Saturday, November 24, 2018

Unionville, Missouri Name Quilt

A friend found this old top in his late wife's stuff and asked me to look at it. Dorothy must have bought it in an antique store as she was quite a collector of wonderful things.

It was once a tied comforter; I can see the holes where the yarns were pulled out, probably to wash it. And it was a lot prettier at one time. It wasn't always tan and white but red and white. Red solid cottons were not reliable Turkey red although much of the embroidery thread was. The cheaper red solids faded to tan. Let's hope the woman who did all the beautiful embroidery  (it looks like one skilled hand) never saw that dramatic fading. 

Her Turkey red stitching is still bright red.
She used a white thread for the center of each block, which doesn't show up now on the tan.

Because I am trying to spend time everyday lately learning the computer program Electric Quilt 8 I thought I should draw the top up as it once was: Bright red and white. The original had 15 spokes, my EQ8 drawing has 16 as I modified a pieced BlockBase sunflower by importing the drawing into EQ8. I could have lopped the tops off each red point as in the original, but I didn't.

The original has 25 blocks set side by side, each finishing
to about 15" with a 3" red border (once red border.)

I couldn't find a place or a date but there are many, many names, organized for the most part in families. I would guess people paid a dime or a quarter to have their names embroidered, probably as a fund raiser for a church or other local project.

My guess on date is between 1880 and 1920 as that's when red and white quilts and name quilts were popular, and that, unfortunately, was when red fabrics faded so badly while mills experimented with new cheaper synthetic dyes. I had a lot of clues to where and when. There were some unusual names. I've been showing you the Clapper family block and someone was named Jet Clapper. There's a Cecil Crumpacker, Julia Brasfield and Orinda Eddy.

It didn't take long to find these people in Unionville, Missouri,
up by the Iowa border.

1200 citizens of Unionville in 1893

Comstock Brasfield Merc Co

 Brasfield family members were sheep farmers and ran a furniture store and undertaking
establishment (a common combination:furniture and undertaking---not sheep and undertaking.)

Several of the women included their ages. You may be able to read above that Margaret Downing added she was 73. You apparently had to be over 70 to brag about your age. Sixty did not make it. Sarah Hagler said she was 74. I found her grave, which said she was born in 1825.  A little addition and I figured out that the embroidery was done in 1899.

Unionville looks like it was a prosperous little town about 1900.

I drew up a pattern in EQ8.
I couldn't find a pattern named Unionville and since it is such a good name...

25 of these 15" blocks  plus a 3" border will give you a 
Unionville quilt 75" square.

You could modify the pattern for foundation piecing by adding some lines.

Print this pattern out 8-1/2" x 11" and add seams to the templates
for conventional piecing.

Do test your reds before you cut them.

I mentioned Julia Brasfield. Ten years after the quilt was made she
wrote a note to the American Sheep Breeder magazine, a touching
little tribute to her husband. 


  1. I'd like to make my quilts more authentic...how do I use EQ to lop off the points?? LOL LOL

  2. My thought was I could re-angle all the lines. I know authenticity is important to you. Lori.

  3. How wonderful that this quilt revealed so much about itself to your research efforts! I'll bet it was a beauty in it's original state, points or no.

  4. I wanted to see how hard 15 points was to draw in EQ. Using polydraw circle and using 30 spokes it was relatively easy.

  5. I am too lazy. I just import the structures and modify them. Kudos to you Unknown....

  6. I love your detective work. It is interesting in old quilts, which fabric fades and which disintegrate completely.