Monday, December 27, 2021

Three Related Missouri Quilts: #1 California's


Los Angeles County Museum of Art

An impressive quilt with an unusual border and stuffed quilting given to the museum in 1930 by Lulu Tyson Russell. Lulu probably gave the information that the makers were Gillie P. Wright & Margaret Wright of Monroe County, Missouri.

In 2008 Austen Bailly wrote a post for the museum's blog:                   
"Buchanan’s Banner was made in 1857 by two sisters, Margaret and Gillian P. Wright, from Monroe County, Missouri, to celebrate the election of James Buchanan as fifteenth President of the United States (1857-61). The quilt begs close examination to discover all its superb details, such as the raised drum and drumsticks and “liberty” banner included with each of the four Great Seal representations that symbolically flank the central “Rose of Sharon” variation like north, south, east, and west cardinal directions."
We don't see why it's called Buchanan's Banner. President James Buchanan just didn't create as much enthusiasm among quiltmakers as say Henry Clay or James K. Polk did. Is that written on the quilt? And is it actually date-inscribed 1857? Or was that name in Lulu's family story?                                     

In 1933 the Los Angeles Museum exhibited their quilts with "Buchanan's Banner" mentioned in the L.A. Times. Mildred Vance Brown (1877-1965) curated the show.


The four empty blocks each contain a stuffed work patriotic
image, an eagle with the word Liberty.

The appliqued border has a triple swag with looped corners
and more stuffed work. The edge is finished with folded triangles
 in a treatment we might call Prairie Points. Do notice the applique
 layers are edged with a white outline of some kind. 

This detail shows the white edge as embroidery, perhaps a couched white thread---
meaning a thick thread is laid along the applique edge and
secured by stitches in a finer thread.

The block pattern is rather unusual; you don't often see these
rose designs with 8 similar flowers spinning around....

Although one does come across a similar regional favorite in
Garrard County, Kentucky. Is that white embroidery around the applique?

Different quilt; same pattern in center.

And another by Amanda Estill Moran, found
in the Kentucky project.

I tried to find out more about the Buchanan's Banner quiltmakers Margaret & Gillie P. Wright in Monroe County Missouri, but came up with no Monroe County residents who fit. We know family stories are full of false leads.

Their quilt certainly is a unique piece, but once I started looking into the whole story I found it's not one of a kind. Tomorrow a quilt by the same makers, perhaps.


  1. Oh wow! For me visually, the perfect combo of applique blocks and open space. What a stunning quilt!

  2. And it may really be a Missouri quilt.

  3. This is just amazingly beautiful! Thank you so much for this post with the incredible, detailed pictures, Barbara. So inspiring!

  4. Thank you for presenting this magnificent work. I wonder if the couched edgings were added for emphasis or were they butted against the prepared patches and the couching stitches secured the cords and patches both. The hours of stuffed work, close quilting, edge treatment, balanced design and unfaded colors make me yearn to see it in person. How did these sisters have such a luxury of time to produce this beauty?