1934 Athelstan Quilt Squares Story: Post 2

About two years after moving to Texas, I was going through things in the closet one day. You know how things tend to accumulate when your back is turned and pretty soon you have little piles all over?  Oh, not yours? Well, at least in my closet that happens. I think it’s like the little dust bunnies that procreate while you’re busy with life.  You turn around and … pouf … there they are!

I was busy that day, probably in June or July 2010. I hauled things out of the closet, going through clothes, filling a bag for the thrift store, throwing things in the trash, trying to sort out presents bought ahead of time from toiletries and lotions and rummaging through some boxes I’d brought toTexas but hadn’t gone through recently.

I opened one box and started sorting, all the little miscellaneous things that tend to gather without much thought. I pulled out a yellow legal sheet, folded in quarters, with names and notes written on it.  Oh!  The list of names from the quilt squares, that I’d written in California.  I hadn’t been successful before.  But, who knows, maybe now?

Sitting down at the computer that evening, I started searching for names, not really expecting to find anything again. I ran down the list, adding two or three at a time.  A web site popped in the search results that appeared to have several names!

The 1925 census ofAthelstan, Iowa appeared. Scrolling through this list I found six names that matched squares in my set.  Woohoo! I was doing the happy dance. I’d discovered a link. I felt that if six of 30 names were in one place, this had to be the common link.

Actually six of 27, not 30, names matched. Three of the squares were completed with solid colors of red, black, and blue, typically associated with Amish dolls and quilts. They also did not have any names added, typical also of Amish beliefs to not make graven images of themselves.  Although there weren’t names on these three squares, there are also many Amish in Iowa, which gave weight to the Athelstan, Iowa connection.

In less than an hour I’d discovered an Athelstan connection for seven names. 

The 1925 Athelstan Iowa census listed:

Darlene Booher, 1 year old

Leona Booher, 2 years old

Georgia Older, 39 years old

Delilah Rusco, 2 years old

Berneice Scott, 1 year old

Ah ha! Add nine years to get to 1934 and these girls would be 10-11 years old. (Possibly in the 9-12 year old range, depending on when the census was taken and when their birthdays were.) That explains my notes from several years earlier: “very young or very old”.

I found a listing for the Athelstan Cemetery which listed Georgia Older again and also E.J. Bownes, another name on my list of quilt squares. My notes on Mrs. E.J. Bownes and Georgia Older said “same stitching and same fabrics.”  Further research proved that Eliza Jane Bownes was Georgia Older’s mother. Eliza Jane (May 4, 1858-May 15, 1938) was 76 when the squares were completed and most likely Georgia made the square for herself and her mother. Since both squares have possibly some of the best stitching out of all the squares, I tend to lean towards Georgia making both squares, thinking that Eliza’s eyesight may have diminished at this age. But, maybe not. Maybe Eliza’s eyesight was fine and her hand was steady, and she made the both squares.  I can document Georgia and Eliza being mother and daughter, both living in Athelstan, Iowa, and both being buried in Athelstan Cemetery. I can’t document which one of the two made the squares. That part shall forever remain a mystery.

Athelstan Cemetery holds the remains of many family members connected to the quilt squares.  Balch, Booher, Byrns, Fidler, Kemery, Morris, Older, Rusco, Scott, Weaver and Weese. Although only two names show on the internet listing of those buried at Athelstan Cemetery, I later found out that Evelyn Bownes is also buried there.

Thank goodness for the internet.  Before I’ve bemoaned how there is so much information out there for public access, but it was working in my favor.

The “hunt” was on!

A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Sept 23-29)

Friday, September 23rd, is Love Note Day.  Annually, the fourth Friday of September, this day celebrates written expressions of love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of every day life. Work, laundry, phone calls, chores, things to do, places to go … and soon the truly important things in our life get lost in the dust of activity.  Stop today and scribe a note to one you love. Write them a note saying why you love them, why they are important to you, what they do that’s special to you. Celebrate love!

Saturday, September 24th, celebrate Innergize Day!  Created by Michelle Porchia of Inner Dimensions, “Innergize Day is celebrated the day after autumn begins because we need to do as the Earth does: experience a time of hibernation to prepare for renewal. It is a forced day of rest, when observers relax, reflect, and rejuvenate.” Celebrate by taking some time for yourself to ‘Innergize’, if not the whole day, at least a portion of it.

