Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Old Blue & White Quilt

I thought today I would share another old family quilt. This quilt is the oldest quilt in the collection, and tho I cannot tell you its exact date, I can take what I do know, and that which I believe to be true, and together, come close, hopefully, to the truth.

I believe that this quilt, dates from circa1865 to 1871. It is sadly damaged, in a pattern which indicates, that its worst damage, was caused by a beard. I do know, that it was cut down, and the edging replaced, by great grandma, Anne Elston Krout-Scearce. At that time she put the initials, HMS on the border. The only member of the family, bearing those initials, was her husband, Harry Marshall Scearce, the son of Dr. John Thomas Scearce, the Civil War surgeon. Harry and Anne were, grandma Maryann Scearce-Hanners, paternal grandparents.

I know that Harry did not have a beard, and was always clean shaven, so he could not have been the person, who wore holes in the top and bottom of the quilt. The quilt at present is 74" x 65", but since it has been cut down, I do not know what its original dimensions were.

As you can see, the center of the quilt, is very faded, so it must have sat on a bed in the sun. I do wish I knew what the pattern is. The first time, when I did research on it, I thought at first is was Jacobs Ladder, or possibly, Underground Railroad, but the pattern isn't quite right. Grandma Maryann, couldn't tell me what the pattern was, but she did tell me it belonged to her grandpa.

One of the things that dates this quilt, to the 1860's & 70's, is the double stitching, which you can see on the back. Instead of having, just one row of stitching, there are two. Can you imagine all of that hand work?! I believe, that this quilt was made by grt. grt. grandma, Elizabeth D. Gregg-Scearce. She was a member of the Womens Relief Corp, during the Civil War, and she knitted socks, and made articles of clothing, for the men who had gone off to war.

As you can see, by these three close ups, the quilt tho all blue and white, actually has three different type's of blue fabrics. Each was indigo dyed, but if you look closely at the last picture, you can see that above the checked blocks, there are very pale, faded, blue blocks. The fabric for them is very thin, as is the fabric for the checked. However when you look at the top two pictures, this fabric is much heavier, and is woven with a small white fleck in it. All of these fabrics, also date to the 1860's & 70's.

I became the owner of this quilt, back in the early 1980's, when grandma Maryann, her mother Matie, and I, were doing a bit of red barn cleaning. The quilt was stuffed in and around, two old pottery pickling crocks. This is why the quilt has that nasty circular stain, I was unable to get out. They were both very surprised, that I wanted to keep the quilt, and thought it was due for the dump. Since I love all things old, especially quilts, they gave it to me, along with the crocks.

When I think of this quilts journey, and all of those who used it, and abused it, it really makes me sad. I am very happy however, that I was able to rescue it from its sad state, and preserve it.

If it was always grt. grandpa, Harry Marshall Scearce's, which I believe it was. Made by the loving hands of his mother. It is very likely she made it for his birth, which occurred, June 27, 1865, at Fort Marshall, Maryland, just outside the city of Baltimore, in the last year of the Civil War. His father, Dr. John Thomas Scearce, was head surgeon, in charge of the hospital at Fort Marshall. grt. grt. grandpa, John had sent a letter to his wife, Elizabeth, in which he had placed 100 dollars traveling expenses, requesting that she come to Fort Marshall, to have her baby. Which she did. When Harry was born, he was given the middle name of Marshall, in honor of where he had been born.

In all of my family research, the only man in the family, fitting the time and place, for this quilt, and also who had access to it, and wore a beard, is Dr. John Thomas Scearce, Harry's father. This makes me very certain, that this quilt belonged to them, came from Danville, Indiana, to Noblesville, Indiana, where they lived after the Civil War. Then it made the long journey in 1910, first to Seattle, Washington, when Harry & Anne came out West. Then it went to their log home in Mosier, Oregon, in 1911, to Hoosier Heights Ranch as it was called. In the 1920's it moved with them to Hood River, and when Harry died, in 1928, it was passed down to his son, grt. grandpa, Richard "Dick" Gregg Scearce.

