Friday, May 28, 2021

Frances Kendrick Massey: Trunk Full of Louisiana Quilts

Quilt attributed to Frances Kendrick Massey (1867-1952)
Documented by the Louisiana Folklife Program in 1985.

The family called this design Indian Wedding Ring, a name published in 1933 by syndicated columnist "Hope Winslow,"  penname from the VerMerhren pattern company in Des Moines.

But the quilt may be several decades older than any published pattern; the family thought 1890s---from the days when this design seems to have been passed around hand to hand in the South. The Louisiana quilt is a rather complex variation.

At least five quilts from the same maker are pictured at the Quilt Index, brought in by a family member who lived in Claiborne Parish and "found the quilts in the maker's 'Hope Chest' and does not believe [they have] ever been used." Frances married James Wallace Massey in 1901 and this is very possible. They did not have children and the quilts may have remained unneeded.

The teal solid is probably colored with a synthetic dye, quite fugitive
to light. It looks like the quilt has been folded with
the streaked area exposed to sunlight.

The solid blue-green was a popular color after 1880 despite its tendency to fade to gray or tan. This quiltmaker was fond of the palette---red and the blue green are color complements and quite traditional.

Irish Chain from the trunk,
this one showing more wear.

Variation of BlockBase #1022

For some reason the quilts are labeled as made in Oregon, although Martha Frances Kendrick Massey (1867-1952)  was born and died in Claiborne Parish and spent most of her life in the vicinity of Haynesville, a town up by the Arkansas state line.

She is buried across the line in Arkansas's Shiloh-Buckner
Cemetery with her husband and his family.

Another Irish Chain variation---two blocks making
a complex pattern.

Frances may have used a published pattern here as the complicated two-block design was published as Atlanta in Hearth & Home magazine in 1917 and as Love Chain in the Prairie Farmer in 1931.

Frances was 50 years old when the Hearth & Home pattern was published and could very well have made this quilt (and the others in solid fabrics) about 1920 when that fabric style was still popular in the South.

This one pieced of prints seems easier to date. The periwinkle
blue looks late-19th century and that appears to be black
so: after 1890. About 1900?

Pattern is BlockBase #2433
published as Swallows in the Window in 1930
in the Kansas City Star.

The quilt doesn't look that recent--
Again a pattern handed around and eventually published?

Another one with printed fabric but just two:
a wide floral stripe and a shirting.

The family thought this might be an original pattern of Frances's
design but there are other examples using log cabin rectangles
to make a dark and light tessellation. 

The closest published pattern is "The Monument"
published in the Ohio Farmer about 1890. Frances's
quilt might be from that decade or a little earlier.

Example from the Michigan Project.

You could piece it as a block or as strips of rectangles & squares, which Frances seems to have done.
Read more about Monument quilts:

John Pinckney Kendrick (1826-1899) and Rachel Lowe Kendrick (1827-1900)
Frances's parents. Her mother lived until the 20th century so she may
have had a hand in the quilts too. And then there are Frances's three sisters and four sisters-in-law.

Sister-in-law Mary Lue Petillo Kendrick (1861-1941) with her husband William Kendrick. Mary Lue and family went to Texas in the early 20th century but dated by the childrens' ages (Oddie D in his father's lap was born in 1892) the photo was taken in Louisiana. William has a patchwork quilt on his chair and the photographer used the reverse of quilts for a background, a typical setup by itinerant photographers at the time.

From William's Find-a-Grave file.

Links to quilts and Frances Massey's grave:

Monday, May 24, 2021

1848 Quilt: Part 2


We are looking at an 1848 Pennsylvania quilt that we at 

Our scribe Kathe Dougherty did me the favor of recording the inscriptions. She found 12 surnames in three Pennsylvania counties, Juniata, Huntingdon and Union. 

 The majority of
the names are from Juniata County.

Several are from Lostcreek
or Lostcreek Valley, including the recipient Elizabeth Sponhauer.

January 27th, 1848 is probably her wedding date.

Elizabeth Sponhauer (1826-1898) married Ephriam Rannels.
He later spelled it Reynolds.

Elizabeth is buried in the Old Church Hill Cemetery in Juniata County. We learn she was a member of the Lutheran Church and had two girls and two boys between 1848 and 1860. 

Catherine Roland of Union County. Her name is on
a woven plaid block, a fabric of no help in dating the quilt although
the reds and blues are useful.

Cables are quilted between the blocks. The triple cables are
a pretty good clue to a Pennsylvania quilting party.