Sunday, September 25th celebrate Banned Books Week. This is a weeklong national celebration of the freedom to read. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982. The list of banned “dangerous” books includes The Great Gatsby, The Color Purple, 1984, and Of Mice and Men. As a mother and now grandmother, I concur that there are some books I wouldn’t want my children or grandchildren reading. However, I believe that’s a parents decision and I balk at the idea of censorship. I think I’ll celebrate by re-reading one of my favorites that’s been banned and burned from 1939-1993, The Grapes of Wrath.  See http://www.bannedbooksweek.org for more information.

Monday, September 26th, celebrate Johnny Appleseed’s birthday. Born in 1774, Johnny Appleseed is an icon in our early American history lessons. A nursery man, he spread seeds and saplings, giving rise to his legacy. Celebrate with some applesauce with dinner and a birthday candle in an apple pie for dessert.

Tuesday, September 27th is Ancestor Appreciation Day. Other than those of native background, very few of us can claim our early roots in this country. Today, celebrate our ancestors … wherever they go back to. Sit around the table this evening and reminisce with stories of our ancestors. Serve a dish, meal or dessert that comes from a country of one of our ancestors.

Wednesday, September 28th commemorates National Good Neighbor Day. Celebrate having good neighbors. Say hi and wave. Offer to help in some way. Invite a neighbor over for coffee or a meal.  Have a group of good neighbors? Plan a block party together to celebrate.

Thursday, September 29th, is Jerry Lee Lewis’ birthday.  Celebrate this rock and roll icon’s birthday with an evening of music. Can’t you hear the melodies filling your house for one night? Whole Lotta Shaking Goin On, Great Balls of Fire, Good Golly Miss Molly, Me & Bobbie McGee,Chantilly Lace …. A lot of great music to celebrate life with!

A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Sept 17-22)

Daily Celebrations

Celebrate life everyday, from the Average to the Zany

September 17-22, 2011

Saturday, September 17th, celebrate Elvira’s 60th birthday!  Actress Cassandra Peterson is not inKansas anymore, the state of her birth. Having a long and varied career, she is probably best known as her character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark from earlier days of Movie Macabre.  Pop a bowl of popcorn and pull out some of these old, campy, B-movies.  (If there are younger children in the house, celebrate by watching her in The Sting II, Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie or Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.)

Sunday, September 18th is ‘Women’s Friendship Day,’ to promote friendship between and among women. Celebrate by letting your women friends know how special they are to you.  Meet some for lunch or dinner. Out of town friends? Give them a call or send them an e-card. Happy Women’s Friendship Day!

Monday, September 19th, Japan honors their elders with ‘Respect for the Aged Day’. Originally proclaimed Old Folks Day (Toshiyori no Hi) in 1947, in 1966 the name to it’s current name. Celebrate with sincerity; this is a day of respect. Celebrate living elders by spending time with them. Let them know how much you love and respect them. Tell them what they mean to you.  If they’ve passed, visit their graves.  No elders close to you? Visit a nursing home, there are many there that would love to chat with a welcomed visitor.

Tuesday, September 20th marks the anniversary of the Financial Panic of 1873. This was the first time in history that the New York Stock Exchange closed for the day, in response to a banking crisis. Over 140 years ago, and financial woes plagued our nation then too.  These panics aren’t isolated to the Great Depression or our current economic worries. Celebrate by passing on your latte, or some other treat today and put a few dollars in your savings instead.

Wednesday, September 21st commemorates the death of Chief Joseph, chief of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of the Nez Perce tribe.  Chief Joseph, born in Oregon territory in 1840, became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker. Many great quotes live as his legacy, long past his death in 1904.  One quote that many could learn from is “I will speak with a straight tongue.” In celebration of an honored Chief, let’s try to live today as he did and ‘speak with a straight tongue.’

