Thursday, March 9, 2017

Emma Barr Ohio Star

Emma Barr was born Emma Moler in 1867 in Beavercreek Township, Ohio (near present-day Dayton).  Beavercreek was a bustling community with the railroad and turnpike running through the town.  It was a manufacturing center with a distillery and river power for flour, cotton, woolen and saw mills; finished goods and supplies were shipped to all parts of the country.

Old Miami-Erie Canal lock, Mad River

When Emma married William Barr, carpenter, the couple moved to Mad River, about seventeen miles away.  Mad River was in Montgomery County, Ohio.  If you are interested in historical quilts you may have read Sue C. Cummings's book 'Album Quilts of Ohio's Miami Valley'.

Cumming's amazing collection of sampler quilts were made in Darke, Miami and Montgomery Counties at the time Emma was living nearby.  The Miami Valley quilts are known for their eagle blocks but the Ohio Star appears in a few.

Emma and William had six children, three girls and three boys.  In the 1910 census of Montgomery County Emma was 42 and William three years older.  Daughter Bessie's occupation was 'none' so she was probably running the household with her mother; Ellis was working in stationery manufacture and Edna was working in a box factory.  Alma, Calvin and Chester were all at school.

A couple of years later William Barr decided to try his luck out West and the family moved to Washington to grow apples.  Bessie remained in Ohio with her new husband; Edna moved with the family and found herself a husband in Washington.  The family grew up, life went on and Emma was 70 years old when she made her Ohio Star block for the Malaga quilt.

The Ohio Star block is one of the earliest recorded quilt blocks.  It is another 9 patch block with four hourglass squares and five plain squares.  Other names for this design are Variable Star, Lone Star or Texas Star.  In 'Romance of the Patchwork Quilt' Carrie Hall showed several examples of the block with different color layouts.  The dark and white block was dubbed Ohio Star and that name has remained the most popular name.

This Ohio Star block was probably made by a young girl.  The seamstress learned that after you cut diagonals and sew them together the resulting pieced square is smaller than an unpieced one.  She also managed to get one of the triangle points up on the right side of the block. Late 1800s.

I appreciate Emma's choice of the Ohio Star.  Like Emma, I also grew up in Ohio and often use this block in my own quilts.  When I was just learning to walk I was living in Kettering, Dayton, about ten miles from Beavercreek.  In 1867 the railroad was the great attraction; ninety years later the railroad had made way for the Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Wright Patterson Air Force Base - USAF Museum Buildings

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