Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sarah Miller's Quilt & How to Make A Tree of Life Chintz Quilt

Quilt with name Sarah F.C.H. Miller and date 1830,
Charleston, South Carolina,  Shelburne Museum Collection
109 x 125"

A chintz applique with the hollyhock bush in the center, flanked by a pair of pheasant and mango trees.

Cut from this chintz.

I think it once belonged to Florence Peto of New Jersey, collector,
dealer and quilt historian in the mid-20th century.

Many of the quilts Florence found wound up at the Shelburne Museum
where this quilt is today. She included it in her 1949 book Historic Quilts & Coverlets.

Under the central tree a name and a date
"Sarah F.C.H. Miller
Some read this signature as Sarah T.C. Miller.

The name Miller, the hollyhock bush and the format of the name under the central image would make one think we have another quilt related to the family of Mary C. Miller Taylor.

Mary spent several years in the Charleston area after her mother married John McNair of Stateville when Mary was about twelve. The Miller/McNair family included at least nine children who survived into adult hood but not one sister or sister-in-law named Sarah. Mary had five brothers who might have sired a Sarah Miller.

Peto tells us a little about "Sarah T.C. Miller," who lived with her brother Dr. Miller. " 'Sis Sally,' as she was known to her intimates, was sister of Dr. Miller who was minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Charleston; unmarried, she made her home with her brother and worked out a variation of the tree of life for the bed in the guest room."  I could not found a Dr. Miller in the records of the First Presbyterian but there were several Presbyterian Churches in Charleston.

Of course Miller is a common name so this Sarah Miller and Mary Miller Taylor could have been perfect strangers, living 100 miles away from each other in Charleston and Savannah. However, it is interesting how related the quilts seem to be.

But that may be because they follow a formula, a pattern so to speak. The tree-of-life applique quilts made north and south between 1800 and 1840 have a lot of variety but there is a typical style. If you were inclined to make a tree-of-life chintz quilt (and you had the right chintzes) here's how to make it look authentic.

The design conventions seem to be based on traditional compositions
seen in printed Indian palampores as in this one from the Charleston Museum

1) Applique a large tree or bush-like composition to a large white center square or rectangle perhaps 45 inches wide or larger. Cut arborescent tree limbs, florals and birds from various chintzes.

Edges turned under, appliqued with a blind stitch
Detail from a quilt in the Charleston Museum

Trim the images quite closely, leaving perhaps a bare quarter inch around the image if you are going to turn under the edges and stitch with an applique stitch. Or trim quite closely and stitch down the raw edges with a buttonhole stitch.

Raw edge, buttonhole stitch. Detail from a quilt in the D.A.R. Museum

1) Composition tips for the center

Worcester Historical Museum
Massachusetts project & the Quilt Index photo

1a) Use more than one tree trunk to fill out the composition, two intertwined trunks looks good.

Quilt attributed to Margaret Seyle Burgess, Charleston Museum
Dated 1833

1b) Place the tree on a small hill or landscape.

Debby Cooney's collection, photographed at a Paducah Rotary exhibit a few years ago

1c) Expand that landscape horizontally by placing a bird and/or more vegetation to the left and right.

Quilt attributed to Hannah Miller, Georgia project

From the Dillow Collection at the International Quilt Museum

British Quilters Guild collection

1d) Scatter a few butterflies or other insects to fill up some white space.

Center of Sarah Miller's 1830 quilt

1e) If white space still looks empty toss in a few small flowers or birds too.

2) Frame the Center

Quilt attributed to Margaret Seyle Burgess, Charleston Museum
Dated 1833

2a) Your easiest option is a frame of chintz print.

Also from the Charleston Museum

From Fourth Corner Antiques

Small quilt (63 inches wide) attributed to Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend,
South Carolina, National Museum of American History
A striped chintz adds more detail in one border.

2b) Another option: Borders of small floral or bird vignettes cut from chintz.

Quilt attributed to Frances Outerbridge
Pook & Pook Auction

Attributed to Mary Malvina Cook Taft
Metropolitan Museum of Art

International Quilt Museum

2c) Or combine both types of borders as Sarah Miller did.