From Elizabeth's obituary: "The deceased leaves a husband with whom she traveled down life’s journey for more than fifty years..." More about him over here:

It would seem that Elizabeth was born into the Mennonite Church as Sponhauers---Henry and Catherine---whose names are on the quilt, are buried in the Lost Creek Mennonite Cemetery.

Five Fair Ladies on the Juniata River from a series of
 1860s stereo photos of the Pennsylvania Central Railroad (note bridge.)

Henry B. Kurtz
Juniatta [sic] County
Perhaps Henry Bard Kurtz

Lost Creek is under the orange arrow,
northwest of Mifflintown

Names on the quilt:

Juniata County
Lostcreek Valle
Mary Trago
David R. Kurtz
Caroline Jacobs
Henry B. Kurtz
Elizabeth Kurtz

Mary A. Lapp

Lostcreek (two names for the same place?)
Stephen H. Lapp
Ann Lapp
Margaret Jacobs
John W. Jacobs
Emily Kurtz
Henry Sponhauer
Lovina Sponhauer
Catherine A Sponhauer
Anne Nicholas
Frances Lap (p)
Ann Lapp
Mary A. Lapp

Thompsontown, early 20th century

Mary Thompson
Sarah Thompson

Blue and Buff print and a pink stripe from Sarah Thompson

Union County
Eliza Hauck
Margaret Hauck
Margaret Harold
Maria Roland
Catherine Roland
Henrietta Roland

Huntingdon County
Emaline Wilson
Matildia Wilson (perhaps Elizabeth Matilda Wilson Fleming 1815 - 1873)
Ann Wilson

"Matildia Wilson
Huntingdon is misspelled. 

Elizabeth's site at Find-A-Grave:


Sunday, May 23, 2021

1848 Quilt from Pennsylvania: Part 1


My office 

On the wall a recent gift from friend Wendy Turnbull, moving it from
her home for orphan quilts to mine. One fourth of a large quilt.

I am thrilled. It is not in good condition but what remains is a terrific
document. Many blocks have a name and place and some a date of 1848.

"Stephen H. Lapp
The names are not actually signatures but rather written by one person,
a scrivener or scribe with exemplary handwriting.
I doubt Stephen stitched the block either.

The pattern is often seen in mid-19th-century quilts, offering a good place to write an inscription. In this one 32 full blocks are placed on point around a central applique with a circular dedication.

"Elizabeth Sponhauer
January 27th A.D. 1848
Written by
Sarah Anne Hieser
Lostcreek, Juniatta [sic] Pa"

Sarah was apparently the scribe and Elizabeth the recipient. She
married in 1848 and January 27th was probably the date.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth's family used and washed this quilt over the last 175 years or so and the appliqued center is quite worn. The overdyed green calico, although faded towards yellow, is still holding up but the Turkey red floral is gone except for tiny remnants held there by quilting stitches.

All that's left.

Inside that floral is an applique block that has completely faded to white. I can see that it may have looked like these very typical Pennsylvania fleur-de-lis. 

The center block is 32" square

I traced the photo

What would make a fabric---a solid it seems to have been---fade completely to white? I have seen this in the 1840-1865 era with solid blues dyed with Prussian blue. Prussian blue is colorfast EXCEPT when you wash it in an alkalai solution, which is what laundry soap is. You can wash it enough times that it completely fades away and I bet that is what's happened here. A little chlorine bleach probably increased the fading. Notice how white the whole thing is---it's been bleached.

Blocks are cut in half and quarters to finish out the repeat.

The quilt was once red, green and Prussian blue with some pinks and browns. Several Prussian blue and buff style prints are in the blocks placed around the edges. The Prussian blue prints hold up better than the solids.

It's scalloped all around and bound with a plain green.
Scallsops rather unusual for the time but there are other examples.

The rainbow blue prints were so fashionable in the 1840s. I recognized one.

A rainbow blue stripe alternating with a red, pink and brown shaded stripe.

I had another quilt with the same fabric in it (slightly different colorway.) Prussian blue expert Anita Loscalzo has that quilt now. I actually did a Moda reproduction print of this stripe in the Baltimore Blues line a few years ago but we could not get it to work in blue (rainbow prints were hard to obtain in 1840 and apparently harder today.)

Becky Brown's been fussy-cutting the brown versions
of that stripe for our Hands All Around BOM.
Wish it could have been blue too.

Look how long this post is and we haven't even gotten to the names and the people yet. More tomorrow: https://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2021/05/1848-quilt-part-2.html

And see more about the groom here: