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Willa Stevenson Eastlick's wedding quilt, created in 1904.

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt

By Julie Hunter

Willa Stevenson Eastlick's wedding quilt, created in 1904.

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s wedding quilt, created in 1904.

Wilhelmina (Willa) Celeste Stevenson married John Jacob Eastlick on June 4, 1904, in a ceremony held at the Methodist Protestant Church in Seattle.  The Reverend T. S. Winey officiated, and May Eastlick and S. J. Beresford were the witnesses.  Both the bride and groom came from families living in Issaquah, and they would make their home there, at times living with Willa’s parents.

One of their wedding gifts was a quilt (2016.17.66) that had been made by a group of their family and friends.  Such wedding quilts were part of the overall tradition of friendship quilts, which were common throughout the nineteenth century in the United States.  In a society where commercially produced cloth was readily available and sewing skills were near universal among women (and not unknown among men), putting a quilt together was an easy group activity.  Friendship quilts were made for several reasons.  They usually were meant for a specific individual or couple, either marking an event or as a farewell.  Couples or families moving West were often given one by the friends and family they were leaving behind.  Community groups made quilts to send to soldiers from their towns during the Civil War, providing both the morale boost of personal support and practical warmth in an era of minimal standard issue supplies.  Likewise, quilts were donated to the general war effort or were raffled to raise money for other supplies (especially for medical needs).

If you were about to set up housekeeping, you would need bedding.  People who wanted to celebrate your wedding could work together to provide a key piece that also expressed suitable sentiment.  The quilt shows coordination and careful workmanship.  Someone set the theme of only blue and white squares and determined what size they should be.  Probably a woman, and maybe even Lucy Stevenson, the bride’s mother, was in charge of the project.  Lucy, a professional milliner and seamstress with her own shop in Issaquah, had all the skills necessary to plan and execute a quilt, with or without help.  We have other examples of her quilt work in the Lucy Stevenson Collection.  Artifact number 2016.17.62a-e is a set of doll bedding, complete with two small quilts, and 2016.17.59 is a sample of her crazy quilt work that has been framed.  Quilting was part of Lucy’s life; she even owned a lap table (2016.17.57a-f) specifically designed for quilting from the comfort of an arm chair.

Forty-seven people contributed one square each, and a single blank square was used to even out the final row.  All but two of the squares adhere to the blue and white color scheme.  The two odd ones, made by the Sylvester sisters, are both in pale off-white shades.  Each square is different, and all but the blank bear either a name or initials in embroidery or ink.  Most also have at least part of a date, and those correspond, in so far as can be documented, with the makers’ birthdays.  Once the squares were collected, they were sewn together, in this case with blue sashing in between.  The completed top was then layered with a batting and a backing, with binding all around the edges.  The binding matches the sashing.  The backing is white, and the hand quilting is in white thread.  The quilt is well made and has worn well.  The turned edges of the binding have cracked on the fold, and there is some minor staining, which leads to the conclusion that the quilt has been used but not abused.  It has a hanging sleeve of white cotton sewn at the top of the reverse; this was done while it was exhibited as part of in the collections of Washington State University in the early twenty-first century.

The quilt documents the social ties of the couple at the time of their marriage.  Willa’s and J.J.’s close family members contributed squares, as did Issaquah area friends, and people Willa’s family had known in Kansas.   On this quilt, all of the contributors who can be fully identified are women or girls.

The bride and her relatives:[1]