And there you have a formula for a tree of life quilt.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mary Miller Taylor Quilts #5: Marrying into a Family of Pirates?

Quilts for Alexander and his two boys

Mary Miller Taylor had two children who survived infancy, Alexander born in 1800 and Elizabeth Ann born in 1802. Quilts with Alexander's name and those of his sons descended in his family but Elizabeth's descendants seem to have left none. Could Mary have favored her boy over her girl?

Many men in Mary's family went to Rutgers, now
the State University of New Jersey.
Queen's College building, erected in the early 19th century still stands.

Alexander moved to New Jersey probably to go to school, met Julia Clark of Newark, married her and lived the rest of his life in New Jersey. Elizabeth remained in Savannah where at the age of 19 she married Robert Morris Goodwin (1796-1861) of Baltimore, Maryland. Robert had been a young Second Lieutenant in the infantry during the War of 1812. After the war he joined his Goodwin and Ridgley relatives in the pirating business.

I know it's hard to believe this, but Mary Miller Taylor's son-in-law and his family were part of the thriving privateering business sailing Baltimore clippers down to the Caribbean, capturing Spanish ships under dubious authority and selling the captured merchandise in their Baltimore stores.

David Head in his book Privateers of the Americas tell us that Baltimore was "famous---or notorious---for its embrace of Spanish American privateering, " and that Elizabeth's husband-to-be was a key figure in the trade.

Robert Goodwin and his brother first cousin are listed as engaged in Baltimore's privateering in David Head's table of pirates (there are several Lyde Goodwins but this one is probably Lyde Goodwin 1777 – 1836). Robert was rather notorious on his own, remembered by New Yorker Walter Barrett as "one of the most splendid looking young men of his day...over six feet high... [His] good looks and his money made him a lion in [NYC]."
Barrett spends a few pages on Robert M. Goodwin in his 1863 memoir
of commercial gossip

Piracy or privateering is not, however, without consequence and while he was in the mercantile business in 1819 in New York the Spanish consulate had Robert arrested for piracy. He spent time in jail, swearing he would get his revenge on the son of the Spanish Consul, attorney James Stoughton. 

Gilbert Stuart portrait, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1794

James Stoughton was a cousin of Matilda Stoughton de Jaudenes y Nebot, daughter of Spain's Boston consul Don Juan Stoughton. The merchant Stoughtons represented Spain in Boston, New York and  Philadelphia where Matilda's husband was consul. All were engaged in countering the Baltimore privateers.

One December afternoon in 1819 Robert ran into James Stoughton while the two were promenading on Broadway. Words followed between the two young men; Robert stabbed James and fled to Elizabeth, New Jersey, presumably heading back to Baltimore.

The killing took place at the corner of Broadway and Courtlandt Streets,
pictured here about ten years earlier. By 1819 King & Mead's Dry Goods
Store was on the corner.

But Robert was arrested in Elizabethtown and tried for manslaughter in the spring of 1820. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, according to Goodwin family expert Ronda McAllen.

According to Walter Barrett: "I do not think any event occasioned more excitement at the time." Robert was found not guilty in the second trial, "went south" remembered Walter Barrett "and married a wealthy heiress in South Carolina, who had sympathized with his misfortune." That would be Elizabeth Ann Taylor. We cannot know what her parents Mary and William Taylor had to say about her suitor, although William's connections to the shipping trade may have inclined him to be sympathetic too.

Robert moved to Savannah where he was a rather exemplary and wealthy citizen for the rest of his life, serving several terms as a city alderman.  (I found just one or two more law suits.) He and Elizabeth had ten children (I like to think their grandmother dedicated a quilt to each one) born between 1822 and 1845.
Woman In A Green Taffeta, Mrs. Taylor. 
John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840)

This may be a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor Goodwin. Jarvis signed a portrait of her mother about 1830 and is assumed to have painted one of her father. "Mrs. Taylor" looks so much like a younger version of  Mary Miller Taylor that we can guess it's Mrs. Goodwin, the former Miss Taylor in her early 30s.

