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Do You Have an Heirloom Quilt From a Long-Gone Family Member?   Quilting Swaps - Unsewn

Started 3/23/21 by judyinohio; 3311 views.
In reply toRe: msg 45

This is the quilt block that was made by my great-aunt Sarah Jane Shelton.  This is Sarah (green dress) with my grandmother, Katie Leoma Shelton Mathews ("Oma," in the pink dress), taken in Carter, Oklahoma on Mother's Day 1974. 


Amazing facts about Sarah.  She was born in 1888 and died in 1989 at 101, and at the time of her death, she had been in a nursing home for more than 25 years.  She was about 85 in this photo in 1974, when we were there for Mother's Day and took her out for a little while to visit my grandmother and some other relatives.  Sarah and Oma were full sisters, but they had several other half-siblings with a different mother.  They also had another sister - either a half-sister or step-sister, Pearl, on their mother's side of the family.  Information is sparse, and I haven't figured out the exact relationships yet.  Sarah never married, and Pearl outlived or divorced a couple of husbands, and then moved in with Sarah and lived there until she died - I believe in the mid-1960s.  When I was a kid, we would go visit them and they seemed like 100 years old even back THEN.  Pearl was older, and a little scary to me, but she was just very quiet because she was very old, had almost no teeth, and would just sit and rock and dab at the corners of her mouth with her hanky.  I was fascinated by her pierced ears and with her habit of dipping snuff.  I never saw so many empty snuff jars as there were under their kitchen sink.  No idea what they were saving them for.  LOL  

In reply toRe: msg 46

This is my 4-generation photo, taken in 1975, with me, my Mom (Mary Lee Mathews Osborne), Oma Mathews, and Matthew Osborne (age about 6-8 months, I reckon).

In reply toRe: msg 47

And one more - Oma "Ma" Mathews, at her house in Carter, Oklahoma, circa 1971.  I guess she kept the quilt in the closet; I never saw it in her house back then.  


From: judyinohio


A copy of that photo of Sarah Shelton certainly needs to stay with the quilt with her signature on it.

Wouldn't it be a fine bit of detective work if you could locate facts about other signers of the quilt ... maybe data from local cemeteries or some such easily researched stuff? (No, I'm not suggesting you go tromping around gravestones, you can find some data just using the person's name, the county name and your good friend Google.)

Yeah, I wish I had more time to do such research.  I have found a few of the people on - at least have found where they are buried.  But that doesn't tell too much about them.  I would love to find some of their descendants and see if they are interested in having a photo of something they made back in 1938, but I doubt if it would be worth the effort it would take to find them, as there is likely little interest at this point.  I should find out if some sites like provide a place where people can upload information and photos, for whoever is out there doing family history research and might like something a little different for the family scrapbook.  I don't really know if is the best repository for such things, or even if it is the best site to do research, but I certainly see a LOT of their ads on TV these days.

What is really interesting to speculate about is that there are surely many other quilts like this one in closets and attics out there - if they still exist at all - and wouldn't it be interesting to go back in time and meet the people who made them.  I wonder how many more there are out there.  

Pirate (PIRATE_SR)

From: Pirate (PIRATE_SR)


Yeah, Find-A-Grave is a fantastic site!

Pirate (PIRATE_SR)

From: Pirate (PIRATE_SR)


JulietDeltaOscar (fixin2quilt) said:

I don't really know if is the best repository for such things, or even if it is the best site to do research,

You betcha it is!  It may take a bit of time on your part, but starting with the person you know, you can do a search to see if anyone else has created a family tree with that person in it.  Create a family tree of your own (it certainly does not need to be connected to any other tree .. it can stand by itself) and let Ancestry chew on it for a while.  Eventually, it'll give you some hints (those little green leaves).  Hopefully one of those hints will give you children, which you can then enter into the tree and let Ancestry chew on it some more.

It did *exactly* that 3 times over with some photos from my parents' collection.   My Mom made friends when she was in high school and after graduation when she was working.  She and these ladies remained life long friends.  My Mom hosted an annual Christmas dinner and these ladies (and many times, their husbands) would come over.  I grew up with memories of these people.   We didn't socialize so much with them as everyone grew older but I *still* retain memories of them and some of their children.   

Well, in going through my parents' photos, I came across quite a few photos of these ladies, circa 1940s & 1950s.  While I remember them, they mean absolutely nothing to my kids.  I probably have never even mentioned those friends of my Mom's and those Christmas dinners.  So, I really didn't have any need to retain the photos but I just could NOT bring myself to throw them away without giving a search the old college try.  

That's when I got onto my account in Ancestry and created family trees for the various ladies ... discovered more facts about their kids, which I plugged back into the tree.  Ancestry was very accommodating!  Then doing some general internet searching, I was actually able to find Facebook pages for grandkids, emails and general locations.   I send off cold emails or text messages to the kids and/or grandkids explaining who I was, what I had and that I would **very much** like to snailmail those photos to them.  

I had a very nice email correspondence with one of the children (the gentleman was slightly older than me) and he was just delighted to get the photos of both his parents.  He had never seen it before.  The other two people were grandkids and, again, they were just so happy to get actual photos of Grandma & Grandpa.   *I* was very pleased to be able to send those photos back home.

So, depending on how much time you want to spend, it certainly can be done.  :-)


From: latterberry


Judy, I love both quilts and the stories that go with them.  Do you have notes written about them pinned to them so your family will know and remember their history?  Makes me sad that I have no stories like that.  My mom passed away before my lovely long arm lady finished up a quilt my mom had pieced.  The lady sent the sweetest note when she finished the quilt about how knowing that this was my mom's last quilt, she took extra care with it.  Both quilts are stunning treasures but particularly love the lavender border on the first one.


From: judyinohio


Yes, the old quilts have notes attached to them. It's hard to know if my twin granddaughters will ever place any value on old family quilts since I don't really know them. DD has remained single and has no children but since she makes quilts I know she will hang on to the "oldies but goodies" and do her best to encourage her nieces to value them someday.