We spent last weekend with family attending my father-in-law George’s funeral. My boys were dreading the long drive home, so I scheduled a side trip to break up the drive and work in a little history as well. I guess once you’ve been a homeschooling mom, you’re always looking for those teachable moments.
We decided to stop at Andersonville, the civil war prison site for Union soldiers. It wasn’t exactly on the way, but we felt like it was important enough to make our trip significantly longer. My younger son did the Junior Ranger activities and earned his badge, while my older son enjoyed our driving tour, stopping at sites to look and learn.
13,000 soldiers died at Andersonville, and many states whose dead were among those later erected monuments in their memory. The Womans Relief Corps had more than one statue, and I did a rubbing of their insignia.
Of course, I had to know if a quilt had been made to honor any of these soldiers, and there was (please see update below). James George, a Union soldier who had been captured and stayed at Andersonville six months, later recovered at a Washington D.C. hospital, where Boston women made James an album quilt.
From the Permanent Collection of the New England Quilt Museum, Photo by David Stansbury.
I have received an email from Judy Schwender, Curator of Collections at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, which offered the following:
There is no definitive evidence that the quilt was given directly to the Union soldier James George by the makers. Since I first saw this quilt ten years ago, I have been gathering information on its history. There is no indication from either the family history, including documents, which states this was the process. If you wish to read what has been uncovered to date, please see the book “Massachusetts Quilts Our Common Wealth”. An essay written by Anita Loscalzo and myself, along with wonderful photographs, can be found on pages 252 through 256. I am continuing the search for information and hope to complete a paper on this wonderful quilt in the near future.
Both Anita and Vivian are skilled quilt historians. An excellent resource for quilt history is Uncoverings, the journal of the American Quilt Study Group. You can find out more about articles from this journal athttp://www.americanquiltstudygroup.org/uncoveringSearch.asp .
Seems a bit of controversy surrounds the origins of this quilt and no definitive answer exists.