Monday, April 28, 2014

Quilts and Quiltmaking in "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd's latest book (the author of The Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair) imagines the plantation childhood of Sarah Moore Grimke' (1792-1873) who became an abolitionist and a promoter of women's rights.  The Invention of Wings reveals the story through the voices of Sarah and her slave Handful, called Hetty by her owners.

Sarah Grimke' from I Will Lift My Voice Like A Trumpet by Nancy Bekofske
Angelina Grimke' from I Will Lift My Voice Like a Trumpet by Nancy Bekofske
Sarah Grimke' and her sister Angelina were born into one of Charlestown's most important and distinguished families. Their father was a Revolutionary War hero and a successful lawyer. The Grimke's were deeply religious Episcopalians. But the need for slave labor to maintain the family wealth was necessary.

Sarah's mother dealt out harsh punishments for minor offenses committed by the slaves, appalling and upsetting the young Sarah. Unlike on many plantations, there is no evidence that Mr. Grimke' sexually abused the female slaves, which often resulted in the wife's mistreatment of female slaves.

Sarah was a remarkably intelligent child who yearned to be educated along with her older brothers. But she was expected to go on the marriage market and participate in the frivolous social whirl.

For her eleventh birthday Sarah was given her own slave, Handful. Their relationship frames the story. Sarah and Handful yearn to fly beyond their conscripted lives. They have to invent their own wings.

The Grimke' sisters reject Charlestown societal values and traditions to become Quaker abolitionists in Philadelphia. But the Arch Street Meeting House found their views extremist, especially their views on the rights of women to speak publicly on political issues, to enjoy equal education, and to become ministers. They women become ardent abolitionists, focusing on their first hand experience with Southern plantation slave owners. Angelina becomes the first American woman public speaker.

 "...nights she teach me everything she knows 'bout quilts. I tore up old pants legs and dress tails and pieced 'em. Mauma say in Africa they sew charms in their quilts. I put pieces of my hair down inside mine."

Handful's Mauma is a master dressmaker and seamstress. Handful describes her mom making several quilts. One is a floral applique for the misses in 'milk-white and pink.' They have quilt frame that is raised to the ceiling by pulleys. Mauma uses quilts to hide things for safe keeping by sewing pockets on the quilts or hiding things in the batting.

The women's supplies include a box of patches; a pouch with a needle and thread; a cake of tallow to "grease the needle" so it "would almost glide through the cloth itself"; quilt stuffing; shears; tracing wheel; charcoal; stamping papers; and measuring ribbons. Handful has her own brass thimble. Stamping papers were perforated with the tracing wheel, then the charcoal rubbed through the holes to mark a quilting design. 'Measuring ribbons' I assume were early measuring tapes. As a dressmaker for the master's family Mauma had quite a nice supply of tools.

Fabrics used included an emerald green silk; pastel dress fabrics, lavender ribbons, and oxblood red, black, orange, and brown fabrics.

Handful's grandmother was born of the Fon people in Africa, an ethnic group from Benin and Nigeria. Mauma shares the old stories and vudu traditions with Handful, including the stories about when their people could fly. Mauma makes a quilt with tiny black triangles, which she calls blackbird wings, appliqued on oxblood red patches. She adds small splashes of yellow for 'sun splatter'. Handful sews on the homespun backing and they filled it with batting, feathers, and charms.

Mauma also makes a quilt that tells her life story, with each block representing a pivotal event. She cut the applique pieces freehand and stitches them onto blocks of fabric. Her Fon people all kept their history on a quilt, Mauma told Handful. To this day the Fon people make appliqued textiles with animals and objects. You can see an example at: http://www.museum.msu.edu/glqc/collections_2008.119.47.html
For an article on the appliqued cloth of the Fon people see:
http://www.epa-prema.net/abomeyGB/resources/hangings.htm

The story quilt Mauma makes is based on the famous quilts by African American quilter Harriet Powers. To learn about Powers' quilts visit:
http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_556462
http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/pictorial-quilt-116166
 http://www.historyofquilts.com/hpowers.html

Kidd discovered Grimke' by chance and delved into researching her life and career. She also went to see the Harriet Powers quilt. The events in the book are based on fact, with some tweaking of timing. I enjoyed reading the book. Kidd's Sarah is conflicted and unsure of herself, while under her tutelage her younger sibling Angelina is able to commit to her convictions and scorns public or family opinion. Handful was based on the slave Hetty given to Sarah on her eleventh birthday, but the real Hetty died young. Handful is the most vividly drawn character in the book, and her story gives the reader insight into the daily life of a plantation slave. We learn about the punishments dealt out, the Work House where masters could hire out punishments, and about free black society. Most importantly it is Handful and her mother's dreams of freedom that is best portrayed.

