlewicks: White Embroidered Counterpanes in America, 1790-1880."  Amanda Grace Sikarskie, holder of a Ph.D. in American Studies from Michigan State University, was our fourth presenter with "Reconsidering Erica: Erica Wilson and the Quilt Revival."  These four research papers are published in AQSG's research publication titled Uncoverings 2015 that is provided to all members of AQSG.  Non-members may purchase it by calling the AQSG office at (402) 477-1181 or mailing an order form available on the AQSG web site to American Quilt Study Group, 1610 L Street, Lincoln, NE 68508-2509.  The web site is at
A highlight of the Seminar was a talk given by our Keynote Speaker Janneken Smucker, an expert on Amish quilts, an author, and an historian.  Her topic was "The Quilt Man and the Collection" which detailed the work of David Pottinger in collecting and documenting Amish quilts in Indiana.  A highlight of a different sort was a talk by Kaye England who reminisced about her quilt collection, aging, and life in general with a brand of humor that would put any stand-up comedian to shame!
Paper presentations and other talks represent only one aspect of the attractions of Seminar.  Those attending can elect to go on tours which this year included a visit to Kaye England's farm and antique quilt collection, a trip to Marion and Muncie, Indiana, to visit the Marie Webster House, the Quilters Hall of Fame, and the Minnestrista Cultural Center, and a viewing of exhibits and "behind the scenes" holdings at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
One of the most interesting quilts seen at the Indiana State Museum was a fragile silk and ribbon quilt viewed in the conservation laboratory.  The quilt was completed in 1876 by Margaret E. (Maggie) Frentz in Floyd County, New Albany, Indiana, when she was twenty-two years old.  The quilt features the political campaign ribbons of those running in the Presidential and Vice Presidential election of 1860.  The ribbons are dyed fuchsia and blue and set in a U.S. flag configuration surrounded by silk pieced blocks in the Broken Dishes pattern.  The flag displays thirty-six white silk stars.
The Lincoln Flag Pieced Quilt, completed 1876.  Indiana State Museum.  All
 photographs of this quilt are by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Those named on the campaign ribbons include Abe Lincoln, H[annibal] Hamlin, S[tephen] A. Douglas, John Bell, Ed[ward] Everett, and John C. Breckinridge.  One ribbon, given a prominent position beneath the date 1876, features O. H. Strattan, a local man running for County Clerk.
This quilt is seldom displayed because of the fragility of the silks and the fugitive nature of the fuchsia dye used to color the campaign ribbons that make up the stripes of the flag.  These ribbons were dyed with the first synthetic dye, a fuchsia developed in 1857 and called "Perkins' Mauve."
Seminar also offers its attendees the opportunity to enroll in several Study Centers.  Lynda attended a Study Center on Prussian blue fabrics presented by Anita Loscalzo and another presented by Dawn Cook-Ronningen titled "Nineteenth Century Tape Bindings and Braids on Quilts, Coverlets, Bed Hangings and Other Household Textiles."
Anita Loscalzo during her Study Center on Prussian blue fabrics. 
Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
A quilt featuring several Prussian blue fabrics.  Photograph by
Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
One of the highlights of every Seminar is a live auction of donated quilts conducted by our volunteer auctioneer Julie Silber, a quilt dealer and appraiser from California.  Not only is Julie a member of AQSG, she is a nationally known quilt expert and has a dry and engaging sense of humor.  She makes our auction fun each year and helps, through her efforts, to raise needed funds to support AQSG and its activities.
Julie Silber (with microphone) and helpers showing an applique red and green quilt being
 auctioned to raise money for AQSG activities.  Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
This brief description of Seminar content (there's a lot more!) is provided to encourage those of you interested in the study and history of quilts and related topics to consider joining AQSG and enjoying our next Seminar which will be held in September, 2016 in Tempe, Arizona.  You can go to the web site shown earlier to read about the benefits of membership in AQSG and how to join.  We'd love to see you in Tempe!
Source of information about The Lincoln Flag Pieced Quilt at the Indiana State Museum
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.





September 1, 2015

The Quaker Valley Quilt (Part 3)

Large portions of this post were first published in the American Quilt Study Group quarterly newsletter, Blanket Statements, in 2008.
This week we continue last week's post about The Quaker Valley Quilt given to Menallen Meeting in honor of William and Roseanna Wright.
Detail of The Quaker Valley Quilt.  Photograph by John Herr.
Last time we told you about Mary Payne, the former slave whose name is inscribed on The Quaker Valley Quilt, and how her family was kidnapped from Pennsylvania for return to Virginia.  Researcher Debra McCauslin explained, "on July 24, 1845, Kitty Payne and her three children were kidnapped from Bendersville's Bear Mountain by five armed men.  Enslaved in Virginia and later manumitted by owner Mary Maddox, they lived freely in Adams County [Pennsylvania] for two years until the Maddox's nephew, Sam Maddox, Jr., and four other men took them from their slumber, beat them and dragged them back to Virginia with the intent to sell them on the auction block to pay off debts.  The nephew thought he should inherit them so he hired Tom Finnegan, of Hagerstown, MD and three other armed men to help him."
Finnegan was identified as "the same individual who acquired notoriety in this area last fall when he kidnapped and carried back into slavery a family of freed, colored persons."  A warrant was issued in the state of Pennsylvania for his arrest, along with others who helped him in the Payne kidnapping.  In Virginia, the Payne family was taken into custody for safekeeping until the perpetrators were captured and tried. There were lengthy court proceedings and much publicity surrounded the 1845 case.
One of the Quakers involved in aiding the Paynes' return to Adams County, Pennsylvania, was a recognized Quaker minister, Louisa Steer.  (This is the same Louisa Steer mentioned in our blog post of January 4, 2012 for frequently hosting quilt maker Mollie Dutton when she was a child.)  Steer's name is inscribed on a block of The Quaker Valley Quilt. 

