Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sarah Good hanged as a witch

Arrested and Hanged As a Salem Witch

One of Salem, Massachusetts' Witch Trials first victims in 1692 was Sarah Good, a woman of childbearing age who, indeed, was pregnant, at the time of her arrest on February 29, 1692. The baby was born in prison and died there. Accused of bewitching children, Sarah experienced a fate not ever envisioned, a fate even worse than losing her father John Sobert to suicide, a fate worse than the loss of her first husband Daniel Poole in 1686, or the inheritance of all of his debts, to pass on to her second husband, William Good.

Forced to beg alms, door to door, Sarah's physical countenance resembled that of someone twice her age. Her matted hair, and weathered face, and the curses under her tongue to those who did not help her, perhaps frightened townspeople. When the accusation of “witch” was uttered, it fulfilled the thoughts already on the minds of the churchgoers and wealthy of her community. It is always easy for society to persecute those who are “different,” or do not conform to the expected norm.

On June 29, 1692 Sarah was convicted of witchcraft and she was hanged on July 19. At the last moment, Reverend Noyes urged her to admit to being a witch and ask forgiveness, but she refused. Instead, she proclaimed, “I am no more a witch than you are a wizard. If you take my life away, God will give you blood to drink.” Years later, when the judge died of a hemorrhage that resulted in blood in his mouth, Salem residents remembered Sarah's statement.

A descendant of Judge Hathorne, novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), included a similar scene involving the death of Judge Pycheon in his fictional work, The House of the Seven Gables.

Ellen Webster visited the Corwin House (in the 1930s?) where Grace Atkinson rented upstairs rooms to sell antiques. Atkinson died in 1943. The following year, the city of Salem, MA bought the house. In 1944, it was opened as a museum. Ellen copied an appliqu├ęd block from a quilt. She wrote the following statement on a quilt “chart.”

Quilt found on a bed in the “Old Witch House,” Salem, Mass. when the first hearing was held for the trial of witches. The “witch” was Sarah Good, and the house was Jonathan Corwins', corner of Essex and North Streets. J. Corwin was magistrate.

Quilt inspired by Ellen E. Webster's quilt chart and made by Patricia Cummings

Neither the quilt pattern, nor the fabrics used to re-create this block, are believable entities for a quilt made in 1692 (17th century). At that time, wool or linsey-woolsey wholecloth quilts were popular, their fibers dyed with Indigo and other natural plant dyes often from local New England plant species. Turquoise calico is more typical of the 1930s and fits the pastel color palette of that era.

Quilt made by Patricia Cummings, Concord, NH, in May 2010, to display in talks about Ellen Webster, the subject of her 355 page book, published in 2008.

Friday, October 12, 2018

"America First" slogan

While collecting Sweetheart & Mother Pillows for my book of the same name, I came across one that features WWI soldiers charging in battle and the pillow cover has the words, "America First." I was a bit puzzled by this and wondered about the origins of the slogan. I found my answers this week in a brief review of the book, Who Put America First, by Sarah Churchwell, as published in Smithsonian Magazine.

World War I pillow cover as seen in the book, Sweetheart & Mother
by Patricia Cummings

Churchwell traces the reference back further than Charles Lindbergh's use in the 1940s. She found that the Republicans first used it as a slogan in the 1880s. Then, in 1915, Woodrow Wilson mentioned the phrase while suggesting neutrality in World War I. Churchwell states that the words were then taken over by isolationists and later became a slogan of the Ku Klux Klan, whom, she says, tried to say they copyrighted it (not true).

Today, "America First" is a prominent slogan of President Donald J. Trump. It now seems to be a rallying call for nativist tendencies, decreased immigration practices, and going it alone in the world by imposing severe tariffs on other countries (sometimes at the expense of our own).

I am so thankful to Sarah Churchwell for clearing up the puzzle and to Smithsonian Magazine for excerpting that part of her book.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Bennington Quiltfest - A Show Review

This year we were lucky enough to be able to attend the Bennington Quilt Fest presented by The Quiet Valley Quilters Guild of Bennington, Vermont. This was a two day affair lasting from September 15 to September 16, 2018. We had beautiful weather for traveling and the show was great fun once we arrived. The featured quilter this year was Lynn Wheatley who gave a presentation both days about her passion for quilting and teaching. The quilts on display were a nice overview of what quilters are working on today. I have picked out five quilts that I really enjoyed.

"Mrs. Billings' Coverlet" by Betty King is a colorful, medallion style quilt

"Mrs. Billings' Coverlet" is a hand pieced, machine pieced, appliqued and long arm quilted quilt by Betty King. It is described as "a version of a quilt originally made in England in 1790. There are 15 frames or borders using 5,400 pieces." It took the maker three years to complete it.