I asked grandma, when the poor thing had come to be in the red barn, and she seemed to think, it had been put there, when her folks bought the farm, as her mother thought it just an old rag, and used it to protect the aforementioned crocks. So for something like, 40 years, that poor old quilt, sat in that dirty old barn. I am still amazed, it didn't become a rats nest.

The only thing I think I forgot to mention, is that it is quilted with a white, solid cotton back, with a very thin cotton batting, between the layers.

Thus ends the tail, of the blue and white quilt. If you have more information, regarding the pattern of this quilt, I would be delighted to hear any comments.

NOTE: After much web searching the patterns most closely patterned like this quilt are: Broken Sugar Bowl a.k.a. Road To The White House & Road to Arkansas. Both are variations on a Jacob's Ladder Pattern. Earliest known date for this pattern is early 1850's.

UPDATE: After much research aided by watching several youtube video's on the subject of how to date a quilt, and consulting family records, I have come to believe that this quilt was actually made between the years 1924 and 1927. I was mistaken by damages done to the quilt and a lack of knowledge of how to test for age. This quilt, like the pink/white, and multicolored hexagon shaped quilts, were all made by, grt. grandma, Anne Elston Krout-Scearce. The possible answer to the riddle of it has been staring me in the face for years.

In 1985, as above mentioned, while clearing out the barn, I was given a treadle sewing machine that had belonged to grt. grandma Anne. I had never tried to find out its age until two days ago. I looked up the serial number and found that this sewing machine was made in Elizabeth, New Jersey in September 1924. Why you might ask does this matter?! Well two days ago I took a magnifying glass to the quilts made by grt. grandma Anne, and using my new-found knowledge on how to properly date a quilt, I discovered that they had been machine pieced, not hand sewn as I had previously thought. Also everyone of these quilts was hand quilted by the same person, who stitched with a very fine hand, 10 to 11 stitches to the inch.

It is possible therefore that this quilt and her others were made after the purchase of the sewing machine. Whoever sewed them together knew how to use a sewing machine, for the work is as fine as the hand sewing, all seams straight and seam junctions matching. This points to a woman of some skill and not a novice sewer. If the quilts date to earlier than this, then they were also sewn on treadle machine belonging to grt. grandma Anne, but I like to think they were sewn on mine.

I also found the damage to the quilt could have happened if it had gone traveling with grt. grandpa, Harry Marshall Scearce, who I found out by reading old family letters, was a traveling salesman for Marks Brothers Suits, but also was a traveling fruit salesman for the Growers Association of Hood River & Mosier, Oregon. He traveled to far flung places like, Salt Lake City, Utah; Kansas City, Kansas; and Butte, Montana. If that quilt marked with his initials had traveled with him, it could have sustained all manner of damage.

I also remembered Grandma Matie mentioning, at the time she gave me the quilt, that it had been used by her father, grt. grt. grandpa, William Frederick Zimmerman, until his death in 1926. He had a long flowing beard, so the whole thing makes sense. Grt. grandma Anne died in 1927, so the quilts could not have been made later than that. So unless a quilt expert dates these to earlier, I believe they were sewn on my old treadle machine, and finished by hand during the months grt. grandma Anne stayed on the ranch in Mosier, or at one of the rental houses they rented in Hood River. She and Harry were in the habit of renting for part of the year in Hood River and traveling back and forth between their ranch in Mosier and their rented house in Hood River. She was often alone for weeks at a time, when grt. grandpa was off traveling, so making quilts would have been a good way to pass the hours, while doing something useful. She also brought in a little money by teaching piano lessons and boarding a school teacher y the name of Miss  Howe.

This is the timeline:
1922 Grandma Matie aka Wanda Dale Roberts married Richard Gregg Scearce, in the home of her mother, Mary Ann "May" Zimmerman-Roberts in Hood River. They went to live with his folks at Hoosier Heights Ranch in Mosier after the wedding.
1924 Singer sewing machine purchased for Anne Elston Krout-Scearce of Mosier & Hood River, Oregon.
1927 death of grt. grandma Anne.

If only the quilts could talk then we would know their story for certain...sigh.