Hand-sewn quilts teach history lessons

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McCook House Curator Kathy Horn stands by authentic Civil War quilts in an upstairs bedroom which are on display through Oct. 9.

From tattered to modern day award winners, McCook House display features them all



By Leigh Ann Rutledge

Associate Editor

A quilt display is taking place at the McCook House Civil War Museum Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 9.

The quilt show features an array of 90 quilts ranging from very old made by owners’ great great grandparents to unique new patterns.  A few are from the Civil War era, some are made with feed sacks and others have won awards. 

Kathy Horn, museum curator, admitted she never knew there was so much involved in quilting and understands not many people have the time today as they did in years past. 

Horn received assistance arranging the displays from three individuals who are knowledgeable about quilts, Charlene Good, Dave Lewis and Susan Cook. 

Lewis is a retired teacher from Louisville and is a member of the Carroll County Historical Society Spinners and Weavers. He has a collection of Civil War reproduction and original quilts. A quilt displayed in the large front room pays homage to Mary Ann “Mother” Bickerdyke, an unsung heroine of the Civil War. Mother Bickerdyke was a nurse and set up hospitals for Union soldiers. The note on the quilt said, “This woman became good friends with Grant and Sherman. The stories about her are amazing! She went in harm’s way to improve hospitals, ask women in churches for petticoats for bandages. She even checked battlefields to make sure none alive were left.”  

There are three styles of lace edging on the quilt which was handmade by Lewis. 

Another Civil War reproduction features pictures of Union and Confederate soldiers. Four of the photos are women who masqueraded as men to serve. Authentic Civil War artifacts are attached to each photo. One woman, Frances Clalin aka Jack Williams enlisted with the Union alongside her husband during the fall of 1861. Apparently, she could spit, swear and drink as well as any other soldier. She left the Army after the death of her husband in December, 1862.

Lewis also has a star quilt on display which was originally made by a Confederate woman. 

Good has many quilts on display. She is the granddaughter of the late Minnie Patterson, whose quilts are also on display. A black and white quilt Good created called “A Family Remembrance” features handprints traced by family members. Hearts represent deceased members. 

A “crazy quilt,” owned by Loreen Smith and assembled by Good, contains material from Smith’s paternal grandmother, Cladine Good; maternal grandmother, Patterson; and her mother, Good.

Other materials are from prom and homecoming dresses Smith wore, along with a wedding attendant dress. The quilt contains embellishments, including a small rose colored wooden bead from a necklace of her maternal great grandmother, Lula Elder.  

The Dutchman’s Puzzle is featured on a quilt owned by Susan Cook. She is unsure who assembled the quilt, but figures it was probably a family member in Orange Twp. in Carroll County. The quilt is estimated to be about 120 years and was probably green and white when it was made. It’s noted, some dyes were not stable and faded with time and light exposure. 

Cook also has a large, quilted wall hanging on display which was hand embroidered and hand stitched in the Broderie Rose pattern. The hanging began with the idea of reflecting the beauty of the flowers in Cook’s perennial garden in cloth. Cook worked three years on it, accruing 935 hours while working full time. It contains batik fabric from Malaysia and fabric from Europe. Cook and her mother’s favorite flower was the red rose, thus the border is red roses and they are incorporated in the quilt blocks. The quilted hanging has won local, regional and state awards and is quilted at 12 stitches per inch. 

Carrollton resident Lenora Devitt created a Bargello patterned quilted wall hanging. The hanging is made of strips of fabric sewn together to create the appearance of movement. Though the look of the finished quilt is full of curves and waves, there is no curved piecing in the technique. Looking at the finished project, Horn said she asked Devitt about the tedious project. 

“It’s the simplest quilt there is,” Devitt replied. 

Devitt, along with six friends, quilted together for many years. Each year, they made seven quilts; one for each member and one to be raffled at the Carroll County Relay for Life. 

Sisters Debbie Lumley and Julie Lumley Shuman shared quilts made by their grandmother, Myrtle A. Parker Lumley, in the 1940s. Shuman also displayed a quilt from the late Ermine (Orin) Croskey’s estate. The quilt was made in the early 1900s by Croskey’s mother, Hester Jane Orin, and is a nursery rhyme quilt. Squares have different scenes on them. 

Quilter Sandy Valdinger was asked to create a quilt for the Carroll County Daffodil Sale. Local farmer Dave Evans purchased the quilt for his granddaughter, Holly, for her wedding. Holly was overjoyed! She was a junior and senior dairy princess and took dairy projects in 4-H for 10 years. Her last year she was named Dairy Showman of Showmen. The quilt blocks have cattle on each one.

Mary Ann Marshall began work on a velvet string quilt in 1960, working on it periodically until 2020. When asked if she would be making another, she emphatically said, “No.” 

Several quilts belonging to the museum are displayed, such as a crazy quilt assembled by Emma Scott Shepherd in 1891 and donated, along with several from the Civil War era.  

Other quilt patterns on display include honeycomb, hunter’s star, tulip, peaks and valleys, grandmother’s fan and more.  

The McCook House Civil War Museum is located at 15 S. Lisbon St., Carrollton. For more information, call 330-627-3345 or visit carrollcountyohio.com.

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