QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Birds & Spiders #2: Quilts with Provenance

Kay Triplett's photo of a quilt in 
Jane Lury's collection with the bird & spider discussed yesterday.
This post is about quilts with some family history.

Quilt attributed to Catherine Parker Custis (1753-1840)
Collection of the DAR Museum
100" x 103"

This large tree-of-life quilt is signed "C.P. Custis" in cross stitch under the branch.

Way at the bottom of this photo

See details at the Eye on Elegance site the DAR maintains:

Information about the quilt: "Catherine Custis, widowed in 1809, is recorded in the 1810 census living with her teenage son and five unmarried daughters, ages twelve through twenty-nine. In addition to her daughters, some of the eight enslaved servants (the census gives no gender or age details) were surely women who could help with sewing. 'Caty' was in her late fifties or early sixties when she made this quilt."

The quilt uses three repeats of the chintz with each bird
repeated thrice.

The birds in some photos are backwards. 
Some pictures may be flipped, but it looks like there are two
versions of the chintz with birds facing opposite directions.

As our genealogy sources improve we can see that Catherine Parker had a daughter named Catherine Parker Wharton Custis (1813-1896). She married Robert Jacob Poulson in 1833 so there is a possibility that the quilt had something to do with that event.



The Custises (of course) lived in Virginia, distantly related to the Martha Custis Washingtons. Their plantation Deep Creek is in Accomack County is on a peninsula known as the Eastern Shore. The older Catherine was born somewhere near the red arrow in Pungoteague and both women lived out their lives in the vicinity.


I go into detail about the Catherine Custises because this quilt has thorough family information and we may get a sense of any regional style. Those familiar with early Eastern Shore quilts will note all the triangles in the border, pattern that often framed chintz centers.

Eastern shore quilt attributed to Jane Weakley Leche (1792-1855) 
Virginia Quilt Museum collection


The quilt associated with the Virginia/North Carolina Turner Alexander family in the Mahwah Museum is a long way from the Eastern Shore, 300 to 400 miles by roadway today, but people and textiles traveled by ship in the early 19th century. Ships sailed and steamed from New York to Baltimore daily.

Or from Boston to Baltimore

Detail of the Mahweh Museum's quilt

Sally Turner Alexander's husband Mark of Mecklenberg County, Virginia
 was a Virginia politician from 1815-1846.

Kern Dye Family Quilt
108" x 112"
From Mass Quilts and the Quilt Index

The Massachusetts project found a quilt with a family history.

Photos are easily and accidentally flipped. 
I made this one match the overall view

The family attributed the bedcover to Elizabeth Braun Bruner or Mercy Jane Kern Dye from Findley, Ohio. Mercy Kern Dye lived from 1835 to 1928 and, interestingly enough, was born in Virginia. She is probably too young to have made that quilt but may have brought it to Ohio with her. 

The 1850 census shows 15-year-old Mercy J Kern living with
her parents in Hampshire County, Virginia. Perhaps her mother
Rebecca T. Kern (ca 1798-?) made the quilt before she had those
12 children.

Somehow it wound up in with a family member in New England. Elizabeth with her German surnames is harder to trace; there are so many ways to spell Braun and Bruner. The Kern Bruner relationship is unknown.

88 1/4" x 70 1/2"
Gift to Mount Vernon from the Ketchum family, Massachusetts in 1958

Jeffrey Evans Auctioneers recently offered this simple tree applique in poor condition that had been in the collection of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. As it had nothing to do with Mount Vernon and was in such poor condition the museum de-accessioned it. The New England connection again.

Quilt attributed to Johanna Christiana Miller (1762-1826)
Savannah, Georgia
 88" x 92"

The Georgia project interviewed the owner of this chintz piece who'd inherited it with another family quilt and papers including the 1826 will of Johanna Christiana Miller who left nine quilts. This
one went to her niece Dorcas Dow (born about 1790).

In 1850 Dorcas Dow was living with Caroline Kirk, perhaps a daughter

The Miller/Dow family quilt is more elaborate than most using this bird chintz
although it is smaller.


Collection of Cathy Erickson
 86" x 96"
Thanks to the label (and the current owner's research)
we have a good deal of information about this quilt.

The tag attributes it to Frances Outerbridge 1812. When it was sold out of the Paul & Rita Flack collection in a 2012 auction it was described as "Possibly from New Jersey." 

Here's what Cathy's found about the maker.
"At first I focused on North Carolina and anywhere I could find her name. As female names are not easy to find in this time frame, I often had to follow the family name. I did know from the history of this quilt's travels, that it ended up in Pennsylvania. 
North Carolina: I did not have any success finding a record of a Frances in this state in the right time frame. 


Bermuda: Originally the only reference I found to a Frances Outerbridge was a mother or daughter from Bermuda: Frances Jauncey Outerbridge (1805-1833) and Frances Ketchum Outerbridge (1775-1852). Frances Ketchum Outerbridge's father was Stephen Ketchum (1729-1821). He was a sea Captain born in Connecticut. While I lean towards the mother making the quilt, it is possible that the label has the word "Miss" on it, although it is difficult to read. One of the brothers/sons of of the two Frances Outerbridge was Alexander Ewing Outerbridge (1816-1900). He was a merchant who moved to Philadelphia, PA about 1850. The context of having access to a selection of chintz from the father does lead me to really like this family.

Beautiful quilting with chintz vignettes framing
the central tree 
.... recent research added another name which is also from Bermuda: Frances Gilbert Outerbridge (1800-) daughter of John Outerbridge and Margarett Mercer. She married Joseph Darrell Pearman in 1821 and was his second wife. She died in Smith's Parish, Bermuda, year unknown. Together they had one child. That is all I know at the moment about Frances Gilbert Outerbridge, but hopefully I will be able to find more information on her."

The spider is included on the Outerbridge quilt.

Tomorrow: Quilts we know little about.

1 comment:

QuiltGranma said...

Just like trying to find info on my grandmothers from the home newspaper... hard to find women by THEIR names!