After presenting a bed turning and lecture at the Troy Pioneer Museum in Troy, Alabama, one quilt on exhibit caught my eye. It was crisp and clean and made of solid color fabrics. It was striking in its simplicity: an unknown appliqué pattern resembling magnolia pods filled with red seeds.
With study I learned that Louisa Anserdena Gibson made the quilt. She was born in 1850, the ninth of sixteen children, in a town called Milo, in Pike County, Alabama. Milo is not found on any current maps, but in 1850 it was a busy town with several stores and a post office. Civil War letters written by soldiers from Milo were recently discovered in an abandoned house. Louisa’s grandparents were some of the early settlers of Milo and Pike County, with one area being called Gibson’s Hill.
Louisa was a young teenager when she made the quilt. It is an example of uniform appliqué with amazing precision repeated many times. It was a challenge to replicate such precision and required diligence and perseverance. As I stitched, I pondered what a young girl like Louisa would be feeling as the Civil War raged. I could only imagine that her dreams of courting and marrying a young man were being trampled. Louisa remained unmarried until age thirty-one. The magnolia is emblematic of the South and I envisioned the pod full of seeds representing her hope of the rebirth of the South after such destruction as came with the war.