The first of the beautiful quilts that first came to the Museum on quilt documentation days has recently been donated. It is a beautiful and unusual piece with the cheddar and teal green alternating blocks. The pattern is most similar to the Sunburst pattern, shown in Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks ad #3545. The fabrics date this quilt to the 1870s. The scraps used in the pieced circles provide an encyclopedia of fabrics from the time. The numbered tag in the image below was from the quilt documentation day. The quilt has been given accession number TTU-H2016-090-001.
The family believes that the quilt was made by Henrietta Douglas Tubbs Appleman (Mrs. Thomas B.). They knew her birth and death dates and where she died, but not much else when the quilt came to the museum. Armed with this basic information, the Museum’s Ancestry.com volunteer (who prefers to remain anonymous) worked to fill in the blanks.
Henrietta was born in on July 15, 1846 in Fairmount Springs, Luzerne County, PA, married on August 3, 1866 in Columbia, PA and died December 30, 1927 in Clovis, Curry, County, NM. The quilt certainly fits her life dates. The family knew that they had moved from Pennsylvania to Iowa and Kansas before settling in Clovis, NM, but they didn’t know when the moves occurred. These dates were important because they would help document where the quilt was made.
The volunteer research developed a list of the Appleman children along with the dates and places of birth which helped define the family’s movements. Henrietta and Thomas Appleman’s first four children were born in Cambria and Benton Counties Pennsylvania between 1867 and 1875. Their fifth and sixth children were born in Story, Nevada County, Iowa between 1877 and 1882. So they lived in Iowa at least until July 1882. The family appears in El Dorado, Butler County, Kansas in the census between 1885 and 1900 and then in New Mexico in the 1910 census.
Clearly this was a treasured family object since it survived all those moves and is in excellent condition. But where was it made? Both Pennsylvania and Iowa are likely candidates. The cheddar yellow is a typical fabric for Pennsylvania and the green was popular in the 1870s. The yellow is a bit off from that normally found in Pennsylvania quilts so it is possible that this was made in Iowa with memories of what was popular in Pennsylvania before the family moved. If it was made in Iowa, given the dates and locations of the birth of the children it would put the quilt at 1875-1877.
This donation and the resulting research which we normally do on incoming objects benefitted the Museum and the donating family. We are grateful to Robert and Mary Beth Niehaus for entrusting the Museum with this treasure.