As a quilter it was a nice surprise to find that quilts were central to this novel. I wanted to read the novel because it was based on Sarah Grimke' and I had no idea that quilts figured into the story.

Read an interview with the author by Oprah Winfrey for her book club at
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-Talks-with-Sue-Monk-Kidd-About-The-Invention-of-Wings

I had read Lift Up Thy Voice by Mark Perry on the sisters when researching for my quilt I Will Lift Up My Voice, the title of which came from a speech made by Angelina Grimke'.

My thanks to Viking and NetGalley for allowing me access to read the e-book.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Published by Viking, January 7, 2014
$27.95
ISBN: 978-0670024780A New York Times #1 Bestseller

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jane Austen Family Album : Cassandra, Leigh Austen Block

Every Sunday Barbara Brackman releases the next block of her album quilt representing the family of Jane Austen. This one was easy, all squares. :) The pattern is Thrifty and it represents Jane's mother Cassandra Leigh Austen.



See Barbara Brackman's blog at 
http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com


Friday, April 25, 2014

Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist

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Imagine ten perfect jewels of deep clarity that catch the ambient light and focus it into prismatic rainbow arches against the darkened corner of the room. Link then together in a stunning chain that takes your breath away and illumines the room.

Then you can imagine reading these ten stories.

I am not exaggerating. I am not saying this because I was given this ebook free from Algonquin Books via NetGalley so I could review it for this blog. Gilchrist's stores are just that powerful.

No none escapes life unscathed, not even the rich and successful. And everyone can find joy in the life they have, no matter how troubled.  There is war. There are tornados and hurricanes and floods and death and disease and accidents. How we respond to what happens to us defines who we are more than anything else.

These stories about people, ordinary people, who come face to face with tragedy or loss, or love and grace, teach the reader about how to live.

"We are born of risen apes, not fallen angles...The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen." Robert Ardley

This quotation, here abridged, sets the tone for the stories. For what we read are incidents where ordinary people rise to their better angels and are transformed by the experience.

People in the stories go into disaster zones after tornados, hurricanes, and floods. They lose loved ones. Their vacations are stopped by bombs. They face deliberating or fatal disease.

We learn about life and what matters along with the protagonists, and they show us how to live and about what really matters.

Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist
Algonquin Books
PAGES: 256
ISBN: 978-1-61620-110-4
LIST PRICE: $23.95

Thursday, April 24, 2014

1954 Sealtest Recipes

"The people who have achieved, who have become large, strong vigorous people, who have reduced their infant mortality, who are the best trades in the world, who have an appreciation of art, literature and music, who are progressive in science and in every activity of the human intellect, are the people who have used liberal amounts of milk and its products." Dr. E. V. McCollum, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry, The John Hopkins University

LOL.

We may not believe this 'science' today but we still love our dairy products.

Here are some of the recipes Sealtest developed in 1954 for American homes.








Champion's Soup
1 8 oz can salmon
1 cup Sealtest milk
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. chopped onion
2 tbsp. flour
dash of Tabasco
2 cups Sealtest cottage cheese.
Drain salmon; add liquid to milk. Melt butter in heavy saucepan and add onion and cook slowly until tender. Add flour; mix well. Add milk all at once. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add Tabasco, chees and flaked salmon. Reheat stirring constantly. This soup has a rather tart, deliciously unusual flavor.

Creamed Eggs in Bologna Cups
4 tbsp. margarine
4 tbsp. flour
2 cups Sealtest milk
salt and pepper
8 hardboiled eggs
6 slices bologna, skin left on.
Melt butter I heavy saucepan. Add flour; mix well. Pour in milk all at once and immediately stir vigorously over moderate heat until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Add quartered or sliced eggs; reheat stirring very lightly. Heat bologna slices slowly in frying pan in small amount of butter or other fat until they for cup shapes. Fill with creamed eggs. Sprinkle with paprika.

Butterscotch Trifle
1 pkg butterscotch pudding mix
1 1/2 cups of Sealtest milk
1 1/4 cups of fine graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 c Sealtest whipping cream
1/3 cup melted butter
Prepare pudding according to package using only 1 1/2 cups of milk. Stir in coconut. Cool.
Mix 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with sugar and butter. Press into the bottom of a 10" x 6" x 2" pan. Chill. Spread cooled pudding over crust. Chill several hours. Cut into rectangles. Whip cream until almost stiff, fold in remaining crumbs and serve on rectangles.

Yogurt was well enjoyed in Europe at this time, but was new in American grocery stores.

