Announcing a series of 42 articles, A Stitch in Time . . .
by Terry Thornton
The Bond's House Museum of the Itawamba Historical Society is filled with artifacts representative of Hill Country life. Among the textile holdings of the museum are several quilts and coverlids --- but none so packed with written history as a Friendship Quilt.
The Friendship Quilt in the Society's Museum was made about 1931 as a fund-raising project for the Mantachie (Itawamba County, Mississippi) Methodist Episcopal Church South. As you can see in the photograph below, the quilt is composed of forty-two squares featuring appliquéd birds with names of subscribers embroidered around the birds.
When it was learned that the names from the quilt had never been transcribed, permission was received from the Society to take the quilt from its display for a complete inventory. The quilt and each of its forty-two squares were photographed. The 208 names embroidered on the quilt were transcribed from the photographs; digital enlargements of the names were most helpful in the transcription.
A list of names from the quilt was shared with the membership of the Historical Society at one of its monthly meetings in an attempt to correct the names and to collect information about the individuals. Some members of the Society were surprised to find their parents named on the quilt and one member was delighted to learn that he was listed on one of the quilt blocks along with this parents and siblings. Others were pleased to find family members and to see names of acquaintances long forgotten. Many members of the Society took time to write information about the names they recognized.
Armed with a refined list of names (several embroidered names were incorrect), the names were then researched using the Itawamba County (and surrounding counties) census reports for 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. A few names were also verified using the 1880 census reports. Burial information, if known, was also recorded.
A summary of the information found on each individual was listed and the names alphabetized. A formal report was prepared and was printed in the Winter 2009 (Volume 29, Number 4) issue of Itawamba Settlers, pages 143 - 161, in the article, Memories from Itawamba County: A Friendship Quilt circa 1931 --- A Stitch in Time.
That report is by no means complete. The quilt continues to "talk." With help from readers, those names embroidered on a quilt almost eighty years ago will continue to tell their story. If you see names of relatives or acquaintances on the individual squares of this quilt, why not share your information about them by posting a comment below? Your help will be most appreciated to continue to let the 1931 Friendship Quilt tells it own story of live and times in the Hill Country.
The following articles in this series, A Stitch in Time, will present each of the forty-two quilt squares --- and the names on each square will be discussed. The series will appear here over the next several days.
A new 2010 Friendship-Memory Quilt was inspired . . .
The work on the Bond's House Museum Friendship Quilt inspired the Society to announce a 2010 version of such a quilt. If you would like to help with the 2010 Quilt, consider offering
- to prepare a square (an appliquéd bird square inspired by the earlier quilt)
- to help embroider names on the squares,
- to assist with quilting bees to finish the quilt later this year
- to subscribing to the quilt by having names or memorials added to it ($10 per name; all donations are tax-deductible)
- to buy raffle tickets for the quilt ($1 per chance)
Contact the Itawamba Historical Society at Post Office Box 7, Mantachie, MS 38855, telephone 662-282-7664, or visit the Society at the Corner of Church Street and Museum Drive in Mantachie for more information.
Membership in the Society is not required to subscribe to the quilt --- but you are most welcomed to consider joining one of the most active historical groups in the Hill Country. General Membership is $25 per year.