We have found, as noted in recent posts, few published mentions of quilts displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Some examples must have been lost in the records of individual state and country displays with their attention to agriculture, manufacturing and commerce.
But here's an exception: Hubert Howe Bancroft in his Book of the Fair gives a sentence to a quilt displayed in Liberia's exhibit in the Agricultural Building. Liberia is an African state founded in the 1820s by American Colonizers who encouraged freed American slaves to move back to Africa.
Martha Erskine sailed to Liberia with her Tennessee family in the winter of 1830. Father George Erskine had been both a slave and a Presbyterian minister, freed in 1817 by the Tennessee General Assembly. He spent years saving earnings from lecturing and preaching to buy his family and passage to Liberia for wife Hagar, her mother Martha Gains and eight children ranging from 30 to 7 years old. African diseases were too often disaster for American travelers and most of the Erskines soon died of fever, leaving only Martha and brother Hopkins Erskine to survive into adulthood.
According to the University of Virginia, Martha emigrated with husband Zion or Sion Harris (1811-1854), also an emancipated Tennessean. He is listed as a passenger with the family arriving on the Brig Liberia in the capitol Monrovia on February 17, 1830.
After he was killed by a lightning strike she married Henry Ricks. They farmed in Clay-Ashland along the Atlantic coast, a town named for Senator Henry Clay. Henry Ricks's brother, coffee planter Moses U. Ricks of Clay-Ashland is remembered today for his financial gift to establish the Baptist Zodokai Mission school, now known as the Ricks Institute. The Rickses seem to have been prosperous farmers.
Martha's story is persistently tied with her Coffee Tree quilt and the tale that she had a great desire to meet Queen Victoria and how she presented the Queen with the quilt in the summer of 1892, the first we hear of it.
Newspaper articles sentimentalize her goal, telling us she was subject to ridicule in Clay Ashland and saved her pennies to get to England and achieve that goal.
Rather than a primitive Martha seems rather skillful in the ways of diplomacy and publicity, enlisting the Liberian Minister Edward Wilmot Blyden to obtain an audience with the Royal Family. In London she stayed with Jane Rose Waring Roberts, widow of Liberia's first Black president Joseph Jenkins Roberts. Jane, born a Virginian, settled in London after her husband's death in 1876.
including several of the exhibits by Africans and African-Americans. The photo below from the Library of Congress collection looks like Turner's Liberian display.
Celeste-Marie Bernier, Stick to the Skin: African American and Black British Art, 2019
Catherine Higgs, Barbara A. Moss, Earline Rae Ferguson, Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas
And here's the 1830 list of Liberian emigrants mentioning the Erskine family: