Quilt History Recorded in Newspapers
Small town weekly newspapers before and after 1900 are a treasure trove of tidbits about quilts, quiltmaking, and quiltmakers. Some are just a brief intriguing mention that leaves us yearning for more details while others are amusing, but overall, they provide a glimpse into women's lives in a particular place and time. I believe, too, that some who read through these items will discover that "grandmother's quilt" may not have been made by grandmother.
A separate companion page is specific to groups formally identified as Quilting Clubs.
As I search for this or that online, I nearly always spot something about quilts regardless of what I was actually searching for at the time. So those wonderful tidbits will be the subject of this page as I gather and transcribe them. Enjoy.
M. E., Methodist Episcopal
W. R. C., Woman's Relief Corps, auxiliary of the G. A. R. (Grand Army of the Republic) with membership open to the wives, widows, and daughters of Civil War veterans
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Marshall (MI) Statesman, October 3, 1849
The State Fair.
The first annual Fair of the State Agricultural Society, held at the city of Detroit, on the 25th, 26th and 27th of September, was a fine display of the products of our State, it being the first meeting, the collection of articles of all descriptions, was more extensive than could have been expected. The citizens of Detroit had evidently expended a large amount of labor in preparing suitable places for the exhibition of the various articles of manufacture, agricultural and horticultural products and fancy articles--the fine arts were not forgotten. . . .
The Fancy articles displayed great skill and fine taste; two articles struck us as being particularly beautiful: a piece of embroidery representing Pharaoh, his wife and cup-bearer was life itself; we think it the finest specimen we have ever seen. A bed-quilt made by a Lady in Chicago, of silk patch-work, representing the sun, moon, stars, and things terrestrial too numerous to mention, displayed a fine taste and an unbounded lot of patience.
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Semi-Weekly Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI), April 20, 1864
A Curiosity.--A bed-quilt composed of over 7000 diamond-shaped pieces, so arranged in regard to color that they seem to blend and almost become as one distinct square, is indeed a curiosity. It was made by the mother of our townsman, E. D. Hall, and in point of beauty we have never seen it surpassed. It took the premium at Winnebago County Fair.--Wood Co. Reporter
Linn County Patriot (Marion, IA), April 28, 1864
Many Articles. [excerpt]
Some of the marks which are fastened on the blankets, shirts, etc, etc., sent to the Sanitary Commission for the soldiers, show the thought and feeling at home. Thus, on a . . . bedquilt was pinned a card saying: "My son is in the army. Whoever is made warm by this quilt, which I have worked on for six days and most all of six nights, let him remember his own mother's love."
On another blanket was this: "This blanket was used by a soldier in the war of 1812--may it keep some soldier warm in this war against traitors."
Dubuque (IA) Daily Herald, May 9, 1867
Romance of Marriage. / From the Tolland (Conn.) Journal.
Two weeks ago we published the marriage in this town of Capt. Robert E. Fiske, editor of the Helena (Montana) Herald, to Miss Lizzie Chester. Since that time we have learned that there is a romance connected with this affair which is worth telling. When the war of the rebellion broke out Mr. Fiske was a resident of New York, from which State he enlisted in the union army and attained to the rank of captain. In some one of the engagements he was wounded, and taken to an army hospital.--While he was thus confined, it appears that the ladies of our town of Vernon were at work for the soldiers, and among other things which they provided and sent as hospital stores, was an "album bedquilt," containing the names of the several ladies who assisted in its construction. As luck would have it, this bedquilt found its way to the hospital and the very bed upon which the wounded captain lay; and for amusement he copied the names, sending his letter or photograph, or both, to the address of every lady. One of these letters was received by a little girl, who procured the services of Miss Chester to reply. We need not particularize further, but it was simply through the agency of this album bedquilt that captain Fiske heard of Miss Chester, and now, after the lapse of two years, that acquaintance has culminated in marriage, and the gallant officer has taken his fair lady to his home in the far west. [Robert E. Fisk enlisted in New York City, June 25, 1862, served in Co. C & G, 132nd NY Infantry and Co. B 66th NY Infantry, promoted to Captain March 31, 1863, mustered out June 29, 1865. Robert married Elizabeth Chester, March 21, 1867, Vernon Centre, Connecticut. They are recorded in the 1870, 1880, and 1900 Lewis and Clark County, Montana, census living in Helena; Robert was the newspaper editor; they had six children. They were living in California in 1905 when Robert applied for, and ultimately received, a pension based on his service during the Civil War; he died there in 1909; Lizzie applied for, and received a widow's pension based on his service. Robert was born August 9, 1837, Pierpont, Ohio; Elizabeth was born February 18, 1846, in Connecticut.]
