Monday, April 19, 2010

Some examples of how quilt and grave marker photographs can help document a community

by Terry Thornton

In a recent article at this site (click to read) I mentioned that another Friendship Quilt is being documented by members of the Itawamba Historical Society. And in earlier posts here (click to read) I've encouraged other local writers to do cemetery inventories. See the Itawamba County Mississippi Book of the Dead for examples.

The quilt documentation project is made much easier when online documents are available to assist with the research. As I was preparing closeup images of the individual quilt squares from the Sheffield quilt being studied by Joe Nell Wood and others of the Society --- and after preparing only seven of the images --- it dawned on me I'd recently seen some of those names before. Of the seven, four were names I'd transcribed from grave markers at Keys Cemetery and recently posted online (the Keys Cemetery index will also be printed in the Summer Issue of the Settlers, the quarterly journal of the Itawamba Historical Society).

Those four quilt squares are shown below and beneath each I'm including the entry from Keys Cemetery containing a link to the photograph of their grave marker. And finally I'm entering any other information about this individual that can be obtained from their grave marker.

MOORE, Clydus Gassaway, 1896, 1976, Keys, img 6359

Clydus Gassaway Moore, November 19, 1896 - January 28, 1976, is buried at Keys Cemetery, Itawamba County, Mississippi. Her burial is marked on a double marker with Audie Ellis Moore, October 19, 1892 - August 1, 1971.

WHITTEN, Martha Julia, 1879, 1956, Keys, img 5359

Martha Julia Whitten, August 25, 1879 - April 29, 1956, is buried in Keys Cemetery, Itawamba County, Mississippi. She is named on a double marker with Amos Lee Whitten, January 31, 1878 - October 18, 1945.

LODEN, Dewdrop Martin, 1902, 1986, Keys, img 6521

Dewdrop Martin Loden, March 19, 1902 - February 6, 1986, is buried at Keys Cemetery, Itawamba County, Mississippi. She is named on a double marker with Ellis Loden, September 27, 1898 - April 16, 1979.

BRADLEY, Fannie, 1863, 1945, Keys, img 5344

Fannie Bradley, March 30, 1863 - October 6, 1945, is buried at Keys Cemetery, Itawamba County, Mississippi.

This brief information will make further documention of these four individuals easier. Having the maiden name from the cemetery grave marker along with the spouse's name will be of tremendous help in the research. Online census reports and SSDI will probably contain additional information --- and then the fun of doing the research in the family documents and archives of the Itawamba Historical Society will start.

It is interesting to me that relatives of these four women will have access to images of a quilt square which their ancestor probably pieced, signed and embroidered her name, and then probaby helped the other ladies of the community to quilt. Who knows, the fabric from which the lady pieced the quilt square may have been scaps from some project she had sewn for herself or her family. Textiles with names upon them can be a treasure trove of local information. I'm looking forward to seeing Joe Nell Wood's research on each of the squares --- and am so glad that one of the major cemeteries in the community where this quilt is thought to have been made has been inventoried.

Don't overlook Friendship Quilts to help write the local stories of your community. I cannot image the thrill of finding images of needlework with my grandmother's name upon it.

As I prepare the photographic images of each quilt block, I'm checking the names on the online cemetery indexes available at Itawamba County Mississippi Book of the Dead.


Dorene from Ohio said...

What a great post! I love it when family history and the arts intersect.

Terry Thornton said...

Thank Dorene. The folk art of quilting was a necessity as well as an expression/statement of artistic ability. And so few textiles survive with names upon them that it is indeed a treat to work with them in family history projects.
Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi