Monday, July 5, 2021

Kentucky Cherry Tree Quilts: #4

We've been looking at three mid-19th-century Cherry Tree quilts from Kentucky
with nearly identical trees and similar stuffed quilting.

One is in the files of the West Virginia Quilt Project, attributed to a professional quiltmaker in Woodson County, Kentucky.

"We think these quilts were made as birth gifts for several members of our grandmother's family....The quilt was made by a woman in Woodford County, Kentucky (Versailles). It cost Mahalia Dale Wilhoit $80.00 and was a gift to her daughter..."

The second is attributed to Emma Tunstall Bridges of Jefferson County.

The third is attributed to Virginia Ivey of Logan County.

What to make of it all? 
My guess: We have here clues to a professional quiltmaker making high-end needlework for sale
and I am guessing that woman was Virginia Ivey.

Virginia Mason Ivey (1828-?)

There's more to it than the idea that she is the only quiltmaker of the three similar quilts who has a name and identity. It's that she has at least two remarkable quilts reliably attributed to her and she fits the profile of a professional seamstress (unmarried: from a family without a great deal of money to support single women.)
The Russellville Fair whitework quilt

And that Russellville Fair quilt---perhaps a show-off piece to advertise a business. These are weak clues....someone looking for a quilt research project might want to spend some time in Logan County, Kentucky.

And to add to the mix:

Here's a fourth cherry tree from the Michigan Project, one that belongs to a collector.
It may be dated 1910, fifty years after the other three.

The tree roots are different, not so detailed as the Kentucky quilts
and it has a much simpler border and no stuffed work quilting.

Quilt attributed to Virginia Ivy (note different spelling)
by Lowery Antiques

They told nothing of how they assigned the maker and they
seemed to have acquired it from another dealer who may have been their source.

Grapes in the border but no stuffed quilting.

No mysteries solved...


  1. These are so beautiful! Would love to make one and have a pattern.

  2. The Michigan Quilt Project quilt is in the collection of the Michigan State University Museum, #2010.124.8. It was collected by Ray and Alice Pengra. The Pengra's lived in Horton, Michigan and collected quilts from antique auctions and estate sales. They had no documentation when they donated this quilt to the MSU Museum.

  3. Thank you for the continuing feast of quilts....

  4. When you mentioned the cost in a previous post, and what that would be in today's dollars, I thougth, Well she was properly paid for all that work!