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 patter was, but she did tell me it belonged to her grandpa, and was on a bed in their guest room, when she was a girl, and was pretty much in the same shape, as what I found it.

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 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. Grandma was very surprised, that I wanted to keep the quilt, as she thought it was due for the dump. Since I  love all things old, especially quilts, she 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 as I believe, this quilt was made towards the end of the Civil War, if it could talk, what a story it could tell.

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. As it happens Dr. John Thomas Scearce's regiment served in the Civil War in Arkansas, as well as other southern states. His wife, Elizabeth went to stay with him while he was at Helena, Arkansas. It may be that stay which inspired this quilt?!