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. 

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