August 15, 2015

The Quaker Valley Quilt (Part 2)

Large portions of this post were first published in the American Quilt Study Group quarterly newsletter, Blanket Statements, in 2008.
 
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This week we continue last week's post about the The Quaker Valley Quilt given to Menallen Meeting in honor of William and Roseanna Wright.
 
The Quaker Valley Quilt, c. 1850, detail.  Collection of Menallen Meeting. 
Photograph  by John Herr.
 
There are many stories reflected in the inscriptions on The Quaker Valley Quilt, but one is especially riveting.  In particular, there is a block most likely inscribed with the name of former slave Mary Payne.
 
The Quaker Valley Quilt, detail of block inscribed "Mary Payne."  Collection
of Menallen Meeting.  Photograph by Mary Holton Robare.
 
Although there is no direct evidence to confirm that the "Mary Payne" whose identity was attached to the quilt's inscription was the former slave, there are two reasons we strongly suspect it.  First, a search for "Mary Payne/Pain" in the communities where the other inscribed Quaker identities were known to reside in the mid-nineteenth century does not produce other probable candidates among neighbors.  Second, Mary Payne (1840-1928) had an intensely intimate relationship to the people whose names are inscribed on The Quaker Valley Quilt.
 
Mary Payne (1840-1928).  Photograph courtesy of Sandra Kasabuske.
 
Mary Payne was born into slavery in Rappahannock County, Virginia.  Her granddaughter Mary Goins Gandy detailed her family's harrowing plight of manumission, kidnapping, court proceedings, and eventual return to freedom in the book Guide My Feet, Hold My Hand.
 
Gandy based her book on family history she heard from her grandmother, whom she knew until the age of fourteen.  She relied heavily on the research papers of Dr. Albert Cook Myers. His papers are known as "manuscript collection number 100" at the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  In addition to collecting documents related to the case, Dr. Myers also recorded the oral history of the Payne family ordeal during interviews with his own Adams County, Pennsylvania, relatives.
 
On February 25, 1843, Mary, her mother Kitty Payne, and her siblings were freed by Mary Maddox, the widow of their former owner.  Their Deed of Emancipation states:  "Know all men by the presents that I Mary Maddox of the County of Rappahannock and State of Virginia for divers [several] good causes have this day emancipated and forever set free and by these presents do emancipate and forever restore to perfect freedom free from control, claim or demand of any and all person or persons whatsoever the following slaves [. . .] Kitty aged twenty seven, Eliza Jane aged five years, Mary aged four years, Arthur aged two years and George aged two months."  According to Gandy's book, the family was personally escorted to Pennsylvania by Mary Maddox.
 
Rappahannock Co. VA Deed Book E p. 176, detail of the Manumission of Slavery showing
Mary, age four, and the rest of the Payne family group being restored "to perfect Freedom."
Courtesy of Debra McCauslin.
 
Following the widow's return to Virginia, her husband's nephew, Samuel Maddox, Jr., convinced the aging woman to deed her estate to him.  Deciding the freed slaves were his rightful property as part of his newly acquired estate, Maddox hired a professional slave catcher, a man known as Finnegan, to help him retrieve them.  Finnegan, "aided by a part of bad and reckless citizens from an adjoining county [. . .] in the dead of night approached the house where dwelt the unsuspecting victims, seized the mother and two children, gagged them, placed them in a covered wagon, and made their escape before measures could be used to arrest their progress." (Gandy.)
 
Early in the trip the carriage passed by a Quaker farm.  The witnesses quickly spread  the news of the kidnapping.  The Quaker community rallied to aid the Paynes, including Cyrus Griest.  The name of Griest's wife, Mary Ann Griest, is inscribed on The Quaker Valley Quilt.
 
The Quaker Valley Quilt.  Detail showing block at bottom, furthest right inscribed
"Mary Ann Griest."
 
The Griests are buried in a burial site listed on the National Parks Service's website as "National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom."  The burial site was approved for the recognition largely because of Cyrus Griest's role in the rescue of the Paynes.
 
We'll continue our posts about the The Quaker Valley Quilt next time.
 
Selected Sources:
 
The authors of this post would like to thank researchers Debra McCauslin and Judy Pyle for so generously sharing their significant research concerning the family of quilt block inscribed-identity Mary Payne, as well as the historical community of Menallen Meeting, Biglerville, Pennsylvania.  You can read more about this community in McCauslin's book, Yellow Hill: Reconstructing the Past Puzzle of the Lost Community at Yellow Hill (For the Cause Publications, 2007).
 
The authors are also grateful to Barclay Brooks, Clerk of Menallen Meeting, for access to The Quaker Valley Quilt and related research materials, and to Gaye Ingram for editing the original article.
 
Deed of Emancipation, Rappahannock Co. VA Deed Book E p. 176, sent via e-mail from Debra Sandoe McCauslin.
 
Randolph J. Harris and Kelly M. Britt, application preparers, in the "Application for the Inclusion of the Burial Ground at Menallen" as a Site recognized by the National Parks Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. 
 
Mary Goins Gandy.  Guide My Feet, Hold My Hand. Canton, MO: The Press-News-Journal, 1987.
 
Mary Holton Rolbare.  "As Truth May Direct: The Quaker Valley Quilt" in Blanket Statements, 92, edited by Gaye Ingram.  Lincoln, NE: American Quilt Study Group, 2008.
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.





