Hettie Puckett and her friends made a quilt top September 07 2017
Some years back I bought a vintage quilt top. It's one of those "many hands" quilts that I love so much. A quilt made by a family or a group of friends. It is very simple, a checkerboard design with bubble gum pink and off-white muslin squares. What makes this one so very special is that each muslin square contains a hand embroidered name. And what wonderful names they are!
Hettie Puckett, Audie Hightower, Mamie and Tressie Box, Nervy Wilson, Flora Chadwick... a Maud, a Mabel and a Jeff.
Quilts like these tell stories. And having come to it via eBay or Etsy, it arrived without a history. For some reason it was never finished. I have made quilt tops that are languishing and still awaiting the batting, backing and binding to make them usable, but this one seems to have been forgotten.
I am not a quilt historian but just that particular shade of pink made me think that it might have been made in the 20's or 30's. And the names, of course, are from a bygone era... I wondered what the relationships were and where these people had lived.
A simple google search of some of the names led me to Violet Hill Cemetery in Arkansas. Quickly they started matching up! Nervy Wilson (short for Minerva) was RF Wilson's second wife. His daughters, Amy Shoemaker and Ethel Waggoner are on the quilt. Mamie and Tressie Box were mother and daughter. Jeff Blevins turned out to be Jeffie Hames who had married Eldon Blevins in 1934 (so her name change narrowed my time line). Jeffie's mom Gertie Hames and grandmother Nancy Clark are featured. Mollie Standerford and her mother Gladys are there... and on and on..
One square was made by Rheudine Gaston. Being born in 1914 made her the youngest stitcher. Googling her name brought me to a notice from 2007 announcing her passing in Russelville, Arkansas. She lived to be 92. I made a quick call to the funeral home and luckily found a friendly person who remembered Rheudine (Gaston) Carter. She offered to help me contact one of her daughters. As much as I loved this quilt top, I wanted to offer it to a family member who might enjoy seeing the sweet stitches their mom made when she was a teenager. It now lives in Florida and hopefully will continue to tell its story as it is handed down.
I was never able to learn what the occasion was for the making of this quilt top. Perhaps it was meant to honor Jeff's upcoming marriage to Eldon? Perhaps it was a project made by members of the Fairview Baptist Church? I wasn't able to find all of the answers I wanted, but it was fun to research the names and imagine them living a long time ago in Violet Hill. Maybe some day I will know more.