W.C.S.   June 24, 1877  — the bride herself, Wilhelmina Celeste Stevenson

Lucy A. Stevenson   March 9, 1840  — Willa’s mother, who was born Louisa Ann Whitehead.  Lucy’s childhood was spent in Pennsylvania, where she apprenticed with a milliner.  She moved to Kansas, probably with her widowed mother and some of her brothers and sisters.  There she married DePue Miller, who also had business and family ties back to Pennsylvania.  Their marriage was recorded in Geary County, Kansas, in 1866, and they made their home in Randolph, Riley County.  DePue speculated in land and had financial and legal problems.  Lucy ran a millinery business and gave birth to a son, Howard.  Nine years later, in May of 1875, DePue died, leaving Lucy with debts and legal problems.  Things got worse.  Her only sister, Georgeanne, who lived with her or nearby, died in July of that year.  In the midst of this sorrowful time, James Stevenson, who was driving cattle, stopped at Lucy’s rural home to ask for the use of a map.  She made an impression on him, and he wrote to her the following year to reintroduce himself.  He was one of three suitors of the Widow Miller. He married her on August 20, 1876, in Riley County, and Wilhelmina was born almost exactly nine months later.  At some point between 1890 and 1893, the Stevenson family picked up stakes and moved on to La Veta, Colorado, where they lived long enough to be involved in the local Masonic lodge and to order fruit trees for planting.  By 1900 they had moved to Issaquah, where Lucy, James, Howard Miller, and Wilhelmina would all live out their lives.

C. Whitehead February 22, 1820 – Lucy Stevenson’s mother, Willa’s grandmother, Caroline Berry Whitehead. Originally from Pennsylvania, where her children were born, Caroline had been widowed and moved to Kansas with several of her grown children by 1870.  In the 1890s she was living with one of her sons and his wife in Chicago, Illinois.  In the winter of 1894, a family letter reported that she had “. . .been making crazy quilts this winter[;] we have pieced 3 silk quilts and 1 plush and velvet one.”  (2016.17.259c)  By 1900 she had moved to San Francisco and taken up residence with the family of another son, Samuel B. Whitehead.  She lived with them until her death, at the age of 95, in 1915.

Ella Stevenson  1862, August 16 – Willa’s aunt, she was married to George Washington Stevenson (known as “Wash”), who was James Stevenson’s brother.  Although the Stevenson brothers had started life in Ohio, George had also made his way to Kansas.  He and his family remained there, even as James and Lucy moved west.  Both the 1900 and 1910 census show Ella and Wash and their children (and her mother) living in Green, Pottawatomie County, Kansas.

Juanita Stevenson  December [15?] 1901 – Willa’s cousin, daughter of Ella and Wash Stevenson.  Her mother probably made this square so that her two-year-old daughter would join the other women of the family on the quilt.

C. Whitehead February 22, 1820 – Lucy Stevenson’s mother, Willa’s grandmother, Caroline Berry Whitehead. Originally from Pennsylvania, where her children were born, Caroline had been widowed and moved to Kansas with several of her grown children by 1870.  In the 1890s she was living with one of her sons and his wife in Chicago, Illinois.  In the winter of 1894, a family letter reported that she had “. . .been making crazy quilts this winter[;] we have pieced 3 silk quilts and 1 plush and velvet one.”  (2016.17.259c)  By 1900 she had moved to San Francisco and taken up residence with the family of another son, Samuel B. Whitehead.  She lived with them until her death, at the age of 95, in 1915.

Ella Stevenson  1862, August 16 – Willa’s aunt, she was married to George Washington Stevenson (known as “Wash”), who was James Stevenson’s brother.  Although the Stevenson brothers had started life in Ohio, George had also made his way to Kansas.  He and his family remained there, even as James and Lucy moved west.  Both the 1900 and 1910 census show Ella and Wash and their children (and her mother) living in Green, Pottawatomie County, Kansas.

Juanita Stevenson  December [15?] 1901 – Willa’s cousin, daughter of Ella and Wash Stevenson.  Her mother probably made this square so that her two-year-old daughter would join the other women of the family on the quilt.

The groom’s relatives:

Abbie Eastlick   December 1, 1853 – The groom’s mother was born Abigail Alice Vaughan.  Her parents were John William Vaughan and Rachel Mercer, of the Mercer family so key to Seattle area history.  Her husband was Mahlon D. Eastlick.  The Vaughans and the Eastlicks took up residence, farming and owning a successful mill, on the part of the Issaquah Plateau known as Vaughan Hill.  Abbie and Mahlon named their firstborn son John Jacob, after his grandfathers, John Vaughan and Jacob Eastlick.

Three out of J.J.’s five sisters signed their squares with their initials and birthdays.  The other two sisters were the youngest, aged 14 and 12, and they are not represented on the quilt.

N. E. August 24 – Nell Eastlick was born on this date in 1879, in California. She married Carl Frederick Gronlund in Seattle just two months after J.J. and Willa’s wedding.

