July 15, 2015

A Memento of Our Old Matron: The House of Industry Signature Quilt (Part 3)

This is the last part of an article published by Lynda and Mary in the American Quilt Study Group quarterly newsletter, Blanket Statements, in Spring 2014.

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"[. . .] Mayest thou when retiring from thy useful labours reflect with satisfaction on the time devoted to this useful Institution."  This part of the 1844 dedication on Ann's quilt has caused long-held speculation that the quilt blocks were made for Ann on the occasion of her retirement from the House of Industry.  However, census records in 1850 show Ann listed as "Matron" at the residence where she was living.  More importantly, the minutes of the Female Society of Philadelphia for the Relief and Employment of the Poor dated 3rd mo 10th 1883 reported that Ann had died on March 1, 1833, stating that she had entered the House of Industry in 1826 and served as its Matron for forty years, or until 1866.  The term "retiring", in this case, may have referred to the end of each day or to a time in the distant future.
 
Detail, The House of Industry Signature Quilt.  Photograph by Joseph Coscia, Jr.
Courtesy of the Arch Street Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
Detail, The House of Industry Signature Quilt.  Photograph by Joseph Coscia, Jr.
Courtesy of the Arch Street Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
We do not know what prompted members of the Society to make the blocks that comprise Ann's quilt.  We do know that Ann was held in high regard and with deep affection by Society members who served as managers at the House of Industry.  When Ann's deteriorating health prevented her from continuing her service as Matron, the Society "[. . .] assured her a home in the 'House' for the remainder of her days.  For years she was almost entirely blind, and did not attempt to leave the house or even go down stairs.  But her chamber, the door of which was rarely closed, was gladly visited by the members as opportunity offered.  And a grateful, cheerful welcome was sure to be received from her. [. . .] And when after one weeks [sic] illness the summons did arrive there was apparently nothing for her to do but calmly to fall asleep--trusting in her Savior.  And we fully believe that an abundant entrance has been given her into the Realms of Light-And that after Ninety two Years' probation she has now received the Masters [sic] Verdict of Well Done."  (Endnote 14)
 
Detail, The House of Industry Signature Quilt.  Photograph by Joseph Coscia, Jr.
Courtesy of the Arch Street Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
Detail, The House of Industry Signature Quilt.  Photograph by Joseph Coscia, Jr.
Courtesy of the Arch Street Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
Ann Burns' funeral was held at the House of Industry and she was buried at Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia.  (Endnote 15)  Her death might have ended the story of her quilt were it not for the following entry in the Society's "Minutes" of 3rd mo 24, 1883.  "We received a touching legacy from Ann Burns.  A handsome & elaborate calico bed  quilt which has been greatly treasured by her for many years, the patches having been made for her by - & marked with the names of many friends who were Managers of this Institution in Days lang syne. The quilting was performed by her & her coadjutor Susan Annadown.  It was Ann's particular desire that the quilt should always remain at the House of Industry - as a 'Memento of Our Old Matron'."
 
Detail, The House of Industry Signature Quilt.  Photograph by Joseph Coscia, Jr.
Courtesy of the Arch Street Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
The House of Industry Signature Quilt.  Photograph by Joseph Coscia, Jr.
Courtesy of the Arch Street Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
We wish to thank the following for their kind assistance: members of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, especially Lynn Calamia, Tricia and Joseph Coscia, Jr., Helen File, Nancy Gibbs, and Sandra Sudofsky; Carolyn Ducey, Curator of Collections at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska; and, Ann W. Upton, Special Collections Librarian & Quaker Bibliographer, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania.
 
Endnotes
 
The endnotes began with the initial post about this quilt on June 15, 2015 and continue in sequence
through our last post on July 1, 2015 and this posting.
 
(14)  "Minutes", 3rd mo 10th 1883.
 
(15)  Historical Society  of Philadelphia, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, Reel 1070, accessed through www.ancestry.com.  Cemetery records show that Ann was buried on March 3, 1883 in an area that also contains the grave of her son, Jacob H. Burns.  Jacob predeceased her in 1880 at the age of 60 years. He would have been six years old when Ann became Matron of the House of Industry.
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2014.
 

 

 
 
 


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