1906 Sarah Butler's "Log Cabin" Pieced Quilt

Description
The central inscription on this “Log Cabin” quilt states that it was “Presented by Mrs. Sarah Butler, February the fourteenth One Thousand nine hundred and six,” followed by the names of four ministers. No occasion, church, or place was indicated in the inscription, but the “Log Cabin” quilt included nearly 400 names written on the “logs”.
Research indicates that three of the ministers, Rev. L.D. Bragg, Rev. F.D. Tyler, and Rev. R. J. Honeywell were at various times pastors of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Hudson, N. H. The fourth, Rev. Van Buskirk, was the pastor of a nearby Methodist church in Antrim, N. H. In 1931 the Methodist Episcopal Church (Hudson) merged with the Congregational Church and is now called the Hudson Community Church.
The Methodist Episcopal Church in Hudson organized in 1840. On August 3, 1879, a fire destroyed the church, parsonage, and a connecting stable. A new meeting house was built in 1880. In December 1905 ceremonies were held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of this church building. In January 1906, the auditorium and vestry were furnished with electric lights. It is assumed that the quilt was a fund raiser and the names on the quilt were donors. The February 1906 date might indicate either the beginning or ending of the fund raising effort, as some of the signatures are names of individuals born after 1906. One of the pastors, Rev. Roy John Honeywell, did not come to the church until 1916; although he did not marry until 1922, his wife’s name is on the quilt. The majority of the names are of people who resided in either Hudson or nearby Nashua, which was connected by trolley to Hudson.
The quilt consists of 18-inch blocks pieced in the “Log Cabin” (also known as “Pineapple,” “Chestnut Burr,” or “Church Steps”) pattern. Printed and plain cottons were used with a red triangle at each corner of the block and a red square in the center. Three hundred eighty-three names are inscribed in ink on the plain tan “logs” as well the inscriptions, “Church built in 1888” and “Alta Theresa House.” The inscriptions and names appear to have been done by the same person. Mainly plain-and twill-weave, roller-printed cottons are used for the pieced blocks, each print repeated on each block. It is lined with a roller-printed cotton.
Names on a quilt are always of interest to a researcher. This particular quilt has many. Often the names are of couples or in some instances whole families. I.e., “Lyman Bragg, Sarah Bragg, Laura Bragg, Earnest Bragg, and Barbara Bragg” are inscribed on adjacent “logs.” Reverend L. D. Bragg was one of the people mentioned in the central inscription. He and Sarah were married in 1880, and their three children were born in 1881, 1885, and 1886 (the last in Medford, Mass.). One daughter, Laura, went to South Carolina, and was the first woman to be named the director of a major American museum (Charleston Museum) in 1920. She was instrumental in advocating education in the museum setting, and also helped to establish other museums in the South. Laura’s career was long and illustrious. She died in 1978, and she is known for her innovative educational ideas and strength of character.
Though of a later date, this “Log Cabin” quilt was part of a larger collection, more than 2,000 objects, donated by Edna Greenwood in the 1950s. The late 18th- and early 19th-century textiles, furniture, ceramics, glass, tools, and implements in the collection are mainly from rural New England farms and villages and provide insight into the lives and environment of ordinary Americans. This quilt, with its many names, had no information about when or where it was collected. Through research, the many inscriptions penned on it were clues to the origins of this quilt, perhaps a community project to provide moneys to either upgrade an existing church or purchase an organ.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
quilt
date made
1906
maker
unknown
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 72 in x 71 in; 183 cm x 180 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Medford
ID Number
TE*E388877
accession number
182022
catalog number
E388877
subject
Textiles
Family & Social Life
Quilting
Cultures & Communities
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 Dr. and Mrs. Arthur M. Greenwood
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