Stories From the Past - A Friendship Quilt
Quilting parties were still a much practiced social event for women even in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Mrs. Kate Bilbrey’s home was the place the ladies of the Hillview Drive neighborhood in Livingston would often gather to quilt. Quilting frames would be raised near the ceiling of the living room in between quilting sessions.
I suppose there are hundreds of patterns quilts have been made by, but one particular type of quilt sometimes made was called a Friendship Quilt. Each person involved in the making of this kind of quilt stitched an individual block, all of the same pattern, and when finished, the name of that person was hand-embroidered onto that block. When all the individual blocks were finished, they were then pieced together, and later the quilt top was put into the quilting frames to be completed.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to examine a Friendship Quilt made in either 1938 or 1939 by ladies who lived in the Flatt Creek area. The quilt was made for Edgar Smith, son of John Smith and wife Nancy Ward Smith, and was found in a barn owned by Mr. Smith near the old Flatt Creek church and cemetery where it had been stored in a box for many years.
Edgar Smith was a nephew of William E. Smith, husband of Helen Stonecipher Smith. Edgar did not marry until late in life. His wife’s name was Osta Ogletree Smith.
The condition of the quilt and the workmanship involved in the making of it can only be described as excellent despite the fact it had been in a barn for quite a long time.
The quilt belonged to the late Mrs. Alma (Crabtree) Ward, wife of the late Buck Ward. Edgar Smith and Buck Ward were cousins. Alma’s name is the very first name on the first row of the quilt. The block that has the name “Laura” was stitched by Alma’s mother, Laura Crabtree. Several names of husbands of the women involved in the making of the quilt are also included. The names of many relatives of Buck Ward are on the quilt.
Here are the names embroidered on each square just as they are shown on the actual quilt. Many blocks show the quilter’s first name only.
First row: Alma, Jennie Livingston, Allie Thomas, Ruth, Gilbert, Lucy Masters, Linda Fleming, Florence Goodpasture, Ova Bilyeu.
Second row: Lela Livingston, Geralene Ward, Helen Ward, Florence Pate, Wheeler Ward, Dueleth Ward, Dean Spears, Ora M., Wilford Smith.
Third row: Elise, Myrtle Masters, Zilpa L., Wm. E. Smith, Linnie Ward, Gratice Dean, Carrie, Billie Frank, Cross Fleming.
Fourth row: Josie Poston, Edgar Smith, Ella Ward, Myrtle Goodpasture, Mother, Dad, Doris Spears, Edith Maxwell, Dorothy Nell.
Fifth row: Lydia Gore, Ella, Agnes Ward, Catherine, Winnie Smith, F.B. Smith, Sallie S. Burch, Zula Fleming, Floy.
Sixth row: Emma Davis, Edwina, Mildred Bilyeu, Cara Nolen, Mary Goodpasture, Jennie Goodpasture, Opal Allred, Billie Ruth Bilyeu, Winnie Allred.
Seventh row: Gladys Gilpatrick, Laura, Dora Lynn, Addie Masters, Inez Smith, Mildred Goodpasture, Wilkie Thomas, Bessie Masters, Anne Day.
The Flatt Creek ladies Friendship Quilt of brightly colored fabric, every stitch done by hand, is a wonderful treasure. The individual names carefully stitched on the quilt bear witness of those who once gathered so many years ago for the making of an item to be given to a neighbor, a tradition, like so many others of days gone by, that is no longer a part of everyday life in our community.
Here’s a Quilter’s Poem I thought was fitting for this story:
I’ve sought inspiration a quilt for to make.
There’s a wide choice of patterns,
Now which should I take?
Here’s Baltimore Album
And Sunbonnet Sue,
Seven Sisters, Clay’s Choice
And Log Cabin too.
Anvil and Churn Dash,
Birds in the Air,
Tree of Life, LeMoyne Star,
True Lover’s Knot,
Also Hovering Hawks
And Flying Geese.
I really don’t know what to piece!
There must be one.
I’ve not lost hope.
I’ve thought and thought,
I’m ready to wilt.
Eureka! I’ll make a sampler quilt!
The Friendship Quilt belonging to the late Mrs. Alma Ward bears names of ladies and family members from the Flatt Creek community.