Noxubee County veterans sign the American Patriots quilt pieced by Dancing Rabbit DAR members in November 2014. The quilt with hundreds of signatures is part of "A Treasury of Noxubee Quilts." Photo by: Courtesy photo
March 10, 2018 10:01:11 PM
Preservation of America's history is not limited to official records. It's in stories passed down, in art, in family Bibles and diaries. And it's stored in stitches, in quilts made by many hands that went quiet long ago. That's why the Noxubee County Historical Society and Dancing Rabbit DAR Chapter have worked hard to document and share "A Treasury of Noxubee Quilts."
In 2010, the Historical Society issued an "all call" to county residents to bring their quilts to the Welcome Center to be photographed and cataloged for a collective history. The project was later adopted by the DAR chapter.
To date, information has been collected on 205 quilts representing a wide variety of traditions -- Mennonite quilts, quilts made by children, quilts used in white and black families of all economic backgrounds. About three-quarters of the photographic inventory has been posted on the website noxubeequilts.wordpress.com. Documentation is ongoing.
"Our collection covers from the birth to the grave," said Martha Stennis who belongs to both the Historical Society and the DAR chapter. "We've got baby quilts all the way to a quilt that was used as a pall for a funeral."
Response to the "all-call" included residents who have a single quilt they hold dear to others with large collections.
"There was one man who had 56 quilts made by members of his family," Stennis said. "Another lady had 20-something."
There are quilts made of wedding and party dresses, and quilts made of whatever was available in the house. Some were exquisitely made; others hastily pieced. The Treasury includes signature quilts with names written on them, some recognized in the community, others a mystery.
A DAR American Patriot quilt has more than 600 signed names of those who served in the military from Noxubee County.
Stennis described pattern after pattern -- Cathedral Window, Mariner's Compass, Princess Feather, Anvil, Hearts and Gizzards. She believes the oldest quilt was made by a late Noxubee County woman born in 1830.
"The whole thing is just amazing to me," Stennis said. "You learn about families, you learn about people, about quilts that were made here and how some of them came into the county."
Emily Taff is cataloging and posting photographs to the website. The 37-year-old Atlanta resident has strong ties to Noxubee County.
"My grandmother, Mildred Taff Pearson, grew up there. My family still has a farm house there," said Taff, who temporarily lived in the county herself.
"It's great to be part of something that involved my own family history, with people who have known my family," Taff continued. "It's very nice to be involved in a place that, even though my grandmother is gone, I can still be a part."
The entire Treasury documentation project is about family, Stennis emphasized. Each quilt is relevant and very much a part of Noxubee County's quilting heritage.
The website has been well-received, she added.
"I love the idea of having something that everybody can go to. It's become a reflection of the county, of who we are."
Learn more at noxubeequilts.wordpress.com. For additional information, email Stennis at email@example.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.