UPDATE: Ronda sent a 1963 newspaper clipping about a historic house
in Talbot, Maryland, owned by Elizabeth's great-grandson William Goodwin Ludlow Jr.
who had a "portrait over the mantel ...of Elizabeth Ann Taylor Goodwin...by Jarvis,"
probably this painting.

After Mary's husband William died in 1840 she lived with Elizabeth and Robert Goodwin at their home at the corner of Montgomery and Broughton (close to the Telfair Museum where one of her quilts is kept). She died in 1846 and is buried in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery.

Savannah in 1860, Library of Congress

Several of Elizabeth's children left their own paper trails. Daughter Mary Elizabeth married George Ludlow, a future Governor of New Jersey. Alexander Taylor Goodwin also had a political career as Mayor of Utica, New York at the end of the century. 

Julia Clayton Goodwin & Jared Scutter late in life

Daughter Julia Clayton married into a family of missionaries to India, the Scudders.

More Relatives

Mary's husband Robert was the youngest son in a large family of Baltimore merchants. His cousin Dr. Lyde Goodwin was a ship owner and one of the privateers that David Head lists. Relative Milcah Dorsey's family quilts were documented during the 1940s by Dr. William Rush Dunton of Baltimore.

Appliqued chintz quilt associated with the elder Milcah Goodwin
(she had a daughter named Milcah too)

The popular pheasant fabrics are repeated in the center,
framed by a pieced border and a final frame of chintz.

I desaturated Mary's last quilt to show the similarities.

Dr. Dunton showed many photos of quilts associated with Milcah's daughter Achsah Goodwin Wilkins (1775-1854) too. 

The unquilted coverlets attributed to the younger Goodwin women
show a sure hand at composition, attributed to Achasah's design skills.

Cut out chintz quilt with inked inscription
"A. G. Wilkins 1820 / M. D. Davis 1890”
Smithsonian Collection

Mary Miller Taylor was thus an in-law of the famous Achsah Goodwin Wilkins--- Mary's daughter was married to Achsah's cousin. Mary born in 1774 and Achsah born a year later may have known each other. But then again---maybe they didn't and any resemblance of their quilts is a coincidence of fashion.

Update:Ronda tells me I'm confused about all those Goodwins & Dorseys. (No surprise!) Achsah was first cousin to Robert and Lyde. Here's what she says. Since it's an interesting connection (which we both will further pursue) here is the genealogy.
UPDATE from Ronda: Robert was the youngest son of Dr. Lyde Goodwin (1754 – 1801) and Abby  Levy.  The Dr. Lyde Goodwin (1777 – 1836)  mentioned in “Privateers of America was the fourth child of William Goodwin and Milcah Dorsey and the younger brother of Achsah.  Dr. Lyde Goodwin (1754 – 1801) and William Goodwin ((1745 – 1809) were brothers.  Which means that Robert was the 1st cousin of Achsah and her brother Dr. Lyde (1777-1836).

See a preview of Privateers of the Americas: Spanish American Privateering... by Dr. David Head:

Read Walter Barrett's The Old Merchants of New York City, a nice slice of New York City life from the point of view of a dry goods clerk. He does seem quite confused about Robert Morris Goodwin's relatives, mixing them up with the Goodings of Baltimore. Robert was a Goodwin.

Just one more post: Tomorrow.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Mary Miller Taylor Quilt #4 1832

Quilt attributed to Mary Clayton Miller Clark, 1832.
MESDA Collection
Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

Inscribed in cross-stitch in the center
“A.C. Taylor
 from his
Grand Mother 

Quilt #4 is the latest of the Mary Miller Taylor inscribed quilts, dated in 1832 when she was about 58 years old. Alexander Clark Taylor (1825-1911) was 7 years old when the inscription was stitched. Perhaps he was envious of his older brother William's quilt dated six years earlier so a quilt was sent to him in Newark, New Jersey.

Eight appliqued vignettes with small florals and leaves scattered between them
on single piece of fabric.

This quilt combines the almost-block applique of Quilt #3 with the triangle borders from Quilt #2

1824 border of five strips

1832 border of six strips

Alexander Clark Taylor, like his older brother William, attended the University of Pennsylvania for a medical degree, graduating in 1850.