Orange Waldorf Salad
1 large unpeeled red apple diced
2 oranges peeled and cut into sections
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 c Sweet Sour Fruit Dressing: 1 cup Sealtest  cottage cheese; 1 half-pint Sealtest yogurt; 1 tbsp. sugar; 1 tbsp. mayonnaise; 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate. Press cottage cheese through sieve. mix all together and beat with rotary beater until fluffy.

Lettuce
1/4 cup chopped nuts
grated orange rind
Mix diced apple, orange sections, and celery in a bowl. Moisten with dressing. Serve on lettuce. Sprinkle with nuts and rind.


Sealtest offered basic advice about shopping, menu planning, and nutrition. Even a guide to sandwich making.

Down-to-earth Sandwiches: Banana Cheese
Spread 12 slices of  canned or homemade brown bread with 1 cup of cottage cheese. Top half with think slices of banana. Put slices together.

I'll pass.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin--FINALLY FINISHED


"...I stood in the presence of the great guiding light of the age." Judge Joseph Mills

I have lived with Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet for over a year. I savored each episode as one holds a sip of fine wine on one's tongue. I held each sparkling story in my mind before I read on. Instead of my usual gallop through a book, I read in a week what I usually would read in an evening.

"I consider the central idea that is upon us, of proving that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose. If we fail it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves." Abraham Lincoln

Many men wanted to be president. Some took it for granted that they would be elected the presidential candidate for the new Republican party. When the least likely candidate won there were some hard feelings. No one expected much of Lincoln. When William Seward lost to Lincoln, and was asked to take the position of Secretary of State, Seward thought he would be the power behind the throne. Instead he became Lincoln's greatest supporter and admirer and his close friend.

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin is about how Lincoln used the skills of his political foes for the good of the country. It is also a moving portrait of a remarkable leader of great insight, intelligence, and constraint.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was a Quaker by birth and pacifist by nature. Lincoln himself was considered 'soft-hearted' and saddened by the human toll of war. "Doesn't it strike you as queer that I, who couldn't cut the head off a chicken, should be cast into the middle of a great war, with blood flowing all around?" "There could be no greater madness," Stanton said, "than for a man to encounter what I do for anything less than motives that overleap time and look forward to eternity."

A government by the people, for the people. It was an experiment worth even the blood of the people to ensure it's success. The Confederacy considered itself a separate country. If the Federal Government valued peace over unity, it would not last. The Civil War was a war to end all possibility of war among the states of America.

Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase was a radical abolitionist who sought the presidential nomination and lost to Lincoln in 1860. In 1864 he conducted a secret bid to be a presidential candidate running against Lincoln. Lincoln understood Chase's desperate need for recognition, and although Chase was no end of trouble, he  respected the man's abilities. After Chase has resigned from the cabinet Lincoln offered Chase the position of Supreme Court Chief-Justice. Not because Lincoln wanted to reward Chase, but because "the decision was right for the country." Lincoln was that great a man that he could put aside personal feelings, toss off all prejudices, and view choices from the greater perspective of eternity. It was Chief-Justice Chase who swore in Lincoln at his second inauguration!

I dreaded those last pages, the death of Lincoln. But I knew what had happened to Abe and his family afterwards, I had read stories and books and seen the documentaries. What I was not prepared for was the assassination attempt on Secretary of State William H Seward. He was bedridden after a brutal carriage accident left him with a broken jaw and shoulder. The assassin pushed his way into the sickroom. Seward's son Frank tried to protect his father and the assassin slashed him with a knife. Frank died of his injuries. I was sadly ignorant of Seward, except for knowledge of "Seward's Folly", the purchase of Alaska, but Goodwin's portrait of Seward and his importance to Lincoln and the country caused me to shudder and nearly come to tears when I read about the assassination attempt, which took place at the same time as the assassination of Lincoln. 

Indeed, all of the men who served with Lincoln are so vividly drawn we come to know them and esteem them as Lincoln did.

President Lincoln. His is a mythic presence across the world. Goodwin's book makes it clear what kind of man he was, how he operated as a political leader, and plumbs his deep humanity.

The movie Lincoln was a wonderful film BUT movies are entertainment, and even when based on excellent motives, are made to make money. One should be always aware that not everything in a movie is historical fact. Art can move a viewer in ways most historical writing can not, and if the viewer then seeks to learn more, opens to new ideas, experiences a new awareness, then art has served its purpose. At times, mostly during the war, I did bog down, but overall Goodwin's characterizations were deeply drawn and her portrait of Lincoln made me believe I really know him as a man, a politician, a leader, and as the moral compass of an age.

