Sunday, December 10, 2017

Patience Smith: Sacred to Memory

Quilt dated 1852 with 123 names inked in the border.
Western Pennsylvania Project and the Quilt Index.

The quilt was made for Miss Patience Smith (1806-1874).
In the oval is inked:
"A precious memento from
my pupils at Friends' Institute
New York 1852
Sacred to memory
Patience Smith"

The height of patchwork fashion in 1852:
Turkey red prints and a green appliqued grape vine border.

A family member who obtained the quilt from her grandfather brought it to be documented. She thought it might have been made in Palmyra in western New York, but it is clear that Patience Smith was a teacher in New York City. For many years she was principal of the Friends' Institute there, a Quaker school.

Patience Smith's school moved to East 16th Street in 1860.
Stuyvesant Square is located around 2nd Avenue and 15th Street.

Friends' Seminary (the name was also changed in 1860) is proud of its claim to be the oldest continuously coeducational school in New York City. The school is now housed in four buildings in the Stuyvesant Square Historic District. The building above was finished in 1861 after Patience Smith's tenure. Ads list her as Principal of the Female Department of the coeducational school as late as 1857.

Information from the alumni book of the State Normal College

Smith was herself a pupil at Emma Willard's famous Seminary at Troy, New York. She was also a graduate of the third class of the New York State Normal College at Albany in 1846 at the age of forty or so.

She later lived with older sister Diana Baright in their hometown of Quaker Street, a small community in the town of Duanesburg, Schenectady County, New York. The sisters died within three days of each other in the spring of 1874.

Their obituaries describe them together as the epitome of earnest Quakers:
"Quiet and unobtrusive, these two sisters were desirous of conforming their lives to the golden rule, by ministering to the comfort and happiness of others. Earnest were their efforts in behalf of the cause of temperance, and sincere their desires that something might be done to stem the torrent of crime, and injustice, and wrong-doing so fearfully flooding the land in consequence of the prevalence of this vice. The subject of right education claimed their warm interest. In their intercourse with others, they were kind and affectionate, and were constantly recommending purity of life by their own shining examples."

They are buried in the cemetery at the Friends' Meeting House in Quaker Street.

It's too bad no one specifically mentioned Patience's career as an important teacher and school administrator. The quilt with her students' names must have been treasured till the end of her life

I'll be looking at the connections between schools and album quilts in 2018 on my Civil War Quilts blog. The free Block of the Month postings called Antebellum Album will begin on January 31, 2018. One of the twelve pieced designs will be based on the pattern in Patience Smith's quilt.


See more about the quilt here:

I've been adding quilt photos to Find-A-Grave files lately.


  1. This is very interesting to me as this is so close to where I live. Even cleaned this small cemetary a few years ago and remember the markers.

  2. Your Find-A-Grave file with photos of related quilts is brilliant. What a great idea for another book! 👏
    The grave plus quilt could be linked to history of the town, then linked to nearby quilt shops, etc., etc.
    In case you run out of things to do...lol

  3. OH! my..... find a grave is one of my best friends.... new love is genealogy .... and find a grave has given me all sorts of info..... now I need to decide what photo shall be posted when I pass on...??? FUN FUN FUN..... and I am going to do this quilt with you in 2018.... maybe I will get my relatives to sign it at my funeral? nah get them to sign it at a family reunion....

    Carry on..... this is great.