Friday, July 12, 2019

Masonic Quilts & the Hasson Sisters

Under the welcome sign:
"A.E. & S. E. Hasson"

Ann Eliza Hasson (1846-1919) and Sarah Eleanor Hasson (1848-1936) operated a millinery establishment on Main Street in Rogersville, Tennessee.

One of the frame buildings at the end of the street.

The Hasson sisters left a remarkable pair of quilts.

Over on the right, out of sight here Sallie appliqued
"Sallie E. Hasson"

Sallie's quilt was displayed recently in a show at the Tennessee State Museum. Curator Candace Adelson found out a little about the sisters.

This black and white photo appeared in the magazine The Clarion in 1985
when Sallie's quilt was still in a private collection.

The bird's eye view features a checkered floor...

an important part of Masonic imagery.

What's even more remarkable is that Ann Eliza made an almost identical quilt.

A photo of Ann's quilt is on the label at the Museum.
Where Sallie's has her name Ann appliqued "Overton Lodge No. 5"

The local Order of the Eastern Star, the Masonic ladies' auxiliary is named the Hasson Chapter #179, founded in 1917 and named to honor the family, who were instrumental in founding the group.

The Hasson sisters were born in Virginia, the eldest children of John Hasson.

Menerva is apparently their stepmother

1860 Census

John was a railroad mechanic, an engineer by inclination, and the family moved to Hawkins County, Tennessee in the late 1850s, probably because the area sat atop a handsome type of limestone known as Tennessee Marble. John quarried building rocks on his farm about four miles west of town with innovative mechanics. The quarry was called the Cave or Choptack.

Tennessee marble quarry
The variegated stone was in demand in the late 19th century for monumental buildings like Baltimore's City Hall.

When his youngest child George died at four John Hasson carved his
tombstone from the decorative limestone.

Father John, Sallie and Ann were all involved in Masonic Societies.

The Overton Lodge now meets in a former bank building in Rogersville,
built in 1839.

These striking quilts might have been the talk of Hawkins County but we haven't found any written or published records, perhaps because Masonic matters were often secret---reserved for the elect.

One can imagine women showing off their quilts at Masonic conventions and meetings. The Hassons seem to have taken part in a fashion for dramatic representations of Masonry.

Made in Orangeburg, South Carolina
shown on the Antiques Roadshow

The whole quilt

Collection of the Henry Ford Museum
From the Quilt Index

20th century, unknown maker, Michigan State University Museum

1 comment:

  1. The owner of the South Carolina “Antiques Roadshow” quilt once did a presentation on the quilt at our guild in central South Carolina. The quilt is a precious family heirloom. The family story is that a Mason instructed his wife to make the quilt as he left to fight in the Civil War. He told her that if the Yankees came to hang it over the balcony, in case there was a fellow Mason among the invaders, in the hopes that a brother Mason would spare the plantation. The, the story goes, ploy worked.

    The present owner refused to discuss the “secret” Masonic symbols one the quilt; well, the Internet exists and they weren’t so secret that the Mason kept them from his wife. The owner —not a quilter herself — was miffed that the AR folks told her the quilt had little monetary value since she’d hoped it was hugely valuable.