Museum Talk -- wedding ring quilt made in 1933

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Wedding ring quilt on display at the Buffalo Island Museum in Monette.

Buffalo Island Museum has an eighty-two year old wedding ring quilt that was made by Elizabeth Bell in 1933 for her daughter Ruth, who was about to be married. It was donated by Ruth's daughter Jill Smith Tilley. This pattern was first known to be in the Capper weekly on October 28, 1928 and was designed by J.D. Patterson of Kansas.

There was a time in the Buffalo Island area when every daughter received a quilt when they married. Sometimes a family member quilted the quilt, or friends got together, and sometimes it was a church group of ladies who had a quilting bee. I remember the ladies of the Monette Assembly of God Church presenting me a quilt. They met once a week quilting. I believe the Lake City Methodist Church still meets each Tuesday to quilt and socialize.

I have always heard about the colonial ladies and their quilting bees. But when I did some research, I found this not to be true. The colonial ladies were far too busy with their everyday life. They cleaned, cooked, and made clothes from the cloth after spinning. Some quilting and needlework was done by those who could afford household help. Even then, most quilting had to be done May through November when there was more light in the home as the fireplace shed little light. Quilts were rare in the 17th and early 18th centuries and it is unlikely the women were making quilts in any number until the 1750's. Around 1840, the textile industry had grown and fabric became available to most women's pocketbooks. This is when the quilting bees became a widespread activity. I read one diary from that era that stated that once a week the bed had to be taken out of Mama's room and the quilting frame put up so the ladies could have their quilting bee. Very few quilts from the early years in America have survived. Most of these are in museums today and many of them have a star pattern, which was popular in that time.

We live in an area that is rich in homemade quilts. The Buffalo Island Museum's Quilt Show is September 26, 9-4 p.m. I hope you allow us to see your quilt that Mom or Grandmother made. The old quilts have a story of their own. The quilt show will feature new and old quilts. Do you have a quilt that has been sewed together with string or yarn instead of quilted? We love the appliqued quilts, the patchwork quilts, and the unusual designs that you did yourself. For more information on the Quilt Show, call 870-838-5183 or 870-486-2000.

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