G.E. October 27 – Most likely is Grace Frances Eastlick, J.J.’s sister who was born in 1881. The birth day matches hers.  The other possibility for a source is a friend of Lucy’s from Kansas, Georgia Endrem, from whom there is a letter in the Lucy Stevenson Collection.  (2016.17.261c)

M.E. October 11 – Mary Edna Eastlick, J.J.’s sister born in 1883 on this day.

Next: The Issaquah Community

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[1] Information about Wilhelmina’s family members is drawn from legal documents available on Ancestry.com and from the letters that are part of Accession 2016.17, the Lucy Stevenson Collection.

 

 

 

 

M[artha] A Bush Mar 1st

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt, continued

The Issaquah community:[2]

By the time Willa and J.J. married, people had been moving into the Squak Valley from other parts of the United States, and directly from Europe, for forty years.  The community numbered about 700 in 1900, counting all ages, and some of those people were the third generation of their families to live in the area.  The quilt contributors came from both the earliest settlers and more recent incomers.  When we look at the relationships between many of the donors, we see a community held together with family ties.

M[artha] A Bush Mar 1st

M[artha] A Bush Mar 1st

M. A. Bush   March 1 – Martha Ann Stewart Bush was the ultimate early settler.  Born on March 1, 1835, in Covington, Indiana, she married James William Bush in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1854.  The young couple moved to the Squak Valley in 1863 and survived the night of the Indian raid in which another young  couple in the valley, the Castos, were killed.

Emily Darst   March 26 – The daughter of Martha S. and James W. Bush, was born on March 26, 1860, in Seattle  and moved to the Squak Valley as a very young girl.  She, too, survived the Indian raid.  At the age of 16, she married Cyrus Darst. They raised their family and lived out their lives in Issaquah.

Inez Stella Darst   November 11 – The granddaughter of Martha Stewart  Bush, daughter of Emily Ann Bush Darst and Cyrus Darst, Inez was born on November 11, 1877, becoming the a member of the third generation of this family to live in Issaquah.  Already an adult at the time the quilt was made, she would marry Marcus Gunderson the following year, when she was 28.

Inez Darst, Nov 11

Inez Darst, Nov 11

 

Aunt Mattie  November 3  — Martha Alice Bush was commonly called “Aunt Mattie” in the community.  The youngest daughter of Martha Stewart Bush and James William Bush, she was born in Georgetown, Seattle, on November 3,  1862, and came to the Squak Valley with her parents in 1863.  As was often the expected role of youngest daughters in the nineteenth century, she remained single all of her days and lived for many years as her mother’s companion.

B Baxter  [no date] —  Bertha Wold Baxter was another of Martha and James Bush’s granddaughters.  Her mother was their oldest child, Mary Samantha (usually called “Samantha”) Bush Wold Prue.  Bertha was born on January 6, 1877, in Ellensburg, but her parents were both early Issaquah Pioneers, her father being Peter Wold, one of the three Wold brothers who once owned the land where the intersection of Front St. and Sunset Way is now.  Peter moved his life to Kittitas County, but his marriage to Samantha ended by 1880, and she and her daughters returned to Issaquah.  Bertha grew up spending time with her aunt Emily Darst’s family and with her grandmother Martha and Aunt Mattie, in Issaquah, as well as with her mother’s second family in Fall City.  She married Charles Wesley Baxter on Christmas Day, 1902, and settled into housekeeping in Issaquah.  The Baxters had two sons and a daughter, and their daughter, Beryl Baxter, would become the best known quilter in the area. For extensive information about Bertha and her family and friends, see my blog post series, “What Bertha’s Correspondence Tells Us. . .Or, I Know All the Hot Issaquah Gossip from 1902!”; this is based on a collection of letters all written to Bertha that now comprises a major portion of IHM accession #2015.10.

Mary E. Burke  June 24 (or 29) – Mary Ellen Hughes was born in Heckinville, Pennsylvania, in June of 1868.  She married Nicholas Burke on December 25, 1890.  He operated a feed store on Front Street in Issaquah (today’s restored Hailstone Feed Store was originally Burke’s warehouse).

