Please welcome guest author Sherry Joines Wyatt. Wyatt is the Collections Manager at the Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center in Christiansburg, VA. The museum collects and exhibits Montgomery County history and works by regional artists, has an extensive historic photograph collection, and offers a research library.
Research often leads you in directions you never considered. In preparation for the new history exhibit (opening July 1), we began researching the quilts in the museum’s collection.
One of these, an unfinished quilt top in the Pine Burr pattern, was intriguing because it is a friendship quilt made by at least twelve women whose names or initials are on the quilt top. We wanted to learn something about the women who made the quilt top. I started with the genealogy of the donors—the Stanger-Silvers family who donated the quilt and other items in 1988.
A color guide for historic fabrics provided an approximate late-nineteenth century date, guiding me to theorize who the quilt makers had been. I soon discovered that many of the women had lived in the Belmont community of Montgomery County. This was a good start, but what else could I learn?
Marriage records seemed to be a logical place to find out more. The marriage dates of the women could help me to discover a more accurate quilt date since friendship quilts were often done in honor of a marriage.
In fact, I learned much more. By chance, I noticed that two of the women were married by the same minister: Reverend D. Bittle Groseclose. This was a new idea – what if the women were not only neighbors or relatives, but also attended the same church.
Three women who I believe were connected to the quilt were married in 1890, 1892, and 1896 by Rev. Groseclose. Rev. Groseclose served as chaplain at Virginia Polytechnic Institute from 1897-1902 and organized New St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in the Glade community of Montgomery County in 1903 shortly before he moved to South Carolina.
A search of all the marriage records for 1889-1903 revealed that Rev. Groseclose had married 98 couples. These couples ran the social gamut including African Americans and whites, miners and farmers, railroad workers and physicians. I also learned that an additional twelve couples related to the quilt makers were married by Rev. Groseclose. My study of Rev. Groseclose has brought me a richer history of the lives of these women.
In the end, I have been able to hypothesize that the quilt top was made for Amanda Linkous (1864-1906), probably upon her marriage to Sylvester Stanger (1866-1942) in 1890. The identified quilt makers are thought to include: Mattie Hawley, who may have been the daughter of James and Catherine Hawley; Mary Keister, who may have been the daughter of James Ballard and Nancy Hawley Keister; Hattie B. Long who is thought to have been the daughter of William and Rebecca Long; and Luvenie (or Louvenia) Sheppard who was married to James C. Stanger in 1896 by Rev. Groseclose. The fifth name on the quilt top is partially illegible: “ ___ Linkes” [sic, Linkous]. Are you able to identify this Miss Linkous?
Join us to see the Pine Burr quilt top and many other quilts during the museum’s new exhibit: A Pieced History: Quilts in Montgomery County.