By Kathleen Spring
The Antique & Historic Quilt Program was a big success, and the Lyons History Video Project (LHVP) can now go on and complete the final Pioneer family interviews. It was a combination of many people and businesses helping to make it happen. The Town’s economy had the side benefit of having dozens of people go from the modern outdoor quilt show being put on by Tracey Barber of Lyons Quilting, on the east end of town, to the historical program being put on at Rogers Hall by myself as LHVP director, in the north end of town.
Both quilt lovers and non-quilter history lovers were delighted at the entertaining and educational talk by Jeananne Wright, national antique quilt expert. The program started with the fascinating story that each local told about the quilt they lent LHVP. They often had said to me, “I hope she can tell me something about it that I don’t know.” To our surprise, Jeananne often tripled the information by talking about such things as the style of quilts during the time period the quilt was made, or the type of fabric it was made from.
For example, a warm orange and brown square pattern quilt was made by Loretta Milburn’s mother, Dorothy Gilker, and her High Country Republican Women’s group, in 1980 Conifer. She was delighted to add that it was raffled off as a fund raiser and her mom won it! Jeananne spent time analyzing whether the stuffing was wool or polyester, including listening to it as she rubbed it between her fingers. Polyester had been used since the 1950s and was more stable.
For the second half of the program, Jeananne presented a few of her own historic quilts, including one from the Civil War and another owned by Daniel Boone. She told fascinating stories about how she discovered each one, and the quilter’s history. Earlier, she had pointed out the small triangular trim pieces on a Lyons quilt, saying they were called “prairie points.” Then she pulled out one of her own that was made entirely of prairie points, and it was almost too heavy to pick up. She believes it has the most points ever done on one quilt.
Many of the quilts dated back to the 1800s. While they were from both rich and poor households, the fine workmanship did not identify its owners’ living conditions. The most modern quilt there, by far, was one memorializing John Denver. It was by Loretta Milburn who had done a quilt for each of her nine grandchildren when they turned thirteen. Thanks to Cheryl Appell, Chrystal DeCoster, Vance French, Loretta Milburn, Amy Rullkoetter, Marilou Webb (Bohn), and Mimi Wesson for loaning their 15 quilts, taken them off their walls or dug out of their trunks.
Three of the quilts were “crazy quilts.” The escapist, lavish quilts were popular from 1870s to 1920s. At first glance it looked like random patches of material of various sizes, fabrics and colors. But closer inspection revealed each to be a work of art, with collages, flowers, banners, symbols and more. Even the thread and stitching styles were carefully chosen to accent the squares.
First looks could be deceiving. An 1898 all white-quilt, owned by Chrystal DeCoster, had what seemed to be a blueprint design stamped on it. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to have thousands of white stitched patterns, and the blue ink drawings were minutely stitched blue thread. The method was called “blue thread,” although “red thread” was much more popular through World War I. Jeananne happened to be wearing an example on her apron.
Side displays in the hall included one of the hundreds of quilts made for those affected by the Great Flood in 2013, two modern ones done by Lyons elementary school kids, and three by the Old Stone Church Quilting Club members, between 1930s and 1980s. Three boldly-colored pieces were done by well-known, deceased Lyons women, Priscilla Bashor, Minnie Hutchinson, and Marguerite Peoples. These can be seen in the permanent collection at the Lyons Redstone Museum.
Initially the quilts were going to be hung on the walls of the hall, but once the delicate quilts started coming in, I came up with the idea of laying them over drying or bedspread racks. Many thanks to Cheryl Appell, Tracey Barber, Sharyn Glasgow, Diana Glasgow, Emily Kintzel, Kelly Koring, Kim Neenadny and Jessica Shaw for offering fifteen to me. It sure took a village to put on this show. Four quilts with significant images were hung, including a quilt with all the state flowers, so people could pick out their home state, while walking around the room before the program began.
The fundraiser could not have been as successful without the 50 Silent Auction items. Almost all the stores in town saw it was a worthy cause and donated to the Silent Auction. We thank them sincerely. The biggest donor items were Planet Bluegrass’ Folk Fest, Farmette Farm to Table, and SpiritHound Liquors. Every restaurant and coffee shop in town gave to the Silent Auction. Other items included oil changes, hair cut, flowers, wellness, food baskets and art.
During this busy end-of-the-summer-season, it took some doing finding people still around and willing to volunteer. Wouldn’t you know it, every one who helped was also doing other volunteer work that weekend! Thanks to Emily Walker and Amy Rullkoetter for pre-program set up and working the day of the show. Also Cheryl Appell, Janet Freeman, Brianna Hoyt, Jerry Johnson, Stevie LaRue, Kimberly Matney, Loretta Milburn, and Susan Suskiewich. Thank you!
The Pioneer interviews done over the past two decades are available for viewing at the museum on DVD, seven days a week, until September 31, (303) 823-5271.