1850 - 1875 Long Plantation "Feathered Star" Pieced Quilt

Description
In the donor’s words: “The . . . quilt was pieced and quilted by the wives of the Negro slaves, with my grandmother being there to see that they did it right. The cotton filling in the quilt was raised on the Long plantation. The quilt came to me from my mother who had received it from her mother-in-law. This quilt, when first made and even after I received it, was green, red and white . . . the green has faded out [to tan]. You will find some machine stitching on the border around the quilt, my mother did this a number of years ago as it became worn from use . . . the quilt is very precious to me because of the history related to it.”
The plantation the donor refers to is situated on Little Cypress Creek in Upshur County, Texas. It was homesteaded by M.S. Long Sr., the donor’s grandfather. M. S. Long, originally from Ireland, traveled by wagon train from Tennessee (where he had first settled) to Texas in the 1840s. He brought along slaves who built houses and other buildings, and then cleared lands for crops such as cotton, corn and cane. The plantation grew to well over 1,000 acres and the donor’s grandparents lived there the rest of their lives. It was on this plantation that the quilt was made.
The quilt consists of four 28” blocks and 2 half-blocks pieced in a “Feathered Star” pattern. The blocks are joined by triple 1 ¼” strips with red 8-pointed stars at the intersections. It has a plain-woven white and brown stripe cotton lining. A border strip (2 2/3”) of white cotton is stitched over the original red, green (now tan), and white sashing. Possibly the quilt was cut down to eliminate worn areas. It is quilted, 5-6 stitches per inch.
This “Feathered Star” quilt and a thimble used by the donor’s great-grandfather in Ireland for making and repairing leather goods are in the Collection. The donor was the last in the family and did not wish to see these treasured items lost or thrown away. The quilt is an example of a utilitarian, well used household item made by slaves as part of their work on a plantation.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
quilt
date made
1850-1875
maker
unknown
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 83 in x 68 in; 211 cm x 173 cm
place made
United States: Texas, Gilmer
ID Number
1979.0933.01
catalog number
1979.0933.01
accession number
1979.0933
subject
Quilting
Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Slavery
Quilts
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Quilts
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Bonnie L. Carroll

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