One fragment of Alexander's life is kept in the archives of Pennsylvania's Lehigh University. He left a journal of 24 pages, dating from November 1843 until July 1846 when he was "a primary school teacher in Vineland, New Jersey awaiting acceptance into the medical school of University of Pennsylvania." 
Here's a link to Journal & Extracts by Alex. C. Taylor.

After graduation Alexander returned to Vineland where he practiced medicine and ran a pharmacy. In 1859 he married Clara A. Dalzell from Philadelphia and there are records of two sons, John D. Taylor and William C. Taylor.

This quilt wound up in South Carolina with Mary's descendant Julia Taylor Scholz (1930-2008) (daughter of another Alex Taylor of Vineland) who donated it to MESDA along with quilt #1.

Like quilt number 1 for his father, Alexander's quilt includes birds
cut from chintzes found in other quilts of the time.

The most recognizable is Bird B, pheasant and palm tree
first printed in England in 1814 at Bannister Hall

Repeat in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum
See a post on the ten colorways of this print here:

Bird A looks like a pheasant in a bowl of fruit on a pedestal.

Cut from a pillar print.
The quiltmaker did not cut just the bowl but included the
capital for a little extra elegance and height.

This piece of the pillar print from the Winterthur Museum's collection
shows how the bird and fruit basket are rather precariously perched
on an architectural column.

Bird C: Similar bird perched in similar fruit basket but with a large palm frond.

Here's a monochrome version of the bird, fruit and the palm fronds.
No pillar.

And a very strangely colored version that may be
a later reproduction.

Three of Bird D frame the central cherub.

Hard to see what he looks like. I haven't found any yardage
yet with this cheerful bird but have seen him appliqued to other quilts.

Welch Quilt
Perhaps that bird of paradise (?) was once as bright as this one in a quilt associated with Elizabeth Welch in the Brooklyn Museum's collection and an almost identical quilt associated with Catherine Markey Garnhart (1773-1860) in the D.A.R. Museum.

See Anna Catharine Hummel Markey Garnhart's quilt here 

The Elizabeth Welch quilt uses many of the same birds as the 1832 Taylor quilt....

With bird C cut from the pillar print in the four corners.
What is intriguing is that the quiltmaker here also cut both
fruit bowl and pillar capital, a rather distinctive way to use the fabric.

My first thought in looking at these common bird images was that one could buy finished or basted blocks to incorporate into one's own quilt like this palm tree and pheasant block from a top auctioned at Skinner's a few weeks ago.

A rather unimaginative use of 12 identical chintz blocks.
Left over inventory?

But there are no block seams on the chintz quilts before 1840.
The birds and flowers float on the background cotton as in Mary Miller Taylor's 1824 quilt #3.
We might refer to the centers as whole cloth quilts with appliqued images.

Perhaps one bought the appliques as slips---an ancient term for a decorative piece to be transferred to another textile. Slips are most often thought of as embroidery slips as in the 18th-century piece below that you can buy on Etsy.

A slip is a worked image that is to be attached to another piece of cloth.

See one from about 1600 in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum:

A needleworker might buy a trimmed applique image, perhaps pasted to a piece of paper
to use in her quilt.

1826, Ann E Hill, North Carolina project & the Quilt Index

Ann Hill's quilt looks to have 18 identical cut images.

1829, Sarah M Wallace, Chester District, South Carolina, online auction

And then the raw edges were secured with a blanket or buttonhole stitch.

Detail of Mary's quilt #3

There are flaws in my theory of cut-out chintz slips, the major one being I have never seen a piece of trimmed chintz that looks ready to stitch to another piece. We've seen basted chintz cut-outs ready to be stitched but they are already attached to the larger fabrics.

Helen Winthorpe Kendrick shows you how to make an embroidered slip in Stitch-Opedia: The Only Embroidery Reference You'll Ever Need

More on slips from Meg Andrews:

More about the Garnhart/Welch quilts here:


One more post tomorrow on quilts that may be related to Mary Miller Taylor's.