Sandy Spring Quilt, detail of block. Inscription almost illegible, interpreted as
"Albina O. Stabler". Photo by Joanna Church. Courtesy of the Montgomery County
Historical Society, Rockville, Maryland.
Most inscribed identities had connections to the Religious Society of Friends; most were residents of the town of Sandy Spring, Maryland, at the time of the quilt's making; and, many appear in records of the town's clubs. Actually it is fair to say that in 1858 the people of Sandy Spring were crazy for clubs!
One such club was the Mutual Improvement Association, the oldest continually meeting women's association in the United States. It first met on May 1, 1857. The organization's objective was to "elevate the minds, increase the happiness, lighten the labor or add to the comfort of one another, our families or friends."
Sandy Spring Quilt, detail of block inscribed "Belle Miller". Photo by Joanna Church.
Courtesy of the Montgomery County Historical Society, Rockville, Maryland.
They had quilting parties and rag balls where men and women "socialized over tea and cake, sewed strips of cloth together, and then wound them into balls for rug weaving." They also had a Farmer's Club, reading circles, and a debating society that met for a while at the Fair Hill Boarding School for Girls.
One debating society participant was Anna Farquhar. She was one of eleven Fair Hill students or alumna whose names appear on the Sandy Spring Quilt. She was also a wonderful letter-writer.
Anna Farquhar (1834-1917). Photo courtesy of the Sandy Spring Museum,
Sandy Spring, Maryland.
On "1st day evening, 1858" Anna Farquhar wrote to "My dear Eliza": "Do tell me thy candid opinion about admitting gentlemen. I heard this evening that some of the ladies said they would not attend if any gentlemen came, but I do not know whether there is any truth in that. I really want to know what thee thinks of it. Is not this a neighborhood of clubs just at this time? The young gents seem very much interested in their debating society and I hope it may flourish, but would thee not like to put on an invisible cap and hear some of [their] speeches [ . . .] I would give anything in reason to hear them."
One month later, in February of 1858, Anna had some news to share with her cousin.
"I hear Robert Stabler went up to Loudoun to see Hannah Taylor, and perhaps that will be the beginning of a change, but please do not tell anyone I said so, for I have a great objection to spreading such reports. It would be very pleasant to have Hannah among us, for I think she is a first rate girl."
Hannah Boone Taylor Stabler (1835-1922). Photo courtesy of
the Sandy Spring Museum, Sandy Spring, Maryland.
Anna need not have worried that she was spreading unfounded gossip. Hannah Taylor and Robert Stabler were married in 1858. The descendant whose correspondence first suggested the origin of the Sandy Spring Quilt was their great-granddaughter. The inscription "H.B. Stabler" (Hannah Boone, maiden name Taylor, Stabler) appears on the quilt along with the names of Hannah's mother-in-law, two of her nieces-by-marriage, and at least four (possibly five) of her sisters-in-law.
Sandy Spring Quilt, details showing inscriptions. "Ellen Stabler" and "Sarah Miller, Alex"
(probably short for Alexandria, Virginia). Photos by Joanna Church. Courtesy of
the Montgomery County Historical Society, Rockville, Maryland.
Following their marriage, Hannah and Robert M. Stabler settled in the "lovely old homestead", Edgewood II. The daughter of Jonathan and Lidia Taylor of Loudoun County, Virginia, Hannah came "to Sandy Spring as a young bride, [and] there were few personalities among us who held so warm and a secure a place in the community." The couple were "especially and much beloved by children, and the atmosphere they created can best be understood by the speech of a child who once said it seemed to her "the sun was always shining at Edgewood!"
Portions of this post were adapted from an article first published by the American Quilt Study Group. See Robare, Mary Holton. "Cheerful and Loving Persistence: Two Historical Quaker Quilts." In Uncoverings 2007, edited by Joanna E. Evans. Volume 28 of the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group.
Special thanks to Lucy Pope of the Sandy Spring Museum and Joanna Church, Collections Manager of the Montgomery County Historical Society, Rockville, Maryland. See http://www.montgomeryhistory.org and visit Joanna's blog at http://afinecollection.wordpress.com/.
"Sandy Spring Museum Capital Campaign for the New Library Archive" (Sandy Spring Museum, 2006).
Allen, Gloria Seaman and Nancy Gibson Tuckhorn. A Maryland Album: Quiltmaking Traditions, 1634-1934. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1995.
Anna Farquhar "letters". Papers of the Brooke Family, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Kirk, Annie B. Annals of Sandy Spring or Twenty Years History of a Rural Community in Maryland, Vol. IV. Westminster: The Times Printing Company, 1929.