Friday, April 8, 2022

Fannie Edmunds Cork's Shoe Quilt


High-button shoes are an unusual image for appliqued quilts.
This one in wine red and white is in Michigan
State University's Museum's Cuesta Benberry collection,
donated by the son of the quilt historian.

Cuesta specialized in African-American quilts and the shoe quilt came from husband George Benberry's family, made by his grandmother Fannie Edmunds Cork (1870-1955) in Lyon or Livingston County, Kentucky. Wine red was a popular color about 1910 when the quilt was thought to have been made.

Cuesta Ray Benberry (1923-2007)

High-button shoes from about 1910

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Grand Rivers, Kentucky

There's some mystery about Fannie's birthdate but her death certificate
tells us she died at 85 in 1955= born 1869 or 1870.

Fannie, born to Patsy Edmunds, married Jackson Cork.

The 1910 Census shows them living in Livingston County with
two children. They are farming in this rural area.

Ten years later they're farming in Brandon in Lyon County
and a Benberry grandson is living with them.

The African Americans in the neighborhood are Kentuckians
 for several generations, most of the older people 
undoubtedly born into slavery.

Paducah on the Ohio River is the city in the Livingston/Lyon area. The Corks lived in rural communities south and east of Paducah.

The 1920 census tells us much about their rural community on the Smithland & Dover Road (highway 453, which runs through Grand Rivers, Kentucky). The neighborhood was one of Black farming families born primarily in Kentucky. A central column here after M[ale]/F[emale] classifies everyone as Mu - the code for mulatto or mixed race people. George Benberry, born about 1914, is living with his parents and 5 brothers & sisters next to the Cork grandparents in the top family.

Almost-grown kids a little bit younger than George at the local Youngs Grove School

It would be great to learn more about rural Lyon County, Kentucky but much of the area is lost history since the Tennessee Valley Authority built dams to create lakes after 1940. 

Cuesta located Fannie in Grand Rivers near the red
star up at the top of Kentucky Lake.

Land near the Tennessee & Cumberland Rivers once known as Between the Rivers is now Between the Lakes.

In 1998 the Louisville Courier interviewed George's cousin Ewing Benberry about local history. He recalled that farmers were well paid for their condemned land. George's brother Newton said he
"came out way ahead" and moved to Indianapolis. George had moved to St. Louis, where he married Cuesta.

TVA Policy
Good for people who like to water ski---bad for local history.
We might look at Fannie's unusual quilt for a little more information.

Similar but pieced--- from the Florida project and the Quilt Index.
Owner who'd purchased the top thought it made about 1940 in
North Carolina.

I'd guess by the prints perhaps the 1950s or '60s.

Unusual image but there is some context.

Two shoes

Both crazy quilts from the Quilt Index

And another

Crazy quilts were the rage as Fannie was growing up.

Dated 1865, Winterthur Collection

Far from Paducah, New Yorkers added footwear to their albums,
possibly because shoe-making was a New York industry.

Left Sue Cummings book/Right Julie Silber's inventory

Closer to Kentucky was a regional fashion for shoes 
in some 1880-1920 albums from the Miami River Valley in Ohio.

The Museum at Michigan State also has this
sampler quilt Cuesta made with
patterns associated with Black quiltmaking.

And a red shoe.

No comments:

Post a Comment