New York (NY) Herald, June 23, 1869
New York City. / The Courts. / Miscellaneous Cases.
Ellen Dixon was sent three months to the Penitentiary for stealing a bedquilt from the Fourth precinct station house.
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Petersburg (VA) Index, March 17, 1871
An old lady in Connecticut has just completed a bedquilt, containing 2166 pieces.
Boston (MA) Daily Globe, October 30, 1872
A patchwork quilt is shown at the Memphis Exposition which contains 5292 pieces. It took six weeks in making. Just imagine a man voluntarily spending six weeks in cutting cloth to pieces and sewing it together again to form something perfectly hideous when done.
Iowa State Reporter (Waterloo, IA), October 9, 1872
The County Fair.
Fancy Articles, Paintings, &c.
In the line of textile fabrics the display was not as large as usual, for some reason, but the articles on exhibition were generally first-class.
Sigler & Emerson exhibited a handsome silk bed-quilt, the silk in it costing over one hundred dollars. . . Mrs. H. Smith had a bed-quilt composed of 1770 pieces, and also exhibited a handsome log-cabin quilt.
Janesville (WI) Gazette, April 23, 1873
Mrs. Thomas Ball, of the town of Beloit, has had the bed quilt epidemic bad, having expended her time, patience and thread in the production of a patchwork monstrosity containing ten thousand pieces. Keep the ball rolling.
Cambridge City (IN) Tribune, August 21, 1873
Miss Zella Kepler, daughter of John Kepler, of Greensfork, is the happy possessor of [a] patchwork quilt containing 3267 pieces.
Petersburg (VA) Index-Appeal, January 20, 1880
Mrs. Lenore M. Gordon, of Norfolk, on last Saturday sent Mr. M. Glennan, president of the Irish Relief Society, a check for fifty dollars and a beautiful quilt, to be disposed of for the relief fund. The Virginian describes the quilt as follows: The quilt is of blue satin, richly embroidered at the corners and in the centre with white silk and chenile, representing flowers and vines. It is lined with white twilled silk with edges handsomely corded with blue and white cords, corners being finished with tassels and buttons. The committee have decided to raffle the quilt and the chances will be one dollar, the number of chances to be one hundred.
McKean County Miner (Smethport, PA), February 12, 1880
--Mrs. A. Rice, of Stulltown, called at our office this morning to state that her bedquilt had 4968 pieces in it.
Editor Miner:--In response to the Challenge of Hatty Crecher of Myrtle, McKean Co., Pa., would say that I have beaten her, as I have just finished a quilt which contains four thousand, two hundred and sixty-two pieces. Any person doubting the veracity of this is respectfully invited to call on Mary A. Fosbrook. Clermont, Pa., Feb. 10th, '80
Iowa State Reporter (Waterloo, IA), March 17, 1880
Mt. Vernon, March 13, 1880.
Editors Reporter:--About forty of the friends and neighbors of Mr. and Mrs. Joel Hiser met at their residence last Tuesday to give an agreeable surprise, with baskets filled with the choicest things to refresh the inner man, and also seventy-nine blocks for a quilt of the album pattern. Mr. and Mrs. Hiser and their daughter, Miss Lizzie, have been earnest workers in the Glendale Sabbath-school for several years and rendered efficient services. Mr. Rob. Simpson, in behalf of the school, after a few brief remarks, presented to Mr. and Miss Hiser half a dozen silver spoons each, and to Mrs. Hiser a silver butter-knife. This was one of the pleasantest gatherings we have attended. Mr. Hiser settled in this township in 1854. I believe that his family and two others are the only ones left that settled here at that time. He has rented his farm and intends to remove to Nebraska in a few days. They are good neighbors and we are sorry to lose them.