For some insights into historical bloops in the movie read
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/22/what-s-true-and-false-in-lincoln-movie.html
http://www.thenation.com/blog/171461/trouble-steven-spielbergs-lincoln#
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/mr-lincoln-goes-to-hollywood-82330187/?no-ist

Visit the Doris Kearns Goodwin's website at http://www.doriskearnsgoodwin.com/books.html#team-of-rivals

Note: I read Goodwin's book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II when it came out and it is remarkable. And I read it quite quickly! Her book Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream was the first LBJ book I read. I have been fascinated by LBJ ever since mock election in junior high when I was told about his Great Society dream. I have Robert Caro's The Passage of Power on my shelf to be read. His Master of the Senate was one of the most remarkable books I have read.

Jane Austen Family Album Block Three

The third block, Cross Within a Cross, represents Jane's father the Rev. George Austen. I decided I wanted a cross to stand out, and used a high value contrast dark green next to the inner white cross. The larger cross is the red striped fabric. I did some fussy cutting of the prints. But the red fabric has strips going every which way, because why be too formal? Austen may be a product of the Age of Reason, not the Romantic movement, but she had a feel for the ridiculous. So I can't have things too serious! 


So here are my first three blocks together.


I am using MODA French General fat quarters I bought from a bargain bin a year ago. I didn't know what I would do with them at the time, I just liked the quiet grey, red and brown colors and great prints. I went on eBay and found some additional yardage so I will have enough fabric for this project. I added the red strip and the off white tone on tone cream from my stash, and also the dark green.

This project makes a nice balance to the Love Entwined applique quilt. Pieced, easily accomplished in a few hours, and a more subtle and sophisticated fabric palette.

Follow Barbara Brackman's blog and patterns at http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 21, 2014

Roots of Understanding: Rainer Maria Rilke

"I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

I was in my late 20s when I stumbled across Stephen Mitchell's translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet in a downtown Philadelphia bookstore. I had never read him before, or even had heard of him. Soon after I started to read his poetry. I read his Duino Elegies while sitting on cliffs overlooking the ocean in Maine.

The creature gazes into openness with all
its eyes. But our eyes are
as if they were reversed, and surround it,
everywhere, like barriers against its free passage.
We know what is outside us from the animal’s
face alone: since we already turn
the young child round and make it look
backwards at what is settled, not that openness
that is so deep in the animal’s vision. Free from death.
We alone see that: the free creature
has its progress always behind it,
and God before it, and when it moves, it moves
in eternity, as streams do.
We never have pure space in front of us,
not for a single day, such as flowers open
endlessly into. Always there is world,
and never the Nowhere without the Not: the pure,
unwatched-over, that one breathes and
endlessly knows, without craving.

Generations of aspiring writers have turned to Rilke's letters. But what I most found in them was advice on how to LIVE. Most importantly, how to accept the unknown and the frightening things in life as part of life. He said that the things we encounter are not external threats, but arise from our inner selves and are part of ourselves. So we should not be frightened. If we trust the process we will live into the answers. "Life is right, in any case."

I loved his advice to turn to one's childhood as a creative source. Because of this advice I wrote several poems about childhood memories.

"And if you were in some prison the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses—would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possesion, that treasure-house of memories? Turn your attention thither."

When I included an open book on my Album quilt I thought long on what to write on it. I finally chose these lines from the Eighth Elegy. Having moved when young I found myself for years looking backwards. Homesickness has been a part of my life every since.

Who has turned us round like this, so that,
whatever we do, we always have the aspect
of one who leaves? Just as they
will turn, stop, linger, for one last time,
on the last hill, that shows them all their valley - ,
so we live, and are always taking leave.

You can read the first letter at
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/07/letter-to-young-poet.html

From Open Culture, Dennis Hopper reading from the first letter:
http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/dennis_hopper_reads_from_rainer_maria_rilkes_timeless_guide_to_creativity_iletters_to_a_young_poeti.html

Roots of Understanding: Rainer Maria Rilke

"I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

I was in my late 20s when I stumbled across Stephen Mitchell's translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet in a downtown Philadelphia bookstore. I had never read him before, or even had heard of him. Soon after I started to read his poetry. I read his Duino Elegies while sitting on cliffs overlooking the ocean in Maine.

The creature gazes into openness with all
its eyes. But our eyes are
as if they were reversed, and surround it,
everywhere, like barriers against its free passage.
We know what is outside us from the animal’s
face alone: since we already turn
the young child round and make it look
backwards at what is settled, not that openness
that is so deep in the animal’s vision. Free from death.
We alone see that: the free creature
has its progress always behind it,
and God before it, and when it moves, it moves
in eternity, as streams do.
We never have pure space in front of us,
not for a single day, such as flowers open
endlessly into. Always there is world,
and never the Nowhere without the Not: the pure,
unwatched-over, that one breathes and
endlessly knows, without craving.

