QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
The Minnesota Historical Society attributes this quilt to Mary Worthington Walker Foster (1809-1907), born in Belchertown, Massachusetts. The caption implies Mary Walker may have sewn it in Massachusetts before her marriage, but this quilt that looks to date from the 1850s was probably made after Mary and her husband moved west, first to Wisconsin in 1846, then to Ohio and Illinois.
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Soon after being counted in Indiana Sylvia moved to Olathe, Kansas near Kansas City, Missouri. She may have had relatives there, although finding her Kansas family is difficult as they are step relatives. The Marvin family is mentioned in her obituary when she died in 1896 a few days short of her 93rd birthday.
Sylvia also had relatives in the Edwin & Susan Sanford family who lived with her on Olathe's Lula (Loula) Street. Susan M. Hattery Sanford (1848-1945) was likely her step-grand-daughter. Susan and Edwin were from the community of Troy, Ohio in Geauga County, where Sylvia lived when her quilt made the newspapers in 1860.
Sylvia had married Susan's grandfather William Quinn (1786-1862) in the late 1840s after the death of his first wife by whom he had several children. Susan, born about that time, seems to have seen her grandfather's new wife as important enough in her life that she was the one who cared for Sylvia in her old age.
Before her marriage Sylvia Walker paid taxes on her cow and sheep in Parkman, Geauga County in the late 1840s.
Monday, September 18, 2023
The Smithsonian's example was donated by Dorothy Carter Diffey Bledsoe (1899-1987) who was born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas but spent much of her life as a newspaper writer and bureaucrat's wife in Washington D.C. She must have inherited the quilt. The attribution indicates that her grandmother Laura Doty Diffey (1852-1924), born in Ohio, was lucky enough to find it at a church bazaar in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1900. Is it signed or labeled with Queen's name in some fashion?
Sunday, September 17, 2023
“A very beautiful quilt, called ‘Garden of Eden’ ” by Sylvia L. Queen of Chagrin Falls in Geauga County, Ohio, up by Lake Erie not far from Cleveland.
It was raining so hard in Burton, Ohio that Sylvia could not officially enter the quilt in the county fair but the newspaper reporter and the fair board decided to give her a diploma anyway.
And she deserved it. I recently got to see Sylvia’s quilt. It’s a four-block floral applique with four vignettes in the border telling us the Biblical tale of the Garden of Eden, in which Adam & Eve live in Paradise but an evil snake comes along to seduce them into eating the forbidden apple of knowledge and they are expelled from the garden. Our ladder was not tall enough to get the whole quilt in the photo.
The Biblical tale in the borders.
Adam & Eve leaving the garden for the toil and troubles we’ve all been cursed to inherit, according to Christian tradition. You know the story. Sylvia’s figures are quite unusual. Here they are newly clothed in shame with aprons over their private parts. Adam is a dark silhouette somewhat naked but seems to be wearing socks. Eve---no revealing female silhouette here---she’s wearing a white silk dress, a shift or undergarment indicating her nudity.
The pair have distinctive personal features. Adam is definitely diabolical looking with his purple face---two-faced? Who is the devil here? Adam or the snake??? (Sylvia, a single woman in her late fifties at the time had been married at least twice.)
The background is a reddish/yellowish tan, hard to capture in a photo in the workroom light, one reason the photos shift from pink to gold. Some fabrics like the grapes appear to be wool; the background---linen??? If so we have all four primary natural fabrics of the era here.
The grapes are an important part of the border, but grapes are not the "forbidden fruit," which is the apple. The many apples in the border are no longer red. Were they wool fabric that did not hold its color? We guessed the scalloped binding was once red too.
Did the red dye in the apples and edging bleed into the entire piece, coloring it that rather unusual pinkish/yellowish tan? Red wools were not meant to be washed…. But linen does not take color easily. Did she choose a tan linen as background? Many mysteries.
Tomorrow and a few more posts: Sylvia Queen and a second quilt attributed to her.