On Wednesday last Mr. Wm. Padget was taken by surprise by a party of about twenty relatives and friends, who, without his knowledge or invitation, gathered at his residence to make him a farewell visit previous to his going to Cerro Gordo county. The ladies passed the time in social conversation and quilting, while the gentlemen played ball--two with silver locks coming out ahead. The dinner was excellent, to which all did ample justice. They presented a quilt and $5.50 as tokens of their friendship.
Warren (PA) Ledger, March 19, 1880
--"Count that day lost whose low-descending sun," murmured a lady in Indiana to herself; then she went and made a quilt with nine thousand pieces of silk in it, and when she finished it she was blind and partially paralyzed. [A typical newspaper space filler.]
Woodland (CA) Daily Democrat, November 13, 1893
A Chester (Vt.) woman, 84 years old, has just completed a bedquilt containing nearly 4,000 pieces. [A typical newspaper space filler.]
Titusville (PA) Herald, December 15, 1894, Vrooman community
Several ladies met at the home of Mrs. B. H. Gilson Tuesday and finished quilting the missionary quilt of the Baptist society. The quilt is very beautiful and does great credit to the members of the society. It will be presented to Rev. Mrs. Hemmingway Price, of Grant, N. Y., and the receipts from the names on it will be given to their present pastor, Rev. Grey, of Spring Creek.
Stevens Point (WI) Daily Journal, January 5, 1895
The New Year club met last Monday evening at the residence of Mrs. M. L. Alban and the meeting was a very pleasant one. This club now has a membership of forty and has been in existence a number of years, but holds only one meeting annually. This occurs on the last evening of each year and the festivities are brought to a close immediately after new years greetings have been exchanged. Refreshments are served and various games indulged in. Last Monday evening those assembled amused themselves for a time guessing the number of pieces in a bedquilt which has been in the Blodgett family for about a hundred years. While some of the mathematicians of the party were making calculations and wearing out pencils figuring out the number of pieces it contained Mrs. O. O. Little guessed 17,000, which was within a few of the correct number, and carried off the prize.
Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern, December 14, 1895
Made of Twilled Cotton and a Real Connecticut War Record.
Mrs. Joshua Biles of Southington, Conn., has been working on a bedquilt at odd times since 1892, which is a wonder in its way and deserves special notice. The material is twilled cotton, and is made in forty-one squares, seven squares each way, but the inner square takes up space of nine of the ordinary ones. On this is inscribed, in blue stitching, which is readily deciphered, the names of all the soldiers that went to the civil war from Southington, together with a picture of the soldiers' monument. On the other squares are the pictures of places and persons of local note, such as the pastors of the churches, the postmasters of the three villages, the assessors, the contractors and builders, merchants, etc., the names of the various manufacturing firms, with the list of officers, pictures of various historic buildings and names of secret societies represented in town in 1892. Mrs. Biles has been untiring in her efforts to finish this remarkable work, and it is now stretched upon a frame.
Also in the Belleville (KS) Telescope, December 27, 1895, under the heading, A Marvelous Quilt. [Angeline N. Neal, born October 1834, married Joshua Bills (not Biles), November 11, 1856; they lived in Southington, Hartford County, Connecticut, throughout their marriage. Censuses, 1860-1910, RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project, and LDS files, Salt Lake City, Utah.]
Wellsboro (PA) Agitator, September 8, 1897
The Whitneyville Grange will hold a social next Tuesday evening at Irvin Collins's. Everybody invited to attend; there will be an interesting time. A bedquilt will be sold.
Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, December 23, 1898
Bits of Jersey History
Mrs. Robert B. Leeds, of Atlantic City, has in her possession a calico lining for a bedquilt which possesses special interest. It is a part of the wreckage from the vessel George Cannon, which struck on the beach at Atlantic City, near where one of the piers now stand, about 1830. The Cannon had assorted cargo, part of which was thrown overboard. The vessel got off and was being taken into the inlet when it struck again on the north side of the channel and went to pieces a total wreck. It was a packet ship from England. The wreckage was a bonanza to people along the shore who secured parts of it. The relic which Mrs. Leeds has is well preserved and is a fine sample of old-fashioned print and design.
