Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Women's Relief Corps Quilt

A few weeks ago a woman I didn't know handed me a bundle of shattered silks in the form of a crazy quilt.

It was a wreck. Most of the silks were in terrible shape due to the metal salts and dyes that cause them to decompose. She said she wanted me to tell her it was OK to throw it out. I am the wrong person to ask this question of. "Never throw anything out," is my motto. On Hoarders they'd call me an enabler.

Right away I noticed there are WRC ribbons on it.

The WRC (The Women's Relief Corps) is the ladies' auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veteran's association (GAR). The ribbons are from Civil War Reunions in the 1920s.

Here's one from the GAR with their symbol on it.

Well I was overenthusiastic in my praise of the ragged quilt.

Even though it was poorly composed, never finished and shedding silk like an April hailstorm in Kansas.

I told her it was a fabulous historical document.

Now it's mine. She was happy to leave it in my home for orphan quilts.

My guess is it's from Michigan

Made in the 1920s

With many silk souvenir ribbons and collectibles attached.

It was the ideal transaction. No money exchanged. I was happy to get it. She was happier to get rid of it. Now I get to spend some time tracking down those organizations.

See a quilt made by WRC members in Michigan in the Quilt Index here:

For more about the Civil War Reunions see my blog posts



  1. It's nice another orphan has a loving home. I love a story with a happy ending.

  2. What a wonderful treasure from that era, and wonderful that she gave it to you first. I can imagine the things people throw away without realizing what they have.


  3. This quilt has made its way to an ideal home. Thanks for sharing such an interesting quilt!

  4. Thanks goodness she asked you, and not some twit who would have her toss it! Yay!

  5. The AuSable is a river that runs through the middle of Michigan from Grayling through to Oscoda where it empties into Lake Huron. Muskegon is on the west side of the state on Lake Michigan.

  6. Thanks for sharing your sleuthing, fascinating to read.

  7. I am sitting her laughing out loud at this story! Tattered or not, there's no way I could have thrown it out. Glad it has a wonderful new home!

  8. What a beautiful quilt, I agree, I couldn't have thrown out such a thing of beauty, perhaps you can do a little restoration job on it. What a wonderful gift. Regards Mandy Currie (mandycurrie@googlemail.com)

  9. Clairellen McLaughlinApril 26, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Hi Barbara, I was delighted to see your "new" quilt top, and it rang a bell, as I live about 30 miles north of AuSable, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Huron. My friend, Marcia, who is a Civil War historian, wrote this about the town:
    "There was a small town on the south side of the river at Oscoda, MI, called AuSable. There was a big fire and it was destroyed. Eventually Oscoda rebuilt and spread to the south side of the river for all of it to be called Oscoda. My grandfather lived in AuSable before the fire. I have post cards stamped and addressed with AuSable. After the fire he relocated to Alpena.
    The John Earl post has turned up several times in my Civil War research. The ribbons are from “State Encampments” comparable to conferences. "

    Marcia said she would be happy to help with your research if she can. Let me know, and I will give you her email address.

  10. how cool is that! A real win-win. I'm envyous!

  11. The Women's Relief Corps was just one of the auxiliaries to the GAR. There's quit a bit of information you can find in places like Google Books regarding convention proceedings. I love this quilt. Thanks for sharing it. Gena

  12. Hi Barbara,
    From rags to riches in people's lives. Well, it would have been riches first I suppose then...left to be found.....for its centenary...just love it.

    Does today's silk have the same properties? How should I prepare silk for today's quilting? or refer me to a site...Thank you.

  13. Barbara - i am so glad you adopted the quilt. Thanks for saving a piece of history. The National Woman's Relief Corps formed in 1883 remains in existence today. See www.suvcw.org/wrc

    We maintain a museum in Springfield ILL in Memory of the Grand Army of the Republic GAR, as well, filled with artifacts of Civil War veterans and the WRC.

    Cindy NSVP WRC