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Patchwork Lives

Patchwork Lives

Providing Income

Women found many ways to earn a living or supplement the family income. One of the most common professions was teaching. Family income could be supplemented by raising chickens, making butter and cream, and, after sewing machines came into general use, sewing for neighbors. While teachers and housewives may have been in the majority in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the female physician, lawyer, and businesswoman must not be forgotten for their contributions to the settling of the frontier.

"I had the first sewing machine on the creek and had to do lots for neighbors, who thought it a great treat to have a machine made dress. At one time in June I had 11 dresses to be made before the fourth of July."
MS 1205, Kittie McGrew, Unpublished manuscript titled "Territorial Women of Nebraska"

"I had a couple of 3 gallon jars of good solid butter . . . I had taken one crock full to Kenesaw and got 12 1/2 cents a pound for it."
Luna E. Kellie Reminiscences, MS 3914, Nebraska State Historical Society

"Most of the girls I knew, unless they married early, went into other people's kitchens as hired girls, or became clerks or schoolteachers. A hired girl's job . . . was the last thing I wanted, and I didn't think I'd care for clerking. But teaching, now - some of the nicest people I had ever known . . . were schoolteachers."
Grace Snyder (as told to Nellie Snyder Yost) in No Time On My Hands, (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1963; rpt., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986).


Schoolhouse
Maker unknown, probably made in Oklahoma
Circa 1890-1910
78" x 72"
International Quilt Study Center, James Collection, 1997.007.0314

Teaching was one of the most common professions for single women in the late nineteenth century, and the Schoolhouse pattern is one of the most beloved figurative pieced patterns of American quilters. It first appeared in the last decades of the nineteenth century.
Can you see the suggestion of rows of crops near the country schoolhouse in the alternating blocks of striped fabric?


Name Quilt

Moree Beetem, Palmyra, Nebraska
Circa 1915
83" x 74"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Suzy Albin, El Cajon, California, 11929-1

Moree Beetem was born in Palmyra, Nebraska, in 1903 and made this quilt for a school project. She became her teacher's assistant after graduating from the sixth grade.


Schoolhouse

Maker, location unknown
Circa 1905-1915
74" x 75.5"
International Quilt Study Center, Holstein Collection, 2003.003.0152

Teaching was one of the most common professions for single women in the late nineteenth century, and the Schoolhouse pattern is one of the most beloved figurative pieced patterns of American quilters. It first appeared in the last decades of the nineteenth century.


Peony
,
Maker, location unknown
1875-1925
98.25" x 89"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Hazel Gertrude Kinscella, Lincoln, Nebraska, 9154-114

The owner of this quilt, Hazel Gertrude Kinscella of Lincoln, Nebraska, was a composer, author, recording artist, and noted music educator. Her "Lincoln Way" of conducting piano classes was used by school systems all over the United States. This quilt utilizes earlier blocks (probably 1870-1900) with matching blocks added later when the quilt was finished.


Crazy Quilt
Eva Wight, Saline County, Kansas
Dated 1891
81.5" x 71"
International Quilt Study Center, James Collection, 1997.007.0929

Eva Wight, maker of this wool crazy quilt, raised chickens to contribute to the family income. According to the date embroidered on the quilt, Wight made her quilt when she was nineteen, an age when many young women would have been doing similar work.
Born in New York, Eva moved with her family at an early age to the Salina, Kansas, area where she lived until she died in 1940 at the age of sixty-eight.


Mill Wheel
Maker, location unknown
1920-1940
85" x 70"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Deborah Avery Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Lincoln, Nebraska, 7134-482

Olivia Pound, assistant principal at Lincoln High School from 1918 to 1943, owned this Mill Wheel quilt. Pound Junior High in Lincoln is named for Olivia and her family. The Mill Wheel Pattern belongs to the same family of pieced quilt patterns as Drunkard's Path, Boston Puzzle, and Snowball, and can be varied by the number of corners cut out and the arrangement of the blocks.


Chicken Ribbons
Maker unknown, probably Sikeston, Missouri
Dated 1913 and 1914
79" x 65"
International Quilt Study Center, James Collection, 1997.007.0246

This quilt is constructed from forty-two blocks made of blue, red, and white silver-printed ribbons that represent poultry and textile prizes awarded at the 1913 and 1914 fairs and exhibitions in Sikeston, Missouri.

The ribbons may have been earned by the maker or gathered from family and friends. Maybe the maker made the quilt to commemorate these events, or perhaps it was a personal challenge to display these ribbons in a non-traditional manner.


Triple Irish Chain
Maker, location unknown
Circa 1890
75" x 86"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Hazel Gertrude Kinscella, Lincoln, Nebraska, 9154-107

This quilt was owned by Hazel Gertrude Kinscella, a Lincoln composer, author, recording artists, and music educator. Her "Lincoln Way" of conducting piano classes was used by school systems all over the U.S. While the quilting is by hand and Triple Irish Chain blocks are hand pieced, the appliqué work on the corners of each block are machine stitched and the borders are machine assembled. Quilts like this one make us want to ask the maker why and how she decided what to do by hand and what to do by machine.

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Patchwork Lives
Introduction

Inspiring the Future

Arriving

Building a Home

Believing

Providing Income

Community
Involvement

Showing Off

 

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Last updated 28 October 2005  

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