Thursday, September 22nd, is Elephant Appreciation Day, a day I have to admit I’ve never celebrated before! I like elephants. I have a few small carved elephants.  I’ve ridden an elephant.  But I’ve never celebrated the day. Wayne Hepburn, founder of Mission Media, created the day after receiving a paperweight of elephants on parade from his daughter. His fascination with this large, lumbering giant grew and he created this unique day.  Hmmm… last week at my local, independent bookstore (http://www.bookcarriage.com/home.html) I saw some paper, cards and journals created from elephant … ahem … waste.  Yes, elephant poo has been recycled into useful, beautiful products.  I’ll celebrate by buying one of the cards and sending to a friend.

I was “tagged” … Ten Random Things

I Was Tagged!

I was tagged for ‘Ten Random Facts about Myself’ by Sue Ann Bowling, a She Writes member, author and blogger. (http://homecomingbook.wordpress.com/

Once tagged, we’re ‘IT’ and we share ten random facts and then tag three others.

So … “tag, you’re it”…

To my new fiber friends & bloggers, Lazy Pi Farm, (that I just ‘met’ via my friend Mea Stone, recently transplanted to Iowa): http://lazypifarm.com/

Also, my Texasfriend DeeDee, a talented crafter of many mediums: http://deedeescraftspot.blogspot.com/

And, my virtual Texan friend, Shelly, that I haven’t met yet even though she’s so close, as I’ve been working and she’s been storytelling and stitching together afghans for Share a Square: http://thiseclecticlife.com/

Now, ten random facts about me, with no coherent thread between them, as it’s late and it’s been a long day.

  1. My first dog was ‘Pongo’. No, he wasn’t a Dalmatian, just a loveable beagle-terrier mix that we got at thePomonadog pound. 101 Dalmatian’s was the popular movie at the time and I was enamored with the movie (or more probably the book as I don’t remember going to the movies as a child). I remember eating hamburgers in the old Plymouth on the way home with my new birthday-present puppy. I don’t remember where we stopped for lunch. Probably A & W, as there weren’t too many places to get drive up hamburgers in the mid 60’s.
  2. In the spirit of childhood memories, my mom used to call me ‘Ellie Mae’, from the Beverly Hillbillies and because I could never have enough animals. If I could have had all the animals that Ellie Mae had, I would have been a very happy little girl. Well, I couldn’t have all those animals, but I was still a happy little girl. And am now I’m a happy big girl!
  3. I LOVE being a Grandma! I was one lucky Grandma when my son, Chris, married Regina. I got the pleasure of becoming an instant Grandma to two wonderful grandchildren, Cameron & Morgan. Then when Mark Allen was born, this Grandma was in heaven. Three wonderful grandkids! The only down side, I can’t get toArizona often enough! (Darn job … shouldn’t I have unlimited vacation time and unlimited travel money by now?
  4. Speaking of sons … Chris is in Arizona with the family and Justin is currently in Okinawa, a sergeant in the Air Force who will soon be stationed in Phoenix AZ.I have the two best boys in the world. (Yes, I do. I can say that, I’m writing this blog. In your blog, your kids can be the best kids in the world.
  5. I have an unquenchable thirst to learn new things. (especially creative, crafty things) I hope I always have this hunger to acquire new skills and knowledge. Learning from classes, from books, from the internet, from friends; there are so many ways to learn new things and so many new things to learn.
  6. I also love seeing new places. There are so many places I’d like to see, here in the States and in other countries. I love driving whenever possible. The trips in a car are always different from those in a plane. The views are broader, the countryside more intimately seen. And you can always stop and see interesting little nooks and crannies along the way, such as the donkeys in Oatman AZ, Casey Jones Village in Tennessee, an unexpected boothill in Nebraska, or a sod hut museum in Kansas … all unexpected treasures discovered on driving journeys
  7. I’m addicted. I’ll admit it, I have several addictions and there is no help. Books, magazines, chocolate and crafts. In no particular order. All I can’t live without. I was going to write ‘Is there a 12-step program for craft-a-holics?’ in jest. But then I think of those that truly are suffering the devastating affects of struggling with an addiction. What makes mine humorous and casts a line, a common bond between friends and strangers, while other addictions cast shadows across generations? Just because one is socially acceptable and one isn’t? Is the pull that gets me in the car late at night, driving to Walmart to buy an ice cream bar that I shouldn’t have (even if it IS a Magnum Double Caramel bar) any different than if it were alcohol or drugs?
  8. I’m much better at starting things than I am at finishing them. Hence, a room filled with UFO’s (Unfinished Objects, for those that don’t craft or sew or quilt or weave or fuse glass or …. )
  9. I compost. I cannot throw a banana peel, eggshell, tea bag, vegetable trimmings or coffee grounds in the trash. They must go out to the compost pile. Along with newspapers, grass clippings … and now I’ve been taking out dog hair and dryer lint too.
  10. I love dragonflies. I’ve loved dragonflies for awhile, something about the shape and their beauty. The symbolism of transformation adds another layer of my adoration, much as my life has been the past few years. When I came to my new home inTexas, I was delighted to see these wondrous creatures flitting over the yard, dancing in delicate flight. (Although with the drought this year, there were not as many to my dismay.

