Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Family Circle

Now that I have discovered Mary Criswell's older sister Agnes Smith I though I would see where her block fits in the Chester Criswell Quilt.

This is the centre of the quilt.  The large block in the centre is Andrew and Alice Criswell, Mary and Agnes's parents.  E3 is Mary Criswell's wreath which is the same as D6, Martha Lambourn's.  (The pattern is the same but not the date - Mary's is dated March 13th 1852 and Martha's is 4th Month 2nd Day 1852.  Mary was a Presbyterian and Martha a Quaker.)
Mary's sister Margaret is F4 and I'm not surprised to find that the 'new' sister Agnes is next door F5.  There are other important blocks here too.

C3   William Criswell, one of Mary's brothers (deceased)
C4   Alice McClellan, Mary's Godmother
C5   Lizzie Lambourn, Martha's younger sister
C6   J Dickey Smith,  Agnes Criswell Smith's son and Mary's nephew
E6   Martha Richmond, Alice McClellan's niece

One of the unanswered questions is as follows:

Who made the quilt?

My first assumption, now called Theory A, is that Mary's mother Alice made the quilt. There are far more relatives represented than friends on the quilt, many of them older cousins and aunts. But would Alice put herself and her husband in the middle of the bride's quilt?  It doesn't quite make sense.

Theory B:  Mary McClellan Criswell made the quilt herself, asking her family and friends to make the blocks.  She put her parents in the centre partly as a thank you and partly as a source of her own 'familyness.'  If Mary already had her dozen quilts in her glory box this could have been the thirteenth special quilt.
 (from Wikipedia - The term "hope chest" or "cedar chest" is used in the midwest or south of the United States; in the United Kingdom, the term is "bottom drawer"; while "glory box" is used by women in Australia.)

"This album's then a wreath for thee"

Theory C:  Martha Lambourn organised the quilt and the collected blocks were given to Mary as an engagement present. The verse on Martha's block suggests a gift from friends; the verse on Mary's suggests receiving such a gift. This was certainly common in the 1850s although pieced identical blocks would be more likely than the large appliques of this quilt.  But would Martha have contacted all of Mary's relatives, and why would she put Alice and Andrew in the middle?

Theory D:  All of the above, but I will never know for sure.  If we had all the answers then there would be nothing left to wonder about. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ready for the Third Year?

I've been working on this block.  Do you see green on white or white on green?

This pattern is part of Block #25 of the Chester Criswell Quilt.  That's right, there are more blocks and The Third Year is about to be launched.

The first pattern of the Third Year, Block #24, is due to be published on 1st September.  If you don't want to miss out you can pre-order now.

Do hope you can come to the Third Year party!

*** Wow - the response to the Third Year party is great - glad I don't have to post all the patterns.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Family Secret Revealed

Yesterday a total stranger sent me an email that led to the revelation of another secret of the Chester Criswell Quilt.

Do you remember Block 21, Mary Trayner's eight petalled daisy?  There is a second block in the quilt of the same design.

The names on this block are Joseph Smith and Agnes C Smith, Fairview.  In the Block 21 story I wrote,
"These Smiths are related to the bride; again, more research needs to be done to find the exact relationship."

Yesterday I received an email from Linda through  I don't know Linda, but her own family history search had found some Smiths and some Criswells.  She sent me an email to say that she found my quilt family tree and told me that one of the online resources on might be helpful to my research.

Smiths are always hard to research so I was pleased to follow Linda's hint and opened up 'Record of the Smith Family', written by Joseph Harris in 1906.  The record follows the descendents of John and Susanna Smith who migrated from Ireland to the Americas in 1720.  John and Susanna brought four of their children with them, one more was born on the voyage and a further ten were born in the New World.

Fortunately the 272 pages of Smiths are indexed and I quickly found Joseph and Agnes.  Their record looks like this.

Aha! Agnes was a Criswell before she became a Smith.  I added 'Criswell' to Agnes' record and promptly came up with a death certificate.  On the certificate are the names of Agnes' parents.

Agnes Criswell Smith's parents are Andrew G. Criswell and Alice Carlile.

Agnes Criswell has the same parents as the bride Mary McClellan Criswell.

Agnes is Mary's older sister.

I couldn't believe it.  How could I have missed another sister for Mary?  I went back and forth between the records to confirm what I had just found.  Yes, the bride Mary had an older sister who was already married.

How did I miss this important relationship?  The 1850 census records are my starting point.  Agnes was married before 1850, and living with husband Joseph and three year old son John Dickey Smith on their own farm, close to the original Criswell farm.  I didn't know Agnes' maiden name was Criswell, I only had the initial 'C'. I was aware of all of Mary younger siblings; Margaret and Susanna were recorded in the 1850 census.  The Faggs Manor cemetery records provided the names of her other four brothers and sisters. My grandmother's notes only mentioned Mary and did not include any siblings.

Have you found the next clue yet?  The children of John Smith and Hannah Dickey are Joseph Smith and Jackson Smith, each of whom married a Criswell girl.  Jackson Smith is Jesse Jackson Smith so his Criswell bride is Mary McClellan herself.  The Smith brothers married the Criswell sisters.

Now the groom has a family too, something I had not been able to discover without this new source of information.  I have the name of a brother, his father and mother and his grandfather so I can work on Jesse Jackson's family tree.

It was hard to get to sleep last night with all these names running through my head.  Just before I went to sleep I had an amazing revelation.

If Alice Criswell's daughter Mary was not her first daughter to be married but the second one........

...... there must be another, earlier Chester Criswell Quilt.