Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Quilt for Henry Clay in 1845

Hexagon quilt on a bed at Ashland
the Henry Clay home in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo, 1978.

In 1845, the Richmond Enquirer made an editorial note of the "habit Whig ladies have of giving Mr. Clay bed clothes! How they tuck him up!"

The comment was inspired by news of another quilt for the Hon. Henry Clay, "made by Mrs. Ann Warner, Harford County, MD, now in her 94th year, she did it all with her own hands in six weeks."

Ann Warner's quilt may have been a feat of the needle but it was also a prodigious achievement in public relations work. Many newspapers carried stories in the fall of 1845, a few months after Clay's Presidential rival James K. Polk had taken office.

"Present to Mr. Clay
We saw yesterday at the residence of Mr. Romulus R. Griffith in this city a counterpane made by Mrs. Ann Warner....It is a beautiful article both as a specimen of fine needlework and in respect to the taste displayed in the arrangement of the numberless pieces of which it is composed. In the centre of it is the following inscription: 
To the Honorable Henry Clay
The Orator, Patriot and Philanthropist
In token of admiration of his genius and his virtues, is presented this piece of needle-work, by Mrs. Ann Warner, Executed by her own hands, in the 93rd year of her age. Baltimore, 1845.

The quilt had also been shown at Mr. Butcher's home on Charles Street in Baltimore, September, 1845. James H. Merriweather of Cincinnati delivered it to Clay who wrote a thank you letter to Ann Warner on November 16th thanking her for the "very tasteful and comfortable Counterpane," but sadly she had passed on the day before.

Is Ann Warner's quilt with its "numberless pieces" at Ashland?

An old postcard

Henry Clay on the right in the yard at Ashland.
This house was torn down after Clay's death in 1852 and a replica built.

Ashland from a postcard about 1910.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love reading about these old quilts. Hope I could be making them into my 90's as well!