Saturday, May 6, 2023

Where'd You Get That Quilt?

"Bought it on an Ohio Riverboat west of Louisville."

Not the answer you expect to hear. Who knew Riverboats had gift shops?

The Louisville Courier Journal included arrivals and
departures of the river boats with traffic from New Orleans
and Indiana.

The Kentucky Historical Society has in their collection
three quilts attributed to the Chescheir/Owsley family, two of them silk log cabins.

"Quilt was possibly made by either the donor's mother, Elizabeth Chescheir, or the donor's grandmother Catherine Elizabeth Bodley Owsley.....Her daughter, Catherine Innes Owsley (born April 9, 1843 in Danville, Ky.) is another potential maker." Catherine Elizabeth Bodley was born March 3, 1816. She married Erasmus Owsley and they had nine children. The oldest child was donor William Chescheir grandmother Catherine Elizabeth Bodley Owsley.

The three quilts were donated in 1980 by William B. Chescheir, active in the Kentucky Historical Society and several other historical organizations. His mother Elizabeth Booker Chescheir died the year he donated many family heirlooms and World War II memorabilia to the Society.

Chescheir Collection 
Kentucky Historical Society
Elizabeth Booker Chescheir (1894-1980) with her family in the early 1930s. William is the son right behind her husband George Maynard Chescheir. William guessed his mother Elizabeth may have made the quilts. 

But mother Elizabeth Booker Chescheir left a note that accompanied one log cabin stating that her grandmother made it:
 "In the 1880's; she was Catherine Elizabeth Bodley Owsley... daughter of Gov. Wm. Owsley [Governor 1844-1848]; when she came to Louisville...she became an ardent worker in 2nd Presbyterian Church [where a group of women] got together regularly and made quilts and other beautiful articles to sell to make money for missions.... One place they sold them was on the steamboat that ran from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Wealthy people travelled on that boat and they got many orders for quilts and embroidered linens."

Attributions and family history as to who made the quilts are confusing. But the idea that the Presbyterian ladies sold quilts on the riverboats is intriguing. 

Link to another quilt from the family:

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