in History: 1896 Friendship Quilt Given to Museum
Calli Price, CT
David Crouch, of Browning, Missouri, and Donna Crouch Muiller, of
Westwood, Kansas, hold up the friendship quilt their great-great-grandmother
Elizabeth Lane helped to stitch. Elizabeth was one of many
Chillicotheans who helped to create the hand-stitched quilt, featuring squares of
hand-stitched fans on silk squares.
When Carol Crouch, of Prairie Village,
Kansas, discovered an old quilt on her parents' estate in Browning,
Missouri, she was unaware of its family history or of its local value.
Carol's great-great-grandparents, William Ashmore Lane and Elizabeth Lane, lived in Chillicothe in the later years
of their lives in the late 1800s. William had been the Assistant Secretary
of the Treasury of Texas at age 19, back when Texas was still the Lone
Star State. He eventually became a merchant and a commissioner of land in
different areas of Missouri, having acquired a large plot of land in
Sullivan County and also owning land which later turned into the Litton
Ranch. He and his wife, Elizabeth, both died in Chillicothe. Before
Elizabeth's death, however, she helped to create a friendship quilt with
other Chillicotheans in 1896.
"friendship quilt" is a quilt composed of different squares, each square
stitched by a member of the group or community. Friendship quilts were
usually a combined effort of several people in a certain group or
community. With this specific quilt, each black silk square has a
hand-stitched colored fan design on it, along with the hand-stitched
signatures of what seems to be each person who helped to create the quilt.
Crouch is unsure why the quilt remained in her family's possession, but
knows Elizabeth helped to create the quilt; her name is stitched on one of
the squares. Carol does not recall having ever seen the quilt until her
and her siblings, Donna Crouch Muiller, of Westwood,
Kansas, and David Crouch, of Browning, Missouri, came across it while settling their
parents' estate in 1997. Crouch kept the quilt rolled up in her closet for quite
some time before deciding it needed to be returned to Chillicothe.
"We felt more people could appreciate it and it would be more valuable to the
museum than rolled up in a closet somewhere," Carol said.
"I just thought it would be better served where it came
January 11, 2014, the three siblings decided to meet in Chillicothe
and donate their family heirloom to the Grand River Historical Society
Museum. Museum Curator Pam Clingerman said the quilt was kept in good
condition and much of the silk, stitching and colors are preserved. Despite the
condition, the quilt is still old and before it can be placed on display,
a sleeve needs to be sewn onto the back to preserve the fabric and the
stitching. "Basically what you do is you put a sleeve on the back and you
sew it on very carefully," Clingerman said. "This is
so that when it is hung, stress is not put on the quilt, and the sleeve will actually work to
support the original fabric."
Clingerman also said that this quilt resembles another quilt the museum
currently has from 1883. That specific quilt was donated by John A. Bryan,
a former resident Chillicothe, and quilted by Mrs. A.A. Bryan, who was
also of Chillicothe. Clingerman said the stitching on both quilts is original to that time period.
"(The stitches) are important to that specific time
period," Clingerman said. "It's all hand
embroidery." Once a supportive sleeve is sewn on the
quilt to ensure that it is properly preserved, Clingerman said the quilt will be put on display, which she hopes will be
sometime in February. "We considered it not only a treasured family
heirloom, but a piece of art for display and appreciation by the
Chillicothe community," Carol said. "Several dozen local names appear on
the quilt; therefore, it is both historical and indicative of the artistry
of that period."