There! Ten random things, mostly trivial, so many important things unsaid. Those shall have to go on another blog, maybe ‘Ten Golden Things’.

What are 10 things about you? Share with us!

1934 Athelstan Quilt Squares Story: Post 1

Little did I know how stopping at a yard sale would alter my life several years later.

It was a typical, sunny Southern Californiaday (around 2005 or 2006).  It was a Friday and I was off of work. I’d driven out to a friend’s condo in Palm Springs for a few hours. While leaving town that afternoon, I saw a sign staked at the edge of the street.  Giant black letters proclaimed “YARD SALE” with an arrow pointing left.

Hmmmmm, I wondered. I wonder if yard sales in Palm Springs are any different than the ones at home. I quickly turned down the side street and stopped to browse the graveled front yard, littered with tables and “good deals” covering most of the yard area.  I walked around, covering the area without spending too much time.  Videos for $2 each, stacks of paperback books, tires, the usual miscellaneous assortment of unwanted items.

Then … I spotted the table with bedding, towels and such.  I honestly don’t remember what else was there because I spied a laundry basket with quilted fabrics in it.  I looked closer and it appeared to be several quilt tops in the basket, pieced but never completed into quilts.  There were some quilt squares nestled in amongst the quilt tops, some Sunbonnet Sues and Overall Bills.  They appeared to be older fabrics.  There wasn’t a price on the basket or on the individual pieces.

Over the prior few years I’d acquired a few old quilts at antique stores.  A very few, because I usually couldn’t afford them, they were typically priced way out of my budget.  Hoping that I could afford to purchase at least one of the quilt tops, I approached the lady that appeared to be in charge of the yard sale. 

I tried very hard to appear nonchalant and almost bored. “How much do you want for the quilt tops?” I asked, knowing I had $20 in my wallet and could run to an ATM to get another $20.  Higher than that, I’d be out of luck.

“Well, they’re pretty old,” she answered.  (Duh!  I thought to myself.  Why do you think I want one so much?  But I wisely kept my thoughts to myself.)  “Twenty dollars,” she added.

“For each one?” I asked, trying to quickly decide which one I wanted most.

“For all of them.”

Poker face intact, I calmly said, “I’ll take them.”  Inside I was jumping up and down, almost doing cartwheels as I strolled to the car (trying very hard not to run) to get the twenty dollars for my new treasures.  Handing her the money, I started to take them all out of the laundry basket and she said, “Take the basket too.”

I think I said thank you.  I’m sure I did, but I was almost delirious and trying so hard not to show my delight so she wouldn’t snatch the basket back and raise the price.  I sat the basket in the back seat and drove away as fast as I could without attracting any Palm Springs police officer’s attention.

Arriving home an hour and a half later, I proudly carried my yard sales treasures inside.  Lifting each piece out, one at a time, revealed that I now had three pieced and unquilted quilt tops, along with a set of thirty Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Bill quilt squares.

Each of the squares had a name stitched on it, except for three. The piece de resistance was one square that was stitched with ‘ToDoris, From Mother, 1934’. I was ecstatic!

