"Pattern Samplers" or "Pattern Quilts" are one of my favorite style of quilt. It is so exciting to find a quilt inside another quilt. Even if the inner quilt doesn’t turn out to be anything spectacular, the adventure of documenting it is still just as exciting.
|Here are my two great aunts as young women: (2nd from left) Annie Alderton Biedler and (r) Lena Biedler Huffman. Will Huffman, Lena's husband, is on the far left.|
I well remember visiting the house in the Shenandoah Valley as a child. To my siblings and me, the house (as well as the two elderly great-aunts!) seemed like the ancient of days. The house seemed to have stopped in time at about 1920, the year my father was born and the year my Great-Grandmother died.
Brackman speculated at the time that here was another quilt inside my Pattern Sampler Quilt! However, it wasn't until the AQSG Seminar in 2001 in Williamsburg, Virginia when I finally opened it up. Actually, I didn't open it myself. AQSG member Judy Grow volunteered to take it up to her room and undo all the ties and take the stitching out along the top so that we could see inside.
Unfortunately, I did not to think to have someone take photos at the time as she went through this set-by-step procedure of opening the quilt. Instead, several years later I re-inserted the inner quilt and sort of reenacted the opening of it to dramatize the process and take photos. It was no where nears as dramatic as the first opening.
|Didn't take a photo at the first reveal so had to lay it out on my deck|
when I got back from Seminar. My apologies for the shadows.
One AQSG member who knows a lot about weaving (whose name I now cannot recall) told me that some of the patches on the front of the inside quilt were hand-loomed linsey-woolsey. That got me very excited because one of the other near-by Biedler family farms (still in the family at the time) had a log Loom House still standing. I can't "prove" those patches came from that other Biedler Farm, but knowing how inter-connected and inter-dependent the extended family was between the three large farms three brothers and their descendants owned from 1802-1900, I wouldn't be surprised if it had been woven in that cabin.
I remember being surprised to discover that our family members had actually bid on items at the estate settlement auctions of their parents. I had always assumed the items we found in the old family home places had been "given" to other family members…. until Dad and I stumbled on those settlement papers.
Fast forward a few decades -- in 2007 I worked with a local group -- Historic Poole Forge -- to mount an exhibit of locally owned antique quilts in an old Iron Master's Mansion. One Amish family – Lancaster County -- loaned us 2 quilts and a few other textiles from his family (he was born in 1950). Both he and his wife named which sale they had purchased each item from -- all part of the family. I've learned that in the”plain” community, the old practice of descendants purchasing items at sale is still practiced. It's actually a very logical way to disperse items in a fair way when there are 7 to 12 children plus 50 to 100 grandchildren. There's no fighting, no taking items "because I want my fair share" – if you want it you buy it.
So, I wasn't surprised to read that your great grandfather bought his mother's quilt at her estate auction in the Shenandoah Valley -- it all fits together in my mind. How wonderful to have the estate auction paper -- I've never seen one -- that is so cool.
...those are the 2 concrete examples I have. I've also overheard women at the Mennonite thrift store where I volunteer talk about "so and so is having sale" so I'm fairly sure it's still happening.
Side note -- while the signs and ads say "auction" I don't hear people saying "auction" -- they say "sale", as in "Wengers are having sale this Saturday." We recently had our big Relief Sale in Harrisburg -- and it's an auction of quilts.