Gadabout Patterns by Miss Theodocia Willman

Little is known about this intriguing short-lived 1930s era pattern source.

Headlines vary from "Gadabout Patterns / By Miss Theodocia Willman" to "Personality Patterns / By The Gadabout."  Only two quilt patterns are known at this time.

The feature has been located in the Decatur (IL) Daily Review, Hutchinson (KS) News, Zanesville (OH) SignalZanesville (OH) Times Recorder, Indianapolis (IN) News, Des Moines (IA) Register, Detroit (MI) Free Press, Lincoln (NE) Evening JournalBrooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, all in 1931.  The bylines have not been located before or after 1931.

The mail-order address was Gadabout Patterns, Suite 1021, 326 W. Madison St., Chicago, an office building with a wide variety of tenants.  Among these was National Newspaper Service owned by John F. Dille, distributors of the self-contained Jane Alan quilt pattern feature found in newspapers from 1932 to 1935 or 1936 (see separate Jane Alan page).

As an interesting side note, there truly was a Theodocia Willman who lived in Arkansas and Texas.  She was Theodocia Stinson, born in Mississippi, June 1860, married William Pickard Willman, an itinerant farm laborer, January 2, 1878, in Hot Spring County, Arkansas, who had two children from his first marriage.  They were living in Clark County, Arkansas, in 1880, back in Hot Spring County in 1900, and in Angelina County, Texas, in 1910.  She died June 1, 1911, in Greenville, Hunt County, Texas (  In 1910, she was reportedly the mother of nine children, three of whom died young.  Was daughter Emma or Bertha, or possibly a granddaughter, the Gadabout lady in 1931?  Possibly, but doubtful.  Instead, the coincidence of the unusual and uncommon name was probably just that--an ironic coincidence.

© Wilene Smith, September 11, 2010, all rights reserved; updated January 16, 2016

Applique Design for Quilts, No. B1089, from an original Indianapolis News clipping, March 31, 1931. 

Doggy Quilt, No. B1097, from the Zanesville (OH) Signal, July 24, 1931.  (

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