22 January 2011

Forget Me Not

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
January 2011

No better time to write about historical quilts than when the temperatures dip to single digits across the United States. I have written about signature quilts and utilized them as examples in many genealogical speeches throughout the years.

Some of my most treasured documentation comes, not from courthouse paper sources, but rather from the items that surround me. My beautiful blue garnet ring bears the inscription date that my great grandparents were engaged. I carefully dust a tiny porcelain bride and groom from 1918 that sat on top of the cake when my grandparents were married. Quilts tell stories as well.

The documented provenance of an artifact is as important to a genealogist as it is to any archaeologist or antique auctioneer. Lose the link in the provenance of a bible, for example, and we lose a little more of our personal history. Elizabeth Shown Mills provides family historians and genealogists a template to cite our source, including the provenance in Evidence Explained [page 105]. While many provide footnotes and sources for books and documents, I rarely see artifacts having a full citation.

One blustery, cold November day in 1996 while visiting Martha Klaiber Cox [1908-2005] in Catlettsburg, Boyd County, Kentucky, she pulled out a fragile quilt from beneath many others quilted by her mother, Julina Leota Sexton Horton Klaiber.

As Aunt Martha lovingly spread the quilt on the bed I could see the deterioration, especially of the early silk materials which is commonplace in crazy quilts. She told me that either her mother Julina [1877-1978] or her grandmother, Julina McCormack Sexton [1836-1914] had pieced the quilt. The quilt simply has initials but Martha explained they were initials of friends and family that lived on or around Garner, Boyd County, Kentucky.

It is possible that both Julina's worked on the beautiful stitches.

The initials with probable names:

AS = Anne [Caldwell] Sexton [1856-1892]
BS = Bertha Sexton [1888-1890 d/o James & Missouri]
CE = Cora Enyart [d/o Wm F. & Sarah Lett Enyart]
DM = Dimma Mayhew [1867-1895]
EHS = Elisha H. Sexton [1856-1946]
EWS = Edward Sexton [possibly 1880-1892 s/o LD & Miriam]
HPS = Henry Powell Sexton II [ 1874-1963]
JFR = James Franklin Reeves [1828-1921 1st cousin of Julina McCormack Sexton]
JLR = Julina L. Reece [1891-1893 d/o D. W. and Martha E. Sexton Reece]
JMS = James McClelland Sexton [1865-1941]
JS = Julina Sexton [1877-1978]
LDS =Lorenzo Dow Sexton [1858-1949]
MFS = Miriam Frances [McKnight] Sexton [1861-1931]
MHS = Missouri Haines Sexton
MLS =Marcus Lindsey Sexton [1857-1880]
MS =
NS = Nelson Sexton
TMS = Telitha nee May Sexton [1862-1945]
WVS =William Vincent Sexton [1861-1936]

At 88 years of age, Martha was generous and gave me the quilt that day. Having family of her own, I knew that I was meant to be the guardian of the quilt for just a short time and would some day return the quilt to her branch of the family.

I purchased a large textile acid free box and tissue and lovingly cared for the quilt from November 1996 until the summer of 2009. In 2009 the quilt was given to Freda Cox Tackett, daughter of Martha to deliver to Martha's grand daughter Tina Lynn Tackett Toth. Another generation can now cherish the history of this beautiful artifact.

My own home has many reminders of both Julina's including several pieced quilts by Julina Sexton Klaiber. She walks with me in spirit as I see the spring daffodils she planted many years ago. In February 1962, nicknamed Lade, she wrote:

"This is my request - Lade Klaiber. One thing I am - if I should pass away I do want you all to be good to each other and devide {sic} the dishes and quilts and the other things in the house if you want them and the pictures take care of them and each one will know what yours that you gave me. And one thing please take care of the flowers for I did love them and hope all will be happy and live for Jesus."

In 1996 James and Teresa Martin Klaiber divided some of the daffodil bulbs sharing them with others within the neighborhood. On Memorial Day 1997 we donated bulbs in Julina Leota Sexton Horton Klaiber's name to a daffodil project in Greendale, Wisconsin as part of a program for Birds & Blooms.

Forget Me Not

1 comment:

  1. This was absolutely one of the most beautiful stories. You did a fantastic job.