5 Historic Patriotic Quilts for the 4th of July

It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without a tribute to excellence in patriotic quilting, now would it? Here are 5 incredible quilts we found doing a little research, and their accompanying historical information. The first two are exciting in their similarity, while the following three are all very unique. Enjoy and have a wonderful Fourth of July!

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Stars-and-stripes quilt, 1861

The names of Union generals are stitched into the stars of this patriotic quilt, made by Mary Rockhold Teter of Noblesville, Indiana, for her son George, who served in the Civil War. In 1920 George Teter presented the quilt to his grandson’s wife, Martha Brown Teter, in honor of her own military service during World War I. The family donated the quilt to the Smithsonian in 1940. -(C) Smithsonian

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1861 Mary Rockhold Teter’s “Stars and Stripes” Quilt

In 1940 Eugene Teter donated to the Museum this patriotic quilt made by his great-grandmother in 1861 for his grandfather, a Union soldier from Indiana. Mary Rockhold Teter based her pieced and appliquÈd quilt on a design published in the July 1861 issue of Peterson’s Magazine , a popular women’s periodical published in Philadelphia. She personalized it by quilting the name of her son, George Teter, and the names of Generals Scott and Taylor under whom he served. Also found in the quilting are “Abe “and “Ab Lyncoln,” “Genral Lyon,” the word “Cat” and the year “1861.” There are thirty-four stars appliquÈd in the center diamond and the same number appliquÈd in the border. They represent the number of states in the Union from July 4, 1861 until July 4, 1863, the Civil War years.

Mary Rockhold was born in Ohio in 1817 and married Thomas E. Teter in 1838. They moved to Indiana in 1846 and had seven children; four daughters died in infancy, three sons attained adulthood. Mary and Thomas were fortunate enough to celebrate their Golden Anniversary in 1888. Mary died in 1897 in Noblesville, Indiana. This “Stars and Stripes” patriotic quilt is a reminder of her devotion to family and country.

“She was of a family of strong, patriotic Revolutionary stock, and inherited a willingness to do and to labor that the country might grow. Her grand-father was Capt. John Rockhold a native of Pennsylvania, who served in the War for Independence. Her father, Joseph Rockhold, moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio in 1800. He was a captain in the War of 1812. This trait of patriotism was one of the strongest in the character of Mrs. Teter. During the late war she showed her great love for the soldier boys in many ways, aiding in every way she could to encourage and help in the country’s peril.” (From the obituary of Mary Rockhold-Teter, 1897) -(C) Smithsonian

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Embroidered Pieced Cotton Suffragette Fund-raising Quilt with Stars and Stripes

Probably New York State, late 19th century, the quilt with red and white stripes surrounded by a canton and a border of white stars stitched onto a navy blue ground, and red, white, and blue diagonal stripes; the red and white striped area is embroidered with the names of numerous individuals, likely contributors to the cause, including the name “SUSAN B. ANTHONY,” the diagonal striped border embroidered with several mottos; backed with red and white cotton checked fabric, edged with red cotton crocheted scalloped trim, (toning, scattered stains), 72 x 74 in. Provenance: Estate of Susan Parrish. The quilting is machine and hand-stitched, there is velcro applied around the edges of the back.scattered brownish stains and light toning showing on the white areas from handling. Sold for $16,590. -(C) Skinner Inc.


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Patriotic Eagle Quilt

Patriotic quilts often appear during times of conflict. This eagle quilt was made in Kansas during World War I.

Elizabeth Marthaler Stauf was born in Berne, Switzerland, around 1860 and came to the United States at age 18. She settled first at Hiawatha, then moved to Marysville around 1880 where she married Henry Stauf, a carpenter, on July 2, 1883. The couple lived out the rest of their lives in Marysville, and had six children together.

Stauf made this bedcover at the start of World War I, before the United States entered the conflict in 1918. Like most patriotic quilts, it incorporates the colors of the U.S. flag and the eagle, a well-known symbol of the nation. The eagles and stars are appliquÈd to the white background. All the fabrics are cotton, and the quilted designs are large fan shapes that arc across the top.

Eagles have been popular motifs on quilts since before the mid-19th century, and most patterns are unique and designed by their makers. Staufís eagle has a shield on its breast, as with the Great Seal of the United States, although her bird faces the opposite direction. Each eagle has a black embroidered eye and beak. The stars on the top further reinforce the patriotic tone.

Although she was born in Switzerland, Stauf probably spoke German when she emigrated. This factor may have come into play during the First World War, when Germany and Austria-Hungary were the aggressors. Her native country remained neutral throughout the conflict, but Stauf established her allegiance to the United States through her quilt.

The Kansas Museum of History received this quilt from Willa Ruth Hall, a granddaughter of Elizabeth Stauf. -(C) Kansas Museum of History

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American Eagle Quilt

This is an example of a patriotic quilt kit, very popular throughout the 20th century. Says historian Kimberly Wulfert:

“Many eagle quilts were made from kits. Kits were available from early 1900 into the 1960s, but the 1920s and 1930s were their most popular years. Stars were often arched above the eagle’s head or they encircled it. The Colonial Revival period caused kit makers to use small calico prints, reminiscent of the past. Solid fabrics were also popular, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, when yellow-gold solid colored eagle kit quilts are seen.”

Here is a kit quilt circa 1950s, Made by Marsha W. Tyler-Ronquist. Marsha found this quilt kit at an estate sale. She used the machine to appliquÈ and quilt this kit. It is by Paragon Needlecraft #01128, titled, “American Eagle Quilt.” It was sized for a double bed. All the gold and white fabric is 100% cotton in 36″ wide.

Marsha said, “It was exciting finding a kit that was so complete. I found two appliquÈ pieces missing, but the kit also had three 3-yard pieces (nine yards total) for the backing. I matched the backing as closely as I could with one new 3-yard piece and placed it in the center of the other two 3-yard panels on the back; I used one of the backing pieces for the two appliquÈ pieces. This also gave me enough to make the binding match the front for color. I have sent a letter to Woman’s Day.”

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