Saturday, April 16, 2016

Temperance Quilts 2: Sons of Temperance Star

I posted about T quilts and how little we can find out about what those T's stand for. We assume it is Temperance. But is there any evidence that the T or any particular pattern symbolizes the temperance movement?

In my files I have a few quilts that tell us something about the maker's symbolic thinking.

Quilt labeled Star of Temperance in the borders.

I recently found this one on Flickr, posted by FourSetters.

The quiltmaker labeled it twice with the mottoes
"Star of Temperance" and
"Love Purity Fidelity"

She used an unusual format for the lettering-pieced squares in cross stitch style. 

The quiltmaker gave us a lot of clues to her meaning.
"Love Purity Fidelity" is the motto of the Sons of Temperance.
A quick search finds the source for the words and the star:
A six-pointed star in a triangle with the motto below...

Remarkably like the quilt.

Similar logo on a piece of English china. The star
has eleven points.

'Sons of Temperance poster with the words Love Purity & Fidelity
in the bottom border from Currier in 1851.

The Sons of Temperance was an older organization than the Women's Christian Temperance Association, coming to the U.S. from England in the 1840s. At first, women were ineligible for membership.

The Star of Temperance quilt looks to be late-19th or even 20th century, after the WCTU became the dominant anti-alcohol organization.

I have in the files a second reference to "A Temperance Star Quilt, made by Miss Isabella Lefevre, and deposited by Mrs. Elizabeth Lefevre" at the Fourth annual exhibition of the Maryland Institute in Baltimore in 1851.


We have no idea what Isabella's Temperance Star quilt looked like.

With such an unusual name Isabella Lefevre is relatively easy to find. She was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania, in 1835, so her Temperance Star quilt was finished when she was in her early teens. She did not live in Maryland, probably the reason that Mrs. Elizabeth Lefevre sponsored the quilt at the Baltimore fair. 

Isabella Shriver LeFevre  married the Reverend Walter E. Krebs when she was 24. They had two children Ada and Stanley. Stanley LeFevre led an interesting life and married the actress Marjorie Main whose real name was Marjorie Tomlinson. And that is where this strange trail ends.

Marjorie Tomlinson Krebs is remembered as Marjorie Main in the series
Ma and Pa Kettle. Here is Ma working on a quilt.


  1. I am amazed by the Star of Temperance quilt and all the historical symbolism that it represented. The story of the other temperance quilt and its connection to Ma Kettle is fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm finishing an antique (1890's? madder orange & black prints white background) Double T top as a housewarming gift for a friend of mine. Her name is Temple and I bought the top with her in mind. Don't you suppose this was sometimes just a geometrical design that appealed to people with an initial T or to those who made quilts for them?

  3. Hello, can you tell me what episodes of Ma and pa Kettle have quilts and or her quilting in them ?? Thanks

  4. This looks like the quilt that was in the video I saw about Ken Burns' quilt collection