Agnes W. Hughes   [no date]  — may have been Mary Hughes Burke’s sister or other relative, or she may not.  With no birth date for Agnes, we cannot trace whether or not they came from the same family in Pennsylvania.  We have no further information about Agnes.

Alice McEachern   April 22, 1873  —  Alice Mary Cooper was born on April 22, 1873, in Illinois, the daughter of English immigrants Isaac and Sarah Jones Cooper.  By 1880 her family was living in Newcastle.  On February 18, 1892, she married John McEachern, who was then the station agent at Issaquah.  By 1900, her father was a saloon keeper in Issaquah.

Alice M. Hackett   May 8, 1878  —  Alice Mary Horrocks was born on this date in England, to James Radcliffe Horrocks and Molly Greenleigh Horrocks.  The family emmigrated to the United States around 1880 and settled first in Newcastle.  They relocated to Issaquah by 1890.  Alice married George Hackett in September of 1900, while he was Issaquah’s station agent.  George was Alice Cooper McEachern’s cousin; his mother was her father’s sister.

Sarah Horrocks

Sarah Horrocks June 27

Sarah Horrocks   June 27  —  Sarah Horrocks was Alice Mary Horrocks Hackett’s  younger sister, born in Newcastle, Washington, in 1882 (exact date uncertain, but probably June 27), after her family had immigrated from England.  At that point, her father was working in the coal mines.  In 1907 she would marry local banker Warren Curtis Sylvester, son of the first station agent in Issaquah and brother to Edith M. Sylvester and Ruth L. Sylvester.

Edith M. Sylvester   May 17, 1881  —  This is her birth date.  The daughter of station agent turned bank founder W.W. Sylvester, Edith would marry George Bigelow in 1910, a decade after her father and brother, Warren, started the first bank in Issaquah.

Next: Issaquah Community, Part II 

Previous: Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt

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[2] Information about the Issaquah community members is drawn from legal documents available on Ancestry.com and from the general collections of the Issaquah History Museums.

Mattie Tibbetts

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt, continued

Issaquah Community Members, continued:

Ruth L. Sylvester   August 6  —  Ruth was born in 1878, but the records conflict as to whether she was born in April or August.  She was Edith’s older sister.  She may or may not have come to Issaquah when her family moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to Gilman.  Her father had already been working as a “Railroad Secretary” in Cleveland, and he was the first station agent in Issaquah.  The Depot, or station, was built in 1889.  In 1896 Ruth’s mother died in Gilman.  By 1900, the U.S. census lists Ruth, but only Ruth out of W.W.’s children, living and going to school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.  She lived with her father’s  mother , his widowed sister, and other relatives and boarders.   Ruth married William Gamble in Wisconsin in 1909, but they eventually moved to Seattle.

Lois Hackett   January 11, 04  —  Lois Hackett was born in 1887 in England, so this may be the date on which she completed her square for the quilt.  Her parents were John and Sarah Hackett.  They emigrated from England and were living in Gilman in 1900. Her father was an engineer and probably worked in the mines.  Lois would marry John Jacob Eastlick’s first cousin, his mother’s nephew, Roy Vaughan, two years later.  We do not know of a close connection between Lois Hackett’s family and that of George Hackett, Alice’s husband, but both Hackett families emigrated from England to the Newcastle-Gilman area.

Ida Gibson

Ida Gibson, October 7, 1868

Ida M. Gibson  October 7, 1868  —  Ida McDonald Gibson was married to John Gibson, who was the pharmacist in Issaquah.  This date is her birthday.

Fannie Gibson  October 19, 1863  June, 1904 [Willa’s wedding date]  — Sarah Frances Garner Gibson, also known as Fannie, was born in Indiana on October 19, 1863.  She married William E. Gibson, who became the town doctor in Issaquah.  William and John Gibson were brothers, so Ida and Fannie were sisters-in-law.

S.S. Gibson March 27 – Is she related to William and John Gibson’s family? We have been unable to make a positive identification, but William and John had a sister named Sophia who never married.  Tracing her through census records, she appears to have lived her whole life in Pennsylvania, where the family lived in the first half of the nineteenth century.  Her death record lists her birthday as April 1, 1842, but that is only four days off March 27, and birthdays are sometimes miss-recorded.  The 1910 census records Sophia as the head of household in Pittsburgh, with the rest of the household consisting of three of her unmarried sisters and one of their brothers, who was also unmarried.  Sophia was sixty-eight; the rest were in their forties and fifties.

