Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Virginia Ivey's Quilt Honoring Henry Clay

Stuffed work quilting by Virginia Ivey featuring
a "Statue of Henry Clay"
Collection of the Speed Art Museum

Logan County, Kentucky, 1860
At least two spectacular stuffed work quilts by Virginia Mason Ivey (1828- ?) survive.

Her 1856 whitework quilt depicting the Russellville, Kentucky
Fair is in the collection of the National Museum of 
American History at the Smithsonian.

See this quilt by clicking on the thumbnail at the Smithsonian site:

After Clay's death statues honoring him were raised around the country. Perhaps Ivey's inspiration was this one in New Orleans by Joel T. Hart, originally erected in 1860 at St. Charles and Canal Streets. Virginia may have seen the monument when visiting her brother James Asbury Ivey in Louisiana. The statue is now in Lafayette Square.

Detail of a block in a quilt dated 1844-1845
by Mary Worrall Parry, Pennsylvania.

Ivey's floral applique with the stuffed work picture of the statue of Henry Clay is one more example of the mania for quilts honoring Clay. Ivey's and the quilt with Parry's block were not sent to Clay bu kept as souvenirs of the political era.
Virginia Mason Ivey, about 1850.
From the Smithsonian's collection.

Virginia Mason Ivey was born on October 26, 1828 in Tennessee. She was the daughter of Mourning Mason and Captain David Ivey, a farmer and soldier in the War of 1812. According to family information her father named her after his native state. When Virginia was a young child the family moved to Keysburg, a small town in Logan County, Kentucky.

We find a little more about her in an 1886 biography of her brother John J. Ivey who moved to  Warren County, Illinois after the Civil War.
"[John Ivey] a descendant of parents who were born respectively in Virginia and Northern Tennessee. His father, David A. Ivey, was a native of Sussex Co., Va. He was old enough to take a part in the war of 1812, when that struggle broke out, and afterward married a lady named Mourning Mason. She was the daughter of a "hard-shell" Baptist preacher, and her parents were natives of North Carolina. The marriage took place in Robertson Co., Tenn., where they lived about four years.
They then went to Logan Co., Ky., where the father purchased a tract of timber three miles from the State line. He lived to clear a farm upon which he died in 1867, his wife following him in 1870. All their lives were passed in the practice of the principles of Christianity, and they were consistent members of the Methodist Church. They left a record which still exerts an influence on those to whom their careers of uprightness and integrity were well known. 
Six of their children grew to maturity. Carrie, the oldest, remained with her parents until their respective deaths. She now resides with her brother in Sumner Township [Illinois]. Virginia is also a member of the household of her brother. James A. [James Asbury Ivey] is a preacher in the Methodist Church, and is now stationed at New Orleans. Joseph died on the homestead in Kentucky. Ellen is the wife of the Rev. James A. Lewis, of Kentucky."
Apparently unmarried sisters Virginia and Carrie also moved to a farm near Little York, Illinois, to live with John and his wife after their parents died in Kentucky.

Sale of the "Old Ivey farm, 1-1/2 miles south of 
Little York, Illinois" in 1917.

Sister Ellen Ivey Lewis remained in Kentucky and in 1913 wrote a letter to Kentuckian Lida Obenchain, whose pen name was Eliza Calvert Hall, thanking her for mention of Virginia's quilt in the February, 1913, article "The Romance of your Grandmother's Quilt". The folder containing her letter at Western Kentucky University also seems to have more information about Virginia's work.

Suggestions for further research:
Poke around Little York, Illinois, to see what you can find about those Iveys.
Read that folder at Western Kentucky University.