Thursday, November 11, 2021

Betting on New York


Quilt with a label, pictured in Jinny Beyer's 1985 book The Scrap Look
Collection of Diana Leone. 105" x 106"

The label:

"Presented to Ann Elizabeth Ayers by her mother Janey 1867 made and quilted by her Grandma Bonsall in 1830."

That's a pretty quilt, I thought as I was leafing through the book. "I bet it was made in New York." 

That's enough information to see if I was right in my initial reaction. I couldn't find the quilt today. I'd hope Diana's family still owns it.

Ann Elizabeth Ayers (1833-1915) died in Morristown, New Jersey, while living at 4 Franklin Place, today still a neighborhood of large, Queen-Ann-style houses. Well, Morristown is only about 40 miles from New York City so I was pretty close. And I might even have been on the money as some genealogical research indicates.

Ann was about 34 in 1867 when "mother Janey" presented her with her grandmother Bonsall's quilt.

The New Jersey Ann Elizabeth Ayers indeed had a grandmother named Bonsall, her father John's mother. It gets confusing though. There is no Janey Bonsall in Ann Ayers family. Her mother was Eliza Ennis Bonsall (1807-1880), who also lived in New Jersey. Of course Janey could be a nickname.

The Morris County history tells us that Ann Bonsall Ayres was
"born in New York city where her father was engaged in business for many years."
He, Eliza and Ann moved to Morristown in 1847 [or 1846], so if the quilt
was made in 1830 it may have been made in New York.

Ann's grandmother Bonsall was likely Ann Hicks Bonsall who married John Grey Bonsall (1765-1814) born in London. The Bonsalls were wealthy, making money in real estate beginning with Bonsall's Wharf at the foot of Dey Street---in the neighborhood of the World Trade Center.

A ship leaving for Liverpool from the Bonsals-Wharf in 1803.

Late-19th-century Bonsall house at 323 East 10th in New York City

Bonsall House, Morristown

The Bonsalls all gravitated to New Jersey, where the 1860 census finds Ann and Theodore Ayres worth $50,000. Ann and her brother John M. Bonsall are listed as born in New York and their two eldest boys as born in New Jersey.

But the family continued to own land in Manhattan, as many
real estate assessments testify.


The 1880 city directory lists Ann's mother Eliza living
at 221 W 20th in the city.

Why did I think it was made in New York?
The combination of pieced blocks alternating with cut-out-chintz applique is not that common.

I recalled two quilts in the collection of the New England Quilt Museum.

Quilt dated 1865 by New Yorker Penelope Carpenter Stanley 

See more about the Stanley quilt at this post:

A more complex star with stuffed-work figures and
florals cut from chintzes.

Made for the wedding of George Winter.

And then there are the Irish Chains with cut-out chintz...

Quilt dated 1822, with Ann Maria Warner's initials
New York Historical Society 
Attributed to her cousin Sarah Furman Warner Williams (1764 – 1848)
 who lived on the Bowery in New York City.

Irish Chains plus Cut-Out-Chintz.
Topic for another day.


  1. Oh I wish I could find similar chintz prints nowadays

  2. Beautiful quilts. I love that you include the history (genealogy) with the quilts. My great grandmother was a quilter. O how I wish I had even one block of one of her quilts. I do have a photo of her hand stitching on one. I’ve also been researching my own family for 32 years.
    I just received one of your books for my birthday from my youngest daughter, Divided Hearts. I am loving it.

  3. Love these quilts. Love the history behind them.

  4. that bottom block sure looks like a slug swirling along the side!

    1. Whatever creature it is I do not think it an attractive addition.