Thursday, February 4, 2021

Show Quilts in Missouri & Kentucky


Embroidered center of a pieced silk quilt by
Harriet Fry Hockaday (1831-1902),
Clinton County, Missouri
78"x 70"
Collection of the National Museum of American Art
Smithsonian Institution

Harriet knew this was a show stopper. The museum caption notes
she won prizes in fairs and here is a reference to one:

At St. Louis's 1868 Agricultural & Mechanical Fair
she cleaned up!

She won first prize in Silk Quilts and also an extra $25 in prizes, perhaps with this one and another first prize with a "Worsted quilt," wool. $25 in 1868 was worth nearly $800 in our terms.

You would not want to see her coming at fair entry time.

The St. Louis Fair Grounds

Here she is again in Kansas City three years later with the same two quilts.

Note she also entered some of her painting and won there too and she won $3 with ten yards of her rag carpet. Too bad we do not know where the worsted quilt is today.

It's a little bit surprising to find such an elegant quilt coming from
a woman who was born and raised in this house in northwestern Missouri.

Harriet may have made this quilt on her farm between
Lathrop and Plattsburg, Missouri

Harriet was born to Solomon & Susan Snap Fry in Clinton County, Missouri, near what is now Kansas City. Her father spent his first three years in Virginia and migrated to Kentucky where he may have met his wife. Harriet's census information at one point indicates her mother was Kentucky-born but most references say Indiana. The Frys married in Indiana in 1826 and settled in Clinton County. Harriet, the third of eight children was born May 4, 1831. Harriet's father was a prosperous farmer, the 1850 census shows him with assets of $20,000.

Harriet married farmer George Doniphan Hockaday in May 1850 when she was 19 and he was 31. Born in Greenup County, Kentucky east of Lexington, George's mother's brother was famous Missouri pioneer Andrew Doniphan, also a Kentucky native.

Harriet's Kentucky roots are apparent in the quilt. She may have had two Kentucky-born grandmothers,  a mother-in-law and a mother. Many of Missouri's early settlers were Kentucky immigrants.

Below a few elegant Kentucky quilts to show you the stylistic similiarities.

Embroidered hexagon quilt
by Mary Redmon Parrish (1847-1904) Cynthiana, Kentucky
MESDA Collection

Mary's masterpiece looks to be pieced of wools (worsteds). She was
married in 1869.

Similar silk quilt with floral embroidery

Silk quilt by Elizabeth Walker Stone of Kentucky
Winterthur Museum Collecton

"The Union For Ever"
I doubt Harriet Hockaday, living in rural Missouri during the
Civil War would have shared Elizabeth's Union sentiments
See a post here:

Quilt made in Nicholasville, Kentucky

By Arkansas Katherine Shely Fretzlen,(1836-1903)
 Nicholasville, Kentucky, south of Lexington.
Embroidered with dates 1776-1876
Collection of the D.A.R. Museum


Here is her grave under the name Katheryn Frizlen:

The Smithsonian collection also includes this embroidered silk quilt
with an unknown maker. Donated by Stewart Dickson.

It appears to be backed with another complete wholecloth silk quilt
just like Harriet Hockaday's is.

I'd bet the maker was from Kentucky.

Unless of course she was from Missouri.

Quilt by Mary Ann Hall Fletcher (1812-1899)
probably near Marshall, Missouri
Pictured in Missouri Heritage Quilts by Bettina Havig

I wondered if some of those Missouri girls did not go back to Kentucky
for schooling where they learned some very fancy fancywork.

AQSG member Jean Odom told some family history about needlework she'd inherited:
"My great grandmother, born in the Platte Purchase [up by the Nebraska/Iowa/Kansas border] in Missouri in 1838, was taken to Bardstown, Kentucky when she was 10 to be educated at the St. Joseph's school. Her family had been among the Catholic founders (from Maryland) of Bardstown. She did beautiful needlework. "


  1. So many amazing quilts! I can't even imagine how to create those borders. Thanks for sharing her story.

  2. Beautiful quilts with wonderful embroidery! wow! Just think of all the time it took to make those!