My study quilt was inspired by the “Central Medallion Quilt: Circa 1860; Pennsylvania,” displayed by Stella Rubin Antiques. I like this quilt’s combination of orderly pieced blocks surrounding a center of exuberant appliquéd flowers.
It inspired me to tell the story of my great-grandfather, Walter C. Veazie. Walter enlisted in the Union Army shortly before his 15th birthday and served for three years during the Civil War. According to my father, Walter never talked about the war because it was “too terrible.”
Young Walter is depicted in the center of my quilt, wearing his uniform and standing under an elm tree in his hometown of Randolph, Massachusetts. Symbols in the background hint at his later life, including his marriage, work as a minister, and his lifelong interest in stamp collecting.
Walter overcame many obstacles during his remarkable life. His mother died when he was five. He quit school as a boy to help support the family. After the war, he led an oxen train across the country, mined for gold in Montana Territory, and worked as a carpenter. The last 50 years of his life he dedicated to the Christian ministry. Although Walter had little formal education, he learned Greek and was a critical reader and deep thinker.
In designing my study quilt, I changed the checkerboard blocks of the inspiration quilt to album blocks, and inscribed them with the names of Walter’s relatives, starting with his parents and ending with my sons. The flowers on my quilt are the state flowers of some the states where Walter lived. As in the inspiration quilt, I used 3-D techniques for the flowers, which are more folk art than botanically correct. I used no fusibles or other modern materials.
Though I usually prefer brighter colors, I really enjoyed working with Civil War reproduction fabrics. I did not try to match the fabrics in the inspiration quilt, but just chose ones that I liked from the Civil War time period. I have a new appreciation for brown, and for the women who made quilts 150 years ago using fabrics of that limited but interesting color palette.
During my research for this quilt I discovered my third cousins – sisters who, like me, are great-granddaughters of Walter. One is a quilter; the other is the family genealogist!