By: Carol H. Elmore and Ronnie G. Elmore
Ida Elizabeth Stover Eisenhower (1862-1946), mother of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the thirty-fourth president of the United States, made quilts while an orphan in Virginia; a young transient in Hope, Kansas, and Denison, Texas; and a struggling housewife with six robust boys living on the “wrong side” of the tracks in Abilene, Kansas. Twenty-three quilts and five quilted pillow tops have survived the many years of use by the Eisenhower family. Original research at the Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas, and the Ida Eisenhower birthplace near Mount Sidney, Virginia, and an extensive literature search support the conclusion that Ida developed a quilting style of her own that included elements of improvisation, asymmetry, and multiple-patterning. Ida found making quilts a creative and pleasurable diversion from her challenging daily life.