Austin: A quilting interlude

Whilst I have an inordinate amount of photos of gardens and plants to trawl through before posting on the amazing gardens I saw in Austin during the Garden Bloggers Fling I do also have a few photos taken on my iPhone of some amazing quilts we came across on our last day so I thought I would start there.

My friend, Victoria, and I stayed on in Austin for a couple of days after the Fling and on our last morning we decided to explore some of the cultural history of Austin visiting the State Capitol, the Bullock Texas State Museum and the Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hanning MuseumSusanna Dickinson was one of a handful of people to survive the battle of the Alamo.

The Mexican General, Santa Anna, told the Texan rebels that they could either surrender or die and they chose to fight to the end. However, Santa Anna, spared some of the women and children including Susannah Dickinson and her small daughter and sent her to General Sam Huston to tell him of the outcome of the battle.  Santa Anna’s purpose was to scare the Texans into surrender but instead the Texans determination to secure their freedom from Mexico was increased when they learnt that even those who surrendered at the end of the battle were killed. In less than a month the tables had turned and Texas secured its independence from Mexico.

Susannah lived in poverty for many years after the Alamo, being refused financial support or land by the Texas government.  She married a further four times and ended up in Austin with her last husband, Joseph Hanning, who ran a furniture store. The bed in the top photo is in Susannah and Joseph’s first house in Austin.

The quilt on the bed was put together in 2010 in honour of the Alamo descendants and coincided with the opening of the house to the public.  All the Alamo descendants who attended the opening were invited to sign the quilt and if you look carefully at the white pieces you can make out a range of signatures.

Also in the house is this Texas Lone Star Quilt which was created around 1900 – detail below.

Earlier in the morning we visited the Bullock Texas State Museum and learnt more about the history of Texas which was fascinating. There were two quilts on display.  Sadly I didn’t take a note of the information for the next one but am including the photos anyway for your interest, especially the close ups.

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The final quilt in the Museum has an interesting story. The quilt was created through a quilting bee led by Miriam Ferguson who was the First Female Governor of Texas from 1915-1917.  She invited her closest friends to stitch the quilt to commemorate her years in the Governors Mansion.  The idea was that all the ladies would sign the quilt but due to the limited size of the Miriam had to choose which of her friends could actually sign the quilt and those who weren’t chosen felt snubbed and never forgave her the slight.

This is just a section of the quilt as it was hard to photograph in its case with other items.  If you look carefully you will see names stitched in red.  Personally, I think she could have included a few more ‘friends’.

It was good to get a sewing fix while away as despite taking some embroidery with me on the trip I never seemed to have time to do any.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. FlowerAlley says:

    Helen, These are amazing pieces of art.

  2. I have a tablecloth ornamented with embroidered signatures of friends, so I have some sympathy with the Governor’s Lady. It’s not even a Work In Slow Progress any more!

  3. Jean Pike says:

    Wonderful post. I love old quilts and their stories 🙂

  4. I think Miriam could have included a few more names too. My initial suspicion was she left out the names of people who weren’t grand and important. And then I looked her up on Google, and discovered that she ran successfully against a Ku Klux Klan candidate, and effectively put an end to the KKK’s grip on Texas politics. So I think I could forgive her pretty much anything.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Go Miriam

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I love the first quilt as the black lines on it make a bold statement. The names on the last quilt seem pretty far apart, so I’m sure there was room for all Miriam’s friends.

  6. Cathy says:

    Gorgeous quilts, Helen – I would be the same in combining them with plant and garden stuff 😀

  7. Anna says:

    The Fling must have been a fabulous trip Helen. So much history and love captured in those quilts. I wonder how they are are kept in such good condition. I thought of you on Thursday when we visited the Malvern Spring Festival. We had not been for a few years and had a most enjoyable day.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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