Lizzie McCloskey  [no date]  –Elizabeth McCloskey, who was born in 1878, was the daughter of Peter McCloskey Sr.  He was a farmer, and he donated the land on which the original St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Issaquah was built.  She never married.  She died in Issaquah in 1955.

Katie McCloskey   [no date]  —  Katherine McCloskey, Elizabeth’s younger sister, was born in 1879.  She married James William Gregory, an Irishman, in 1922.  They made their home in King County and raised one son.  She died in 1963.

S[arah] A McPherson Wilson, November 4th 1822

S[arah] A McPherson Wilson, November 4th 1822

S. A. Wilson   November 4, 1822  — Sarah Ann McPerson Wilson was born in Missouri and came to the Squak Valley along with her husband and three of their adult children in the 1880s.  Her daughter Sevilla married William Pickering, son of the one-time Washington Territory governor and Issaquah landowner and farmer.  Daughter Rebecca Ann had already married George Washington Tibbetts in Missouri, and they, too, settled in Issaquah.  Son Robert married in Indiana, and he and his bride joined the family in Issaquah, where they raised their daughter, Bessie. Bessie’s autobiography, published as the book, Squak Valley, provides one of the clearest pictures of life in the valley before 1900.

R. A. Tibbetts   August 15, 1849  —  Rebecca Ann Wilson Tibbetts, Sarah Wilson’s daughter,  was born on this date in Moniteau, Missouri.  She married George Washington Tibbetts in Carthage, Missouri, in 1868, after he left the army, having served the North in the Civil War.  About fifteen years later, the couple moved to Issaquah, where George built a hotel and store, and where they became prominent citizens.  They were very active in Grand Army of the Republic affairs, and for a time they moved to Orting, where he was the Commandant of the Washington Soldiers Home for veterans.

R[ebecca] A Tibbetts

R[ebecca] A Tibbetts

E. Polley September 15, 1904 —  Elnora Polley’s birthday was September 15, 1881, but she was probably looking forward to her own wedding, which would be on that day in 1904.  Her family had moved from New York to Washington when she was three, and they were living in Renton by 1887.  Her intended was Frederick Solomon Tibbetts, son of George Washington Tibbetts and Rebecca Ann Wilson.  By 1900, her mother was dead and she and her teenage brothers were living as a household in Gilman.

 

Mattie Tibbetts

Mattie Tibbetts

Mattie Tibbetts   April 19, 1883  —  She was born Mattie Ray on or about this date (records conflict), in Missouri.  Her family moved to Issaquah prior to 1900, and she married George Wilson Tibbets, son of Rebecca and George Washington Tibbetts, in December 1901.

Mrs. Thilda Becker  March 19th, 1868  —  Mathilda Swanson (also known as Thilda Tuverson) was born on this date in Sweden.  She and several of her siblings immigrated to the United States in the 1880s.  She met fellow Swede Louis Becker on board ship, and they married two years later.  By 1890 they were living in Issaquah, where they raised five children.  He worked as a miner and she operated the Hotel Stockholm on what is now Andrews Street, a few doors down from Dr. and Mrs. Gibson’s house.[3]

Christina Anderson  November 23, 1864  —  Christina Johnson Anderson was born on this day, but records indicate that the year was 1862.  She emigrated from Sweden in 1886 married Tolle Anderson two years later in Gilman.  They lived on their farm on Rainier Way, where the Cybil Madeline Park is now, close to where Lucy Stevenson’s shop was located.

Next: Friends from Other States

Previous: The Issaquah Community, Part I

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[3] There is a brief biography of Thilda Becker in the IHM Research Center B-0000-009, which is a copy of the Hoye Becker Family Scrapbook.