Generations of aspiring writers have turned to Rilke's letters. But what I most found in them was advice on how to LIVE. Most importantly, how to accept the unknown and the frightening things in life as part of life. He said that the things we encounter are not external threats, but arise from our inner selves and are part of ourselves. So we should not be frightened. If we trust the process we will live into the answers. "Life is right, in any case."

I loved his advice to turn to one's childhood as a creative source. Because of this advice I wrote several poems about childhood memories.

"And if you were in some prison the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses—would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possesion, that treasure-house of memories? Turn your attention thither."

When I included an open book on my Album quilt I thought long on what to write on it. I finally chose these lines from the Eighth Elegy. Having moved when young I found myself for years looking backwards. Homesickness has been a part of my life every since.

Who has turned us round like this, so that,
whatever we do, we always have the aspect
of one who leaves? Just as they
will turn, stop, linger, for one last time,
on the last hill, that shows them all their valley - ,
so we live, and are always taking leave.

You can read the first letter at
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/07/letter-to-young-poet.html

From Open Culture, Dennis Hopper reading from the first letter:
http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/dennis_hopper_reads_from_rainer_maria_rilkes_timeless_guide_to_creativity_iletters_to_a_young_poeti.html

The Literate Reader's Fun Fantasy Series: Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde

"Whoever controls metaphor controls fiction."

The Peace Talks are coming up and Thursday Next is missing. Thursday Next works for Jurisfiction, keeping BookWorld in order for readers everywhere. The peace talks with Racy Novel will prevent an all out genre war. Thursday was to head the talks. Is she dead, or lost in BookWorld, or hiding out in the OutWorld? Even her husband Landen Parke-Laine does not know where she is.

The written Thursday from BookWorld is drafted to take her place. Of course the written Thursday does not know everything the OutWorld Thursday knows, so she will pretend that irritable vowel disease prevents her from talking.

Thursday (written) saves the life of a robot named Sprocket. "We tick, therefore we are," he tells her. He helps her evade the notorious Men in Plaid who are out to kills her.( It's Tartan, they will testily correct.) A car chase to evade the Men in Plaid lands Thursday (written) and Sprocket in a dangerous mime field. Luckily they find a way to evade the Mimes.

We gain an inside understanding of the interaction between readers and characters. "Harry Potter was seriously pissed off that he'd have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliff."

You would not believe the crimes committed in BookWorld. In "One Of Our Thursdays is Missing" we learn about the met labs turning out illegal metaphor. And cheese smuggling is endemic. The stinkier the cheese the high the street price.

To BookWorld denizens the OutWorld can break a character down in minutes. Thursday (written) is sent there for 12 hours to find the missing Thursday (real).

"Is it as bad as they say it is?"

"I've heard it's worse. Here in the BookWorld we say what needs to be said for the story to proceed. Out there? Well, you can discount at least eighty percent of chat as just meaningless drivel."

Written Thursday Next can't find Thursday Next. She suffers an identity crisis: could she BE the real deal? As she tries to solve the mystery of the missing Next she travels through the far reaches of literature, into Vanity, Fan Fiction, and Racy Novel itself. She discovers a dirty bomb, that is, a loosely bound coil of badly described scenes of a sexual nature. Had it gone off smut would show up higgily-piggily in literature everywhere!

I have been reading Thursday Next novels every since I saw them advertised in my son's Science Fiction Book Club brochure way back when he was a kid. British novelist Jasper Fforde has written five in the series: The Well of Lost Plots; Lost in a Good Book; Something Rotten; Thursday Next: First Among Sequels; and One of Our Thursdays is Missing.

The BookWorld is full of great wisdom.  Such as the Law of Egodynamics: "For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert." That is SO true!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter


Easter  Morning

One of my first original quilts was this wall hanging. My piecing was not impeccable. I never let lack of skill get in my way. I just went ahead and did it. Practice makes perfect and over time I developed better skills.

We had a pet rabbit for six years. She ran to greet us, bit our ankle if we ignored her and she loved peanut butter. When we went away she would attack anyone who came into the house to feed her.


We have crocus coming up. Spring has been so late here in Michigan that the Easter lilies and hyacinths from the greenhouses are still in bud.


Some years ago I made a 1920s pattern from Sentimental Stitches of bunny children. People always love it.  






A few years ago I got this from my brother.


He made the wood bunny and ate the chocolate one!

Have a wonderful day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Rhodes Family Massacre at Tom's Brook

A period of terror and fear.” (from Old Homes of Page County, Virginia by Jennie Ann Kerkhoff)

In the late afternoon on August 11, 1764 the Reverend John Hans Rhodes came to the door of his home in the Shenandoah Valley after he heard shouting from the yard. Before the sun had set, the Reverend, his wife, and five of his children were murdered murdered, and likely scalped, and his home burned.

