01 December 2010

Rowan County Signature Quilt

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
December 2010

Quilt lovers know the historic
al value of textiles. Genealogists delight and cherish quilts when they find one signed by an ancestor. Today talented craft people can apply pictures to cloth creating quilt block images that will be handed down to newer generations.


In 1998 a cousin and I visited M
ary Alice Calvert Jayne in Morehead, Rowan County, Kentucky. We sipped tea, sitting by a small lit fireplace while Mary Alice talked about family members, and the history of Rowan County. It was the kind of day that was just right for sitting and listening. As time grew shorter Mary Alice invited us to look at a quilt in her bedroom. With a smile she looked at me and said "It has the signature of your great great grandmother stitched on it."

My heart raced as she opened t
he door and pointed to the quilt hanging on the wall behind her bed.


Mary Alice said that the quilt was made by ladies of the Christian Church in Morehead as a fund raiser and hung for many years in the church. When the church no longer could use the quilt they asked Mary Ali
ce if she would like to take it. Armed with a 35mm camera I took several snaps that day thinking that someday I would return and take down more of the names on the quilt.

Mary Alice Calvert Jayne was born 17 April 1912 in Morehead, Rowan County, Kentucky, the daughter of John B. Calvert and Sallie Fenton Hagaman. Sadly, before I even developed the film, Mary Alice died 11 November 1998 in her beloved Morehead.

Among the signatures that can be read on the photos in black are "Lizzie T. Martin." I have blogged about Elizabeth before. She was the wife of Henry Foster Martin, a Christian minister. Elizabeth died in 1936 in West Virginia and was brought back to Pine Hill Cemetery in Morehead for burial. Also embroidered in black are Bruce Calvert and J. M. Carey in the photos I took of small portions of the quilt.

Most of the signatures are predominately with red floss. Around the outer circle signed by Margaret Calvert are:
Faye Flannery
Dwight Pierce
Mae Blair
Eugene Calvert
Luther Jayne
Christine Williams
Dr. C. G. Nickell
Roy Caudill
Mr. J. B. Calvert
Cliff McClellan
Clara Robinson
Bob Strother
Kathryn Daniels
Mary Moore
Dr. Marsh
Flora Blair
Mason Jayne
Lottie Powers

Other names I can read in the photographs include:
Mrs. M. E. Carey
Elizabeth Maggard
George Denton
Mamie Blair
Henry Goldberg
Frank Karnip
Cora Bruce
Foster Goff
Patrick McKay
John Paul Nickell
Doris Penix
Thomas Paul
Mary Alice Calvert***
Robert S. Bishop
Charles Tatum
George M. Calvert
Tag Calvert


This is just a handful of the names on the quilt. Knowing some of the provenience of the quilt is most helpful. Since Mary Alice's name also appears I wonder if those signatures in black may not have been deceased when the quilt was created. Sadly Mary Alice was tiring and I hoped to answer further questions another day.

Having viewed other signature quilts, I note that these seem to be in similar hand where earlier signatures on quilts vary with handwriting. Maybe someone from Morehead can add more information on the quilt in the comment lines below my blog!

This particular quilt has now been handed down to niece Barbara Glenn Calvert Messer and is housed in Carter County, Kentucky. More research for another day.



1 comment:

  1. I love physical connections of the past to the present. You've got a good eye to notice that the signatures were similar. Still such a wonderful experience and how lucky that you didn't miss this first opportunity.

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