1825 - 1850 Gardner/Garner Families Appliqued Quilt

Description
“I am the owner of an antique quilt made back when American settlers first landed which was almost 200 years ago . . .” wrote Eva A. Warren, when this quilt was donated to the Collection in 1970. Eva’s grandmother, Flora Garner, was born about 1800 as a slave on the Gardner plantation. At a later date one of the Gardeners (Elizabeth) left all her property to her ex-slaves and their families.
The arrangement of “Princess Feather” plumes emanating from a star, made from one printed fabric, is appliqued on the 40-inch center panel. The same printed fabric was used to frame the center; a 6-inch inner border separated by an 8 ½-inch white border appliqued with fruit and flowers cut from the printed fabric, and, an outer 3 ½” border. It is quilted, 7 stitches per inch, and bound with a straight strip of white cotton. The quilt exemplifies an ingenious use of one printed fabric appliqued to a white ground to create an overall cohesive design.
Further information was provided by the donor in regard to the family history. “They planted cotton, but they had no cotton gins to make cloth, so they had to make the cloth they needed by hand. The cotton was picked from the seed by fingers and they had a flax wheel and a spinning wheel, so they made cloth and put into the cloth lovely colors. The household linen was very pretty and in abundance.”
Olive Martin Gardner was born in 1780 and died on July 29, 1856. Her daughter was Elizabeth Gardener. When Elizabeth died she left her estate to her ex-slaves and their families. One of them, Flora Garner, was the donor’s grandmother. Possibly it was she who made the quilt. Flora’s daughter, Emma Lilly, married Bill Schenck and it was their daughter, Eva Alice born in 1898, who donated the quilt. Eva Alice Warren wrote a book ( Watch What is Lacking in Negro Progress Carlton Press, 1973) that contains information about the Schenck and Gardner/Garner families as well as about her own life growing up in North Carolina.
The quilt was made on the Gardner/Garner family plantation in Shelby, North Carolina. The family’s history in the area goes back to the late 18th century. This early 19th century quilt too, has a long history.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
quilt
date made
1825-1850
maker
unknown
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 77 in x 81 in; 196 cm x 206 cm
place made
United States: North Carolina
ID Number
TE*T15144
catalog number
T15144
accession number
288868
subject
Quilting
Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
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 Mrs. Eva A. Warren

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