1847 Mary Hill's Album Quilt

The large central square contains the inscription: “Presented to Mrs. Mary B. Hill as an expression of esteem by the Ladies of Maltaville.” Mary B. Hill was the wife of Reverend William Hill (1814-1851) of the Presbyterian-Congregational Church of Maltaville, New York. She was born November 13, 1816, to Benton (1786-?) and Elizabeth Barnard in Litchfield, Connecticut. She married on July 13, 1836 and they had one son, Roland. Mary died May 5, 1862, in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1847, women in the church made, joined, lined, and quilted sixty blocks, in addition to the dedicatory center block, to create this example of an album quilt.
Album quilt blocks often contain name, date, or place, and sometimes a poem or verse of special meaning. Almira E. Olmstead added this to her block:
The Tulip and the Butterfly
Appear in gayer coats than I
Let me be dressed fine as I will
Flies, worms, and flowers, exceed me still.
The lines are from “Against Pride in Clothes,” published in 1720 by Isaac Watts (1674–1748), a well-known English hymn writer whose verse is often found on quilts of the period.
The appliquéd blocks are embellished with embroidered details in addition to the inked inscriptions. Flowers, leaves, hearts, stars, crescents, double ovals around the signatures, and other motifs are found in the quilting. As a token of appreciation, this quilt displays the fine quilting skills of the “Ladies of Maltaville.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Ladies of the Presbyterian Church
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton, silk (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 92 in x 91 in; 234 cm x 232 cm
Place Made
United States: New York, Maltaville
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Isaac Carrington Morton
Additional Media

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