Hollingsworth Family Quilt, c. 1858, detail. Collection of the Winchester-Frederick
County Historical Society, Winchester, Virginia. All photos in this post by
Mary Holton Robare.
Apple Pie Ridge Star was a name assigned to the pattern by Janney Wilson when he pointed to the corner of a quilt he owned at the time and declared to his cousin, "My grandmother called that an Apple Pie Ridge Star." Janney Lupton, the cousin to whom he was talking, subsequently published the name in a magazine article for Traditional Quilter in 1997. Since then, the name has caught on in the quilting community.
Much to Mary's delight, two of her friends, Paul and Nancy Hahn, were vending for the Antiques Show portion of the Penn Dry Goods Market events. Below are two views of their booth.
Paul had just discovered an unfinished quilt top block, dated 1848, in the booth of another dealer, Ani DeFazio. Not being familiar with the pattern, Paul was simply interested in its early fabric, date, and inscription. It was not until Nancy looked more closely that she recognized the pattern from previous discussions about it with Mary. And, thus, another so-called "Apple Pie Ridge Star" was found!
It was Ani's understanding that the block was originally found in Pennsylvania. Although there is no connection in its provenance to the area of Virginia countryside called the Apple Pie Ridge, the pattern of this block is identical to the block Janney Wilson identified as "Apple Pie Ridge Star."
Appliqued so-called "Apple Pie Ridge Star," dated 1848. Collection
of Paul and Nancy Hahn.
The earliest American dated and documented example of this pattern on a quilt block occurred in Baltimore in 1844, but within just a few years it appears on quilts from other states as well. Of the approximately fifty examples of quilts containing Apple Pie Ridge Stars that Mary has studied, the "stars" are made of predominantly red fabric. As more examples of the pattern come to light, other colors may be found but for now, the blue and tan colors of this fabric make this block unusual.
Its inscription is still legible. By entering the first line in a search of Google Books, Mary was able to identify the verse, which is transcribed below.
May future years still give to thee
A clear unclouded brow
And innocence and loveliness
Be with thee then as now.
August 12th 1848 Roxanna S. Sawyer
The verse is from A Golden Gift: A Token for All Season by Josiah Moody Fletcher. Published in 1846 by J. Buffum, its editor J. M. Fletcher prefaced the book by explaining: "In this little volume the compiler has endeavored to unite a collection, which, by combining poetic talent and high moral sentiment with the social and intellectual, should form an elegant and appropriate present for all seasons and occasions."
Who was Roxanna S. Sawyer? Without any context other than a name and the date 1848, Mary wasn't sure an identification was possible. Amazingly though, a Roxanna Stewart Sawyer (born 1837-1839, died 1909) turned up in searches of census, cemetery, and death records. Her name was occasionally connected by family relationships to other, identical individuals.
Roxanna was the daughter of a physician, Jacob Sawyer, and his wife Mary Ann (McGowan). The family lived in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Roxanna never married. Since she retained her maiden name throughout her life, it was possible to track her through records until her death in 1909. She was buried in the Carlisle Public Graveyard.
Interestingly, this Roxanna was just about eleven years old when her name was written in ink on the block. We know from the plethora of existing historical needlework samplers that girls as young as five or six years old were capable of very fine work, but there may be another explanation for her name appearing on the block. A name inscribed on a block did not necessarily mean that the block was made and inscribed by the person whose name appears. For example, even names of deceased individuals appear on blocks of historical quilts, so unless a block was made and inscribed by a ghost, such blocks were inscribed by others to denote someone else's identity. Whether this was done for a living or deceased individual, this type of signature is called an "allograph." It is possible that someone else signed the block for Roxanna.
A couple of additional cautionary notes: although preliminary research does not find other likely individuals with a name that fits the timeframe of the inscription we must consider the possibility that this is not the correct identification of Roxanna. As to why this block was made, we will never know if it was intended for a quilt that was completed, minus Roxanna's block, or for whom it was being made. However, we are thrilled to have one more early, dated example of the block pattern many now call the Apple Pie Ridge Star.
Thank you to Ani DeFazio of Ani DiFazio Antiques, Fine 18th & 19th Century Antiques, email@example.com, and to Paul and Nancy Hahn for sharing the new (old)
Apple Pie Ridge Star.
Ancestry.com Find a Grave Index, 1600s -Current (2012) and U.S. City Directories, 1822 - 1995 (2011).
"United States Census, 1900" database with images, FamilySearch/ Accessed 16 May 2016: Roxanna Sawyer in the household of Daniel A. Sawyer, Carlisle borough Ward 4, Cumberland, Pennsylvania, United States citing sheet 11B, family 266, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Admin, n.d.) FHL microfilm 1,241,400.
Wills, 1750-1908; Admin Books, 1750-1906. Author Cumberland County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills, Probate Place: Cumberland Pennsylvania.
Year: 1870, Census Place: Carlisle West Ward, Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1332; Page: 321A; image: 373949; Family History Library Film: 552831.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2016.