As Didi and I were searching for the right inspiration, I attended the Penn Dry Goods Market in May 2013 held at the Schwenkfelder Heritage Center in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. One of the presentations I attended was by Nancy Ronk on “Fraktur Quilts.” She had many samples of the style and spoke of a quilt that was from the Cinda Cawley collection that was now part of the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Cinda Cawley was also our leader of Eastern Shore Quilt Study Group which we both attend. Eureka – a connection in many ways.
This fraktur-inscribed quilt (fraktur is a Germanic form of calligraphy) includes a block that identifies the owner and likely maker of the quilt as Aveline S. A. Stern. The block featuring her name also includes the German phrase “Ihr Teppic” or “her quilt,” and the name of the professional calligrapher who penned this block, William Gross, inscribed at the base of a vase with drooping tulips, and the twenty additional names found on the quilt. This quilt inspired Cawley to begin a systematic study of fraktur quilts in which she identified the individuals whose names are found on the quilts and the relationship between them.
Cawley discovered that Aveline Stern was born on September 15, 1842 in Upper Saucon Township, Pennsylvania, one of seven children born to John Henry and Sarah Ziegenfuss. Aveline’s parents, siblings, one nephew and nearby neighbors are included on the quilt blocks. In 1860, Aveline was found in census records as a hotel servant. One year later she married Joseph Stern, who later served in the Union army. In 1867, at the young age of 24, Aveline died, most probably due to complications while giving birth to a son named Jonas.
Realizing that AQSG has been an organization since 1980 with several presidents over the years, we decided to honor their dedication and service with their names being placed on the quilt. What better way to honor Cinda!