Any of the quilt tops, by itself, was worth far more than the twenty dollars I paid for the entire lot.  Two were machine stitched and just blocks, no particular pattern.  One top, my favorite of the three, was completely hand stitched. It consists of little tiny hexagons making up a pattern similar to ‘Grandmothers Flower Garden’, except the usual circle of hexagons had one additional hexagon on each side, creating a diamond type design.

The wheels in my brain started turning.  If the quilt squares had names on them, and 1934 on one of the squares … then somewhere, some place in 1934 all of these names were connected in some way, maybe not all to each other, but at least to Doris and Mother.

Making a list of all of the names on the squares, I added notes for each.  Which ones had matching fabrics, same surnames, similar stitching.  On many I made the note ‘very young or very old’, due to the quality of the stitching.  I sat down at the computer several times, putting various combinations of names in the search engine, trying to discover a common denominator among some of the names.

I didn’t find any answers.  Their secret was to remain hidden for several more years.

I moved from California.  The squares, along with the quilt tops and my other antique quilts were packed up for the move.  They stayed packed away for three years.

And then …..

The secrets start to emerge.  How?  What secrets do the squares start to tell?  Come back later in the week to find out what happens next.

Note …. to see photos of all 30 quilt blocks, check our Facebook page: 1934 Athelstan Quilt Squares

A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Sept 11-16)

Daily Celebrations

Celebrate life everyday,  from the Average to the Zany

September 11-16, 2011

September 11th is a date that every American knows and remembers. This date is one like the day Kennedy was shot, where people remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the devastating news.

This day is our modern day ‘date which will live in infamy’, as President Roosevelt said in his speech following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.  September 11th, as December 7th, is a date that will always be with us.  Pearl Harbor had 2,403 deaths and 1,178 wounded. These numbers pale in comparison to the nearly 3,000 killed and 6,000 wounded on September 11th .

What a date to start ‘A Wonderfully Wacky Week’ with, an article about daily celebrations, from the average to the zany.  Many lessons were learned September 11th, lessons personal, political and national.  One of the lessons that we should take from this is to celebrate life.  Remember those that died and honor their memories.  Yet, celebrate life, it’s the only one we’ve got!

The dates for the rest of the week seem trivial compared with September 11th. But in the spirit of finding something to celebrate each day, here they are.

September 12:  This day in 1966 a new television show premièred, The Monkees.  It started as a television show about a rock band … and they became a popular band.  Download a few songs to help celebrate. Some of you still may have one of their records laying around in a pile of unlistened-to-anymore vinyl. Whip out some love beads. Pull out the leather fringed vest from the back of your closet. Sing along as you eat dinner …. ‘Hey, hey, we’re the Monkeess’ …. ‘I’m a believer’ …. ‘Take the last train toClarksville’ …  Am I dating myself here?

September 13: Happy Birthday Roald Dahl! Celebrate this author’s birthday with birthday candles in a peach and a chocolate bar. Read (or re-read) one of his books. James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are my two favorites. The man may be gone, but his legacy continues. (see his website for details, http://www.roalddahl.com)

September 14: The Golden Girls premièred in 1985. Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty captivated the nation until the final episode in 1992. Betty White, the only survivor of the four ladies, is still going strong. Celebrate tonight with a bowl of popcorn and a Golden Girls DVD.

September 15: In 1971, motivated by their vision of a green and peaceful world, a small team of activists set sail from Vancouver, Canadain an old fishing boat. These activists, the founders of Greenpeace, believed a few individuals could make a difference.  Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Greenpeace.  Participate in a green activity in your community that you believe in.  Write a letter. Get involved. See www.greenpeac.org/USA/en to see more about Greenpeace and ways you can help.

September 16: The Wo-Zha-Wa Days Festival begins today in Wisconsin Dells, WI. Only the flea market and arts and crafts run today with a run on Saturday and a Parade on Sunday.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been to a Wo-Zha-Wa Parade and I’m intrigued!  Curious about the name, I discovered that Wo-Zha-Wa is a Ho-Chunk (or Winnebago) Native American phase meaning ‘to have fun’. You won’t see me inWisconsinfor the festival, at least not this year, but that doesn’t mean that we all can’t have our own little ‘Wo-Zha-Wa’ Day!  What things can you do in your family today to have fun and add a little festivity to your life?

September 2011

Past blogs