Louisa Brown Steer (1800-1870).  Photograph courtesy of the Waterford
Foundation Archives.
The Quaker Valley Quilt, detail of block inscribed with the name
"Louisa Steer."  Photograph by John Herr.
Louisa's "parents were not members of the Society of Friends but her training was in that direction."  At the age of twenty-two, she joined Hopewell Monthly Meeting  and "the same year was united in marriage with William B. Steer, and became a member of Fairfax Monthly Meeting."
One article about the case of the Payne family kidnapping appeared in The Adams Sentinel Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, August 11, 1845.  (Gettysburg is just seven miles from Biglersville, the location of Menallen Meeting.)  Two days later at Fairfax, "Louisa Steer laid before this meeting a concern she had felt to pay a visit to some of the inhabitants of Gettysburg, Pa, which being considered she was left at liberty to attend thereto as truth may direct.."  On October 15, 1845, Louisa Steer once again "laid before this meeting a concern to visit some of the inhabitants of Gettysburg, Pa."  It is difficult to know the exact nature of her visits, but if she was visiting Quakes in the Gettysburg area, she would have most likely heard about the kidnapping which was big news in the Quaker community there.  She also would have had opportunity to associate with some of the Menallen Friends represented on The Quaker Valley Quilt.
Eventually, according to the November 20, 1846 issue of the Gettysburg newspaper, The Star and Banner, kidnapper Finnegan was "convicted at the August term on the charge of kidnapping a family of free colored persons from this county."  The Payne family was now helped to travel from Virginia to the Free State of Pennsylvania for the second time, and Louisa Steer had a role in providing them aid.  As the Payne family journeyed north in the spring of 1847, they stopped at the Steer's country home in Virginia, "Corby Hall," which is about one mile outside of Waterford.  "Louisa received them warmly, and there they spent the night."
The next morning Louisa's husband, William B. Steer, traveled with the family as far as New Market, Maryland.  He stayed with them until two other Quaker men arrived to escort them farther.  Demonstrating the mid-nineteenth century tradition of having one's name inscribed on quilts, William's name is inscribed on a different quilt, the c. 1850 Quaker Friendship Quilt in the collection of the Loudoun Museum, Leesburg, Virginia.
William B. Steer (1794-1881).  Photograph courtesy of Jane Russell Johnson.
Quaker Friendship Quilt, c. 1850, detail.  Collection of the Loudoun Museum.
Photograph by Mary Holton Robare.
Following their return to Pennsylvania, Kitty Payne did not have means to support her children, so they were placed in various homes.  In the 1850 Federal Census of Menallen Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania, Mary appears in the household of John Wright.  The family consisted of the widower John Wright and three of his grown children.  His daughters, Ruth and Jane, were teachers who maintained a Quaker school called "Mountain View" in their home.  The name of Jane Wright is also on The Quaker Valley Quilt.
The Quaker Valley Quilt, detail including block inscribed with the name of
Jane Wright on top, far right.

According to her granddaughter's account, Mary Payne was raised by the Wrights in the Quaker faith, attended Meetings with them, and "was treated as a member of the family sharing in household duties."  Mary's childhood experiences with Friends were so strong that they carried over into her adult life.  After her marriage to William Jackson, the couple "continued with the Quakers when they moved to Michigan (Raisin Valley Seminary) and became members there."  The family always stressed that their daughter, Minnie Jackson Goins, was a birthright Quaker.
With much left to explore, the search continues for the reasons The Quaker Valley Quilt was conceived, made, and inscribed with the names of nineteenth-century members of the Religious Society of Friends.  The traveling Quaker minister, Louisa Steer, and former slave, Mary Payne, are just two people whose names are on The Quaker Valley Quilt, but their stories are worth telling as powerful examples of some fascinating American history.
Selected Sources:
The authors of this post wish to thank Christopher Densmore, Curator, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College, for providing research materials, and historians John and Bronwen Souders for sharing transcriptions of related materials.
The Adams Sentinel, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, August 11, 1845.
Duncan, Patricia.  Transcriber of "Louisa Steers mentions in Fairfax Monthly Meeting Minutes," from microfilm reels MM618, Albuquerque, New Mexico, compiled from transcriptions provided to Bronwen C. Souders, Education Committee, Waterford, Virginia.
Gandy, Mary Goins.  Guide My Feet, Hold My Hand.  Canton, MO: The Press-News-Journal, 1987.
Memorials Concerning Several Ministers and Others, Deceasel of the Religious Society of Friends within the Limits of Baltimore Yearly Meeting.  Baltimore: Innes & Company, Printers, 1875.
Notes in Albert Cook Myers Collection Box 132, file 15 (Steer), Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, Pennsylvania.  Transcribed by Bronwen C. Souders, Education Committee, Waterford Foundation, Virginia.  Sent by Souders via e-mail.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.