Abbie Eastlick, December 1 1853

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt, continued

Friends from other states:

Willa had maintained contact with at least one family from her early days in Kansas.   When she was two, the Allen family lived very near the Stevensons on the edge of Jackson in Riley County, Kansas.  In the 1880 census, there are only two households enumerated between theirs on the first page of the list.  (The Stevensons have been misspelled in the indexing for that census online, appearing as “Steavens,” but the original record clearly shows James and Lucy Stevenson with their children Howard Miller and Wilhelmina Stevenson, as well as James’ brother George W. Stevenson living with them.)  When the Stevensons moved to Colorado, Willa received letters from at least two of the daughters in the Allen family.  The Allen family was, by this time, large and complicated.  Robert Gibson Allen had married Eliza A. Daggett in 1865, and they had eight children before her death in 1883.  That same year, he married Bertha Zimmerman Drollinger, a Pennsylvania native who had arrived in Kansas with her first husband after having been to Colorado, where their older daughter, Viola, was born in 1876.  Della, their younger daughter was born in 1878 in Kansas.  Phillip Gottlieb Drollinger died in 1880, leaving his widow with two very young daughters.  They became part of the blended family when Robert and Bertha married.  Robert and Bertha also had two more children together.

In August of 1893, Della Drollinger and Ella Allen, step sisters, both wrote to Willa, apparently sharing an envelope to send the notes (IHM 2016.17.267a-c).  At fifteen and eleven, they were bored in the summer heat.  Della was plaintive: “It is so lonesome since you folks moved away.  Was over to Mrs. Blotcher’s one evening and that is all the visiting we have done since you moved away besides up to see Evalyn.”  Evalyn was one of their friends who had died on July 24 of that year, of what may have been tuberculosis.  Della and her sister, “Vi,” had been among her all-girl pall bearers.  Further proof that teenage girls on the plains did not lead sheltered lives lies in the bald statement, with no other commentary, “Louise Petersons lost her baby.”  The younger Ella complained of the heat and reported on family comings and goings.  Her baby half-sister, Silva, “can talk a little now.”  Both signed off with declarations of friendship and admonitions to “Answer soon.”

A decade later, the bond between Willa and the Allens was still part of her life.  Four of the Allen sisters sent squares for her quilt.  We do not know if they sent them from Kansas, where they still lived in 1900, or from Oregon, where Mr. and Mrs. Allen had moved by 1910.  The latter census shows Ella, Sylva, and siblings Florence and their youngest brother, Andrew, living together in Suver, Polk County, Oregon.  Photographs of both Ella and Florence are included with their entries in the Findagrave database online.

Ella F. Allen   May 23  –Ella Findley Allen’s birthday is recorded in Ancestry.com as March 24; either the date she inscribed on the quilt was not her birthday, or we are misreading something.    She was born in 1882 in Garrison, Pottawatamie County, Kansas, the youngest child of Robert and his first wife, Eliza, Allen.  In 1912 she would marry Frank Ackerman in Oregon.  They had two daughters before she died of cancer in 1930.

L. Sylvia Allen November 9, 1892 —  was twelve when she contributed her square.  Her full formal name appears in records as Lucille Sylvana Allen.  She was the little sister “Silva” just learning to talk a decade earlier.  She would marry Edmund Martin Parker in 1917, and they would live out their lives in Oregon.  She died in 1980.

Florence E. Allen   December 18  —  Florence was Silva’s older full sister, born on this day in 1888, also in Kansas.  After making the move to Oregon with her parents and siblings, she married David Haman Lewis in 1911 in Polk County.  They had a son, Gayle, the following year.  When their marriage ended in divorce, Gayle was raised by his aunt Silva and her husband.  Florence died in 1981 in Portland, Oregon.

L. Allen December 9 —  Luella Allen was Ella’s full sister, born on December 9, 1870, in Illinois, shortly before her family moved to Kansas.  She also moved to Oregon, where she spent her adult years, and would marry William Arle Cummings.

The Allen sisters have been tantalizing research subjects for several reasons.  Not only do they represent the friendships formed by the Stevensons in Kansas, but they also have surnames that might or might not link them with Issaquah families represented on the quilt.  Martha Stewart Bush’s mother was an Allen, and her family settled in Oregon.  There are Gibson women who made squares.  A day’s worth of research online, however, has turned up no solid connections between these Allens and either the other Allen family (related to the Bushes) or any Issaquah Gibsons.