My sixth great-grandfather, the Reverent John Rhodes (Rood, Roodt, Rhodes, Roads) died in one of a series of "Indian raids" that occurred in the Shenandoah Valley. He was a Swiss Bretheran (or Mennonite) and a pacifist who would not use arms, even in self protection. His twelve-year-old daughter Elizabeth escaped and married my fifth great-grandfather Jacob Gochenour.

Mennonite Persecution and Emigration

The 16th c saw the emergence of 'radical' ideas that birthed the Protestant movement. Some believed that infant baptism was meaningless ritual, that baptism should be the mark of a believer who has chosen Jesus Christ as Lord. Known today as Anabaptists, "one baptism", they also eschewed paid ministers and prepared sermons, participation in government, and the swearing of oaths. They were non-violent pacifists. They would not swear allegiance to the state or bear arms.

The Anabaptists were persecuted across Europe by the state churches and governments. Their afflictions included beatings, jailing, loss of property, confiscation of children, and sometimes death.

The Swiss Mennonites of Lake Zurich in the Canton of Berne were exiled and moved to outlaying small towns.  In 1650 these capable farmers were invited to the Palatine in Germany to restore the war-torn, once rich farm and orchard lands. They paid a fine to live there. Then, around 1700 a new ruler ended toleration.

Those who remained in Switzerland were banished in 1710. The Berne Mennonites were allowed to sell their property, if they agreed to take the money and leave forever.
William Penn, the English Quaker who founded Pennsylvania, felt a kinship with the Mennonites and welcomed them to settle in America.

So, the Swiss Mennonites left the Palatine. Between 1711 and 1732 thousands immigrated to Pennsylvania, settling in Germantown outside of Philadelphia, and in Berks and Lancaster Counties. Others left for Holland and England, some becoming indentured servants to pay their way to New York State and the Mohawk Valley. By 1730 so many Germans had come to Pennsylvania that the British colonists worried about "The German Peril." As land became scare in Pennsylvania some followed the 'river road' of the Susquehanna River south into the Shenandoah Valley and beyond.


John Rhodes Immigration
In 1711 the Mennonites in Sumiswald, Canton of Berne, Switzerland were exiled.
Ulrich Rhodes born May of 1680 in Interlaken, Bern, Switzerland to Daniel Rode and Susannah Ballmer (1689-1729) immigrated with their family to Pennsylvania in 1741, arriving in the port of Philadelphia on August 19, 1728. They settled in Lancaster, PA.

In 1730 John Rhodes and other Swiss Bretheran arrived in the Shenandoah Valley as the first European settlers along with the Strickler and Kauffman families. The Gochenours came with the second wave of settlers. In 1740 John Rhodes married Eva Catharina Albright (born 1723 in Germany). They had thirteen children.

In 1741 John Rhodes purchased 100 acres along the Shenandoah River adjacent to Martin Kauffman's tract. On November 4, 1760 he purchased land from Thomas Palmer of New York, who was granted the Virginia land from Lord Fairfax in 1751. Rev. Rhodes's estate had grown to over 400 acres along the Shenandoah River, with his home situated at the mouth of Tom's Brook. The area today is three miles northeast of Mauertown, VA not far from Luray. The Rhodes home was in the shadow of Kennedy's Peak, the highest point in the Massanutten mountains.

For an article with photos on the area see: http://www.wendtroot.com/cockrill/d0004/d0004notes/MassanuttenHistory.html

On the fatal day, his eldest son Joseph and two daughters were already in their own homes. The younger children were still at home.
The Massacre at Tom's Brook

They were called Indian Raids. Between 5 and 6 p.m. in August 11, 1764, Simon Girty, “The White Savage” who had committed a string of attacks, led a party of eight Native Americans into the valley and to the Rhodes home. Their intent was robbery. The method was murder.

Rev. Rhodes was shot in the doorway of his home. Eva and a son had been killed in the yard of the house. The raiders followed two boys who had fled into a cornfield along the river. One boy climbed a pear tree located 150 yard from the house, perhaps to hide, perhaps to see what was happening. The marauders found him and shot him. The other boy had run to the river hoping to cross to safety. He was killed in Tom's Brook, the area known afterward as Bloody Ford.

The marauders searched the Rhodes home but did not find the money that was hidden in a niche in the cellar wall. They burned the house down with Rev. Rhodes body in it. The money, along with important papers, were found safe afterward.

Twelve-year-old Elizabeth had grabbed 15-month-old Esther and run into the barn. While a man tried to break into the barn, the girls escaped through an opening in the back of the barn. They ran through a field of hemp, crossing the river to find refuge in a neighbor's house about four miles away. Then Elizabeth walked another eight miles to her brother's home in Ida, her baby sister in her arms. She told Joseph of the horror that had descended upon their parents and siblings.

