1850 - 1851 Eliza Jane Baile's "Bride's" Quilt

1850 - 1851 Eliza Jane Baile's "Bride's" Quilt

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Eliza Jane Baile lovingly stitched and inscribed this cotton album quilt top, finishing a few weeks after her marriage to Levi Manahan in 1851. Original patterns of wreaths of strawberries and flowers are framed by a strawberry vine along the quilt border. Three blocks incorporate inked inscriptions within scrolls. On one corner, one may read “E J Baile. Commenced June 1850” and on the opposite corner, “Finished October 30 185l.” A third scroll has the following sentiment carefully penned:
“Sweett flowers bright as Indian Sky
Yet mild as Beauty’s soft blue eye;
Thy charms tho’ unassuming shed /
A modest splendoure o’er the mead.”
Great attention was given to the completion of this quilt. The sawteeth of the border are individually appliquéd and the strawberries stuffed. All of the motifs have outline quilting, with closely quilted background lines, 10 stitches to the inch. The overall design is further enhanced with embroidery and small details drawn in ink or watercolor.
Eliza Jane Baile, the daughter of Abner Baile (1807-1894) and Frances Pole Baile (1813-1893) was born February 13, 1832, in Maryland. According to Eliza’s obituary, her mother was a descendent of Edward III, King of England. At age nineteen, Eliza married Levi Manahan ((1824-1893) on October 11, 1851. They reared eight children on a farm near Westminster, Carroll County, Maryland.
Eliza was not only an accomplished quilter, she was also known as a folk artist. One of her oil paintings, Stone Chapel of the Methodist Church is at the Historical Society of Carroll County. Other paintings are owned and treasured by her descendents. An active member of the Stone Chapel United Methodist Church, Eliza also founded a Ladies Mite Society and served as president for 50 years. Mite Societies were voluntary organizations that were established in the nineteenth century to raise monies for mission work.
Eliza died June 25, 1923, age 91, at her home in Westminster and is buried at the Stone Chapel Cemetery. As her obituary in the Daily News, Frederick, Maryland, notes, “Her Christian character endeared her to many friends. She was well known as an artist.” In 1954, Eliza’s youngest daughter, Addie, donated her mother’s quilt to the Smithsonian. Eliza's artistic abilities are well represented in the “Bride’s Quilt” she designed and made for her marriage.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Baile, Eliza Jane
place made
United States: Maryland, Carroll county
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton, wool (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 93 in x 93 in; 237 cm x 237 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Miss Addie Baile Manahan
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I bought a full/queen version of this quilt years ago that was made in China in 1992. I appreciate the uproar that resulted from this, but I’m just truly grateful to have been given the chance to own a piece of history. It may be just a replica, but I fully appreciate the beauty and the passion that went to completing the original piece!
I have a twin in this pattern that I bought from Spiegl catalog in the early 1990’s. It came with a card that ,when returned, I thought, said that would go to The Smithsonian so all the quilts could be tracked. It was a long time ago, and I must be misremembering.
This historic quilt was reproduced in China in the early 1990s and sold through JC Penney. There is controversy in the quilting community as to whether this is a legitimate practice.

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