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My Beautiful Quilt


About two or three years ago my friend, Carolyn Cromeenes Foss gave me a quilt top pieced by the neighborhood women and children of the Foot of the Hill School district, Pope County IL The top was made for Carolyn's aunt, Mrs. Helen Cromeenes Baker, the teacher for the school term, 1935-36.


I tucked it away in a drawer, doing nothing with it until I thought it would be a good idea to have the quilters at the Golden Circle in Golconda, Pope County IL finish it for me. Last year I asked my cousin, Raye Evelyn Lauderdale Lendardson to put my name on their list. The quilters got in touch with me about the end of February, I took it to them and they finished it by the first part of April 1998. They said there was a lot of excitement about the quilt because some of the students that still live in the area would come by and talk about it and others had relatives and friends on it. It was a great conversation piece about their past. Connie Gibbs asked if she could display it for the Quilt Show, some of her family members are also on it. She reluctantly let me have it back yesterday.


Below is a list of the names starting on the

Top row, left corner: Addie CASPER; Josie E. [DAVIDSON] PERRY [my great grandfather's sister]; Mary BERGER; Dona ROSS; Junior SWINFORD; Charlie, Dempsy & Normas BILLINGTON [all three on one block]; Onita ROSS.

Second row: Agnes SWINFORD; Gladys OWENS; Mary [JENNINGS] PEEL [my great grandmother's sister]; Amos Ewin and Guy Edward TANNER [On one block. Both brothers are living in Pope County. Amos remembers his mother working on the block.], Armada [JENNINGS] DAVIDSON [my great grandmother]; Willie and Cecil WERNER; Dewey MOYER.

Third row: Louisa TANNER; Shirley TANNER; Gladys WERNER; Susie Mae HALL; Jean TANNER; Maud BRADFORD; James A. & J.D. SWINFORD, L.L. HALL [all three on one block].

Fourth row: Cora ROPER; Mattie COMPTON; Lucille SWINFORD;

"Foot-of-Hill School ~ Term 1935-36 ~ Teacher - Mrs. Helen C. BAKER";

Elsie BERGER; Esther ASHBY; Eugene KINGSLEY [son of Allen C. & Madge DAVIDSON KINGSLEY].

Fifth row: Gladys CASPER; Bertha HOGAN; Wayne BENDER; Cedric & Wanda GLASS [both on same block], Carrie ASHBY; Fannie JOHNSON & James [both on same block]; Helen HOGAN.

Last row: Alice TANNER; Lyda COSBY; Mary Alice HALL; Mary BILLINGTON; Eugene & Lucille WERNER [both on same block], Mayme WILLIAMS; Alfred, Coy, Dale and Ambrose SWINFORD [all four on same block].


I would sincerely like to thank everybody that worked on my beautiful quilt. The ones that started it sixty-two years ago and the ones that finished it in the Spring of 1998.


Judy Foreman Lee

27 April 1998

By George G. Morgan

Preserving Precious Textiles

One night about fifteen years ago, on a visit back home, my mother walked into the family room with a package wrapped in tissue paper. "This," she announced, "is something I've been keeping for you for many years." She passed the package to me.

"What is it?" I asked. She just smiled.

As I carefully unwrapped the layers of white tissue, I knew there was something made of cloth inside. The last sheet was folded back and I saw that what I held was an old, obviously handmade quilt. "It was made by your great-grandmother Morgan before the Civil War," my mother explained. "The story is that she even dyed the pieces of cloth used to make the pattern." I opened the quilt and saw the design--a white background with vines of an odd shade of green and flowers of red and blue. It was beautifully designed and sewn with tiny, tight stitches. It was exquisite, and the fact that my great-grandmother had made it with her own hands made this a priceless treasure.

My mother had stored and preserved this heirloom, wrapped in tissue paper and then inside a cotton pillowcase. The tissue was still almost white, even after the decades when it was first used to enclose the quilt. The package had been stored in the family linen closet. I remember that my mother always removed everything from that closet once a year and then rearranged it. She said it was good to move the linens around.

Storing Important Textiles

You probably have clothing or linens that have some special significance to you. Perhaps it's your mother's wedding dress, your child's baby clothes, your father's military uniform. I have pillowcases with my Grandmother Weatherly's handmade lace edging, and a hand-crocheted baby set made by my Aunt Mary Allen. All of these are important parts of your family tradition, things that add special significance and understanding to your understanding of their lives. These are tangible evidence of your ancestors' existence and their handwork. It is your responsibility to preserve these items and help carry on the tradition.

There are some basic rules to follow when storing textiles:

- Store items in acid-free materials. Make certain that the materials you use are acid-free. Many dry cleaners have acid-free boxes and tissue for sale. Be sure to specifically ask whether the materials are acid-free. If the person doesn't know or isn't sure, go somewhere else. This is too important.

Wrap materials in acid-free tissue paper before folding them - The paper helps cushion the material. Sharp folds and creases actually break the textile fibers and cause more damage.

- Never use metal pins or clips. Steel safety pins and paper clips will rust over time, regardless of how carefully you think you are controlling humidity. They will leave rust stains that probably can never be removed.

- Never store fabrics in plastic bags. Plastic bags are great for short-term storage of materials from the cleaners. However, remember that plastic is a petroleum-based product. Over time plastic breaks down. It gives off fumes and chemicals that can discolor and destroy many fabrics.

- Never store precious fabrics with polyester materials. Your grandmother's wedding dress should not be stored forever beside your husband's favorite leisure suit from the 1970s. (Yes, we all know how attached he is to it and how he feels it is an heirloom!) 100% polyester clothing, just like a plastic bag, is a petroleum-based product. Store these treasures separately.

- Never store precious fabrics in plastic boxes. The marketplace is filled with handy storage items, including plastic storage boxes. These may be great for storing clothes from one season to the next, but they are not good for the kind of long-term, archival storage that you want to do.

- Attach labels with needle and thread. If you want to attach a label of some sort to identify the origin of the item, you have a couple of choices. One way is to choose an acid-free paper card and write the information using only an indelible marking pen. The other way is to cut a piece of fabric and label it with an indelible marking pen. Do not use felt-tip or ballpoint pens; their ink tends to run, discolor, or fade and can also damage the item you wish to preserve. Sew the label in an inconspicuous place using a strong cotton thread.

- Fabric needs to breathe. Have you heard stories of someone's grandmother saving all her precious linens in a trunk, only to discover one day that they had crumbled due to dry rot? This is no myth. It is important to allow fabric to breathe. Take those materials out from time to time. Unwrap and unfold them. Give them some air. Then, repackage them and return them to their proper place.

- Be careful of sunlight. Sunlight can cause materials to fade and disintegrate. If you keep some items on display, be careful where you place them. For instance, don't place that quilt on a quilt rack under the sunniest window in the guest room. Also, if you have a colorful scarf matted and framed in the foyer, make sure it doesn't receive any afternoon sun.

Summing Up

I'm sure there are twenty other things I could suggest. The basics are these, though:

~ Use acid-free and archival-safe storage materials. There are many sources for these items. Check dry cleaners, office supply stores, a nd places on the Internet such as Light Impressions, Inc.

~ Package materials carefully and store them in clean, airy places.

~ Label materials carefully for posterity.

Please take your job as family archivist seriously. The materials you are handling will never be created the same way again. You are preserving family treasures and evidence of a way of life. The preservation of these wonderful materials is an honor. Handle it carefully.

Happy hunting!

[See Barbara Sagraves' A Preservation Guide (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1995) for more on this important topic-Ed.]

designed by JFL ~ 27 April 1998