Two boys and one or two girls were captured and taken into the Massanutten Mountains. The party was in a hurry to get away and the frightened children could not keep up the pace. First they killed the seven-year-old boy who had been ailing. The girl(s) refused to go on and were murdered and left with their brother. Michael alone survived. He was taken to Ohio and spent three years with the Native Americans before a treaty brought his released. He then returned home.

Some sources say the family was scalped and the scalps sold to the French for $15 each. The next day neighbors came and buried the Rhodes family near the river, their headstones now in the Brubaker family cemetery.

Rev. Rhodes father Ulrich died shortly afterward on August 31, 1764.

The Children
  1. Joseph Rhodes was born in 1735 and died in 1766 at Massanutten, August Co., VA. He had a farm in Ida at the time of the massacre. By law he inherited his father's estate. Joseph married Elizabeth Mary Strickler, who was the daughter of Shenandoah Valley pioneer Rev. Abraham Stickler. Abraham immigrated from Zurich, Switzerland around 1705 and came to Chester Co, PA before migrating to the Shenandoah Valley in 1726 with his sons. Stickler was a master weaver and a Mennonite preacher.
  2. Anna was born around 1738 and died on May 6, 1774 in Ohio. In 1758 she married Christian Grove. In 1765 Christian was deeded 116 acres on the North Branch of the Shenandoah by Joseph Rhodes. Christian was born in 1738 in Lancaster, PA and fought in the Revolutionary War. After Anna's death Christian married Ester Musselman, of another early settler family. He died at Woodstock, VA in 1786. The Groves great-grandfather had left Zurich, Switzerland for Lancaster, PA.
  3. Susannah (Susan) Elizabeth was born in 1740. She married Mark (Marcus) Grove, brother to Christian Grove who married her sister Anna. Joseph Rhodes gave Mark 120 acres on the north for of the Shenandoah River at the mouth of Elk Lick Run. After Susan's death Mark married Mary. He died in 1800.
  4. Daniel born 1746 and died in the massacre on August 11, 1764.
  5. David who was born in 1745 and died at age 19 in the massacre on Aug 11 1764.
  6. A son born 1757 and died in the Massanutten mountains on August 11, 1764.
  7. A daughter, perhaps Mary, born in 1754 and died on August 11, 1764.
  8. A son born 1760 and died on August 11, 1764. Likely he was the son with Eva, killed in the house yard with her.
  9. Michael was born May 1, 1749, He was captured and taken to Ohio for three years. On March 26, 1780 he married Anna Strickler, daughter to Benjamin. Benjamin was brother to Elizabeth Strickler who married Michael's brother Joseph.
  10. Esther was born in 1762. She was rescued by her sister Elizabeth. In 1786 she married Dr. Jacob Kauffman. Esther died in 1836. Jacob's father the Rev. Martin Kauffman was one of the earliest settlers in the area. Kauffmans appear in the earliest annals of the Mennonite church.
  11. Elizabeth born July 31 1745 and died August 26, 1818. She married Jacob Gochenour, my fifth great-grandfather.
Elizabeth and Jacob Gochenour

Jacob Gochenour was born near Woodstock, VA, the grandson of the original Gochenour immigrant from Lake Zurich, Switzerland. The Gochenours had been Mennonite for generations; a Gochenour appears in the annals of Mennonite martyrs. They were converted to Anabaptism by the Peter family.

