If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that I had a great time at MOKA this weekend. My lecture on signature quilts had folks bringing all sorts of pieces, with some wonderful stories. I really enjoyed seeing what came in.
One thing that was especially fun for me, and this can only happen at a study group, was that two of the women attending know the area around Gravette, Arkansas (pronounced “Gravit,” by the way, not “Gra-vette”) very well. You may remember that I’m researching a piece from that area. If not, you can read more about it here.
I learned through Nora, who is a realtor in the area, that there was in fact a Midway Pentecostal Church between Decatur and Gravette. (You might remember that this was my hunch about this quilt. How exciting it is when your hunches go from possibility to probability.) Sadly, Nora told me that the church has recently been torn down. Nora graciously offered to show me where the church had been. So, who knows? I just might take her up on it! Somebody, somewhere will surely know more about it, so I am hoping to figure out who has the church records so I can learn a little more about some of quilt’s signers.
I also learned through Lonetta, who is from that area, that many of the families listed on the quilt are still in that area. She and Nora both recognized several of them.
How fun is that? As you may know, the stories that accompany quilts enthrall me. And the connections that can happen when you get a bunch of quilt history enthusiasts together are so exciting! Piece by piece, bit by bit, we can learn a lot from others.
I’ve witnessed some phenomenal “aha” moments at different events over the years, in which people have found “twin” quilts (and, in fact, there were twins present at our meeting this weekend!), or when someone makes a connection between an unknown maker and a collection of quilts. (I am remembering Jan Thomas’ excitement at her discovery of another Blosser family quilt at the American Quilt Study Group annual seminar several years ago. What an amazing moment that was!)
After a visit and an exhibit of some fine Missouri quilts at theHistory Museum on the Square, we were treated to a wonderful lecture by Merrily McKim Tuohey on Saturday. Merrily is the youngest granddaughter of Ruby Short McKim and the dynamo behind McKim Studios. She shared family stories and a wealth of her Grammy’s original artwork. It was incredible to hold some of those pieces and now that they were first made over a hundred years ago by someone we’ve read about for so long. As one friend remarked after the lecture, “I feel like I grew up with Ruby Short McKim.” Yep, terrific.
Are you a member of a study group? I encourage you, if you’re at all interested in quilt history, to find one in your area. If you’d like more information about MOKA, or about the American Quilt Study Group, just ask and I’ll be thrilled to share.