Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Rocky Mountain Quilts at the Fair

A Rocky Mountain quilt?

Quilt by Nan Holland from the Quilts of Tennessee project
and the Quilt Index

Orangeburg SC News November 9, 1872

Several quilts were shown at the South Carolina state fair in 1872. Remarkably, they were described
or named in a word or two. Mrs. C J Snell entered a "rocky mountain quilt."

What might it have looked like?

Quilt top date inscribed 1878

This complicated combination of sashing and block is
usually thought of as the Rocky Mountain design.

"3468 PIECES
Made March 1878"

"Miss I [Irene].J. Chambers"

So far, this is the oldest date-inscribed quilt in the pattern that I have in my files.

The Nashville Globe on December 30, 1910, reported on a later fair:

Mrs. Lucinda Payton, of 938 Blank street, whose quilt was on exhibition at the Appalachian Exposition, received on the 23rd a check for $5.00 as a premium."

Quilt by Nancy Brackett Lawson
 from the Quilts of Tennessee project
and the Quilt Index

The Union (South Carolina) County Fair reported in the Union Times on October 12, 1912:
"Mrs. J.C. Vinson had on exhibit a quilt that had 2,877 pieces in it. The name of this quilt was Rocky Mountain."

This one was documented in the Kentucky project
but it was made in Sevier County, Tennessee

We usually see the pattern in Southern states but here is a description from Vermont. On March 11, 1914 the St. Johnsbury Caledonian, reported on the Woman's Club needlework exhibit :
"A very handsome quilt in the Rocky Mountain design loaned by Mrs. Henry Estabrooks was made of red and white triangular shaped pieces."

Quilt made by Mary Chambers Smith in Texas
from the Texas Project

Want to see more Rocky Mountain Quilts? Go to the Quilt Index Browse Pattern page. Click here:


Then Click on the pattern name Rocky Mountain. You'll find most of them come from the Quilts of Tennessee Project. Click on an alternate name New York Beauty and you'll see more

From the Minnesota Project.

The pattern has many vernacular names in the South, commonly "Rocky Mountain Road" or "Crown of Thorns". A similar pattern was published and sold by Mountain Mist in 1931 as "New York Beauty", which is today's standard name nationwide. An 1854 diary refers to a "New York Beauty" quilt but whether it is the same design is unknown.

See a post I did several years ago about the name New York Beauty for this pattern:


  1. These are stunning. The thought of making one - much less doing it all by hand - makes my head hurt. One wonders if they counted the pieces as they went, or after they were done, lol.

  2. You always find the most interesting examples of outstanding quilts. Do you ever unearth data on how long it took for the tops to be assembled? No microwaves, washing machines, or local grocery stores with fully stocked salad bar. How in the world did they find time to finish such intricate piecing?

  3. Barbara, do you know about the "new takes on a classic pattern" New York Beauty challenge at the AQS museum at the Paducah show in April?

  4. You have so many great examples of antique quilts! Tis is another stunning one - lots of points....

  5. It's so curious to know story of pattern. It feels like part of history.

  6. Thanks for sharing, I enjoy the history and stories lots!