November 28, 2011

The Lydia V. Wood Quilt

A current exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is featuring sixteen historical quilts, one attributed to Quaker Lydia V. Wood (1831-1917).  If you are in the area of Winchester, Virginia, stop by and see Daughters of the Stars: Shenandoah Valley Star Quilts and Their Makers.  Wood's quilt was expertly conserved by Pam Pampe for the exhibit, which extends through January 8, 2012.  (For more information, go to

Photograph by  Mary Holton Robare.

Lydia V. Wood's quilt is the large one pictured above on display during the Virginia Quilt Museum's 2008 exhibit, Quilts and Quaker Heritage.  (The smaller ca. 1850 quilt in the forefront was made by Thamasin Haines Walker, collection of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society.  The dress was loaned by Hopewell-Centre Meeting in Clearbrook, Virginia.) 

Lydia's quilt, measuring 95 X 96 inches, contains eight-pointed stars and half-square triangles that alternate in a Hanging Diamond set, creating the illusion of diagonal lines. 

Photograph by Mary Bywater Cross.

A variety of fabrics were used in the quilt.  Today, the overall impression of its now-muted colors is of blue-grays and tans.

Photograph by Mary Bywater Cross.

Of particular note is the quilt's handwoven fringe.

Quiltmaker Lydia V. Wood was the daughter of Jessie and Hanna (Hollingsworth) Wood of Winchester, Virginia.  In 1855, Lydia transferred her membership in the Hopewell Monthly Meeting in Virginia to the Springboro Monthly Meeting in Ohio.  According to a historical marker in Springboro, Lydia "raised Nathaniel Hunter, a black orphan who later became the private secretary of the well-known black educator Booker T. Washington."  (See   This would be an interesting topic for further research.

Wood's quilt was a gift to the Museum of the Shanandoah Valley from noted quilt historian Mary Bywater Cross.  It originally descended from the Wood family of Winchester, Virginia, through two generations of nieces to Nan Wood Graham, who presented it as a gift to her friend Mary.  Graham was the sister of the famed American artist Grant Wood and the model for the "farmer's daughter" in his iconic 1930 painting, American Gothic.

Nan Wood Graham with the quilt made by Lydia V. Wood.
Photograph by Mary Bywater Cross.

(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare 2011

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