Spencer (IA) Herald, January 11, 1899, West Meadow community
There will be a chicken pie sociable at the residence of L. L. Atwood next Friday evening. The quilt which the Ladies Aid society has made will be offered for sale.
Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, PA), January 12, 1899
An Interesting Quilt.
Mrs. Levi Lukens, of Lafayette street, is the proud possessor of one of the most complicated and beautiful crazy quilts that has been seen in this part of the country for a number of years. In number of pieces it far surpasses any of those exhibited at the Great Inter-State Fair last year, and that is saying a great deal, as some of those contained over 10,000 pieces. Mrs. Lukens' quilt contains 961 squares, or blocks, 3x3 inches, and each block contains thirteen different shades, thus making in all 12,493 pieces. It is well worth studying, and it took the above named lady several years to complete it. Mrs. Lukens takes great pride in showing it to her friends. [Susanna M. Margerum born July 8, 1837, married Levi H. Lukens about 1860.]
Lemars (IA) Semi-Weekly Sentinel, January 12, 1899, Yeomans community
The ladies of the Yeomans Sunday school are making a quilt. When it is finished the ladies expect to give a supper and sell the quilt. The proceeds to go to the organ fund.
Waterloo (IA) Daily Courier, January 12, 1899
Pleasant Grove, Jan. 11.--There was a quilting party yesterday at Peter Melsh's. Quite a few of the neighbors attended and a pleasant time is reported.
Iola (KS) Daily Register, February 9, 1900, Savonburg community
The Aid society of the Christian Church will give a box supper at the hall Feb 13. They will also sell a fine quilt at public auction to the highest bidder. A literary program will be one of the features of the evening. Come everybody and bring a box of supper.
An old fashioned rag tacking at Mrs Lillie Miller's last week was hugely enjoyed by the forty or fifty guests who were so fortunate as to participate.
North Adams (MA) Transcript, February 9, 1900
The quilt that was made by the lady patronesses of Notre Dame was drawn for last evening and won by Mrs. E. Bissaillon.
Waterloo (IA) Daily Reporter, February 10, 1900
Miss Ina Hepler last night entertained a party of the clerks in the Weisbaar & Fassig store, at a quilting bee at her home at 309 East Third street. Those present were Misses Anna Rath, Josie Rosgen, Phenie Kascht and Freda Clausen, with W. D. Langlass as chaperone. Excellent refreshments were served, a good social time was enjoyed and the work on the quilt progressed famously.
Salt Lake (UT) Tribune, February 11, 1900
Auxiliary, Caledonian Club.
An excellent programme [sic] has been prepared for the Scottish entertainment to be given in the Federated Trades hall, 21 West Second South, on Thursday evening, February 15th for the benefit of the relief fund. A beautiful quilt and two pairs of hand-knit hose will be given away to holders of lucky numbers. A good time is promised to all who may attend.
Union (IA) Star, February 16, 1900
The ladies of the M. E. Aid Society, will take dinner baskets well filled and spend next Wednesday at the home of Mrs. Packer, quilting and doing other services for society.
Waukeesha (WI) Freeman, February 22, 1900, Brookfield community
The silk quilt belonging to the Ladies' Social Union was drawn by Wm. Winzenreid.
Logansport (IN) Pharos, February 28, 1900
The members of Purity Lodge, Daughters of Rebecca, were entertained yesterday by Miss Ellen Comingore. The afternoon was spent working a quilt, which will constitute the portion of the furnishings of a room in the Odd Fellows' Home at Greensfield.
Elyria (OH) Republican, March 29, 1900, La Grange community
A very enjoyable surprise party was tendered to Mrs. Hattie Wheeler at her home on North Main street, by the Ladies of the W. R. C. March 16. After a supper the ladies presented Mrs. Wheeler with a beautiful quilt.
Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, April 4, 1900
George C. Cole of 117 Snow street held the lucky number which drew the silk quilt made by a lady 93 years old.