Mrs. ? A. Allen  –Mrs. Allen may or may not have been related to the Allen sisters.  The signature on the quilt is faded to the point where we cannot read whether “A.” is her first initial or a middle one.  And is “A.” her own initial, or is it her husband’s?

 

And then there are the women of mystery.

Eleven more people contributed squares.  Some used their full surnames, but we have no information form women with those names.  Others only put their initials on their squares, and we have been unable to identify people with those initials and birthdays.

E.B.T.  November 1, 1880 – This set of initials is especially frustrating because it matches the signature, on a postcard sent from Vallejo, California two years later (IHM 2016.17.248).  Sent to Mrs. J.J. Eastlick, the sender acknowledged having received a letter and a post card and promised, “Will write soon.  Best wishes and love, from E.B.T.”  No further information is given.

The women whose names do not match up with any records in our collections are as follows:

S.A. Bailey 1845

Mrs. T. B. Norton   January 6, 1883

Mabel McMullen   November 8

Mrs. F. V. Olsen (or Olive—the lettering on the quilt is very unclear)  October 5

Mrs. M. Cass

 

Finally, those who only used initials are the most mysterious of all:

E. I. December 9

M. H. January 20, 1886

M.M. J.

M. E.

 

Whether we know much about some of the individuals or not, it is clear that Willa’s quilt represented a cross section of settlers, in Issaquah or Kansas.  Old or young, they were connected to her life as it had been, and many would remain so as she moved forward into marriage.

2005-20-1-a

The Story of a Quilt: Salmon Days, 1983

2005-20-1

1983 Salmon Days Quilt (IHM 2005-20-1)

When artifacts come to the Issaquah Historical  Society, we often have a vague outline of where that item came from, where it has been, and what it meant to those who have owned it. In rare instances, an artifact comes to us with a long and detailed history. This summer we received one such item, a quilt accompanied by a remarkable story.

During the summer of 1983, 22 local quilters appliquéd and embroidered quilt blocks meant to represent aspects of the Issaquah community. Once pieced, the quilt would be raffled off during Salmon Days. Proceeds would go to Community Enterprises of Issaquah, to   support their work with the developmentally disabled.

Community Enterprises of Issaquah (CEI) was founded in 1977 as a community rehabilitation program. Its intent was – and is – to provide opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. Jean Harrington first suggested a quilt raffle as a fundraiser, inspired by a similar project in Port Townsend. Alice Paschal designed quilt blocks for the project. The patterns were distributed, along with fabric squares, to complete and return. When the squares had been returned, volunteers helped with the assembly and finish work of the quilt. During the weeks leading up to Salmon Days, the quilt was displayed at area businesses, and people had the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets to win the quilt. Monita Horn, who worked quilt blocks for the project from 1981 to 1987, remembers, “I kept hoping I would win the quilt, even though I have no place to display it. I would buy a whole string of tickets, but it never happened.” The quilt raffle was an annual event throughout the 1980s, with Paschal creating a few new blocks each year for variety.

2005-20-1

1983 Salmon Day Quilt

On August 24, 1983, a letter to the editor of the Issaquah Press from CEI Secretary Carol Harbolt reminded readers that, “… our very special quilt, designed by Alice Paschal, has been completed and is on display around town until Salmon Days… If you thought the previous quilts were beautiful, wait until you see this one.” Issaquah Press coverage of the 1983 Salmon Days celebration did not reveal the winner of the quilt raffle, and the quilt disappeared from the historical record.

More than 20 years later, Robin Abel discovered the quilt in a second-hand store in Renton. The quilt was in excellent condition and she recalls that something about it affected her. Although she didn’t have any ties to Issaquah, she bought  it.

Robin was in the midst of great turmoil in her personal life. Her daughter, Maria Federici, had been involved in a serious car accident in February of 2004, while driving home from work on I-405, Maria’s car was struck by part of an unsecured load from the car in front of her. She was lucky to have survived, and was left blind and seriously injured. Robin initially took a leave of absence from work to provide care for her daughter, and eventually had to resign to continue providing care. Maria had no health insurance, and her medical bills quickly topped $1 million. Because not covering your load was not considered a crime at that time, Maria could not apply for criminal victim compensation (Robin and Maria have campaigned—and succeeded—in having the law changed). By summer of 2005, Robin had exhausted her savings and was selling her possessions to pay for her and Maria’s basic living expenses.

