Saturday, July 3, 2021

Kentucky Cherry Tree Quilts #2


Attributed to Emma Bridges (1842-1888)
 Henderson or Jefferson County, Kentucky
Bingham/Miller Collection

Yesterday we looked at the Wilhoit family's Cherry Tree quilt.
Here's a twin.

The Bridges quilt was exhibited at the Speed Museum in Louisville in 2011.

The quilt on the right is inscribed:
"S. Z. Wilhoit March, 1852 by her mother"

The family remembered that the quilt "cost Mahalia Dale Wilhoit $80.00 and was a gift to her daughter, Sarah Z. Wilhoit, at birth, March 1852 and called it 'George Washington's Cherry Tree.'"


Layering one quilt atop the other shows how the blocks
in particular are almost identical. The borders have many of
the same elements and the same curve. Both have stuffed-work

Feather quilting outlining the vine is the same.

Bridges quilting

Block quilting patterns are similar along the edges.

Wilhoit quilting

The Emma Bridges we are looking for may be Emma Tunstall Bridges of Jefferson County, Kentucky (where the Speed Museum is in Louisville.)  Her mother Lucy Bell Tunstall is buried in Henderson. If the quilt attributed to her was made in 1852 as the Wilhoit quilt is dated, she'd have been 10 years old.

Emma's obituary
April 15, 1888
Louisville Courier Journal.

Emma died on April 14, 1888 at 47 leaving her husband with six children ages about 21 down to 8. The 8-year-old was another Emma Tunstall Bridges.

Emma lived on South Third Street, a well-to-do neighborhood.
The early-20th-century censuses list Charles as the proprietor of a tobacco warehouse.

The warehouse at 1719-1723 W. Main Street still stands, now on the National Register.

The 1870 census tells us that the Bridges family were wealthy enough
to maintain two servants. The elder, Harrison Bridges born in 1825,
may once have been a slave in Charles's family. Charles's father was
also named Harrison Bridges.

Right after the war in 1866 Harrison Bridges was in a court case for a $12 debt settled by the Freedman's Bureau Court.

From Family Search

One could look into Harrison Bridges hypothesizing that one of the women in his family had a hand in the quilt. But I think that might be a false trail.

Emma Tunstall may have acquired the quilt as a gift in the 1850s when she was young, perhaps bought from the same quilting workshop that made the Wilhoit quilt. That family recalled that their Cherry Tree quilt was purchased. The Wilhoits and the Bridgeses seem to have been of similar privilege according to Emma's obituary and Charles's census records.

Emma's father Henry Robinson Tunstall was listed as a Louisville teamster in the 1850 census, worth $5500, a respectable amount but not South Third Street quality. The family owned slaves and here is an advertisement looking for a seamstress in 1850. (Note Emma is listed as 12 here; her birthdate seems to vary.)

All very intriguing but the most intriguing aspect is the pair of quilts. I would guess Emma's quilt, like the Wilhoit's, was purchased--- but from whom????

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