The Friendship Quilt
were still a much practiced social event for women even in the late 1940's
and 1950's. When I was small, my grandmother, Ninnie McCormick, often
hosted the turning out of a quilt in her home on Hillview Road in
Livingston. I remember seeing the quilting frames raised near the ceiling
of the living room in her home in between quilting sessions. Mrs. Kate
Bilbrey’s home was another place the ladies of the neighborhood would
gather to quilt.
The Friendship Quilt belonging to Mrs. Alma Ward bears names of ladies and family members from the Flatt Creek community.
I suppose there are hundreds of patterns quilts have been made by, but one particular type of quilt sometimes made was called a Friendship Quilt. Each person involved in the making of this kind of quilt stitched an individual block, all of the same pattern, and when finished, the name of that person was hand-embroidered onto that block. When all the individual blocks were finished, they were then pieced together, and later the quilt top was put into the quilting frames to be completed. I recently got to examine a Friendship Quilt made in either 1938 or 1939 by ladies who lived in the Flatt Creek area. The quilt was made for Edgar Smith, son of John Smith and wife Nancy Ward Smith, and was found in a barn owned by Mr. Smith near the old Flatt Creek church and cemetery where it had been stored in a box for many years. Edgar Smith was also a nephew of William E. Smith, husband of Helen Stonecipher Smith. Edgar did not marry until late in life. His wife’s name was Osta Ogletree Smith. The condition of the quilt and the workmanship involved in the making of it can only be described as excellent despite the fact it had been in a barn for quite a long time. The quilt belongs to Mrs. Alma (Crabtree) Ward, wife of Buck Ward. Edgar Smith and Buck Ward are cousins. Alma’s name is the very first name on the first row of the quilt. The block that has the name "Laura" was stitched by Alma’s mother, Laura Crabtree. Several names of husbands of the women involved in the making of the quilt are also included. The names of many relatives of Buck Ward are on the quilt.
This block in the Friendship Quilt bears the name of the person for whom the quilt was made, Edgar Smith.
Here are the names embroidered on each square just as they are shown on
the actual quilt. Many blocks show the quilter’s first name only.
Wm. E. Smith
Sallie S. Burch
Billie Ruth Bilyeu
The Flatt Creek ladies Friendship Quilt of brightly colored fabric, every stitch done by hand, is a wonderful treasure. The individual names carefully stitched on the quilt bear witness of those who once gathered so many years ago for the making of an item to be given to a neighbor, a tradition, like so many others of days gone by, that is no longer a part of everyday life in our community.
Here’s a Quilter’s Poem I thought was fitting for this story:
I've sought inspiration a quilt for to make.
Here's Baltimore Album
Anvil and Churn Dash,
Also Hovering Hawks
I've thought and thought,