Stevens Point (WI) Daily Journal, April 7, 1900
W. R. C. Supper.
The ladies of Woman's Relief Corps cleared about $15 on their supper and quilt sale Wednesday evening, the receipts from the latter being about $9. The quilt was called "Sherman's March to the Sea" because it had worked upon it the names of all the local veterans, who participated in the famous march, and was drawn by ticket 61 purchased by Mrs. John Newby. The quilt, which is quite a curiosity in its way, will be highly prized by its new possessor. The ladies served a very tempting supper. [Caroline L. Vandervoort, born October 24, 1851, in Wisconsin, wife of John Thomas Newby, married September 22, 1872, mother of 12 children, 10 living in 1900. From the 1900 census and files at RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project.]
Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, April 21, 1900
Puritan Lodge of Odd Ladies* held their usual meeting on Thursday evening, Supreme Deputy M. E. Skillings of Charlestown, was present. The Odd Ladies [will] hold their annual fair and dance on Wednesday afternoon and evening, April 25. An Iver Johnson wheel* and a silk quilt will be disposed of by chances. A social dance will be held in the evening with Becker's orchestra for music. *Puritan Lodge of the United Order of Independent Odd Ladies organized in East Boston, July 14, 1845; the Daughters of Rebekah was formed in 1851; both are auxiliaries of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.). http://nationalheritagemuseum.typepad.com/library_and_archives/united_order_of_independent_odd_ladies/
*An Iver Johnson wheel is a motorized bicycle; see photograph: http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/popular-mechanics/Amateur-Work-1/An-Amateur-s-Motor-Bicycle.html
Indiana (PA) Weekly Messenger, May 2, 1900
This Quilt Takes the Cake.
Miss Deyarmin, of Brushvalley, writes thus to the Messenger:
"I read an account in the Messenger of a woman residing in Jefferson county that pieced a quilt containing 4,308 patches.
"Indiana county can beat that. Mrs. Catherine McCully, of Mechanicsburg, Brushvalley P. O., has a quilt which she says contains 24,000 patches. It is a beauty, and was made by her some years ago.
If you can hear of a quilt to beat this one I believe I can tell you of one with a few more patches in."
Eldora (IA) Herald, May 16, 1900, Owasa community
The Ladies' Aid Society, of the M. E. church, will give an ice cream social with an apron and quilt sale Thursday evening at the church.
Trenton (NJ) Times, June 16, 1900
East Trenton Presbyterian Church. Thursday, 2:30 P. M., Ladies' Auxiliary for quilting.
Waterloo (IA) Semi-Weekly Courier, June 22, 1900
Orange, Iowa, June 18.--The neighbors of Mrs. Joseph Pullen helped her quilt last Wednesday.
Belleville (KS) Freeman, August 16, 1900
You and Your Neighbors.
Mrs. John Hogin held the lucky number (30) that took the quilt sold by the girls of the Episcopal guild.
Waterloo (IA) Daily Courier, August 20, 1900
The City in Brief.
The ladies of the Brethren church will meet Wednesday, all day at S. B. Bickley's to quilt for the society. Bring lunch. No. 728 Jefferson street.
Boston (MA) Daily Globe, November 6, 1900
Susan B. Anthony's Quilt to be Shown.
NEW YORK. Nov. 5--Susan B. Anthony's quilt, pieced when she was at the tender age of 14, will be the feature of the suffrage bazar ]sic] to be held at the Madison sq garden the first week in December. A doll to be dressed by Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt has also been offered.
Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, December 17, 1900
Held a Quilting Party.
The Golden Rule Mission Band held a quilting party at the home of Mrs. R. N. Perry, No. 107 Ashworth place, Saturday. The quilt contained 810 squares and was pieced and quilted entirely by the children. Dinner was served by the hostess.
Iola (KS) Daily Register, January 4, 1905
The ladies of East Iola church will give a dinner and supper in the new church January 6. Everyone taking a 25c ticket will receive two numbers on the silk quilt to be given away that evening. Everyone holding numbers bring them in by that evening.
Titusville (PA) Herald, January 4, 1905, Troy Centre community
The Ladies' Aid society will meet Thursday morning at 9 o'clock, with Mrs. Anna Bunce. An invitation is extended to all to come and help quilt, especially the members of the society. Visitors are welcome.
Oakland (CA) Tribune, January 5, 1905
Ladies Meet At Elmhurst. / Making Preparations For a Bazaar--Lodge in Session.