While going through her collections, Robin found the 1983 Salmon Days quilt. She called the Issaquah   Historical Society offices to ask if they would be interested in purchasing the quilt. She said that she didn’t want to sell it to just anyone, and thought that the historical society would appreciate the quilt, and might be able to purchase it, or at least find a good home for it.

We sent out an e-mail to our friends and members and told them about the quilt, hoping someone among them might want to purchase it. But our members had a different idea. One donor offered a contribution and a challenge: if nine other people would contribute, then the quilt could be purchased for the IHS. Others quickly met the challenge, and the pledges flooded in, surpassing our goal by several hundred dollars. Within a week, we had raised $845 to purchase the quilt.

It is hard to tell who benefited the most from this transaction. Robin Abel and her daughter received help with their living expenses. The Issaquah Historical Society acquired a beautifully crafted piece of local history. And the wonderful donors who stepped in to make sure Robin had help, and the IHS had this quilt, received the deep satisfaction of knowing that they had made an amazing thing possible.

Do you have any information on the hand-pieced CEI quilts, or do you know who may have won any of the raffled quilts? Please let us know! Contact us at 425/392-3500 or info@issaquahhistory. For more information on Maria Federici’s recovery, go to www.mariasmiracle.com.

Crazy quilt

The Story of a Quilt: Mona Jane Beers’ Baby Quilt

Today marked the first meeting of the Issaquah Quilters Guild at the Issaquah Depot. I’m pleased that the Guild has chosen the freight room as their new meeting space. I dropped by this morning to welcome them, to share some information about Issaquah’s history, and to show off one of the quilts in our collection.
Aside from their artistry and their use as a houseware, quilts played several roles historically. They were educational tools, providing hands-on experience in math and geometry. They were often an exercise in thrift, as scraps from other projects were combined to make something new. Quilts can also tell us a story, about the person who made it or the circumstances under which it was created.
The quilt that I shared with the guild members was a crazy-quilt created from scraps of different fabric. It is an unfinished piece, and the process of quilt-making is visible. Although the quilters enjoyed looking at the quilt (and provided me with more information about its construction), it was not the quilt I had intended to bring with me. Ahem. In order to minimize wear on the quilt, I didn’t open it before taking it to the meeting, not realizing that we had more than one crazy quilt stored in the collections.
The quilt I intended to share with the quilters appears at left. It was constructed in 1932 as a baby quilt for Mona Jane Beers (whose name is embroidered in the middle of the quilt). The maker of the quilt was Jane (or Jennie) Usher.
Born Sarah Jane Lynch in 1864, Jennie grew up in Ohio. She met and married William Usher in 1881. Around 1898, William died, leaving Jennie a widow. Jennie went to live with her daughter, Edith Usher Beers. The household also included Jennie’s son-in-law Charles Beers, and grandson George. Around 1912, the Beers family moved to Issaquah. Charles worked as a mechanic at a garage and Edith became involved with the Issaquah Garden Club and the Order of the Eastern Star. Jennie Usher added to the household income by sewing. Scraps from the dresses and other garments she made were incorporated into quilts.
Mona Jane was George Beers’ daughter, and Jennie Usher’s great-granddaughter. The quilt was constructed in part out of scraps. It is a crazy quilt, although the scraps appear to have been pieced into twelve blocks of approximately the same size. The most interesting thing about the quilt, in my opinion, is the middle layer. Contemporary quilters use batting between layers of fabric; before batting, quilters used wool, felted blankets, or even old quilts as the quilt’s filling. Through some of the paler fabrics, it is possible to see the filling of this quilt — sugar sacks with the words “Pure Cane Granulated Sugar” printed on them. At the height of the Depression, Jennie Usher combined scraps and sugar sacks to create a beautiful heirloom for her great-granddaughter.
To me, this quilt tells a story of thrift, self-sufficiency, and making do in times of economic hardship.
If you’re interested in looking at another quilt that tells a story, visit the Gilman Town Hall Museum and view a Salmon Days quilt made in 1983.
Interested in renting the freight room for an event, meeting, or party? See our website for rental details.