August 1, 2015

The Quaker Valley Quilt (Part 1)

Large portions of this post were first published in the American Quilt Study Group quarterly newsletter, Blanket Statements, in 2008.
 
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We have studied dozens of historical quilts.  In addition to studying their designs, materials, and construction techniques, we use genealogical methods to learn about the people who made them.
 
When we first began doing genealogy, we wrote letters to town and county clerks and mailed them off with a check, sometimes waiting weeks for confirmation of a birth, marriage, or death date.  Standards of proof are the same today.  There is no substitute for hours of cross-referencing and substantiation, or visiting archives in person, but the availability of records online now makes it possible to research the stories behind quilts with less effort and much less time.
 
Bear in mind that, when investigating names associated with quilts, we cannot rush to ascertain true identities.  Like many other groups, the Quakers used the same names for generations and within families; it is easy to confuse one person for another.  Names and initials inscribed or stitched on quilt blocks are fantastic clues, but they need to be studied in context of oral traditions. as well as other inscribed names, dates, and locations within identifiable communities.
 
Remember to determine if you are looking at a maiden or married name, cross-reference names with dates, and scrupulously use the process of elimination when many individuals with the same name appear in records.  The process is time-consuming, but worthwhile as it allows us to discover stories of almost forgotten communities.
 
The Quaker Valley Quilt Given to Menallen Meeting in Honor of William and
Roseanna Wright.  Photograph by John Herr.  Collection of the Menallen Meeting,
Biglerville, Pennsylvania.
 
Such is the case with investigation into the identities inscribed on blocks of The Quaker Valley Quilt, c. 1850.  The quilt was given in 2007 to the Menallen Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in honor of William and Roseanna Wright whose nineteenth-century ancestors are represented in the quilt's inscriptions.
 
Detail, The Quaker Valley Quilt.  Photograph by Mary Holton Robare.
 
This friendship signature quilt has a natural-color backing, a twill tape binding, and is finely quilted in double rows and a variation of a single cable filled with single diagonal lines.  The blocks are constructed in a Sawtooth-like pattern.
 
Detail, The Quaker Valley Quilt.  Photograph by Mary Holton Robare.
 
The center of each quilt block except one is inscribed in ink with one or more names.  It appears as if just one or two inscribers wrote all of the names.
 
According to an unattributed, typed sheet of paper that contains a picture of the quilt, it measures 89 X 100 inches.  Referring to it as a "Patchwork Friendship Quilt in Lady of the Lake Pattern," the paper states that there are over 2700 pieces in the quilt top of 72 blocks, and that: "This quilt was made by the members of the Somerset, PA, Tent Protestant Church and given to the women of the Quaker Valley, PA, Amish Church on Friendship Day around 1850.  It was displayed annually on Friendship Day until the Civil War when it was taken home and kept safe by a member of the Amish community."
 
Because the quilt was found at an antique dealer's shop in New Market, Maryland, the written provenance (and the pattern name, "Lady of the Lake," which appears to be a name bestowed in the twenty-first century) may have remained the quilt's prevailing history had it not been for serendipitous timing.
 
Detail, The Quaker Valley Quilt.  Photograph by John Herr.
 
Remarkably, the quilt's purchase and donation coincided with research conducted by Debra Sandoe McCauslin for her book Yellow Hill: Reconstructing the Past Puzzle of the Lost Community at Yellow Hill (For the Cause Productions, 2007).  McCauslin was already familiar with the many "Wright" and Menallen Meeting members whose names were written on the quilt's blocks.  With help from researcher Judith Pyle, McCauslin located most of the inscribed identities in local Quaker records.
 
The 1850 residents of Adams County, Pennsylvania, were located quickly because of their appearance in documents related to Menallen Meeting.  By studying birth and death records, maiden versus married surnames, and community events in newspaper accounts and social histories, we determined that between 1847 and 1852 were the most probable years of the quilt's inscriptions.
 
Detail, The Quaker Valley Quilt.  Photograph by John Herr.
 
There are 73 signatures on the quilt.  The names of nine men are present, and three quilt blocks contain more than one name.  Some of the inscribed individuals were tracked through census records as having moved west in the mid-nineteenth century.  A search yielded definite connections, such as marriages and family ties, between members of Menallen Meeting and Quakers in Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio.  Other inscribed identities were found requesting membership transfers to, or residing in, Baltimore, Maryland; Putnam County, Illinois; Clayton County, Iowa, and Loudoun County, Virginia.
 
We will tell you about some particularly interesting signatories in our next post.
 
Selected Sources:
 
The authors of this post are grateful to Barclay Brooks, Clerk of Menallen Meeting, for access to The Quaker Valley Quilt and related research materials, and to Gaye Ingram for editing the original article.
 
ancestry.com census records
 
William Wade Hinshaw.  Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy.  Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, 1938-1950.
 
Mary Holton Robare.  "As Truth May Direct: The Quaker Valley Quilt" in Blanket Statements, 92, edited by Gaye Ingram.  Lincoln, NE: American Quilt Study Group, 2008.
 
Unattributed, typed paper, n.d., in "Papers of the Menallen Meeting," Biglerville, Pennsylvania.
 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.