Elizabeth was deeded 177 acres by her brother Joseph, situated on the east side of the Shenandoah River near Tom's Brook where her brothers were killed. Jacob bought land across the river near Luray and built a flour mill.
My family tree goes like this:
  1. Gorg or Georg Gochanauwer born 1567 in Fischenthal, Zurich, Switzerland and died in Alsac Lorraine in 1609. He married Maria Weber in 1589.
  2. Jacob or Jakob Weber Gachnouwer born 1605 in Fischenthal, Zurich, Switzerland and married Margarethe Peter, whose family were Mennonites and likely converted Jacob to the faith. A 1634 Census for Fischenthal shows Jacob Gachnauer and Margareta Peter with children Jorg age 5, Hannss age 3, Heinrich age 2, and Barbel age 1. War in 1693 drove Jacob and his family to Northern Germany where he settled in Friedrichstadt.
  3. Heinrich Gochenour who was born in 1632 in Frischenthal, Zurich, Swizterland and immigrated with his father to Alsac Lorraine and then to Ibersheim, Hesse, Germany. He was a tailor.
  4. Joseph Gochenour born in Ibersheim in Palatinate Germany in 1673 and immigrated to Hemfield, Lancaster, PA and died there in 1738.
  5. Jacob Gochenour 1715-1771 married Elizabeth Rhoades. He was a literate man who owned ten books. He obtained 400 acres of land. In 1769 he and Jacob Strickler petitioned the House of Burgess for the right to follow their faith and not bear arms but instead would contribute a “proportionable part of their Estates whenever the Exigencies of Government may require it.” A second petition in 1785 asked Mennonites be exempted from military duties. Among the seventy-four Mennonite signatures are the names of Jacob Gochenour, Joseph Gochenour, John (Johannes) Gochenour, and Abraham Gochenour.
  6. Abraham Gochenour born in Alonzville, VA in 1771 and died in 1812. He married Christina Haas, whose father Johann was an immigrant from Germany.
  7. Henry Gochenour 1799-1856 married Barbara Wiseman whose grandfather Johann Phillip immigrated from Germany.
  8. Samuel Gochenour 1826-1901, who served in the Virginia Militia as a Private, Company C, 3rd Regiment, 7th Brigade from July 1861 to September 1861; also from December 1861 at Woodstock, VA; and volunteered March of 1862. The Militia were issued no uniform or arms and usually were employed in manual labor. He married Susannah Catherine Hammon whose grandfather immigrated from Germany. She was a devoted Evangelical Lutheran. They are buried in the Mt. Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery.
  9. Henry David Gochenour born in Fairview, VA in 1861 and died in Stonewall, VA in 1924. He married Mary Ellen Stutz whose grandfather immigrated from Germany.
  10. Alger Jordan Gochenour born in Woodstock VA in 1904 and died in Tonawanda, NY in 1955. He married Emma Becker, born in Volhynia, Russia, daughter of immigrant John Becker.
  11. Eugene Vernon Gochenour 1930-2008, my father.


Samuel Gochenour

Henry David Gochenour family

Henry Gochenour and wife Mollie with son Clarence and wife Alice

Gochenour homestead, birthplace of Alger Gochenour, Woodstock VA

Monday, April 14, 2014

Block Two of a Jane Austen Family Album

Barbara's Brackman's second block is Sister's Choice for Cassandra Austen, Jane's best friend and only sister. I am using some fat quarters I bought a year ago from MODA, and some red and cream from my stash. I need to buy more of the MODA from eBay! You can find the patterns and articles about each family member on Brackman's blog:
http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com/

Most of what we know about Jane's sister Cassandra is from family letters and writings after their deaths. Jane's letters can be found online at http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/brablets.html

They are well worth reading to glimpse Jane's natural sarcastic humor and wicked insights into human nature. You can also find advice in novel writing, marriage advice,  poems, and read about the fabrics they buy.

This is what Jane had to say about her sister in a letter dated Sept. 1796:

MY DEAREST CASSANDRA,
The letter which I have this moment received from you has diverted me beyond moderation. I could die of laughter at it, as they used to say at school. You are indeed the finest comic writer of the present age.



Never having been a 'crowd follower' or a conformist (which I blame on my Anabaptist roots, lol) I feel compelled to mention that I became an Austen reader back in 1978 at Temple University in a year long honors course on Austen, taught by Toby Olshin. I blogged about this previously. http://theliteratequilter.blogspot.com/2013/12/happy-birthday-jane-austen.html

But I am thrilled that the movies based on her books has brought her books into the mainstream and into the lives of readers of all ages.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring=Flowers. Floral Handkerchiefs

Orchid handkerchief quilt; mid-century cotton hanky with triple borders

Just when I thought spring would never come, the daffodils and crocus have started to peek from the earth. The snow has melted over the last two weeks, but in shady places I can still see a foot of snow.
Even after six hours of thunderstorms overnight.

We had four months with deep snow on the ground, with below freezing cold, and lots of wind. So I am more than ready for spring. So I am sharing some of my favorite floral handkerchiefs from my collection.


Mid-century cotton hanky with roses


Lotus cotton hanky


Mid-century cotton hanky. Pansies.



New hanky bought several years ago at a restaurant in Gaylord MI. Cotton.


Mid-century tulip cotton hanky


Mid-century peony cotton hanky


Mid-century cotton Iris hanky


Mid-century violet bouquet cotton hanky


Water lily cotton hanky, mid-century


Wildflower cotton hanky, likely 3rd quarter 20th c


Oversize flower hanky, cotton, mid-century
cotton hanky with petunias and flox


Pansies mid-century cotton hanky
Pussy Willow mid-century cotton hanky
Cotton late 20th c hanky


mid-century cotton hanky with poppies and gladiola


Mid-century pink lilacs cotton hanky


c. 1940s cotton hanky with roses