Friday, March 3, 2023

Silk Eagle Quilt # 4 : To the White House?

Sometimes a rather elaborate fabrication springs from a fact. We find no evidence that the eagle quilt had any association with Elizabeth Keckley but was it associated with her friend and client Mary Todd Lincoln?

A theory: The silk quilt that won prizes for Ann Mary Crittenden Coleman was indeed in Mary Lincoln's possession for a time. In those 60+ trunks and boxes she carried around in her widowhood there are mentions of quilts.

Long suffering son Robert put up with her traveling hoard for many years. He met her at a train station in Pennsylvania in 1868:  "Robert was with us at the depot & was shocked at so much baggage."

Woven Marseilles quilt in imitation of French style

In the baggage might have been a Marseilles quilt she bought in Springfield in 1853 (a white work bedcover woven to look as if it were quilted) according to research into her shopping from the Lincoln Home Museum in Springfield. She also mentioned gift quilts made as White House gifts in the trunks, encouraging daughter-in-law Mary Harlan Lincoln to help herself to any bedding she came across in the boxes, etc. left in Chicago.

Mary Harlan Lincoln (1846-1937), 
Robert's wife with two of their children.

Like other presidential families the Lincolns were given quilts, including one well-documented eagle bedcover from Martha Ann Partlow Allen Barlow (1822-1902) of Oregon. (No picture remains but descriptions exist.) Mary Lincoln loaned (not gave) this quilt to an 1866 fair for a veterans' charity according to widely copied newspaper articles.

This eagle quilt probably then went back in a trunk.


The silk eagle quilt???

Senator John J. Crittenden was a member the House of Representatives during the first years of the Lincoln presidency and my first guess was he might have presented daughter Ann Mary's masterwork to the Lincolns as a similar kind of tribute. But a little digging into the connections between the Lincolns and the Crittendens revealed a remarkable association. 

Mary Ann Todd (born in 1818) and Ann Mary Crittenden (born 1813) were both members of Kentucky's self-declared elite families in Lexington and Frankfort (the state capitol.) Mary Ann's widowed father Robert Smith Todd married second wife Elizabeth Humphreys Todd in 1828. 

Composite picture of Robert Smith Todd (1791 - 1849) and
second wife Elizabeth "Betsey" Humphreys Todd (1801-1874)

Betsey was close friends with Ann Mary's father's second wife Maria Knox Innes Todd---so close that Betsey asked Maria to be her bridal attendant, according to Mary Lincoln biographer Jean H. Baker. John J. Crittenden, Maria's fiancé was the male attendant at Robert's second marriage.

Maria Knox Innes Todd Crittenden (1796-1851)
& John Jordan Crittenden (1787-1863)

These families were close. Their daughters (15 and 10 when their fathers remarried) may have been friends --- although one has to remember that Mary Ann Todd grew to despise her stepmother Elizabeth Humphreys Todd. Ann Mary and her own stepmother Maria seem to have had a better relationship.

Kent State University Label

Did Mary Lincoln hold on to Ann Mary Crittenden's Kentucky quilt for a while and after her death did it wind up in Ohio where Ruth Finley found it at an antique shop with a fragmentary Lincoln connection?

Collection Kent State University Museum

It's a hypothesis about an intriguing relationship between two Lexington belles of the 1830s.

See another quilt with a connection to Maria Knox Crittenden at this post. Maria was also friends with Lucretia Hart Clay, Henry Clay's wife.


And the research on Mary Lincoln's shopping for the Springfield house.


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