A Soldier Comes Home

A Soldier Comes Home

During the United States Civil War, our soldiers wrote home to their wives and mothers asking for spare quilts to keep them warm at night. And, while in hostile surroundings, being wrapped in familiar sewn pieces of cloth brought them a little closer to home.

Many beautiful quilts are handed down through generations, each with a story of how and where their journey began. My inspiration quilt has no history attached to it; nor does it reveal its maker. Dated 1863, it is known only as 6832.9 Patchwork Quilt. It is carefully preserved at the Minnesota Historical Society along with countless others.

I chose to replicate the Crosses and Losses design in the original; and while these four-patch blocks are simple and are not difficult, they do demand careful piecing. The center block of my project is an Iowa Rolling Star in recognition of the Seventeenth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Company A. I selected the Baptist Fan pattern for the hand quilting. This template was very popular during the Civil War. While I studied the original quilt I noticed a faded tract down its length and wondered why it was just on one side. It was then that I gave myself creative license and decided to give 6832.9 its own account of authenticity.

As I began to stitch my project the how and where for my trundle quilt came into focus and its journey is this:

I imagined a small room with a child’s cot pressed against the wall; voile curtains playing on the breeze through an open window allowing the sun to shine on the quilt top creating the dimness of fabrics down its entirety. With my own permission I supposed that my third great-grandmother, Elizabeth Parker Guilliams, stitched this little coverlet for her son, Parker Willis, while her beloved husband Samuel was fighting with the Seventeenth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

The United States Civil War was a desperate time in our country’s history, and the heartache of the unknown fate of each precious soul weighed heavily on families, North and South alike. Although I am still a novice quilter, every tack of thread in my coverlet is lovingly dedicated to Samuel Elemas and Elizabeth Parker Guilliams, my third great-grandparents who sacrificed and endured.