all the colors

November 13, 2007

Lilli’s Little Quilt, Part 2

Filed under: antique quilts,quilting — Kathy @ 4:32 pm
Tags: , ,

Lilli’s doll quilt measures 23 1/4 inches by 14 1/2 inches

I purchased the little quilt at auction in the summer of 2005 in a neighboring town.  In the spring of 2006 I hadn’t thought seriously about Drusilla Hillman, or Lilli, and her little quilt for months because I was in some serious physical pain and was on some strong pain killers that made me a little fuzzy in the head. My sister had invited me to go to a family history class at the local center for such. I could barely walk, couldn’t think clearly enough to put a coherent sentence together, and had no plans to start a family history project of my own just then. I probably agreed to go just to get out of the house and spend some time with my sis.

She picked me up and we walked into the class and I sat down in front of one of the computers used for research. I was not thinking about Lilli and the little quilt. I was not thinking about much of anything. I wiggled the mouse to erase the screen saver image, but did not type anything on the keyboard, and was immediately rendered speechless by what appeared on that moniter! It was the name which the last user had typed in, and it said, “Drusilla Hillman Ames” and gave her address and telephone number, which were right here in my own town! I was so stunned I almost fell out of my chair. I wish now I had taken a picture of it. I knew that this person had to be related to MY Drusilla, but how? It also seemed like the little quilt was on some kind of mission, whatever that might be. And needless to say, I didn’t get anything else out of that class.

To keep things straight now, I’m going to call my Drusilla Hillman “Lilli” from here on out in the story, because that is what she was known as. I’m going to call this new Drusilla Hillman Ames by her given name, Drusilla.

I mentioned the story of the crazy coincidence of the family history class to my mother and father, and my father said he knew who Drusilla Ames was, and that she was the mother of a lady that I KNEW personally, named Thedora. Thedora was the school secretary when I was in high school, and everyone knows her. This is a very small town, after all. I didn’t call Thedora right away, because I took some time out for major back surgery just a few days after the family history class, but it was only about 4 months until I was feeling better and I saw Thedora in town. I explained to her about the antique doll quilt and asked her about her Drusilla and my Lilli. She said she did not know of Lilli, and had never heard about an ancestor who had died young, and she didn’t think she was connected. I felt so disappointed!

A few days later, to my delight, Thedora called me to say she had found some information for me. She actually brought a folder over to me and amazingly, in it was a copy of a handwritten family group sheet for Lilli’s family, a copy of an old photograph of Lilli and her siblings in which she appears to be about 11 years old, and a 2 page history of Lilli’s mother and father! It was a goldmine of information!

In this written history, I learned that Lilli died of typhoid and that she was buried in the Oxford Cemetery. Then Thedora told me a story that her mother, who is in her 90’s, had told her and is an oral story passed down but not written out: Lilli fell ill and was dead within a week. Her family was heartbroken and blamed the doctor somehow for her death. Lilli’s father, Ira King Hillman, (the “D” on the note on the quilt was a mistake. It should have been an “I.”) was a small man, but he took his rifle and went on horseback so as to appear intimidating, to pay a visit to the doctor. He told the doctor, “This town is not big enough for both of us, and I’m not going anywhere.” The doctor, being duly warned, reportedly left town shortly thereafter, never to return!

Drusilla, at about age 11, and her siblings

The connection between Drusilla Hillman Ames and Lilli is this: Lilli’s oldest brother Ira, standing behind her in the picture, grew up and named his first daughter after his late sister. That daughter is now in her 90’s and is Thedora’s mother, Drusilla Hillman Ames. Lilli’s little sister Pearl, the baby in the picture, grew up and had a daughter who eventually inherited the little quilt and was the lady who’s estate was being sold at the auction I went to.

Lilli was starting to feel not quite so far removed from me!

Close up of Lilli, her oldest brother Ira, and her baby sister Pearl

In my next post, my visit with Drusilla Hillman Ames and my search for Lilli’s grave.



  1. I have never heard all these details. What an amazing story!

    Comment by jo — November 13, 2007 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

  2. Something about this story is making my eyes a little wet. How neat.

    Comment by Stacie — November 14, 2007 @ 12:47 am | Reply

  3. Did you tell me the part about the name appearing on the computer at the family history class? If you did, I’d forgotten. Amazing. How do you explain that. Incredible story. Not funny. But profound in a way I don’t fully understand.

    Comment by Scott — November 14, 2007 @ 1:21 am | Reply

  4. I can’t explain it, but prefer to think that these things happen for a reason.

    Comment by kathy — November 14, 2007 @ 1:29 am | Reply

  5. it is always interesting to know each of our family history ,

    Comment by Polycarbonate : — October 31, 2010 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

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