Thursday, August 17, 2006

My sister has shown on her blog pictures of the "family" quilts she has in her possesion. I was actually typing this as a comment on her blog but it got so long I figured maybe I'd better move it over here as a post of it's own. :-)

To fill in a little of the history.

The civil war quilt has a murky history. Bear in mind this quilt comes from my Dad's side of the family and the story comes from my Mom. I remember in earlier years she used to say, "I think this is probably where they came from." In the last years of her life the story changed to "This IS where they came from." So definately case of telling a story for so many years that it became true in her mind. Also bear in mind I once asked my Grandmother (who's family they passed down thru) where they came from and she didn't know. Just knew they had belonged to her Mother and were already well-worn for as long as she could remember.

Sooooooo the TRUE story is I have no idea where they orignated. The story Mama told - and actually had documented with the Mississippi State Historical Society before I knew she'd done it and could contradict it - goes something like. "When General Sherman burned Kentucky in the Civil War he let every family keep 1 quilt per person and a cookpot. These quilts were some of those quilts that were carried with the family when they left Kentucky for Tennessee after being burned out."

Okay, now I'm NOT a history buff but I've been told Sherman never burned Kentucky. And like I said, I know my Grandmother did not know where they came from. But the fabrics are DEFINATELY Civil War era and the quilts were already old when she was born in 1894. And her family DID move from Kentucky to Tennessee after the War. But it made a good story and Mama enjoyed telling it and showing the quilts so I guess no harm done. :-)

BTW, I have the cookpot she claimed came with them from Kentucky along with the quilts. It's a cast-iron pot made to use in a fireplace that's certainly very old. But whether it really came with them from Kentucky could only be confirmed by people who have been dead for many years.

The tumbling blocks I do know a bit about. It was made by our Great-Aunt Irene Conger (our Dad's mother's sister) in Jackson, TN. I do not know exactly when it was pieced but those ain't 30s reproduction fabrics you're looking at there. :-) What Susan refers to as a sheet on the back is actually real honest to God bubble-gum pink solid from the 30s/40s. It was with some Sunbonnet Sue blocks (made by the same great-aunt) and was to have been used as the sashing for those blocks. Mama chose to use it to back the tumbling blocks and set the SS blocks with a pale yellow poly/cotton that clashes horribly with the aged muslin background. Since that has never been quilted I have every intention of taking it apart and re-sashing with a nice repro that more matches the blocks.

Back to the tumbling blocks story. The edge of the quilt was finished by sewing to a pale pink solid that has been hemmed. It was actually used for a while as a tablecloth by Aunt Lena (another of our grandmother's sisters). Before she died she gave both the tumbling blocks top and sunbonnet sue blocks to Mama knowing that of everyone in the family Mama would appreciate them most.

One day soon I'll dig out the 2 family treaures I have. The above mentioned Sunbonnet Sue and the yo-yo that was made by our great-grandmother for our Dad when he was a baby. She made one for him and one for his older brother. This one I can roughly date as I've been told it was finished before 1930 and Daddy was born in 1925. So it has to fall withinin that time.

13 comments:

quiltpixie said...

the stories we tell around quilts, like other staories are all true -- they capture some essence that the story teller is conveying... they just might not be too factual :-)

Passionate Quilter said...

Nancy, I went to Susan's site to check out the quilts. How neat all of them are and how blessed you and Susan are to have such family treasures! It's too funny how the official story came to be! I'm afraid a lot of the stories are like that.

Libby said...

What treasures your family quilts are -- would love to see the cookpot, too. Whether the stories are completely factual doesn't really matter all that much. They are beloved family heirlooms to be passed on and on.

Cynthia said...

thanks for sharing the stories about the quilts. Would love to see the two quilts you have and the crockpot.

Esteemarlu said...

Nancy what a wonderful story. I wish I still had something made by my grandmother but with 10 kids she didn't do much quilting and the clothes that she made was used by all the kids so there wasn't any good ones left. I hope to take good care of the quilts I make. Let's hope my sons will to after I'm gone.

Gail said...

Love your mom's version of the family history. My mom does the same thing, kind of reminds me of 'fractured fairy-tales' from an old Saturday morning cartoon. Its not accurate, but its fun!

Vicky said...

Nancy, thanks for sharing the stories for the quilts Susan posted. You have quite a legacy there!

((HUGS))

EileenKNY said...

I think it's wonderful that you have these family heirlooms. My family has never been sentimental, so I have only one thing handed down from my grandmother.
Looks like you're going to have one heck of a shopping spree on the 1st of September.

Melzie said...

I love hearing these stories and cant wait to see the pics! I like the story as your mom told it, a little embellished drama never hurt a thing ;) xoxo melzie

Samantha said...

how wonderful that you and your sister have suchgreat family heirlooms!

Linda_J said...

I love these family stories--even the ones that have gotten a little turned around in the telling.

Good that you and Susan can both have some of these treasures living at your houses. I've got one that my great-grandmom made probably in the 60s that I should share sometime.

Elizabeth said...

How wonderful that you have the quilts, even if the stories might have been alterted through the years. Our family has a number of family stories dating from the ante-bellum and Civil War years, and I wish I had written them down in exact detail before some of the older members of our family died.

How are you preserving your quilts? I have a much newer family quilt -- It is a butterfly pattern quilt that dates from the early 1920's that is disintigrating. I am afraid to try to clean it or repair it for fear that it will break down even further

elizaeth
http://elizabeth-themerryrose.blogspot.com

Shelina said...

Wow you have such a rich history, and it is good that you are documenting it. I even like the embellishment in the story - better for telling grandchildren than publishing in a historical context though.
We don't have any family heirlooms. My grandmother had 11 children, and we had a very strict weight limit (necessities only) on how much stuff we could bring when we came to the U.S.