Monday, September 23, 2019

Whig's Defeat - Indiana Rose

This quilt in the collection of the Kansas City Museum may
be date-inscribed 1844. If so it's the earliest example of the pattern with a date on it.

Whig's Defeat quilt, signed Esther T Brawley, 1852

Merikay Waldvogel's been helping me find the earliest date-inscribed quilt in the Whig's Defeat pattern. We read of quilts with attributed dates of 1810 and 1820's but that seems early as the date-inscribed examples are from the mid 1840s or later. The red and green quilt above by Esther T (or F) Brawley 1852 was documented in the Tennessee project that she and Bets Ramsey conducted. Since then it's been sold at Case Antiques, which is where we found the photos.

What ST MP AD means????

The Turkey red print with rotting brown figures is
consistent with the date, as is the overdyed green.

Esther's is not a conventional Whig's Defeat. The floral applique is unusual.

I can't see any seams in the photos from Case Antiques but it
seems to be organized into repeating blocks.

Esther's repeat?

While pondering how Esther put this together I came across similar quilts that look to be from about the same time.

From the North Carolina Project and the Quilt Index. Two quilts: 
The one above by Mary McEwen (1836-1918), Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mary's strip border makes me wonder if it isn't after 1870.
The family name for the quilt was Indiana Rose.

This one with a pieced border by Mary Elizabeth McLean, Rowan County, North Carolina.

UPDATE: I found another date-inscribed example from the North Carolina Project:
Erwin [Or Ervin] March 1860.
The tale handed down in the family was that the maker lived in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Here's a fifth example of the pattern with the floral, this one from the Smithsonian's
 National Museum of American History,
attributed to Sarah Ann Young (1848-1936) born in  Preble County, Ohio.


This is surprising. I was confident this was a Southern pattern. Now, Preble County is right on the Indiana line, and there were a lot of Southerners in Indiana. Indiana Rose? Sarah Ann Young never married and spent her life in Ohio. Her mother Elizabeth Emmeline Armstrong Young was supposed to have helped with this quilt and she was also Ohio born.


Sarah's definitely looks like it is organized into blocks like this.

Sarah's quilt also looks to be later than the 1852 example; she probably made it after 1865, maybe in the 1870s, or 1880s when she was a young woman. It's tough to date from the photos.

One of the few date-inscribed examples is from Julie Silber's
inventory, also from the 1850s, a more conventional version of the Whig's Defeat,

Quilter M. E. Ellison actually quilted poetry into the piece:
"Think of me is all I ask/
A simple boon of thee/
And may it prove an easy task/
Sometimes to think of me
M.E. Ellison 185_ "
This version with a chintz striped border and sash was recorded in the Alabama
Decorative Arts Survey, dated 1854 in the stuffed work quilting.

The family attributed it to Martha Custis Turk (1839-1917), Lucy M. Turk (1838 -) & Abigail Williams Turk (1835-1909) of Brooklyn, Alabama (Conecuh County.) These young women were teenagers in 1854 and there is a possibility it was actually made by their mother Rebecca Williams Allen Turk (1810-1854) who died that year. Rebecca was from Hancock County, Georgia and had 12 children.

The American Museum in England at Bath collects American quilts. Their Whig's Defeat quilt is dated 1844-1855 and thought to be from Tennessee---Turkey red prints, chrome yellow and a green that is probably too bright in these photos.


  1. I absolutely love Esther's quilt - the curved patches like mini Dresdens make it so much more unique than the usual triangles. Then again I do like the pattern in any case.
    Cheers Barbara.

  2. Perhaps a visit south brought back the pattern from cousins or other relatives where the pattern was more common?

  3. Or a friend swapped patterns with her? Maybe someone moved south or someone moved north? Things were pretty up in the air in those years. "What ST MP AD means????" I certainly don't know, but I've seen letters like that on quilts in museums at some time in the past. I always wondered about that M, that's what stuck in my mind. I hope someone has an answer to that.

  4. Could ST, MP and AD be initials of people who helped to quilt it?