Elmhurst, Jan. 5.--This afternoon the Ladies' Aid Society of the Presbyterian Church met at the church parlors. One large quilt was finished. It will be kept to sell at the bazaar. A good many like articles have been prepared for the occasion. . . .
Bedford (PA) Gazette, January 6, 1905
Point, January 4.--The ladies who are soliciting the names and dimes for the quilt for the benefit of the United Evangelical church are meeting with success.
Altoona (PA) Mirror, August 17, 1928, Blue Knob community
The ladies of the Reformed church are quilting a quilt to be offered for sale at the annual Diehl and Ritchey reunion, Saturday, Sept. 1. The quilt is white and has five hundred names embroidered on it in pink. The names were solicited by the ladies and represent ten cents each. The quilt is very pretty and will make a nice souvenir.
Iola (KS) Daily Register, December 20, 1934
Busy Bee Club Meets with Mrs. Gregg
The Busy Bee club met with Mrs. Alvin Gregg Wednesday, for an all day meeting. A bountiful dinner was served at the noon hour and the afternoon was spent in quilting and visiting. Two new members were added to our list, Mrs. Clarence Lutz and Mrs. Ted McBrantney. The next meeting will meet with Mrs. Lutz, 31 North Second street on January 9. The members present at the club were: Mesdames Clarence Lutz, Ted McBrantney, Ralph Olson, Melvin Oliver, John Baker, Mabel Turner and the honor guest, Mrs. Alvin Gregg. Visitors present were,
Mrs. Elmer Gregg, Mr. Melvin Oliver, Mr. John Baker and Mrs. Myron Elmore and daughter Dorothy.
Iola (KS) Daily Register, January 18, 1935, Elsmore community
Mrs. Ernest Setterstrom entertained a number of ladies at her home Monday with an all day quilting. A covered dish dinner was served at noon to Mrs. Sadie Ericson, Stella Setterstrom, Dora Beaman, Babe Squires, Mona Holmes, Lois Krokstrom, Hedvig Sisson, Laura Bennett, Miss Emma Johnson, and the hostess, Jessie Setterstrom.
Dunkirk (NY) Evening Observer, June 1, 1935, South Brocton community
The neighborhood club will be entertained at the home of Mrs. Anna Cordt Tuesday afternoon, June 4. Members are asked to come prepared to tie a quilt.
Indiana (PA) Evening Gazette, June 1, 1935
NOTICE--The quilt that was chanced off by the Women's Club of the Ernest Catholic Church was won by Mrs. W. A. Gallagher, ticket No. 697. [Found in the classifieds.]
Joplin (MO) Globe, June 1, 1935
Waco Circle Meets.
Waco, Mo., May 31.--The Waco Home Mission Circle met Wednesday at the home of Mrs. Mary Riley for an all-day session. The day was spent in quilting. A luncheon was served at noon. Twenty-one members, a new member, Mrs. Landrum, and two guests, Mrs. R. Crowl and Mrs. John Smith, were present.
Moberly (MO) Monitor-Index, June 1, 1935
All-Day Quilting by Thomas Hill Club
Seventeen members of the Thomas Hill Club attended an all-day quilting and meeting Wednesday at the home of Mrs. Mabel Webster.
During the afternoon business session members discussed entertaining orphan children during the summer. Louise Lyons of Salisbury received a quilt awarded by Mrs. McCollum.
Mrs. Velma Johnson and Mrs. Myrtle Ficklin will be in charge of the program when the club meets June 12 with Mrs. McCollum.
Sandusky (OH) Star Journal, June 1, 1935
Sandusky Bay Rebekah Lodge Will Hold Meeting Wednesday
The Sandusky Bay Rebekah Lodge, 179, will have a regular business session Wednesday evening in Odd Fellows hall. Routine matters will be discussed and the quilt made by the members during the winter will be awarded.
Sandusky (OH) Register, June 1, 1935
Trinity Methodist Episcopal. Tuesday, all day quilting by the Ladies Aid.
Note: This page will always be "under construction" as more articles and tidbits relating to quilts and their makers are located within the large volume of newspapers now available online.
© Wilene Smith, October 8, 2010, all rights reserved