all the colors

June 30, 2008

Quilt Stuff

Jo and I went on a little shopping spree market research trip over the week-end to the Wasatch Front Shop Hop, a tour of 15 quilt shops in Utah from Logan to Springville. We really did critique the shops as best we could. A couple of them seemed to be mired in the past; one was even using scissors instead of a rotary cutter on the fabric and a calculator to add up purchases! Our favorite shops were ones in which the staff was friendly, the fabric was current, and the display quilts were inspiring.   Each shop had games, prizes and treats carrying out the theme of the event, which was “Once Upon A Time,” with each shop assigned a certain classic child’s fairytale.

I did pick up just a few items.

No, this is not what we were driving, but we did see it as we were passing the Great Salt Lake on our way to Tooele. The license plate identified it as a ’34 Ford.

Fairytales and antiques naturally remind me of two old baby quilts I have.

I got this baby bear quilt for a pittance once in an antique store here in town. The bears are done up in flannel for texture, and it’s all hand appliqued and quilted. I’d say it’s circa 1940.

Awe, the “Sheldon” quilt, with the charming quintessentially 30’s fabric.

I guess baby Sheldon would be about 75 years old now. Too bad for him, I have his quilt.

I adore the redwork in this quilt.

I think each of these quilts is worth less than $200, so not a whole lot of monetary value in them.  I feel sentimental about them anyway, even though I didn’t know either baby and I didn’t make either quilt.  Lots of work and craftsmanship went into each one, and I honor that.

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November 14, 2007

Lilli’s Little Quilt, Part 3

Filed under: antique quilts — Kathy @ 3:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Thedora is one of the nicest people I know. She is friendly, warm, and helpful, as you have probably already guessed. She had provided me with copies of her personal family records, and now she agreed to let me come to her home to meet her mother, Drusilla Hillman Ames, who lives with Thedora. I was excited to actually meet the namesake of Lilli, and on September 15, 2006, I took the little quilt with me to show her.

Drusilla Hillman Ames was in her 90’s when I met her, and a lovely lady. She was very alert and attentive and remembered the story her father had told of Lilli’s death. She had always known who she had been named after, but she absolutely refused to be called Lilli, preferring Drusilla instead. She had not known that the quilt existed, and so it was fun for me to show it to her and take her picture with it. Thedora and her daughter Sandra, were also there (three generations of Lilli’s family!) and were very interested in Lilli’s little quilt.

Drusilla Hillman Ames with Lilli’s quilt and the original photo of Lilli with her siblings

I’m sure Drusilla, Thedora, and Sandra wondered what I was going to do with Lilli’s quilt. I had given this a lot of thought, and had pretty much decided that I would donate the quilt to The American West Heritage Center’s quilt collection, because they have the storage facilities to take good care of it and are right here in our valley. When I told them this, they thought it was a good idea, and even told me that they had some other family artifacts at the Center from Lilli’s father.

There were a few things I still wanted do before I donated the quilt. The first was to have it appraised, which I did in September of 2006. Valerie Burton, an appraiser from Kaysville, Utah provided this service to me, and valued the quilt at $635. Old doll quilts tend to be quite valuable because they are less likely to survive than bigger quilts. Also, they are often a first attempt at quilting by a young girl, which just adds to the charm of a quilt. Finally, this particular doll quilt has an unusual amount of documentation to go along with it, which also added to its value.

I would also like to make a replica of Lilli’s little quilt before it moves on to a different home. I have started to collect the fabrics to do this, and I am going to hand piece it just the way young Lilli did.

Another project I wanted to accomplish was to go to the Oxford, Idaho cemetery and find Lilli’s grave. I did that recently on a cloudy day late in the afternoon. I looked up the location of the cemetery on the internet and set out with my 17 year old daughter to find it. It is only about 20 miles from my home, and once there, I drove to the furthest corner because I thought it might contain the earliest graves. We immediately saw the Hillman name on a marker, and then found the small gravestone for Lilli. It was near her parents and many other Hillman family members.

Sign on the highway

 

Family name on a tall marker

 

Lilli’s grave is marked by the whiter stone, seen second beyond the tall marker

 

I wondered how long it had been since anyone had come specifically to visit young Lilli’s grave. I felt honored to help keep her legacy alive, even though she died at the age of 17 over 100 years ago. I knew that Lilli was loved beyond measure by a large family, by a father who was compelled to action by his grief at her passing, by a mother who saved and treasured the little quilt made by her oldest daughter, by an older brother who was 20 at the time of her death and who gave her name to his first daughter, and by a younger sister who would live until 1982 and who would label the quilt well enough for all of us to know and love Drusilla “Lilli” Hillman.

Drusilla”Lilli” Hillman’s gravestone

When I was driving away from the cemetery, I saw a pick-up truck with the name “Hillman” stenciled onto the back window. I hope many of Lilli’s relatives will be able to see her little quilt. When I get the replica made and the quilt donated to the American West Heritage Center, maybe this will be possible. For me, I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my adventures with Lilli’s quilt, not the least of which is that sometimes love is so great that it refuses to be forgotten.

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.

November 12, 2007

Lilli’s Little Quilt, Part 1

Filed under: antique quilts,quilting — Kathy @ 11:56 am
Tags: ,

I found this little quilt at an estate auction in the summer of 2005. It had been wadded up in the bottom of a box of sewing scraps for who knows how long. Amazingly enough, there was a note pinned to the back of the quilt with a safety pin, which read:

“Great Aunt Lilli Doll quilt, 75 years old in 1960, owner & maker Drusilla Hillman, daughter of D.K. Hillman & Drusilla Hendrich”

I got quite excited because I realized the note dated the quilt to around 1885, and other boxes of sewing scraps at the auction were going for $5. I waited all day almost to the very end of the auction for the box to come up. I was the only one nervously watching that box. As the auctioneer looked through the contents, he saw the little quilt in the bottom and pulled it out and held it up for everyone to see. Then he saw the note on the back, and read it as best he could, but the part about the age of the quilt he could read just fine. My heart sank because I knew then that I was not getting the box for $5, but I decided I was still going to win that box. Several people were bidding against me, and in the end I paid $75, but I got it! Still, I didn’t feel like I had paid too much for the little quilt.

After a little research on the internet (I am so glad that Google corrects spelling errors. I thought the note said “Dausilla.”) I had located records that indicated that Drusilla Hillman was born June 20, 1875 and died March 27, 1892, at the age of 17! I realized that “Lilli” was indeed Drusilla, and she had made the little quilt around the age of 10, but had then only lived a few more years to the age of 17! I felt sad for Drusilla and wondered who she was and what had caused her death. I thought about Drusilla Hillman a lot and wondered about her short life so long ago. I realized that the little doll quilt had been saved as a memento of her, and that it spoke of the love her family had for this child.

At this point in my research on Drusilla and the little quilt, I began to have health problems and put it aside until April of 2006, when it bullied its way back into my consciousness. Come back tomorrow to see a picture of Lilli herself, and learn the rest of her story and the journey of her amazing little quilt!

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