Marion May Bluto's quilt top, finished by Nancy Jarrett
who calls it "Happy Hexagons (Endless Chain)"

We love to see old quilt tops finished by succeeding generations. "Happy Hexagons (Endless Chain)" is a family quilt started in the 1930s or early 1940s by Marion May Bluto and finished in 2005 by her granddaughter, Nancy Jarrett. It is hand pieced and machine pieced and hand tied. The current quilt owner is Susan Moore.

"Remember the Ladies" by Connie Harris Farrington is a
quilt inspired by a statement by Abigail Adams 

"Remember the Ladies," words that were an admonition in a letter to John Adams from his wife Abigail, are represented by 63 images of "ladies" in various walks of life. This two-sided quilt by Connie Harris Farrington was hand quilted, machine pieced and fused.

"My Birds in My Paradise" is an original quilt by Nan Rae Dobbert

"My Birds in My Paradise" by Nan Rae Dobbert features birds of various kinds and is a quilt that was hand pieced, machine pieced, appliqued, and long arm quilted.

"Quilt Diva: Mrs. Bobbin Winder" by Carolmae Wintermute

"Quilt Diva: Mrs. Bobbin Winder" by Carolmae Wintermute is based on a pattern from Amy Bradley Designs, LC. The project was done with others from the Pieceful Valley Quilt Guild and is hand quilted, appliqued, machine pieced, and machine quilted. There were three other "Quilt Diva" quilts in the show.

This show attracts participants from Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. There were plenty of great vendors with a wide range of goods. The challenge quilts and raffle quilt were fun to see. It is a true statement that many volunteers helped to make the show a success! It is always amazing to see the variety of quilts at a large show such as this one! We were certainly happy that we made the effort to attend! Don't miss next year's show held on September 14-15, 2019 in which the featured quilter will be John Kubiniec of Big Rig Quilting.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Books Worthy of Your Time

The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels by Jon Meacham is a book I looked forward to reading. So far, I have not been disappointed. Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize winner, a presidential historian and a scholar whose books have appeared on the New York Times Bestselling List. He carefully links what is happening today to events that occurred in the past and has a resounding message -  We will get through this! Optimism and hope are always stronger messages that fear, criticism and anger. I cannot wait to read the rest of the book but I am delayed because his sentences and quotes are so astute, I want to keep reading them again!

The other book on my reading list is Home on the Plains: Quilts and the Sod House Experience by Stephanie Grace Whitson and Kathy Moore. That was published in 2011 by C&T Publishing. Like most out-of-print books, the price of the book has skyrocketed by sellers hoping to make a profit. We checked many sources for the book before finding a copy at a reasonable price at the University of Nebraska's bookstore online. I have only read a few pages of the book but am excited by the photographs and the quilt projects that are featured in the book. I might have to plan another quilt!

It is good to have some compelling reading material to stimulate the grey cells. I would be doing more knitting except that carpal tunnel syndrome is getting in the way of that. I am happy to say that last year I read the entire Poldark series. Those books by Winston Graham are definitely worth reading. I cannot wait for the newest Poldark series on television (PBS) to be featured at the end of this month. There are plenty of good books available. A reader is never bored!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sweetheart & Mother Pillows 1917-1945

On October 1, 2018 I am scheduled to provide a talk and slide presentation (for seniors) from 11:15 a.m. -12:30 p.m. at the City Wide Community Center Auditorium at the Concord Parks & Recreation Building (the former Dame School on the Heights in Concord, NH). The focus of the discussion will be historical artifacts featured in my book, Sweetheart & Mother Pillows 1917-1945.

A French postcard is featured as the background for the cover of my book.
 A few pillow covers can also be seen. (Schiffer Publishing, 2011)

The military pillow covers were bought at the PX or BX, sometimes hastily and post-paid on the spot, as military personnel shipped overseas to fulfill combat missions, not knowing if they would ever return. Many who served did not come back, as you well know. Today, many of these pillow covers are surfacing as odd and unknown objects, stored away for many years, folded, and in bureau drawers. Descendants, not having a personal attachment to the objects, are selling them online or to antiques dealers.

When I first saw a military pillow of this kind, I was struck by its color (apricot), its sentimental poem, and Army insignia. My book has 247 images, most of them pillow covers from World War I and World War II, as well as a chapter on Civilian Conservation Corps pillow covers (and history).

At the moment, I have only one pillow cover in my possession. It has a poem dedicated "To A Special Friend." It is from a special friend so I plan to treasure it and keep it! The rest of the pillow covers I gave to either the National World War I Museum & Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri or to the Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro, NH and to the Civilian Conservation Corp (C.C.C. Legacy Foundation) in Virginia.

Through the words that appear on the pillow covers, I was able to learn a great deal about American history including information about military bases and military personnel and it was fun learning! I hope that many of you will be able to hear my presentation or, if not, will avail yourself of the continued availability of my book, ($24.95 plus shipping). My e-mail address is: