Tuesday I promised to tell you about an adventure I took last Saturday. I was in northwest Arkansas at a quilt show, and was about to head home. I remembered that the towns of Decatur and Gravette, Arkansas, weren’t too far from where I was.
And Decatur and Gravette? I’ll bet you’re wondering why. Right? Well, I’ll tell you.
Lately I’ve been pulling out some of my quilts in preparation for This evening’s lecture (“Sign Here, Please“). I remembered that I had wanted to follow up on the research I’ve been doing on what I call the Midway Quilt.
I have narrowed down that the quilt was probably made in the Gravette area. I didn’t look up any addresses before I headed that direction, it is a rural area, and most of the signers did not actually have town addresses, but I knew that all of them were close by. It isn’t going to be a quick process to figure out the who’s and why’s, but it’s isn’t hard to learn a few things. I really just wanted to see what the town looked like. Often, when I’m doing research, I find it helpful to go there, just to align my mental image of an area with reality.
This is downtown Gravette, not a big place. I will go back one of these days. Having a better idea of the town layout will help me figure out where all the people lived. Another time, I might even stop and ask people about some of the names.
I still have not discovered what “Midway” on this quilt means. I suspect it’s a church affiliation, but it may be challenging to track down. In the seven miles between Decatur and Gravette, I counted no fewer than fifteen church signs. I have a hunch that it might be a Pentecostal church, but no evidence. Yet. Doing genealogy on something like this, when I start with nothing, means peeling back layers of information. Without Ancestry.com, it would take far longer, but there are still some things that just have to be puzzled out. I will approach them from every angle I can think of, look more closely at the census, and let the pieces fall into place. Sometimes, we just don’t get to know everything. But we can surely chip away at what we do know to find more!
As I headed north, I also drove through the town of Sulphur Springs, just before I hit the Missouri state line. Sulphur Springs is tiny, population somewhere around 600 people. When I saw this, and an historical marker, I pulled over. (I’m easily intrigued!) Turns out they were two different things, sort of.
The marker noted the site of the earliest location of the Wycliffe Bible Translators Society, which was actually a mile west of where I was. Camp Wycliffe, as it was known, was started in 1934 by William Cameron Townsend.
It was in a grouping with some other buildings, including a gymnasium.
The gymnasium was once located at Camp Crowder (near Neosho, Missouri), and was moved to its present site in 1948. The war was over and Crowder was no longer needed as a training post. You can read more about it here. (Incidentally, if you’re at all familiar with “The Dick Van Dyke Show” of the 1960s, you may know that Rob and Laura Petrie were at Camp Crowder before they were married.)
The whole lot of buildings, which have been home to a number of ventures, including the Wycliffe Bible Society, and John Brown University, as well as the Shiloh Community, along with 29 acres, is for sale! As my imagination often does, it took off with ideas of ways you could use the place.
Sadly, or not, I decided that since I didn’t have an extra $600,000 to buy it, and because this is the sum total of the downtown, it probably wasn’t in the cards for me. I think it could be a really fun venture, though. If you’re intrigued, Sulphur Springs is located in Northwest Arkansas, about two miles south of the Missouri state line, and nine miles east of Oklahoma.
But still, it was a little adventure. I saw some interesting things, learned a bit, and enjoyed a nice drive, all because of a quilt.
What kind of adventures have quilts led you on?